Parker Posey was driving to see a friend’s show when she was thrown off by a rainstorm. Struggling to find the sign to the theatre through the raindrops, she admits she was lost when out of the blue her agent rang with the news that Posey was offered the roll of Dr. Smith in the rebooted Lost in Space series on Netflix.
“I was like, ‘What? Are you serious?’ It was shocking to me,” Posey said on set last May.
Posey is primarily known as a film actor and rarely dabbles in genre work, but her connection to Lost in Space goes back to her childhood. She recalls waking up on Sundays and waiting for the black and white static of her television to shift to color bars when Lost in Space reruns came on the air.
“I just haven’t had time to be a real genre geek. I was the independent film actor, just small stories, intimate, human stuff. There’s something really fun about being more mythic, and having stakes that are intense with an ambiguous villain,” she said. “I loved this character, Dr. Smith. He seemed so unique. There was something about the show that children loved too, that you saw other kids acting, like Bill Mummy. I loved him and I loved his relationship to the robot.”
The character of Dr. Smith, played by the late Jonathan Harris, was intended to only be in the early episodes of season one, but the villainous character stuck. Dr. Smith became the comic foil, a foe to the beloved Robot, and a catchphrase machine (Harris would often help rewrite his witty and alliterative insults).
The new Lost in Space takes on a more serious tone than its predecessors, and that includes leaving the quips and catchphrases with Harris’ version of the character. Still, Posey will bring some levity to the Robinson clan.
“I’m being as real as I can, but I can’t help but be funny. I just can’t help it,” she said. “It’s fine to find in the environment what is real, but also what can be funny that hasn’t been exposed before in the sci-fi world. And I think the writers have done a really terrific job in creating this Swiss Family Robinson in outer space.”
To avoid spoilers, much of Posey’s Dr. Smith is under tight wraps, but she said we’ll see a “trickster” who wants to survive because she “has a life force.” Approaching the role as an “outsider” since she’s new to action and sci-fi, Posey’s take on Dr. Smith is a deviation from the original series.
“She has a passion to survive and to place herself in a family where she can belong,” Posey said of the new Dr. Smith. “But she doesn’t belong. She’ll never belong like the robot.”
When Lost in Space drops on April 13th, we’ll see if Posey can come full circle and survive with the Robinson family and co-exist with that ninny of a Robot.