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Speaking to PEOPLE exclusively, Kress — who plays Freddie Benson on the beloved children's series and its adult predecessor — reveals what initially kickstarted his journey in rewatching the original Nickelodeon show and how his 4-year-old daughter comes into play.
"It's funny. When I knew that the show was happening, we had a few-month window where production hadn't started yet but I knew that I was going to be involved. One of the research pieces that I wanted to do was to go back through and watch the show because I knew there were going to be details that I would forget," the 29-year-old actor and director says.
"I wanted to get back into what Freddie sounded like, how he talked, how he reacted to things," he explains. "So I did the math on how many episodes of iCarly there were, and how little time I had between when the kids went to bed and when I had to go to bed."
Kress continues, "I knew that there was no way that I was going to be able to watch all of the episodes before we went into production. So I actually did start watching it with my oldest daughter."
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The rewatch experience has proven to be enjoyable for both Kress and his daughter.
"She has her little routine when the credits go on. It goes through all the names. She's like, 'Here comes Daddy! Here comes Daddy! Here comes Daddy! Daddy!' " he says. "It's been very fun to do that with her and to have a piece of content that, even though she's young, she can still understand and enjoy. And it's actually been a bizarre bonding experience for us."
But Kress admits the iCarly rewatch "has gotten us into some interesting situations."
"She was at gymnastics the other day, and a girl came up to her and said, 'My dad's a firefighter.' And then she just turned to her and she's like, 'Oh, my daddy does iCarly.' And that was the end of that discussion,' " he recalls. "She has her mic dropped that she can just throw out."
"So we're trying to make sure that she doesn't just go throwing that around because we don't want her accidentally humble bragging without realizing what she's doing," adds Kress.
Kress shares daughters Rosie and Evie, 14 months, with wife London Elise Kress. The couple has been married since 2015.
Since becoming a father to two daughters, Kress has learned a lot along the way. But the most important thing he's come to realize is the importance of time.
"It has taught me that my time and my life are not my own. And that for this phase of life, there's an incredible amount of investment that's required to raise well-rounded, loving, kind children with character and integrity," he explains.
"And for that reason, I've had to really learn to prioritize my time and make the most of the time that I have with my kids, but then also not sacrificing too much on my time with my wife," he continues. "And then at the same time, also not sacrificing too much on time for myself, taking care of myself and doing things that I enjoy."
Kress plays a father and divorcé on the iCarly revival, which premiered on Paramount+ last year. He admits he had a "ton of hesitation" in returning to reprise his role as Benson.
"Reviving a project like this comes with so much risk because it was so very beloved by our generation. And in a world where there's a lot of properties being rebooted or revived or revisited or redone in some way, there's an automatic response that people have where they don't want people messing with their childhood and things that they loved when they were kids," he says.
"So, the stakes were incredibly high that if we didn't do this right, that it would tarnish the iCarly universe and their memories of the show, and what they loved about it," he explains. "So we had to be really careful with what we wanted the show to be."
One of the things that got Kress "on board with the idea of this show" was the arc of his character, who is a single parent struggling to find his path in life. "Selfishly, from the acting perspective, I was excited about it," he says.
"He starts the show at the absolute bottom, but he refuses to stay there. So that was a cool thing, was just the fact that he was determined to bounce back from all of this stuff," he adds. "And at the same time, he didn't let it bring down his attitude."
New episodes of iCarly air Fridays on Paramount+.