Barry Watson will be stepping back in front of the camera to star in UPtv’s new original series Date My Dad. Perhaps best known for playing Matt Camden in the classic series 7th Heaven, Barry plays Ricky Cooper – a single dad struggling to raise his three daughters and get himself back in the dating scene.
We got the chance to speak with Barry about Date My Dad, working with Raquel Welch and Robert Wagner, and what viewers can expect from the new show.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Barry Watson.
So to start off, can you tell us a little about your character and what attracted you to the role?
Barry Watson: I play Ricky Cooper. He’s an ex-baseball player and a widower with three daughters. His mother-in-law, Rosa – played by the wonderful Raquel Welch – lives with him since his wife passed away. We start the show off with Ricky’s 40th birthday, so he’s sort of dreading that. But on top of that, his daughters decide to tell him that they want him to start getting out in the world and living life again and getting out in the dating world. His mother-in-law lets him know she’s moving out and is no longer gonna help him out with his daughters. That’s where we start off the first episode.
What really attracted me to the role was I had read a lot of other single-father concept shows in the past and I never felt they were true to what a real single father is like. He’s always like a bumbling idiot, or maybe too perfect. I just thought that Ricky’s life with his girls and the mother-in-law was messy in the right way. Life as a parent and life in general is messy and not always perfect, and things happen. I just really loved that it was like that. It seemed a little more grounded. The show is a dramedy, but I feel like so many of those messy situations with family really serves the comedy very well in this show. His wife Isabella passed away and there’s always gonna be grieving there that’s still going on. His wife was the only person he’s ever been with his whole life, and now that his daughters want him to be in the dating world again, it’s completely unfamiliar territory.
You star alongside a great cast that includes Raquel Welch and Robert Wagner. How has the experience working with them been for you?
Robert Wagner is my father-in-law! For me, it was great because we’re really close and getting the chance to share screen time with him was really wonderful. To share screen time with my father-in-law – there’s nothing better than that. It’s priceless.
And Raquel Welch, what can I say? She’s Raquel Welch. I don’t really have to say much. *laughs* It was always an adventure every day with her. It wasn’t until we had kind of finished that I got a chance to really talk to Raquel and be thankful. It was a treat.
You are going from growing up as one of the children on a family show to playing the dad. How would you say this role has differed for you and your experience filming it?
Instead of my character being told what to do, my character gets to tell everybody what to do. *laughs* It’s kind of weird for me in a way and it might be weird for certain audience members at first. I got my start on 7th Heaven. In real life, I’ve grown up and I’ve had my own family. It seems natural for me to move on to this next stage of my career of playing a father. I guess the next stage after that is being a grandfather. But we’ll wait to talk about that for like 20 years from now.
You’re not quite there yet.
Not yet. We’ve got a ways to go.
Having three kids yourself, were you able to draw from your own experiences for this character?
Of course. I think you have to. I don’t think they could have hired a single guy with no kids to play Ricky Cooper. Maybe it would have worked, but I don’t know if it would have worked effectively. But it’s helped me a lot. Especially with my daughter being born and Ricky being a father to three girls. It’s given me more depth to play Ricky Cooper with my boys around. That relationship with a father and son is so different than father/daughter.
You now have this unique opportunity to kind of welcome back a generation that grew up with you, and also allow for another generation to fall in love with you! What does it mean for you to have fans who will go on this journey with you and will continue to support you in this new endeavor?
It’s great to have a built-in audience in a way. Especially being on a network like UP. It’s a smaller network and they don’t have a lot of scripted programming, so this is the start of their scripted programming. It’s nice to know that I have this wonderful audience and fan base that is hopefully gonna follow me to this next stage of my career and hopefully be able to build on Date My Dad. I feel very grateful and very lucky.
UPtv’s programming tends to focus on being family-oriented and uplifting. Was it important to you to be a part of something like that again?
Its important because it’s such a great place for Date My Dad to be … UP is about “We get family.” For me, I just wanted to find something that really worked for me. A bonus is that it really is a show that I can sit down and watch with my own kids. There really isn’t [one like that] out there, unless it’s some cartoon that I get bored with or some Nickelodeon show that’s just geared for them. As adults, we’re kind of put off in the procedural world of television. My son Felix said a couple years ago, “I just want you to do something that we can all watch.” It’s almost like he manifested this show in a way. They can enjoy it too. They’re not gonna get bored. I think Nina Colman – who created the show and wrote it – did a great job at making that work. It’s not easy to do.
I can’t wait to binge this series. I’m really excited to watch it! What are some of your other favorite binge-worthy series these days?
It’s hard when you have kids to watch anything or to have time when you’re working on a series. For the past three-and-a-half months I worked on the show, I didn’t turn on a TV.
You gotta make up for it now.
Exactly. Before that, my wife and I watched that Netflix show Stranger Things. We loved that. We had a great time on that ride. I’m hoping to get into the new Twin Peaks. I watched a lot of the old Twin Peaks when I was younger.
What can viewers expect from this new series and what are you most excited for people to see?
I think I’m most excited for the audience to truly have a show that everyone can sit down and watch. It’s not geared just toward one demographic. It really has a little something for everybody. I feel like the reason 7th Heaven was such a success was because everybody could watch that show and find a character they could relate to. One thing I hope is that the audience can all find a character to relate to and go on that ride with them.
Thank you so much to Barry Watson for chatting with us today! We really appreciate it!