Trading in his backpack for a beretta, Gregory Smith has officially grown up.
“After EVERWOOD I could never play — at least on TV — another high school or college-aged kid,” explained the affable actor during our visit to the set of ROOKIE BLUE last fall. “Anyone who wore a backpack was out!”
Luckily for him — as well as his legion of fans from his time on the much-beloved brilliant-but-canceled WB series — his newest role, that of Dov Epstein, one of five rookie cops at the focal point of ROOKIE BLUE is 100% backpack free! Which is just one of the reasons why, after spending the better part of his post-EVERWOOD career travelling the world shooting films, he decided to return his hometown of Toronto (a city which he calls “my favorite place to shoot”) to enlist in ROOKIE BLUE.
“It takes a lot for the stars to align and for a project to turn out great, and while I was doing movies, I wasn’t quite as proud of them as some of the stuff I had done on EVERWOOD.” explained the actor. “ROOKIE BLUE was a great script, one I instantly fell in love with and the character was exactly the kind of part I was looking for.”
“As much as I loved Ephram, he was a very melancholic character that after enough time sort of seeped into my soul,” said Smith. “When I went back to TV I wanted to do something where people who knew EVERWOOD wouldn’t believe I was the same person. I wanted to show how I’d grown as both an actor as a person.”
Needless to say, mission accomplished.
With the exception of quirky character names and a shared Jewish heritage, over-eager adrenaline-junkie Dov Epstein and piano playing hopeless romantic Ephram Brown are two characters who are in no danger of being mistaken for one another in a police lineup anytime soon. Which is something you certainly don’t have to the artist formerly known as Ephram, who sees both characters as a snapshot of himself growing up.
“My teenage angst was immortalized in EVERWOOD. I was 18, rebelling against the world and so Ephram was pretty close to who I was at the time,” said Smith. “As I grew up and outgrew Ephram, I became a more actualized person who wasn’t quite as rebellious. Dov, my character on ROOKIE BLUE is now probably a lot closer to who I am now.”
“Who I am now,” being a Hollywood rarity: A young actor who has successfully managed to navigate the often perilous journey that is the transition from teenage stardom to well-adjusted and level-headed adult actor. So how did he do it?
“That’s a great question and something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I think I had just the right balance of success and failure. Successful enough that my confidence grew, but never enough so that I lost touch with reality,” said the actor, who was sure to credit his strong-willed mom, great friends and the fact that EVERWOOD shot in Utah, not Hollywood.
“It’s sort of hard to get in trouble in Utah. Believe me, I tried!”
Catch the series premiere of ROOKIE BLUE this Thursday June 24th at 9PM on ABC (Global TV in Canada)