John Stamos is a beloved sitcom star circa 2023 for his role as Jesse Katsopolis – better known as Uncle Jesse – on Full House and later Fuller House. Once upon a time, however, he was a big name in soap operas as a star of General Hospital for more than 100 episodes, and he wasn't too confident about being part of Full House's family hijinks when filming the pilot.
He opened up about his very early days as Uncle Jesse in his new memoir, called If You Would Have Told Me. The 60-year-old actor discovered while filming the pilot back in 1987 that the live studio audience was loving the young actors playing the Tanner girls more than his own character. Stamos wrote (via Us Weekly):
I can already envision a future where the adorable child characters with their annoying catchphrases become sensations, while the rest of us exist to support their punchlines. Once the kids hit puberty and transform into awkward teenagers, I’ll be buried in the graveyard of forgotten surrogate fathers from shows like Webster or Diff’rent Strokes.
Webster and Diff'rent Strokes were both big comedy hits, with the former running for six seasons and the latter running for eight. But those shows also aren't exactly remembered most for the parental figures, and John Stamos could imagine Uncle Jesse fading into the background once D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) started to grow up.
He also wasn't wrong about the kids getting catchphrases, with "Oh Mylanta!" for D.J., "How rude!" for Stephanie (which was recently immortalized in tattoo form by one fan), and "You got it, dude!" for Michelle. Of course, Uncle Jesse was also known for "Have mercy!" in the show, so Stamos got a catchphrase of his own as well! Looking back in his book, Stamos also admitted that the very young Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen weren't making his job any easier early on in Full House, even giving an example:
Of course when it’s time for Stephanie’s line, ‘Are you going to cook Michelle?’ not a peep from Mary-Kate and/or Ashley. The audience laughs hysterically. Then like the little rug rat is punking us, she starts screaming right when Joey’s line comes out of his mouth.
Stamos also noted a scene with him and Dave Coulier – a.k.a. Joey – trying to act a scene of changing Michelle's diaper, and struggling to deliver his lines while Mary-Kate or Ashley was "wailing." In a very un-Uncle Jesse move, Stamos demanded that creator Jeff Franklin (who had to leave the Fuller House spinoff following disturbing allegations) recast the Olsen twins. While he did get them temporarily fired, he ultimately wanted Mary-Kate and Ashley back, and the Uncle Jesse/Michelle relationship went on to be one of the most endearing of the series.
The sisters did not return to play Michelle for the Fuller House series that brought most of the original cast back to their iconic roles, and Stamos has shared that he was previously angry about their decision. More recently, he shared some sweet throwback footage of the Olsen twins to congratulate Ashley on the birth of her son. The Uncle Jesse actor certainly has come a long way from when their on-set screaming left him wanting to cast a new set of babies!
And luckily, Stamos ultimately didn't leave Full House despite some rough days early on, and Uncle Jesse has become a beloved figure in sitcom history. He's also the character who Stamos has played the longest, as the actor is credited with 193 episodes of the original series and 17 episodes of Fuller House. All eight seasons of the original series are available streaming via Hulu subscription and/or Max subscription, while Fuller House is available for Netflix subscribers. John Stamos' memoir, If You Would Have Told Me, is available for purchase now.