Barry Watson interview: Star returns to sitcoms with Date My Dad

Fans know and love Barry Watson from 7th Heaven, but the actor is turning the page with his new sitcom Date My Dad and spoke to FanSided about it.

For years Barry Watson made us laugh and cry on 7th Heaven, but now he’s back on TV leading his own sitcom family. Watson stars in the UP original series Date My Dad, playing single father Ricky Cooper, who’s trying to raise three daughters — all of whom believe that he needs to get back in the game.

FanSided caught up with Barry Watson recently to discuss what it was about this series that had him wanting to be a TV series regular again, and what’s the most important thing that he’s learned from being a father himself.

“I had been sort of loosely looking for a single father concept show maybe for the last four or five years, only because I thought it was very much in my wheelhouse,” Barry explained of what drew him to Date My Dad.

“And also because I was seeing so many scripts where they had these single father comedies, and they were sort of like these bumbling idiot fathers and it actually wasn’t that funny to me.

“This sort of just fell into my lap about a year ago. I got the script sent to me and right away I called my reps and said I want this job,” he continued. “I loved the way it was written. I remember reading the script for the first time and laughing and crying all at the same time, and it’s very rare that scripts touch me that way. I was very excited to hopefully be a part of it.”

He landed the role of Ricky, who wrangles his three kids (played by Audrey Smallman, Lilah Fitzgerald and Zenia Marshall) with the help of his mother-in-law (a scene-stealing Raquel Welch). And there’s also a connection to his real-life family in Date My Dad season 1, too.

“I got to work with my real life father in law, Robert Wagner,” Barry told us. “He came on and did two episodes and played a character named Armand, who is a man of the world. He’s kind of a love interest for Raquel Welch’s character Rosa. That’s coming up towards the end of the season and it was so much fun for me to share screen time with my father in law.”

Barry Watson is no stranger to comedy. Aside from playing Matt Camden on 7th Heaven, he starred in the sitcoms What About Brian? and Samantha Who? and has appeared in other shows like Drop Dead Diva and Hart of Dixie. What is it about the comedy genre that continues to appeal to him?

“I don’t know,” he reflected. “It’s funny, in Hollywood they always judge you by your last job, so if my last job was a comedy, then everybody thinks you can just do comedy after that. But I’d like to think I’m an actor that’s very versatile and kind of do a little bit of everything. I like to call myself a character actor in a leading man’s body but I don’t think everyone else sees it that way.

“I think the comedy appeals to me because comedy is such a part of our real life. Sometimes comedy pops out of dramatic things that happen. For me with Date My Dad, it’s not really a drama, it’s not a comedy, it’s more a dramedy because of the messiness of having a family. It’s messy and within that mess it’s dramatic but it’s funny too.”

Off camera, he’s a father as well, so what’s one thing about fatherhood that Barry Watson has learned and would be able to pass on to Ricky Cooper?

“I think every day I learn from my kids,” Barry explained. “My son has such empathy for things in the world. We try to teach our kids the best we can but sometimes I think there are times when we can learn so much from the youth of the world. Not just my kids but everybody. Kids are completely unfiltered and that’s such a beautiful thing. I think that’s what I take away from my own kids.”

And while 7th Heaven still has a special place in the hearts of many TV fans, Barry told us that it’s not the only thing he gets recognized for out of what’s become a steady small-screen career.

“I get a lot of 7th Heaven,” he said, “but I get a lot of Sorority Boys, because there’s a lot of cult Sorority Boys fans. I get a lot of What About Brian, because I feel like a lot of the audience never felt like that show got closure. So I kind of get a mix from the different shows I worked on … and some people recognize me from the horror genre stuff I’ve done as well.”

Now he’s hoping that audiences embrace Date My Dad in the same way they’ve enjoyed past Barry Watson shows, because he’s incredibly proud of this latest chapter in his sitcom life.

“I just feel very passionate about it,” he reflected. “I have a lot of gratitude for still being a working actor during this time, so I hope everybody checks out the show and enjoys it.”

Date My Dad season 1 is airing Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on UP. For more information on the show and to find UP in your area, visit the official website.