Silver Spoons and Fighting Seasons: Ricky Schroder and Me

Ricky Schroder may be the best pop culture indicator of whether a person was born before or after 1985. Mention his name to those born after that year, and chances are good they’ll smile blankly. But someone born before that year will light up. They’ll yammer about how heartbreaking he was in 1979’s “The Champ,” and how funny he was in the 1980s sitcom “Silver Spoons” with Jason Bateman. If these don’t resonate, they’ll recall his work in the 1990s series “NYPD Blue.” And they’ll invariably tell you: “You know, he prefers to be called Rick now.”

These days, Rick Schroder goes by “Ricky” again, and he’s been busy behind the camera instead of in front of it. He’s the producer and creator of “The Fighting Season,” a six-episode DirecTV docu-series about 100 days in the run-up to last year’s Afghan presidential elections. No matter how you feel about U.S. involvement in that part of the world, the show offers a fascinating glimpse into how our military wages contemporary battles, with the sort of footage that used to proliferate the nightly news in the Vietnam War era but is increasingly rare these days.

For AOL Build, I got a chance to talk with Ricky about “The Fighting Season” as well as his feelings about being a longtime show-biz veteran. (Spoiler: He’s pretty over the Hollywood scene, and only stays in touch with Robert Duvall and Jon Voight.) Easygoing and generous of spirit, Ricky is that rare star who is as pleasant in person as he seems on screen.

Here’s our full conversation:

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy