The Wonder Years’ Julian Lerner Discusses Brad’s Bar Mitzvah Episode


Julian Lerner has quite an impressive career for a young teenager. In March of 2021, he was seen in the Netflix family film Yes Day. He’s in the animated series Alma’s Way for PBS, and he’s filming a new movie.

Lerner is currently starring as Brad Hitman on the ABC reboot of The Wonder Years. Brad is 12-year-old Dean’s best friend, who is intelligent and humorous.

On Wonder Years Season 1 Episode 11, Lerner had a major Brad-centric episode, called “Brad Mitzvah,” where Brad grew nervous about his Bar Mitzvah speech.

Press pic of Julian Lerner

TV Fanatic chatted with Lerner about this special episode, working with Fred Savage, and the sequel of Netflix’s Yes Day.

Hi Julian. It’s great to chat with you again. How have you been?

Thank you! Great to chat with you too. Things are great!

Currently, you star as Brad Hitman in The Wonder Years reboot, which premiered on ABC in the fall. Could you describe the reboot and your character for those who haven’t seen it yet?

The Wonder Years is set in the late 1960s and takes a nostalgic look at the Williamses, a black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama.

Brad's Bar Mitzvah

The show is told through the perspective of 12-year old Dean and his grown-up self, who narrates the show. Brad is one of Dean’s best friends and is funny, energetic, and a good friend.

The January 12th episode focused on Brad’s Bar Mitzvah. How much did you know about Judaism and its traditions? Did you research it for this episode?

I am Jewish, so I am well versed in Judaism. My great-grandparents are holocaust survivors, and my grandmother was born in the woods during the war. To share Jewish life in this episode means a great deal to my family and me.

It seemed realistic trying to fit in junior high and deal with Hebrew Studies. How were those scenes for you?

Brad Hitman

Yael Galena, the writer for this episode, really hit the nail on the head. Fitting in is a primary concern for everyone in junior high.

Then add something that makes a kid feel different, and anxiety sneaks right in. I am in 8th grade in real life, so I can bring real-life experience to my acting when filming the scenes.

I loved when Dean interrupted the service to give Brad support. Such a fun bromance moment. Tell us what it’s like working with Elisha ‘EJ’ Williams.

Working with EJ is excellent! Working with an actor my age is remarkable. We can relate to each other on so many levels. EJ is a talented actor and a good friend.

Let's Party

How long has Brad been crushing on Kim?

Brad has been crushing on Kim from the very beginning of season 1! He remains determined to get her to notice him.

So Fred Savage, the star of the original Wonder Years, directed this episode. What was it like working with him?

Could any young actor ask for a better role model than Fred Savage? He’s been there, he lived it, and he helps all of us kids navigate the process in such a thoughtful way.

Fred is patient, fun, and has incredible energy. I look up to Fred, and I learn so much from him.

Julian Lerner and Fred Savage

I heard Yes Day is getting a sequel. Have you started filming yet, and can you give me any info?

I can confirm Yes Day is getting a sequel! I am so crazy excited! I can’t say anything else yet.

What else are you working on?

I am working on a feature film called Boys of Summer directed by David Henrie. Boys of Summer is set in Martha’s Vineyard. Kids keep disappearing, and one kid from four best friends disappears, so the remaining three friends set out to solve the mystery of what is happening to them.

Another press pic of Julian Lerner

A cranky retired detective played by Mel Gibson joins the kids to help solve the case. I play Eugene Wexler, a mini JFK, with dreams of becoming President of the United States one day. Eugene is one of the three friends trying to solve the mystery.

He is an island resident and is curious but always cautious because he is worried that getting into trouble could wreak havoc with his reputation.

You can catch Julian Lerner currently on The Wonder Years.

Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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