“We used to run into each other all the time at all the hot spots and at parties, but we didn’t know each other well,” Johnson tells PEOPLE in a joint interview with Marin in this week’s issue. “So we’d get in the car and start filling in the blanks on stories that we each knew part of. We’d be laughing for 12, 14 hours a day.”
Twenty-five years later, Johnson, 71, and Marin, 75, are still perfectly in step — and as funny as ever — as they reprise their roles from the hit series for a TV movie premiering Saturday on USA Network.
“It was like coming home,” says Marin. “Don and I are like the Everly Brothers. We harmonize well.”
For all the details on Don Johnson and Cheech Marin’s reunion, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
While Johnson agrees “it felt like no time had passed at all,” he says there were some things that felt different this time around.
“We’re a little bit older, but you can’t tell,” he says. “It’s amazing what they can do with smoke and mirrors. Now we use spackle for makeup.”
“Or pothole filler,” Marin suggests. “You know those tanks the road crews use?”
“Yeah, we call them up early, and they come over and fix the street and our faces,” Johnson responds with a laugh.
“Don is my brother from another mother,” says Marin. “We like being together, and we have a good time.”
Over the years, not only have Johnson and Marin become close, but so have their families. (Johnson is dad to Jesse, 38, Dakota, 32, Grace, 21, Jasper, 19, and Deacon, 15, and Marin to Carmen, 43, Joey, 36, Jason, 29, and Max, 25.)
“We’re involved in each other’s lives,” says Johnson. “He always asks about my kids, and I ask about his kids. He knew Dakota when she was 8 and playing tricks and pranks on everybody on the set.”
“I’d always ask her, ‘What did you say your name was, little girl? Potato?’ ‘No!’ ‘Well, why do they call you Potato?’ ‘They don’t call me Potato. Just you,'” Marin recalls. “Little Potato’s a movie star now!”
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As for how it feels to be at this point in their lives and careers, Marin describes it in one word: thankful. “I’m very thankful to have arrived at this place,” he says. “It was not a life wasted.”
Johnson similarly says he feels “such a sense of gratitude and freedom” these days. “We’re in a tough business, so you have to be on your toes to stick around as long as we have,” he adds.
Asked whether they’ve thought about retiring, Marin says he thinks about it “all the time,” which then “prompts more jobs to come my way.”
Johnson agrees that it’s like “reverse psychology.”
“The problem with retiring is that I really love what I do,” he says. “I think that there’s going to be a natural phasing out eventually. But the beautiful thing about our profession is as long as they can prop you up somewhere and you can remember to say the lines when they say ‘action,’ hell, you can do this. Smoke and mirrors, baby.”
The Nash Bridges revival movie premieres Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network.