Tahj Mowry on the Legacy of 'Smart Guy', a Potential Reboot & His New Disney+ Series

Some know Tahj Mowry as Michelle Tanner's BFF on Full House. Others recognize him as the cute kid from the Superbowl episode of Friends. But most will remember him as "the pugnacious little shorty with a thousand IQ"—better known as T.J. Henderson from Smart Guy.

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The WB/Getty Images/ABC

Although the iconic '90s sitcom, which follows the misadventures of a young genius and his family, aired from 1997 to 1999, quite a few of the show's themes still resonate with fans today. So, to honor the show's legacy, PureWow caught up with the 36-year-old actor to discuss his experience on the show and the possibility of a reboot, as well as his upcoming Disney+ musical series, The Muppets Mayhem.

Fans who have followed Mowry's work will know that the former child star has been in the business since he was 4 years old, appearing in '90s shows like Who's the Boss? and Sister, Sister. However, Smart Guy marked a turning point in the actor's career. At just 10, Mowry took on the lead role of a young prodigy who stood out among his high school peers. And believe it or not, T.J. shared quite a few similarities with the actor.

"I could relate to T.J. Henderson at that time," Mowry told us. "Even throughout my adolescence, I was still relating to him because I always had eyes on me. Whether it be because I was an actor or because I was good at sports."

He continued, "It was sort of a fish out of water thing because that was what my life was like when I would get back to regular school. I was the actor who wasn't always at school like the other kids. I would leave and go do a TV show and then come back to was odd. I was different in that way."

Mowry also opened up about how starting his career at a younger age helped him develop a good worth ethic. He said, "I was already so used to [acting] because I was doing commercials and all these other shows, just constantly working. A part of me just knew that that's where I was supposed to be. I think starting early in this business really helped me grow up quickly, but I still had a childhood."

As for the transition from making appearances to headlining his own sitcom, Mowry revealed that it wasn't much of a challenge for him. He told us, "As far as business goes, I just show up to work, and that's just how it's been since I was little. Even though it was my show, it literally just felt the same to me. I loved what I did. I had fun."

Throughout its three-season run, Smart Guy delivered plenty of charm and humor, but it also tackled culturally relevant topics like racial profiling, bullying, internet safety and the challenges of single parenthood. As Mowry reflected on the series, he credited the writers for creating episodes that reflected the times.

"I think a lot of it was just organic and not forced," he explained. "When things are before their time, people aren't necessarily trying to make that project before its time. It just happened to be before its time because it was organically what happened. We were very on brand with the culture."

Referring to a very special season two episode, where T.J. meets a scammer on the internet, Mowry added, "We had the 'Strangers on the Net' episode, which was about literal pedophiles, and we were doing a 30-minute episode on a comedy sitcom. I think those things were done purposely, sort of mixing that serious life lesson in with the comedy. Every good sitcom has to have a level of realism to it. And I think Smart Guy did that so well. It's a credit to the writers, they just knew what they were doing."

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Mowry's favorite episode of all time? The terrifying "Diary of a Mad School Girl" from season three. He said, "I always say one episode. But I recently saw that someone had posted a meme, and it was from another episode, and I was like, 'Oh, shoot!' I forgot [about it]. So now I can tell you, my favorite Smart Guy episode is when my brother Marcus is dating that girl and she goes crazy. And that episode becomes a horror movie."

"She puts herself in a pig mask and a raincoat and she's chasing us around the house with a knife. Just to teach us a lesson. I had the most fun time filming. I've always been a fan of horror movies since I was a kid. So being able to pretend I was in a slasher movie at work was amazing."

Given the show's popularity, it comes as no surprise that the Internet is already abuzz with rumors of a potential reboot. While discussing his vision for the new series, Mowry told us, "It's not a sure thing yet, it's a long process. Everything has to be in its time, but it's something that I want to do and it's something that there is interest in."

"I have a really cool fresh take and idea on how I would do it, and I guess it would be a blend of old and new. My goal is to make the OG fans comfortable and satisfied in what they want. And then getting [the cast] back, because everybody has to be available. I know it will happen, but I can't tell you when."

The actor also mentioned that he wants the show to appeal to both the new generation and older fans. He said, "I want the OG fans to feel comfortable, and I also want to leave room and space for a new generation of Smart Guy fans. So, I have to be able to create some new characters as well. I have to be able to do it right, and it takes time. I'm not trying to do it and let anybody down, so, when it happens, if it's in God's will and timing, it'll be fire."

Aside from working towards a reboot, Mowry is also keeping busy with his upcoming Disney+ show, The Muppets Mayhem, which boasts an impressive roster of guest stars, from "Weird Al" Yankovic to Paula Abdul.

In case you're unfamiliar, the comedy series will follow the Muppet musical group as they try to record their first platinum album. And as for Mowry, he'll play the band's number-one fan, Moog.

"TJ Henderson is the GOAT, but Moog is definitely a favorite of mine for sure," he said. "He's a super special character and I can't wait for people to meet him. He follows them to all of their shows, he is desperately in love with his band and will do anything for them."

As for what fans can expect, Mowry added, "There's comedy, there's romance and there's a little bit of drama in there, so it's got a little bit of everything. It's got a good message."

While chatting about the new series, the actor also revealed that, like Smart Guy, the project hits close to home—thanks to his previous work with Disney. He explained, "It's an honor to be a part of the show. I've had the opportunity my whole life to do things with Disney, and to continue to be able to work with them is an honor. For something so awesome like Muppets, which is something that I grew up with. I'm excited for people to see the character because it's something different that people haven't seen me in before." Leave it to Tahj Mowry to bring all the nostalgia.

The Muppets Mayhem premieres on Disney+ May 10.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...