You've seen Kavan Smith's work. Whether in the Stargate series, Eureka, The 4400, Battlestar Galactica or a host of other recent television roles, Smith is usually there as a supporting character. His part in the premiere tonight of the news DirecTV series Rogue is very much in the center of things. Smith even calls his role "redemptive."
Rogue offers the story of an undercover officer played by Thandie Newton, whose actions on the job result in the death of her son. She decides to seek revenge against the people responsible. Smith plays Tom Travis, Newton's husband.
“This is quite different in that the woman, and the wife and the mother, gets the family into trouble and she seeks vengeance,” Smith said.
The Edmonton native said he was attracted to the inherent role-reversal of the premise from the start. “It ended up being my role to hold the family together and try and get her out of it,” Smith said.
Smith said Rogue creator Matthew Parkhill and the show's writers pay a lot of attention to not only the realism of violence and working undercover, but to the conflict and stress following the death of a child.
“Because she’s undercover, she’s going to lie a little bit about where she’s going with this so I don’t know that she’s trying to seek vengeance," Smith said. "I just know that she’s not trying to hold the family together. So they really pushed those two storylines not just we lost a son, how do we cope, but also how do we cope when you’re not here?”
Smith said he was able to tap into his own fear as a father of two.
"The interesting thing is I think it would be a very rare family indeed that managed to hold itself together in that kind of circumstance and I think that the writers absolutely played off the stress between us," Smith said.
The Canadian actor's voice got noticebly excited when he talked about what his role as Tom Travis means to him on a personal level. “There’s a few scenes in a few days that we shot and literally I came home high as a kite on artistic satisfaction of being pushed the way we were pushed on this show,” Smith said. “It’s big for me.”
In fact, it's big for Smith in a much larger context.
"It’s almost a bit of a redemption type character for me because as an actor, I’ve had to take a lot of jobs to make a living that I wouldn’t necessarily choose if I was in a position to pick and choose my own roles," Smith said. "Just being pushed emotionally the way he was and holding his family together and being forced through the things they get forced through over the course of a season.”
Smith is quick to point out Rogue is a thriller at its core. “Some of the stuff Grace, the lead character played by Thandie Newton, goes through is really shocking. I mean shocking that, a. somebody would write it; and b. that the lead actress would be willing to do it.”
Smith described what he calls the reality of organized crime and the violence on Rogue. "I think what’s going to hit audiences pretty much immediately is that it’s very raw. It’s very visceral," he said. “It does push the violence and push a lot of things that forces people, or makes them a little uncomfortable at times. It takes things to another level.”
That level, Smith believes, isn't a morality play, but an examination of the grey areas of crime and punishment. As for his character Tom, if DirecTV orders another season of Rogue: "I think I’d like to see him a little bit more involved now that he knows a little bit more about what is going on. So I think I’d like him to be a bit more involved in the hands-on grittiness of the show.”
You can catch Rogue on DirecTV's Audience Network Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific or on Movie Central and HBO in Canada.