Soleil Moon Frye reveals how shocking Hulu doc ‘Kid 90’ got so personal

Soleil Moon Frye said she never intended for “Kid 90” to expose so much.

Now streaming on Hulu, the raw, revealing documentary sees the “Punky Brewster” star examine her teen years through her old diaries, video footage and even voicemail messages — interspersed with recent interviews with her fellow ‘90s child and teen star pals including Brian Austin Green, David Arquette, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Balthazar Getty.

Some featured players survived an often unforgiving industry — others met tragically untimely ends.

“There were so many memories that I had buried away,” Frye, 44, told The Post. 

“The way I remembered our lives had been so joyful, full of light and love and bliss. And then there was also a great deal of pain,” said Frye, who’s currently starring in the new “Punky Brewster” revival on the Peacock streaming platform. “I didn’t realize in opening up the Pandora’s Box [of old videos] just what an emotional journey this was going to be. When I set out to make the documentary, it wasn’t focused on me at all. And then as I peeled back the onion more and more and dug deeper, it became this deeply personal coming of age story — both of the teen me and the adult me. I was surprised every step of the way.”

s a teenager in the ‘90s, Soleil Moon Frye carried a video camera everywhere she went, documenting her group of friends as they grew up in Hollywood and New York City. kid 90 is a coming-of-age story that explores how sometimes we need to look back to find our way forward. Pictured: Will Smith, Soleil Moon Frye  and Mark Whalberg
Throughout the the ‘90s, Soleil Moon Frye — seen here with a young Will Smith and Mark Wahlberg — carried a video camera everywhere she went, documenting her group of friends as they grew up in Hollywood and NYC. “Kid 90” is a coming-of-age story that explores how sometimes we need to look back to find our way forward.

Frye, who became famous at age 7 for playing the plucky lead in NBC sitcom “Punky Brewster” (1984-1988), filmed many of her teenage partying antics long before Gen Z made that practice ubiquitous — and as “Kid 90” shows, her social circle included just about every young person in Hollywood of the era. 

“There were like, 12 kids in the business, so we all knew each other,” Brian Austin Green, 47, explained on-screen. 

Personal revelations in the documentary include Frye’s body image issues as a teen (when she was cruelly dubbed ‘Punky Boobster’) leading to her breast reduction surgery at age 16; losing her virginity to Charlie Sheen (she dubs him her “Mr. Big), her relationship with House of Pain rapper Daniel “Danny Boy” O’Connor (“It was confusing. We were dating other people, but then we’d kiss but we were also best friends,” Frye said on-screen) and losing friends tragically too soon, such as actor/model Jonathan Brandis, who died by suicide in 2003. 

Soleil Moon Frye and Jonathan Brandis in a flashback scene from "Kid 90."
Soleil Moon Frye and Jonathan Brandis in a flashback scene from “Kid 90.”
Soleil Moon Frye

“It was incredible sitting in the edit bay listening to the audio recordings and watching the videos and weeping throughout the process,” she said. “Jonathan [Brandis] and I would have this funny thing where we would fill up each other’s voicemails. So he would leave me these 20-30 minute messages to fill up the tape on my machine, and then in the last 30 seconds would be him sharing his true feelings. To hear those messages was a gift — and also it was incredibly painful. It was also so beautiful discovering footage that I didn’t even know was there, like him coming to visit me after the hospital [breast reduction surgery]. I certainly asked myself, ‘Could I have been there more for my friends. Did I do enough?’”

Digging into the darker parts of her teen years for the documentary was “incredibly therapeutic,” she said. “There was a lot of contemplation and processing.”

There were also plenty of detours down memory lane that were fun. Over the four years she spent making “Kid 90”, she also reconnected with old friends who appear in it, she said. 

“Brian [Austin Green] and I had not caught up a whole lot over the years and he’s always been one of the closest people in my life. And so that was just amazing to reconnect. We shared so much of our lives together. There were things that were so funny because I would read from a diary to Brian and we’d be completely picking on each other the way we did as kids, like ‘Oh is that how you remember it? Really?’”

The duo reminisced about a particular incident in which a then-12 year old Green stole a motorcycle from a  friend’s older brother and drove it to Frye’s house. 

“It’s so funny to be like ‘Wow, that really happened!’” she said. 

Soleil Moon Frye as Punky Brewster in the '80s and today, as the director of the new documentary "Kid 90."
Soleil Moon Frye as Punky Brewster in the 1984 and today, as the director of the new documentary “Kid 90.”
Everett Collection/Hulu

She also named Daniel “Danny Boy” O’Connor as someone she reconnected with through “Kid 90.” 

“I had been so crazy about Danny as a teenager, and I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years. It was so special to then see him again after all those years. I had questioned [our memories], but it was amazing to see that so much of our memories were a shared experience.”

Frye said she didn’t consider editing out the more painful or personal parts. She also did not notify everyone who appears in “Kid 90” in advance. (Other well-known faces who appear in old footage include Mario Lopez and Mark Wahlberg).

“I hadn’t spoken to everyone [in it],” she said. “But I was always filming and my camera was always exposed, so everyone knew that I was documenting everything. I really felt like I needed to be as honest as possible. I felt like I really needed to share what was there and be authentic to it. The videos and the diaries were chronological blueprints that my teen self — I felt — had left for my adult self to really find her way back to the person that she once was.”

Frye teased that she has “hours” more footage of ’90s icons growing up and partying as teens and is eager to do future follow-up documentaries to “Kid 90.”

“Let’s just say there’s more of everyone. There’s so many more people that are such icons that are just ready for sharing. There’s so many great moments of so many people growing up — hundreds of hours of video and audio recordings. It really is a treasure trove. So I’m like, ‘We need to make many of these!’”


New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button