Believe it or not, it's been 20 years to the day since Even Stevens made its debut on Disney Channel.
To celebrate that momentous anniversary, some of the cast and crew reunited on Zoom to reminisce and share stories about their time on the sitcom, led by stars Christy Carlson Romano, who played Ren Stevens, and Nick Spano, who played Donnie Stevens.
Shia LaBeouf was not available for the call, as his costars explained, but many others were. Romano and Spano were joined by Steven Anthony Lawrence, who played Beans, AJ Trauth, who played Twitty, Tom Virtue, who played the dad, and Lauren Frost, who played Ruby. Jim Wise (Coach Tugnut), George Anthony Bell (Principal Wexler), executive producers David Brookwell, Marc Warren, Dennis Rinsler, Matt Dearborn, and crew members from hair, makeup, casting, wardrobe, and more all joined the call as well.
Aside from LaBeouf, Spano explained that Donna Pescow (who played the mom) and Margo Harshman (who played Tawny) were also unable to make the reunion.
A lot of attention was paid to Lawrence, whose display name simply said "Beans!!!!" and who showed off his shaved head and beard and recalled his audition, featuring a lengthy and sort of nonsensical pirate joke that helped him get the gig.
The group also shared memories of LaBeouf, who apparently had a level of confidence many of us could only dream of.
AJ Trauth said that LaBeouf had told him that before he was actually cast, he was introducing himself to the other kids at the auditions by saying, "Hi, I'm Shia, I'm playing Louis Stevens."
EP David Brookwell explained that they had to pull him aside to tell him he did not yet have the part, and he had to stop saying that to the other kids.
Other crew on the call confirmed that LaBeouf has been that way since he was eight.
"You could see success in him at that age," said Karen Toole-Rentrip, head of the makeup department.
There was also praise to be given to Christy Carlson Romano.
"Can I tell you the best audition I've ever seen?" said show creator Matt Dearborn. "I've worked a little bit, but I've never seen an actor get a part faster than Christy Romano. She came in in a blue blazer and owned the room, and before she even got into the audition, you go, that's her. Everybody knew it."
Nick Spano, meanwhile, did a one-armed push up in his audition for Donnie.
Towards the end of the nearly two-hour reunion, Nick Spano brought up Honey Boy, the somewhat autobiographical movie Shia LaBeouf wrote where he played a version of his own troubled father. Some of the movie was clearly inspired by LaBeouf's time filming Even Stevens, with a few very specific show references, like pies in the face and oversized Hawaiian shirts.
"A lot of fans obviously went and saw Honey Boy, and the takeaway from that [movie] was that it wasn't as great a set as I think all of us fondly remember it to be," he said. "I think that it was a special time at Disney. It was a special time for all of us, and before we end this call, maybe you guys could share something about the show or being on the set. But I want to leave people with a different impression, because we all go through difficult times in our lives, and we all experience moments very different than other people do, but I think that working in show business as long as I had...there was nothing but a great sense of community and family on Even Stevens, and we actually all cared about each other."
"Life is challenging," Spano continued. "We're going through some difficult times right now as a nation, but Even Stevens will definitely be one of those places that was a safe place and a home, and if anyone was going through a difficult time, we cared for each other and we were there for each other."
"I saw Honey Boy, and it's not so much that everything else was so bad, it's just our set really was such a solitude, and a home for so many people, cast and crew," he said. "We all took such a huge refuge in coming to work, because it wasn't work, it was coming to see our family."
You can watch the entire reunion, which also features a few struggle-filled performances of "We Went to the Moon," above or on Christy Carlson Romano's Youtube page.