(written from a Production point of view)
Kurtwood Smith (born 3 July 1943; age 72) is an actor who has played several different roles on Star Trek, spanning a movie and two series. He first appeared as the Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and later played Thrax in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Things Past". He shared scenes with Rene Auberjonois in both of these productions. Most recently, he played the role of Annorax in the Star Trek: Voyager episodes "Year of Hell" and "Year of Hell, Part II".
Smith is perhaps best known for his role as Red Forman in the situation comedy television series That '70s Show. He is also known for his role as gang leader Clarence Boddicker in the hit 1987 science fiction/action film RoboCop. Acting professionally since the late 1970s, Smith has appeared in over 100 films and television shows and at least fourteen stage productions.
Kurtwood Larson Smith was born in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, but he and his family had moved to California by the late 1950s. Smith attended California's Canoga Park High School, where he was senior class president, and studied theater at the College of San Mateo and San Jose State University. He ultimately earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Drama from Stanford University. Smith has said in interviews that his mother named him Kurtwood because she felt Kurt Smith was too short a name. Smith has said he believes he is the only Kurtwood.
Smith married Cecilia Souza in 1964. They had two children together, a son and a daughter, before divorcing in 1974. In 1988, he married actress Joan Pirkle, whom he met on the set of RoboCop.
Notable film work
Smith's earliest confirmed feature film work was a small role in the 1980 musical comedy Roadie, which also featured Hamilton Camp. The following year, he appeared in the musical Zoot Suit, along with John Anderson, Mike Gomez, Ed Peck, Tony Plana, and Smith's Star Trek: Voyager co-star, Robert Beltran (in his film debut). Smith's first significant film role came in the 1984 action thriller Flashpoint, in which he worked with Kevin Conway and Miguel Ferrer.
Smith and Ferrer again worked together a few years later when both were cast in the 1987 blockbuster RoboCop. In this film, Smith played Clarence Boddicker, the gang leader who kills the central character, police officer Alex Murphy, played by Peter Weller. Ferrer's character then reconstructs Murphy into the cyborg "RoboCop". Ray Wise played one of Boddicker's gang members, while Ronny Cox played the executive who turned out to be employing and protecting Smith's character. Robert DoQui also appears in the film as Murphy's boss and shares a scene with Smith.
Following the success of RoboCop, Smith landed a supporting role in another action film, Rambo III. This was followed by major supporting roles in the 1989 films True Believer (with Joel Polis and Richard Fancy) and Dead Poets Society. In the latter film, Smith played a father who disapproves of his son's wish to become an actor, leading his son to commit suicide. Norman Lloyd also appeared in the film, playing the headmaster of the school Smith's son was attending.
Smith was the third male lead in the 1991 comic thriller Company Business, which was written and directed by Nicholas Meyer. This film led to Meyer casting Smith as the Federation President in Star Trek VI. Company Business also starred Terry O'Quinn and, like Star Trek VI, it was produced by Steven-Charles Jaffe and edited by Ronald Roose.
Smith was one of the many Star Trek alumni to appear in Woody Allen's Shadow and Fog; his co-stars in this film included Robert Joy, Kenneth Mars, Richard Riehle, Camille Saviola, Wallace Shawn, and David Ogden Stiers. Smith then starred in the 1993 science fiction/action film Fortress, playing the lead villain, Prison Director Poe. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jeffrey Combs, and Tom Towles had roles in this film, as well.
In the 1993 thriller The Crush, Smith and Gwynyth Walsh played the parents of the central character, a 14-year-old sociopath played by Alicia Silverstone. Smith's subsequent film credits included To Die For (1995), Citizen Ruth (1996; with David Graf and Kenneth Mars), Broken Arrow (1996, with Casey Biggs, Bob Gunton, James MacDonald, Vyto Ruginis and Christian Slater), A Time to Kill (1996; with Ashley Judd), Deep Impact (1998; with Ellen Bry, James Cromwell, Denise Crosby, Mark Moses, Tucker Smallwood, and Concetta Tomei), and Girl, Interrupted (starring Whoopi Goldberg and Winona Ryder).
Since 2000, Smith's film credits have consisted of shorts and independent productions. In 2006, he was the recipient of the Independent Spirit Award at the 2006 Garden State Film Festival for his lead performance in the drama Hard Scrambled. Thomas Kopache had a supporting role in this film.
Smith was the voice of Kanjar Ro in the animated 2009 direct-to-DVD movie Green Lantern: First Flight. This film also featured the voices of Olivia d'Abo, Larry Drake, Victor Garber, David L. Lander, John Larroquette, Richard McGonagle, William Schallert, and Malachi Throne.
In 2010, Smith acted in his first major feature film in ten years, the comedy Cedar Rapids. TNG guest star Stephen Root also has a supporting role in this film.
Notable television work
Smith made his television debut in an episode of the soap opera parody series Soap in 1980. He has since appeared on such television programs as The A-Team (starring Dwight Schultz, with Lance LeGault), Picket Fences (with Sam Anderson and William Newman), 3rd Rock from the Sun (with Courtney Peldon), and Malcolm in the Middle (with Hallie Todd and the aforementioned Kenneth Mars).
Kim Manners has directed Smith on at least three occasions. The first was a 1986 episode of Stingray which also featured Ian Abercrombie. The following year, they collaborated on an episode of 21 Jump Street in which Robert Hooks and Ray Walston appeared. Smith and Manners reunited in 1996 for the "Grotesque" episode of the hit science fiction series The X-Files, executive-produced by John Shiban, in which Smith played Agent Bill Patterson.
In 2007, Smith appeared in two hit television series starring Star Trek alumni: Psych, which features Corbin Bernsen, and House, which had Jennifer Morrison. On Psych, Smith also worked with Lisa Banes. In addition, Smith played FBI Agent Edward Cooper in three episodes of Medium, one in 2006, another in 2008, and the latest in 2009.
Smith appeared in the seventh season of the FOX drama series 24, executive-produced by Manny Coto and Brannon Braga. He played Senator Blaine Mayer, who was responsible for the disbanding of the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) and was attempting to bring Jack Bauer to justice for committing what he saw as human rights violations. His character was killed by a rogue operative. Others who appeared on 24 that season include John Billingsley, Connor Trinneer, Bob Gunton, Glenn Morshower, Jeffrey Nordling, Tony Todd, and Annie Wersching.
In addition to his live-action work, Smith has lent his voice to numerous animated programs. He voiced recurring characters on such shows as Eek! The Cat (as the Dinosaur Military Commander), The Zeta Project (as Agent James Bennett), and Squirrel Boy (as Mr. Johnson). He has also done voice work for episodes of Batman Beyond, Grim & Evil, and Robot Chicken.
Mini-series and TV movies
In 1981, Smith appeared in the two-part NBC mini-series Murder in Texas, along with Warren Munson. In 1985, Smith had a supporting role in the TV movie The Midnight Hour, which starred Star Trek: The Next Generation regular LeVar Burton.
The 1986, Smith worked with another TNG regular, Jonathan Frakes, in the mini-series North and South, Book II, in which Smith played Colonel Hram Berdan. Other performers he worked with on this production included Kirstie Alley, Mary Crosby, Jim Metzler, James Read, Leon Rippy, Bumper Robinson, William Schallert, Jean Simmons, David Ogden Stiers, and Anthony Zerbe.
Smith has been a regular cast member on several television series. His first was Renegades, a police drama which ran on ABC in the spring 1983. Smith played Police Captain Frank Scanlon on this series, which involved members of a street gang being recruited by the police to fight crime. Tracy Scoggins and Brian Tochi were also regulars on this series.
For the 1987-1988 television season, Smith played the lead villain in the espionage adventure series The New Adventures of Beans Baxter. Smith's character, Mr. Sue, was the leader of the Underground Government Liberation Intergroup (U.G.L.I.), who spent the series trying to capture the title character, high school student and secret spy "Beans" Baxter. Baxter's mother was played by Elinor Donahue.
Smith's next series was the situation comedy Big Wave Dave's, which ran on NBC for six episodes in 1993. On this series, Smith played a beach bum who claimed to be Jack Lord, the actor who starred in Hawaii Five-O and who was Gene Roddenberry's first choice for the role of James T. Kirk in the 1960s.
Smith had his greatest success playing Reginald "Red" Forman in the FOX comedy series That '70s Show. He played the role through all eight seasons of the show – from 1998 through 2006 – and appeared in all 201 episodes. Don Stark was also a regular on the series, playing Red Forman's neighbor and occasional boss, Bob Pinciotti.
Next, Smith starred in the CBS series Worst Week as Dick Clayton. The series aired for fifteen episodes from September 2008 through February 2009. The series was officially canceled in May 2009; a previously unaired episode, which aired in June 2009, was its last. Smith also worked with on a pilot for CBS called Hitched (co-starring with Sharon Lawrence), though it has yet to be picked up as a series. Currently, Smith is the voice of Don Killbride in the animated TBS series Neighbors from Hell, which premiered in June 2010.
Other Trek connections
- The Deer Hunter (1978) with John Savage Note-Smith appeared uncredited
- Going Berzerk (1983) with Rosalind Chao, Elinor Donahue, and Richard Libertini
- Two Idiots in Hollywood (1988) with Jim Beaver and William Utay
- Homesick (1988 short) with Miriam Flynn
- Heart of Dixie (1989) with Barbara Babcock, Virginia Madsen, and Tom Wright
- Quick Change (1990) with Reg E. Cathey and Tim Halligan
- Oscar (1991) with Mark Metcalf
- Heart and Souls (1993; uncredited) with Alfre Woodard
- Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) with Brenda Bakke, Jonathan Banks, Christopher Darga, and Patrick Kilpatrick
- Shelter (1998) with Brenda Bakke
- Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002) with Henry Gibson, Kenneth Mars, Michael McKean, and Brenda Strong
- Blue Thunder episode "Revenge in the Sky" (1984) with David Spielberg
- Riptide episode "The Orange Grove" (1984) with Stanley Kamel and Ken Olandt
- It's a Living episode "Hail to the Chef" (1985) with John Putch
- The Magnificent Seven episode "Ghosts of the Confederacy" (1998) with Andrew Kavovit, Ron Perlman, Ned Romero, and Rick Worthy
- UC: Undercover episode "Of Fathers and Sons" (2001) directed by Lou Antonio
- Missing Pieces (1983) with Robin Gammell and Kenneth Tigar
- Deadly Messages (1985) with Raye Birk
- International Airport (1985) with Susan Oliver and Jason Wingreen
- The Christmas Gift (1986) with Anne Haney and Harvey Vernon
- Doorways (1992) with Gary Epper, Max Grodénchik, and Robert Knepper