Kurtwood Smith chuckled when I told him he has great “icy eyes.”
He uses them well for both comedy and drama.
Seeing Smith (pictured above, second from left) in the drama series Resurrection, the second season of which begins Sunday, Sept. 28 on ABC and CTV, those icy eyes reflect turmoil. But back in Smith’s signature comedy role as grumpy dad Red Forman in That ’70s Show, those icy eyes always made me laugh.
I don’t know how quality actors do that.
“Neither do I – sounds great, though,” said Smith, laughing.
“I think you’re probably right in terms of the turmoil you’re talking about in Resurrection. That’s exactly what’s going on for my character (Henry Langston). He has so many different things in his mind and in his heart.
“In comedy usually the approach is simpler, although the technique is not. For the characters in comedy, you’ve got stuff that you need to lay out to set up laughs, and you hit those, while at the same time kind of enjoying what you’re doing. You probably see a little bit more fun reflected in my eyes when I’m doing comedy.”
Well, there was nothing but confusion and stress in those peepers in the first season of Resurrection, and understandably so. Smith’s character Henry and wife Lucille (Frances Fisher) were confronted by the return of their son Jacob (Landon Gimenez), who had disappeared 32 years previously when he was eight. But when Jacob came back, he hadn’t aged.
Lucille went with her heart, believing it was her son right away. Henry went with his head, because this simply wasn’t possible, right?
“But what happened throughout the show in that first season for my character, his arc primarily was coming around to accepting (Jacob),” Smith said. “So it became much more of an emotional journey for him in that sense.”
Jacob’s re-emergence was followed by the return of several other previously dead people in Arcadia, Missouri, all of them the same age as they were when they died. Obviously, the residents of the town who had just lived normal lives and hadn’t gone anywhere were faced with a maze of moral dilemmas. And there also was the complication of nefarious government agencies poking around.
As for the first episode of the second season, without getting too specific if you haven’t heard about anything, let’s just say that people have not stopped coming back from the dead.
“In season two Henry has a new character come back in the first episode, which kind of changes the entire dynamic,” Smith said. “Myself and my brother, for example, have different ideas and different appreciation for (what has happened), and the same with my wife. So that really shakes up the whole family-at-large dynamic.
“And then, of course, there’s still the business of how the ‘returned’ are being treated. And also, Henry always has to look out for Jacob. So my character has all of that going on and a little bit more. But he’s not quite as torn up as he was in that first season.
“At a certain point, you just end up dealing with things, and not having enough time to really reflect on them and worry. It’s more, ‘What am I gonna do?’ You get up in the morning and you have a house full of dead people.”
I just had to ask, what would Red Forman have said if his son Eric (Topher Grace) had disappeared and then suddenly returned after 32 years, without having aged, in That ’70s Show?
“Red would say, ‘Oh for God’s sake, not you again, dumb-ass!’ ” Smith barked.
There he goes again, switching from drama to comedy. All with those icy eyes.
“A lot of it is what you’re reading into it as well,” said Kurtwood Smith, laughing again. “I’ll go with it, though. As long as you’re enjoying it, that’s fine with me.”