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Freddie Prinze Jr. Explains Why His Marriage With Sarah Michelle Gellar Works After 20 Years Together (Exclusive)

Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar have been together for two decades. So, what’s the key to their happy marriage? Spoiler alert: There isn’t one.

“There’s no keys. There’s no rules. There’s nothing like that. I don’t believe in false expectations,” the GEGG WARS: Galaxy of Crime actor, 43, exclusively tells Us Weekly. “I just believe in knowing who you are when you start a relationship. And if you don’t, then that relationship probably isn’t going to work.”

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Prinze Jr. and Gellar, 42, first met on set of the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer. Their friendship didn’t turn romantic, however, until they decided to catch up one night for dinner. As it turns out, their mutual friend missed their flight and couldn’t make it.

“For Sarah and I, we’re very private people. We try to make each other laugh, and we both kind of knew who we were,” Prinze Jr. explains. “Hollywood’s a crazy business ’cause there’s very few locals here. … And we can pick you out of a crowd. It’s like a lion seeing the weak gazelle. So, when you come out here, and you don’t know who you are, this business will define you and it will put its fingerprints all over you. It wants to do that. It needs to do that. And if you do know who you are, then you can kind of control your own destiny much more easily.”

Freddie Prinze Jr Explains Why His Marriage With Sarah Michelle Gellar Works After 20 Years Together
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar attend the premiere of “Hairspray” held at the Odeon Westend in Leicester Square in London on July 5, 2007. Goff/

He adds: “The same rule applies in a relationship. If you don’t know who you are when you get in that relationship, odds are the other person is going to have a big hand in defining what kind of person you’re going to be. Or, and worse, if you pretend to be someone else, that’s a lie you’ve got to live forever if you want that relationship to work out forever. So, knowing yourself is sort of the key to doing it.”

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Prinze Jr. and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum have been cognizant of that since they started dating. “I played video games since I was a little boy. Sarah knew I played video games. If she ever gave me a hard time about playing video games, Sarah and I would not be together. Period. There would be no us. We’d just be friends ’cause I’m not giving up something I love because you don’t think it’s cool. And conversely, Sarah likes what she likes. I don’t trash reality television. I don’t trash any. If she digs it, cool,” he explains to Us. “If you love and respect someone, what brings them joy should make you happy, whether you’re involved with it or not. So, let your girls watch what they want to watch. Let your dudes watch what they want to watch. Don’t give them a hard time. And if you find yourself in one of those relationships, maybe it’s time to have a conversation.”

While sticking to this principle, the couple have since appeared in the Scooby-Doo film franchise and welcomed two kidsdaughter Charlotte, 10, and son Rocky, 7. They’ve also recently teamed up again onscreen for the Cascade dishwasher detergent’s Do It Every Night campaign. The partnership promotes dishwashers over handwashing in support of national water conservation.

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“We had a blast. We hadn’t done it in so long and because we never wanted to work together — as we just thought that would be a boring movie to watch. Two people’s struggle to be together for an hour and a half when you know they go home together every day,” Prinze Jr. says. “Scooby was this sort of outlier. I just didn’t want to be separated for six and a half months with this person that I had just fallen in love with. So, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that.’ Flew out there and did it. So, that one I didn’t really ever think [it was the] kind of movie people would expect to see us in. So, when this came down, we kind of had the same reaction that you did when we read the pitch and we both laughed, thought it was real slick, thought it was real smart, and we both thought we could have a lot of fun.”

In the campaign, the pair explain how four gallons of water are used every time the sink is on for two minutes — which is an entire load in the dishwasher. “I thought I was like a conservationist level at black-belt, and I was hand-washing stuff, never using the dishwasher … It was kind of humbling. Now, I never use the sink anymore. We only use the dishwasher,” he says. “I was born here in California, so it was nice to finally learn the correct way to do things and it’s way easier. And it’s way less work for me. I cook and clean most of the time. Although, Sarah sometimes will do the cleaning. If I cook, she feels bad for me, takes pity on me. But most of the time I just try to do both just to knock it out and get it out of the way. And it definitely made our lives easier.”

For now, Prinze Jr. and Gellar “don’t have any plans” to work professionally again — but there is always hope. “I’ll never say never,” he says.

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