When The Wonder Years' Dulé Hill Truly Felt Connected To His Reboot Character

Dulé Hill in The Wonder Years
(Image credit: ABC/YouTube)

Beloved late ‘80s-early ‘90s coming-of-age dramedy The Wonder Years is the latest series to be rebooted. This time around it centers on a Black middle-class family in Alabama in the late 1960s. Emmy-nominated actor and The West Wing star Dulé Hill portrays Bill Williams, father to main character Dean, played by Elisha Williams. His musical roots and heartfelt scenes have already made him a big winner, and now Hill is sharing when he truly felt connected to his character.

Bill Williams is known as a “cool dad” with his quick quips, and critics have been praising Dulé Hill for his raw talent in his emotional scenes. When asked how he knew he was right for the role, Hill told TV Guide just when he felt connected to Bill and why it was so important for him to be part of this reboot:

Wow, that's a good question. How did I know? Just something connected to me about this story and this role from the first time that I heard about it. When I saw that they were re-imagining the story of The Wonder Years, about a black family in Alabama, I turned to my wife and said, 'Jasmine, if I was going to do a network television, this is the exact kind of show that I would want to do.' It's showing a family unit, it's filled with love, it's filled with laughter, it's filled with levity, but it's also filled with heart and showing the challenges of life. And I thought that it would be something that would really connect me in. Even more so when I found out that Bill Williams was a musician.

Dulé Hill went on to share that he realized the role would be perfect for him when he was able to embody the "rhythm" and "flavor" and "swag" of a musician, with his own history as a tap dancer and growing up around jazz artists. He was inspired by how those "jazz cats" would "move through life."  He explained further about when it came to actually feeling fully connected to Bill, and it has to do with The Wonder Years showrunner Saladin K. Patterson:

It's funny, the character never fully came to fruition for me in terms of who this guy is until we were doing the hair test for the show, just before we started filming. And I was sitting there with the barber on the show -- for myself, anyway, and I asked him, I said, 'Would a part be right for this time period?' And he said, 'Yeah,' he said, 'Yeah, it would be.' I said, 'Can we try to put a part right here?' And he put the part in my head, and when he put the part in my head, I said, 'This is the guy!' I said, 'Can we call Saladin and see if...?' And Saladin came over and I asked him if he dug it and he said, 'Oh yeah, this is it.' It's weird that that's what connected me fully to Bill Williams, but putting the part in my hair is what did it. That started to really inform me that much further about who this guy is. It's random, but that's the facts.

If it works, it works! I guess sometimes you just need to really figure out what makes makes your character tick to make your character feel multidimensional. Dulé Hill has been bringing such emotion and comedy to Bill Williams already after just four episodes, and it's probably safe that say that his performance is only going to get better as he settles into the role. After all, it can't be easy being on the reboot of such a popular and loved series.

The Wonder Years airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC!

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.