09/26/2014 11:25 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:53 EDT

Kurtwood Smith On 'Resurrection' Season 2, Playing Red, And His Many TV Children And Wives


Kurtwood Smith has played so many fathers on TV and in movies, you can be forgiven for making him your own honourary TV dad. Probably best-known for his most mainstream role as the curmudgeonly Red Forman on "That '70s Show," Smith now plays Henry Langston on "Resurrection," now entering its second season.

The show, which famously features people reappearing alive after being dead for many years, is going in yet another direction for Season 2. HuffPost Canada TV spoke with Smith when he was in Toronto; after gushing about "RoboCop," we chatted about "Resurrection" Season 2 and what it's like for him to see all the "'70s" kids all grown up.

HuffPost Canada TV: Your career is insanely diverse, broad spectrum, from "RoboCop" to "Dead Poets Society" to "That '70s Show"...

Kurtwood Smith: I surprise myself when I look at IMDB or something. They list all the cartoons and that pads it up a little bit. [Laughs]

What made you want to join "Resurrection"?

The character. He was a different thing for me, being the sorta "straight" guy. Just a good guy who's faced with crisis in his life. It's not usually the parts I play - I'm the guy who starts the crisis. I liked the way he sounded, and all the dialogue just sounded right.

When you first read the script, did the main storyline about the missing child affect you on a personal level in any way?

Yeah, absolutely. And then having that child come back raises such a complicated issue. On one hand, that's what everybody wants, but then on the other, it's like how can this be? This doesn't make any sense. When my wife [the character, Lucille, played by Frances Fisher] is so totally accepting of it, it creates problems.

You're also great at comedy. Do you prefer that or drama, or do you tend to shoot for diversity in your career?

I do like variety. I do this for a couple of months, but then I'm like, "C'mon, gimme a joke!" [Laughs] I calm down eventually. It was the same on "'70s," when I'd be like, "Ugh, can't I just do some drama or something?! What's with these jokes all the time?"

But at least as Red Forman you were able to mix in some touching moments.

Red was such a great character. Everybody could see through that guy -- he's funny, he loved his kids, and he'd do anything for them, especially torture them! My stepdad was a bit like that, and kind of who I based Red on. He's written, in a sense ... the writers said that inspiration for Red came from their fathers, or their stepfathers, or another male figure in their lives. So I think that kind of resonated with people.

You probably get called Red on the street all the time.

I do. All the time. They want me to yell at them. They want me to call them "dumbass." [Laughs]

What's it like for you to see the kids from "'70s" all grown up, and for the most part very successful?

I'm not surprised, and I'm very proud of all of them. They do good work - and lately I've been watching a lot of Laura [Prepon]'s work on "Orange Is The New Black." She's just great, and so totally different. She's matured so much as an actress. Mila, too. She was only 14 when we shot the pilot.

So as Season 1 of "Resurrection" progressed, the show got more multi-layered and mysterious. Did you like the way the show evolved?

Yeah, the show does that a lot. It does that again at the beginning of Season 2 -- it goes in a completely different direction than the end of Season 1.

What can you tell me about Season 2?

Most people are aware that Michelle Fairley ["Game Of Thrones"] is on the show now, and she's going to be playing my mother. The character is supposed to be 15-20 years younger than my character, so that sets up an unusual dynamic because we're mother-son, but she's much younger than I am. In this instance, I'M the one who's overjoyed to see her back, and my wife is not. My brother is also a skeptic. Henry has become Mr. Middle, in a sense, he's in the middle of everybody trying to get things going.

We also have a big family dinner scene that just turns into a nightmare. Part of the reason it goes so badly is because ... well, I insist on bringing someone to the party. You'll see.

How is Landon as a child actor?

I'm just so impressed with him, although I would never let him know that. [Laughs] He's such a nice kid, and he's always prepared. He never acts up, he doesn't get tired and cranky. I love working with him because it's so fresh and innocent -- I actually learn some stuff from him. I haven't worked with a lot of child actors. He calls me Dad all the time, and we have a very fun relationship.

It's like you have many kids throughout the industry!

And wives! Think about all the different wives! [Laughs]

"Resurrection" Season 2 premieres on September 28, 2014 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV in Canada and on ABC in the U.S.