Gregory Smith is the surge board of actors – you can plug him into this, plug him in that… he’s going to work every time.
You only need to AskJeeves for Smith’s filmography to see what a versatile and experienced actor he is – from Joe Dante’s “Small Soldiers” to the insanely popular drama series “Everwood” and now, hardcore exploitation actioner “Hobo With a Shotgun”, Smith refuses to be pigeonholed.
After spending several years on (or is it in?) ‘’Everwood’’, playing an angst-ridden teenager from the city who is forced to relocate with his father to a small mall-less town, Smith ostensibly looked for parts that were as far from that character as possible – not because he didn’t enjoy playing young Ephram Brown, he did, but because he felt the need to add more colours to his set.
2011 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the actor. Not only has he just shot the second season of popular cable cop series Rookie Blue (and believe me, ‘Dov’ is as far removed from Ephram as Basinger was to Baldwin circa 1996) but he stars in two very ‘grown-up’ and powerful movies, the aforementioned “Hobo with a Shotgun” – based on a short film, starring Rutger Hauer as a homeless Rambo – and “Conception”, an ensemble drama about how different couples became parents. I had the chance to catch up with Smith earlier this week to discuss these three exciting projects and… Superman. Yes, you heard me. Dude in the crimson undies.
So you’re shooting… You’re doing the second season of Rookie Blue at the moment, is that right?
Yeah. I just… I actually just finished it.
Okay. And has the current season started airing in the States yet?
No. It won’t start airing before the summer. I think last year we started end of June and I’m guessing it will be the same this year but it’s not official yet.
It’s showing here. Saturday nights they air it on the Universal Channel…
Cool. Is that like a… Is it on Diva Channel there or like 18th Street or something or…
Yes. It’s like a… It’s a channel like that, yeah. It used to be the Hallmark Channel, now it’s Universal.
Yeah. I think I remember recording some tags, “Hey, Australia you’re watching Rookie Blue’’. All that kind of stuff.
Great. Were you a little bit reluctant to go back and get tied up with another TV series after doing ‘’Everwood ‘’for so long?
I was definitely sort of careful about the one that I sort of pick… Decided to kind of go after. For me it was more of a decision about what kind of character I wanted to play rather than about the show because I didn’t realize… You don’t realize before you do it, when you do it for the first time that that character will become sort of a part of your life and somebody that you’re going to live with forever. And so yes, that was definitely something I thought about a lot. And I’m happy with the choice.
And have you found that audiences have accepted you as someone other than Ephram?
Yeah. Yeah. It’s good. People are sort of… I mean people will always sort of, I think, associate with me with Ephram or talk to me about Everwood but I’d say it’s just at the point now where more people are now sort of talking to me about Rookie Blue or about Dov.
That’s good. That’s good. And tell me, I mean do you keep in touch with the former costars of ‘’Everwood’’?
Yeah. I was just with… So in Canada we have this thing called the Genies which is sort of their film awards. And so I was at the Genies last week with Emily VanCamp, we presented one of the awards together. And I keep in touch regularly with the others… I went over to Chris Pratt’s house for an Oscar party recently. And also this winter, I went skiing with Treat [Williams], so I see him around.
That’s great. Treat’s doing very well, I guess. He’s back on the big screen, which is good.
Back on the big screen and he’s actually… I think he’s potentially going to be starting to work on another show.
Oh, good. Good stuff! I love that man’s work – from “Prince of the City” to “Dead Heat” and of course, “Everwood”. Good. You guys had great chemistry on that show… fantastic father and son turn. I’m not a usually huge fan of series or soaps, but ‘’Everwood’’ really sucked me in. I was watching it constantly. Great show. And my wife and I watch “Rookie Blue” – so well done on entertaining the Morris’s over and over.
Oh, cool. [laughter] Thank you.
I imagine you get to fit in one film, every hiatus or something?
Yeah. I try… Ideally in a perfect world, to do one… Sometimes you end up doing more and sometimes you don’t’ do any.
When did you get [your new film] ‘’Conception’’? When did you film it?
So Conception we filmed… I think it was last April maybe. Right around… Almost a year ago, right about a year ago.
Was it pretty easy to get roped into that [by writer/director Josh Stolberg, who you’d worked with on ‘’Kids in America”]?
Oh, yeah. I mean that was it. It was basically… Josh sort of just sent an email saying, “Hey, I’m working on this movie. It’s sort of a… ” I don’t know, I’m sure, has he told you sort of the way that the movie was great?
Somewhat…but go on..
So he was like, “I’m working on this kind of very, very, very small micro budget feature and there’s a part that I’d love you to play.” And so I basically was like reading… And not because it was Josh reading the script, it was sort of almost a formality. It was something I had to do just to sort of know what I was getting myself into but pretty much anything I would’ve done. And when I read the script I was very pleasantly surprised because [laughter] it was probably the most fun day of shooting I’ve ever had. [laughter]
So that was just a day, was it?
It was just one day, yeah. Every person in the movie just worked for one day.
Oh. I didn’t know that. That’s awesome. Wow. That explains how Josh crammed in so many faces into the movie…
It was a long day.
He was telling me that… We’re talking the other day and he said, “The first thing you got to ask Gregory is how he enjoyed doing his sex scene.”
[laughter] I mean that’s pretty much all I did. It was like one big kind sex scene, and yeah, it was certainly awkward at first but Julie Bowen, the girl that I was working with, is like the most incredible person to work with.
Really? She’s a gem of an actress…
In the real world she’s just so funny and if there’s anybody that you wanted to be sort of working within a situation like that who would kind of alleviate the sort of the nervousness and kind of make everything just fun and comfortable, it was her.
And you got to film some of the stuff; didn’t you way hang onto the camera half the time?
Yeah. There was basically Julie and I each were responsible for filming for one setup, which was fun. This is like that kind of… These are all the kinds of things that always make the job interesting and fun especially with the way like movies are sort of being made or can be made these days.
It was really like a big sort of family environment, too.
That’s good, that’s good. Was it Julie that you worked and that was pretty much it?
Okay. I got it.
All my scenes, at least. Yeah.
Have you seen the film yet?
I haven’t seen the whole thing. I’ve seen a few of the scenes in ADR, but I think I’m going to see it April 6 for the first time.
Okay. And tell me about ‘’Hobo With A Shotgun’’, I mean, that was a hit at South By Southwest, wasn’t it?
Yeah. We got Sundance and South By Southwest and it’s crazy and it’s like the most… It’s just probably the most violent intense like crazy movie that I’ve ever been a part and arguably that’s maybe ever been made. [chuckle]
I can imagine! [chuckle] And who do you play in that?
I play a bad guy in that.
Oh really? Nice, man!
I’m just, out of all, like the movie is the most disgusting kind of crazy movie that I can describe and I would be the worst offender.
Oh wow. Wow. That’s different for you.
Real, real, bad, bad guy. It was an interesting challenge, yeah.
And how was it working with Rutger?
Awesome. He was again another… It was like stepping through the screen and you are working with the legend.
Yeah, yeah. I bet. I interviewed him for the “Blade Runner” release maybe a couple of years ago, he was terrific. I think we talked for like an hour and a half just about movies and all those stuff. And he was so frank and so honest about how he works. Yeah, he’s a legend. And ‘’Dream House’’, I believe you got ‘’Dream House’’ coming up.
Yeah. Dream House I worked on at the same time as Conception… like I flew back to being at Conception for a day and then went back to keep working on Dream House.
I don’t know anything about it, when it’s going to come out or anything yet. And I haven’t seen it yet. I think they’re still maybe doing some reshoots and stuff like that.
Okay. And did you work with James Bond himself, Daniel Craig?
I did, yeah.
Were you shaken? Stirred?
It was a treat.
Yeah. He’s a great actor, too. Was that the last film you completed? The ‘’Dream House’’ gig?
Actually, Hobo was the last one I did. Hobo, right before I went back to work on the show.
Okay. And what’s next for you now you’ve done season two of ‘’Rookie Blue’’?
Yeah, right now I’m kind of holding out. I’m really proud and happy with the work I did last year so I’m hoping to… I’m just waiting to see, been trying to find something …hopefully I’ll find a good movie to do in the next month or two, and if not then I’ll just hold on until season three of the show.
Surely you can bag a role in one of [‘’Everwood’’ creator] Greg Berlanti’s superhero movies, right? Isn’t he doing “”?
Oh, Berlanti. Yeah, yeah. I know. I think I have to put on twenty pounds of muscle though first before I can try on any of those superhero outfits.
[laughter] You’ll never know, you’ll never know. I think they put a muscle suit on Brandon Routh in ‘’Superman Returns’’. He’s probably six foot something, that’s the difference.
I’ve known Brandon since like one of my first days in LA and he really is that ripped.
He’s like superman.
No, no, there’s no muscle suit there. Yeah.
And I have to admit, I am super cheesed that he’s not returning for the new film… Superman isn’t returning in the form of Brandon Routh.
Yeah, me too, me too.
But back to you, you never know, you never know. Look, you could get your shot, you could get your shot on the big screen as a superhero, too. Shall we kick off a petition!?
I can play like Mr. Skinny or something.
There you go, that’s a villain, that’s a villain.
Yeah. A bad man.
Yeah but after Chris Nolan wraps up his ‘’Batman’’ trilogy they may introduce Robin, bring Joe Schumacher in.
[laughter] There you go! Robin..
‘’Conception’’ premieres tonight at the Palm Beach Film Festival and will play at the Beverly Hills Film Festival on April 6
“Hobo with a Shotgun” premiered at Sundance in January and is due for general release shortly.