As Major Evan Lorne on Stargate SG-1, Kavan Smith helped safeguard Earth from attack by the alien Goa’uld, while on Stargate Atlantis the major and his fellow Atlantis teammates risked their lives to protect the legendary metropolis from the Wraith, whose ultimate goal was to get to Earth and turn the planet into their new feeding ground.
Nowadays the actor is once again protecting others, only this time closer to home, as the humanoid robot Deputy Andy on Eureka. Introduced in the show’s third year, Andy replaced Jack Carter as town sheriff by order of General Mansfield. However, in Eureka’s fourth season alternate timeline, the robotic Andy was once again deputy and ultimately sacrificed himself in order to help Sheriff Carter and Dr. Trevor Grant shut down an out-of-control experiment. Lucky for Andy, Douglas Fargo was able to rebuild him, better than ever and with a new face, which is how Smith came to book the job.
“Funnily enough, I didn’t even know I was taking over someone else’s role [Defying Gravity’s Ty Olsson played the first Deputy Andy] until I was well into playing the character,” notes Smith. “The audition itself was a fairly simple process. When I went in I was told, ‘No robot acting. Just keep it straightforward and make him sweet and lovable in a 50s sort of way.’ I was also told that they had offers out to some bigger-name actors in the States, so I didn’t think much of my chances. However, two weeks went by and I got a call late one night asking me, ‘How quickly can you be in wardrobe tomorrow?’
“I was sent a DVD of some of Ty Olsson’s work on the program and I watched it just to get a sense of what he did and how I would differ, and I think they are totally different performances. After the first couple of episodes I started to make Andy my own and kind of put my brand on him so to speak. And I’ve got to be honest with you, I love playing him. He’s so much fun,” enthuses the actor. “I’ve never played anyone like Andy before. I’m really enjoying myself, perhaps more than with any other role that I’ve ever played.”
The Eureka fourth season‘s The Story of O2 marks the actor‘s debut as Deputy Andy. In it, the atmosphere surrounding the town becomes over-oxygenated and is in danger of being ignited by a rocket returning to Earth from outer space. Eureka leading man Colin Ferguson (Sheriff Jack Carter) directed this episode.
“I thought Colin did a great job,” says Smith. “He’s a smart guy as well as very organized and someone who pays a lot of attention to how things are done on set. Colin and Rick Maguire, the show’s DOP [director of photography], would confer all the time, even when he wasn’t directing. Colin would be asking about things like camera apertures and set-ups. He was trying to learn as much as possible, and it paid off when it came time for him to direct.”
When we next see Deputy Andy in Momstrosity, he receives an emotional chip courtesy of Carter’s smart-house S.A.R.A.H. This upgrade subsequently results in him sharing a romantic evening with his emotional benefactor, but not before the deputy awkwardly expresses his affections for Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra). Andy has appeared so far in two other televised season four Eureka stories, The Ex-Files and I’ll be Seeing You, and fans can look forward to seeing even more of the character in the latter half of the season.
“I’ve done, I think, 10 episodes, so far, and there are some great storylines that develop for Andy over the next batch of episodes,” reveals the actor. “Episodes 410 and 419, in particular, are very interesting for him, and once he gets his emotional chip things really start to take off for Andy. It adds such a different dimension to the guy; you have this sweet, keen and earnest robot that all of a sudden develops heart, which makes for an interesting mix.
“The fact that Andy is this clean-cut, 50s kind of okey-dokey cop mixed with what he’s got coming in terms of heart has really made him, again, very special for me to play. And based on the reaction from the show’s producers as well as the network, they’ve been very happy with the character. They’ve written Andy some terrific stuff for the second half of season four, and from what I’ve been told he’s going to be quite involved in the first few episodes of season five.
“I’ve enjoyed working with everyone involved in Eureka and they’ve made me feel very welcome, too, which is nice. The more involved you become in a show, typically the more they start to open up and respect you as well as value your opinion. Happily, they’ve opened up to me quite a bit, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Besides Eureka, Smith has starred in two other Syfy projects which have aired over the past several months, the Saturday Night Original movies Red: Werewolf Hunter and Iron Invader. In Red, Felicia Day stars as Virginia Sullivan, a modern-day descendant of Little Red Riding Hood who comes from a family of werewolf hunters. When Virginia’s fiancé Nathan (Smith) is bitten by a werewolf, she must protect him from her own kind. And in Iron Invader, Jake Hampton (Smith) and his high school sweetheart Amanda (Nicole de Boer) are among those menaced by a towering metal monster brought to life by radioactive goo from a meteorite that crashes to Earth.
“I was fortunate on both these shoots to be paired with amazing actresses,” says Smith. “Felicia Day in Red is smart, talented and accomplished in so many different areas. She also has an irreverent and dry sense of humor, and when someone can bring that to the work it’s a real bonus for me. As for Nicole de Boer, she’s an absolute peach. An ex-boyfriend of hers is actually a good friend of mine, so that was sort of our little spark to start talking. To top it off, the two of us and Mark, one of the prop guys on the movie, developed this little clique and it was impossible for me to be on-set with either one of them and not be laughing hysterically.
“Iron Invader, which I shot first and, I believe, was previously titled Iron Golem, was quite challenging because on a low-budget film like that you’re being told that everything Sci-Fi will be added in after the fact, and it’s very difficult to picture the CGI [computer-generated image] when you don’t exactly know what it’s going to look like. We were guessing at the heights to look at and doing various low-budget tricks to try to make things work. Sometimes you feel a little silly doing that, but we really did have a blast.
“The company that put the whole thing together made us all feel extremely comfortable. In fact, it’s the only time in my career so far that I’ve ever had a family member visit me on-set, and it’s because I was having such a good time. My Mom was in town, so I asked her to come to the set. My kids have never been to a set with me, and neither has my wife or any of my buddies. It’s a very faux pas kind of thing for me, but my Mom came to this one, so the movie stands out in my mind for that reason as well.
“Red was shot in and around Toronto, Ontario, and I think they had a somewhat bigger budget for it. There was more in the way of special effects and it was more like traditional moviemaking as I know it. Again, it was a pleasure working with Felicia, who later came to do Eureka as well, which was quite funny. The werewolf thing is a big fad right now and we went into Red with high expectations, but you never know. I’ve talked with some people who though it was good, and I’ve spoken to others who didn’t like it as much. Again, I had fun making it. I hadn’t shot a movie in Ontario for a long time, so it was nice for me to get back out East.”
Smith’s other recent credits include guest-spots in the Canadian-made TV crime drama Shattered starring Callum Keith Rennie (as Detective Ben Sullivan) and the Fox action/adventure series Human Target. “I had tested for one of the leads on Shattered but they decided to go with someone else instead, so I think to make it up to me they asked if I’d do a guest-spot,” says the actor.
“The series had a problem in that it had so many people involved in the decision making. So we would show up for work in the morning and the script would be entirely changed, and there was a lot of dialogue as well. I had a scene in a bullpen where my character is reviewing what’s going to happen in the next day or two. There were 30 or so other actors in the scene listening to me, and I had worked diligently on my lines for two days because I need at least 48 hours for heavy dialogue to stick in my brain. When I got to work that morning everyone kept telling me, ‘Hope you didn’t work too hard on the dialogue because they’re probably going to change it all.’ I thought, ‘Oh, crap, I’m going to need cue cards if they do that.’ Luckily, that scene was the only one that played the way it was originally written. Everything else changed. So it was chaotic, but I still had a good time shooting the episode. Callum is a terrific actor and I had a ball hanging out with him and the rest of the people on that show.
“As far as Human Target goes, that was an absolute lark,” he continues. “I’ve done accents in the past, but I’m the kind of actor who needs to immerse himself for weeks to try to get it right. I basically need to go to London and live there for a month if I’m going to do an English accent of some kind, but I didn’t get that opportunity,” says Smith with a chuckle. “I was actually at the show’s casting office auditioning for something else and afterwards they asked me if I’d read for this other role that they were having trouble casting. When I found out it required an accent I said, ‘Oh, God, an accent, huh. I’m really sorry, but I need time to prepare for something like that.’
“They eventually persuaded me to read for it, so I put myself on tape and that night I got a call telling me I had the job, so I had to work on this accent, but I just didn’t have enough time. The show itself is great and the actors in it are fantastic. I’d worked with Chi McBride [Winston] before, and Mark Valley [Christopher Chance] is a really nice guy. There was a lot of action, too. I’ve done martial arts in my personal life, and even though I’m getting on in years and maybe can’t kick as high as I used to, I really enjoyed all the fighting and playing around that we did in the episode. I will go on record, though, as saying that I wish I’d had a couple of weeks to practice the accent, but it doesn’t always work out that way and you just have to do your best with what you’re given.”
Although acting and being a husband and father keeps Smith pretty busy, he does find time every now and then to work on another little project of his. “I do a lot of writing and at the moment I’m actually working on a novel,” he says. “It’s a very long and laborious work of love and it could be one or several years in the making before I even take a stab at getting it published, but I’m really enjoying the [creative] process.”
As noted above, Eureka photos by Jill Greenberg and all photos copyright of Syfy, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!