Nathan Kress discussed his character Freddie Benson’s journey in iCarly‘s third revival season on the streaming platform Paramount+.
He originated the role in 2007 for the Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly and played Freddie until 2012 when the series ended.
Nine years later, Nathan returned to his teen role in a revival iCarly revival series on Paramount+.
He stars alongside fellow original cast members Miranda Cosgrove and Jerry Trainor, who play Carly and Spencer.
We caught up with Nathan to chat about season 3, the Carly-Freddie relationship, working with onscreen daughter Jaidyn Triplett and much more.
Note: This interview has been slightly condensed for clarity. You can watch the whole conversation on the Courageous Nerd YouTube channel linked below.
Season 3 of iCarly on Paramount+ is about to drop. What can you tease, if anything, about the new season?
Nathan Kress: The big thing is, when our second season ended, we left it on a little bit of a cliffhanger. Freddie’s girlfriend [Pearl, played by Mia Serafino], who he is very serious about, called out Carly and Freddie’s relationship. She said, “You two are still in love with each other!” and stormed off.
So, we have to deal with the fallout of that. We can’t really just keep going and pretend like that didn’t happen.
For Carly and Freddie, that’s what this season’s about. Sitting down and saying, “What is our relationship? How do we feel about each other? How are we going to move for”ard? Obviously, something is wrong and people are getting hurt.”
That is a process, it’s not done right away. We are finally going to give the audience the answers that they are looking for. This is the season where it’s going to happen, one way or another.
The original show had such a large fanbase. In what ways do you think the show has achieved what it set out to do?
Nathan Kress: The hardest thing and the most rewarding thing, simultaneously, about this show is we have been trying to toe the line. Between giving that satisfying nostalgia, trying to maintain the core essence of what the show felt like. Also, making it completely different and new.
It was sort of this paradox. If you went too far in one direction, you’re abandoning the old show and doing something so far off base that it doesn’t feel right. Or, you’re pandering to your old audience. You’re not growing, you’re not changing, you’re just rehashing. It just feels like a kids’ show.
You’re just doing another kids’ show, not an adult show. Those are the ends of the spectrum. We have to find that middle spot.
That has been really tough. What I can say is regardless of what anybody feels about the show – I’m sure there are a ton of opinions out there. From what I’ve seen – and we’re looking – most of it has been positive, so far.
Obviously, a fair share of constructive criticism. Some people just hate it because it’s not the entire original returning cast. It’s just bad, no matter what. There’s nothing we’re going to be able to do to ever change their minds.
There’s divisions of people’s opinions on it. No matter what, I know we can say… every single conversation Miranda, Jerry and I have as producers on the show. Miranda being an executive producer on the show and having a large amount of creative influence. Our first question is, “What do we think the fans would want to see?”
This whole thing is fan-service, on purpose. We’re not abashed about that. Fans are the reason why this show is still successful. It’s why they were able to use the name iCarly to launch a whole new streaming service.
The fact that we had fans who showed up for that… it’s proof positive that we need to do right by them. If you could call this whole thing FanFiction, sure. Why not? Why would we not want to give them something gratifying and satisfying after all these years?
Especially, with the Carly and Freddie relationship. That carrot was dangled for a really long time. If we’re going to start answering these questions, what do we think the fans would want?
Am I saying we’re going to get that perfectly? Probably not. What I do want people to always remember is that would the first question we would always ask ourselves.
That was the common thread/mantra of the whole show, especially the third season. So many big things happen.
As an actor, you’ve played Freddie during two key stages of his life – awkward teen years and now fatherhood. What would you say has been consistent about Freddie, despite the obvious differences all these years later?
Nathan Kress: He would get a lot more wound up in the original show. Things would just bug him a lot more. I think as the show progressed, toward the end of the run, he started to let things go a little bit. Have a little bit more of a relaxed attitude.
A go-with-it, roll your-eyes, laugh-about-it kind of perspective. That continued as a really good thread for him going forward. So much bad stuff has happened to him. His divorces, his job and going completely broke.
Having to move back in with his mom. Nothing is going right — his daughter hates him. There’s just nothing going for him. He has still retained his Freddie attitude. His helpfulness, his love for his friends. His self-sacrificial, self-deprecating attitude I think is why he didn’t crack as a person.
In a sense, he’s sort of a shell of himself. It was kind of a conscious decision to make him not really seem like himself.
He’s a different person, all the way down to how he looked physically. He was sort of down, just wasn’t really taking care of himself, not who we knew him to be.
Last year, we spoke to Jaidyn Triplett, who plays Millicent, about Season 2. She mentioned that you felt like a Dad to her off-set. How would you describe your dynamic with Jaidyn?
Nathan Kress: Fantastic. She’s so talented, so funny. It’s amazing what she was able to pull off. The things we were throwing at her, when she was 10. There was some really crazy dialogue and we do a lot of alts on the show. Once we get it, we start playing around with different dialogue.
That’s really hard to do when you’re that young. She handled it like a champ.
She did better than I ever could, that’s for sure.
I totally agree, she’s very much like my little TV daughter. I love it, I have two kids but they’re a whole lot younger.
I’m getting kind of a cheat sheet on what it might be like to have an older kid. That’s been good fun, I get a bit of my kid fix because I miss them a lot when I’m at work.
The revival has already seen some fun cameos. In fact, Nevel Papperman, Nora Dershlit and Chuck Chambers, to name a few. Which character were you most excited to see return?
Nathan Kress: Nevel was a big one, for me. Reed Alexander, we became really good friends because of the show. Way back in the day. So, getting to reconnect with him was very fun. Just to see where he’s at in his life. Writing for a bunch of different publications and stuff.
You can see it in the trailer, so it’s not spoiling too much. James Maslow came back. We had a whole high school reunion. A lot of characters from the original show who had smaller parts. We got to have them back which was really fun. Principal Franklin, back again.
The really fun one has been having Josh Peck. He wasn’t a character on iCarly but I grew up watching Drake and Josh. He plays a totally different character now. But, having one of those guys who I looked up to as my comedy mentors, watching as a little kid.
It’s been super fun and he has several episodes this season. He’s fun to just watch do his thing. The way he can take one joke and deliver it in 15 different ways. It’s very inspirational for an actor to watch.
Lastly, what would you like to say to the iCarly fans who watched the original show and now watch the revival on Paramount+?
Nathan Kress: However many different ways I can say, “thank you.” For the incredible determination and support, they have shown for all of these years. The fact we still get people talking to us on social media. Posting photos from the old show.
The dedication and love that we have seen worldwide… It’s heartwarming, humbling and gratifying. It’s something I’m glad for me personally, in my lived experience on that show and this show.
I’ve had a great time. It’s been a formative part of my life and I don’t regret any of it. I’m just glad people were willing to stick with us – especially the people who transitioned over with us. Became adults along with us and came for the ride.
Thank you for your unwavering support, it means so much to us. We are very truly in every sense, doing this for you. This is our love letter to you.
Thank you for taking the time, Nathan. Best of luck with iCarly Season 3!
Nathan Kress: Thank you, absolutely, thanks for having me.