Thompson and Mitchell tell PEOPLE about their rekindling their friendship ahead of re-teaming for 'Good Burger 2', out Wednesday on Paramount+
The funny duo, both 45, met as teenagers while working on the hit Nickelodeon sketch series All That in 1994. A friendship was spawned from there, resulting in them scoring the Kenan & Kel show. They later co-starred as Dexter (Thompson) and Ed (Mitchell) in the 1997 film Good Burger, which has since gone on to become a cult comedy classic.
Now, Thompson and Mitchell are reuniting 26 years later for the much-anticipated Good Burger sequel, out Wednesday. And while their onscreen reunion as the burger-slinging duo was a long time coming, the pair had to rekindle their friendship after growing distant as adults.
"It was just kind of seeking an individual establishment because we were children when we met and then we grew into adults," Thompson tells PEOPLE of what contributed to their strained friendship. "We had yet to kind of discover what our adult life was like without work being involved."
"Not that it was forced, but you're forced to go to work every day. You know what I'm saying?" he continues. "So we wanted a version where we were able to decide for ourselves what we were going to be doing and pursuing kind of thing."
According to the Saturday Night Live mainstay, "time" is what eventually allowed them to grow close again but it had been "ridiculously too long."
Mitchell, who compared their time apart to the experience of childhood friends who "go off [to] college," recalls a game-changing phone call that previously occurred between the two that ultimately put them back on the right track.
"I think we had a conversation on the phone one time. I remember that conversation," the Game Shakers alum says. "We talked for at least about an hour or two and just was like, 'Yeah, man.' We're talking about everything. And that bond was there, which I think is awesome. It's cool to see the dynamic of us as adults. Kenan and Kel as adults."
Noting how the pair aren't "twins," Thompson says the "forced thing of being around each other started to feel forced ... as opposed to we're excited to be on the show together and all that stuff."
"We had already done that. So then it was like, 'All right, now what?'" he adds. "So if we're going to be in a position where we're forced to work, we would want to be comfortable knowing that I am who I am, he is who he is, and we know who those people are. And then we know that they both work well together."
In thinking about what they cherish most about their friendship today, Thompson says it's "hard to put it in one word." However, Mitchell says it's "these moments" where they're able to be together that he relishes in.
"These are reminding moments," Mitchell continues. "It's a brotherhood. We've known each other since we were kids. We both had our own journeys and journeys together. It's a friendship that has been [able to last] over a test of time, which is super awesome."
Thompson says their friendship is "more solid than it ever was, if that was even possible."
"We were so bonded when we were young because we spent so much time working. And we spent so much time hanging out together as well, because we were very similar in our families. We're so close," he shares. "But now since it's been a departure and a return, it's like there will never be another departure. You know what I mean? We've already experienced the mysteries of, well, what if I went off and you went off and you did this? We've seen what that is."
Thompson adds, "Now, there's no fear of it or there's no feeling of we're missing out on any kind of thing or whatever. It's such a pleasure and that guaranteed somebody's got your back feeling at any given moment in the room. Everything is just easy."
The two former child stars always knew a Good Burger sequel was in their future. "While we were shooting the first one, we were in the mindset of, 'Wouldn't it be great to do another one?' Or several or whatever," Thompson shares. "Now, we're actually here with the second one. It's really awesome. It's a long road."
Thinking up a premise for a future installment, Mitchell jokes: "Yeah, we've talked to Vin Diesel already. We've got the cars. It's called Fast Burgers."
Though ideas for the franchise's future come to mind, Thompson and Mitchell never predicted the original would become such a hit. "It's hard to anticipate anything, especially when you're so young. We were just kids so I didn't really know how to predict if this story has an arc that's appealing to all these [generations]," says Thompson.
"We were just having fun and hoping people would enjoy watching us have fun, basically, if you will," he concludes. "So it's a blessing in disguise, for sure."
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Good Burger 2 premieres Wednesday on Paramount+.
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