The scheming character known for campy catch phrases, memorably played by Jonathan Harris, gets an update from Parker Posey in the Netflix version out April 13.
Switching up Dr. Smith’s gender and quirks was a deliberate, if not necessary, choice, according to showrunner Zach Estrin.
“The original one meant a lot to a lot of people,” he explains. “A lot of people loved it and it was a very iconic performance. We didn’t want to ask another actor to come in and be compared to that role or those choices so the gender swap was part of that, as a way of freeing any association of an actor trying to take on Jonathan Harris’ performance.
“Someone like Parker Posey, who is so unique and gifted and special, can bring her own sense of deliciousness to this role,” Estrin adds. “We thought [it] was a perfect marriage.”
Estrin notes that the original show aired during an era in television history when shows like “Batman” and “Star Trek,” he says, “were approaching things with a certain tongue firmly in their cheek and obviously that kind of humor would not translate today.”
The series, which originally ran from 1965 to 1968 and was created by disaster film maven Irwin Allen, centered around the pioneering space clan, the Robinsons: astrophysicist John Robinson, his biochemist wife Maureen, and their kids, Judy, Penny and Will. Other main characters included Major Don West, a pilot; The Robot, which had superhuman strength and fancy weapons; and Dr. Smith, who somehow always managed to get the group into hot water.
Stepping into these roles in the new series, besides Posey, are “Die Another Day” star Toby Stephens as John, “House of Cards” actress Molly Parker as Maureen, former soap star Ignacio Serricchio as Don and relative newcomer Maxwell Jenkins as young Will. Rounding out the cast are Mina Sundwall as Penny and Taylor Russell as Judy.
Jenkins, 12, says his Will Robinson is like “your normal 12-year-old, but there is a bit of baggage. He struggles with anxiety.”
Jenkins got to meet the original Will — Bill Mumy, who’s now 64 — and the two bonded over their love of comic books.
“I know I have humongous footsteps to fill because the original cast and crew really changed the game for sci-fi forever,” Jenkins tells the Daily News.
Mumy even offered the young star some career and life advice.
“He said things are going to be different,” Jenkins said. “He said, ‘Remember who your real friends are.’”
Meanwhile, Serricchio, 35, admits he didn’t think he had a chance for the role of Don West.
“My brain immediately thought, ‘Nah, they’re never going to consider me because my name is Ignacio Serricchio,’” he laughs. “I immediately went into default and thought they’re going to offer it to an American who’s blond and blue eyes with an amazing body. They went completely in the opposite direction.”
The feel of the new series is inspired by the work of director Steven Spielberg.
“We are approaching this much more in the spirit of early Steven Spielberg,” Estrin says. “Like the way ‘Jurassic Park’ was a film that adults, as well as younger kids, loved. It was real stakes, real emotions and smart aspirational characters.
“So much of sci-fi now is a dark, dystopian, horrible kind of world,” he adds. “We’re really approaching this show with a much greater sense of hope. This is a family who, despite their conflicts and individual flaws, you would love to be a part of. You want to root for them.”
To bring the show into modern times, the female characters are not restricted to doing the laundry or cooking meals, like they often were in the original run.
“All the characters each have their heroic moments,” Estrin notes. “They’re all equal opportunity awesome people. The kids do great things, the women do great things, the men. They’re not regulated to societal roles like I think a lot of the shows in the ‘60s were.”
On – 07 Apr, 2018 By Nicki Gostin