Watson talks about ‘heaven’, spirituality and the battle against cancer


NEW YORK (AP) – Like many children of the late 70s and 80s, Michael Landon’s TV shows “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven” were dates for Barry Watson .

That’s why, when Watson got the opportunity to star alongside Jill Scott in a Lifetime remake of “Highway to Heaven”, he totally agreed.

“Michael Landon was such a huge part of my childhood,” Watson said in a recent Zoom conversation from his home in Los Angeles. “I was really honored to be a part of it and nervous too.”

In this “Highway to Heaven”, which begins on Saturday, Scott is an angel sent from heaven. She takes the form of a junior high school counselor and finds a young boy grieving the loss of his mother. Watson plays the role of the school principal, serving as Scott’s sidekick – similar to the role Victor French played in the series. He says it makes perfect sense that Scott was chosen to play the angel.

“She has that kind of angelic presence around her. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this role besides Jill Scott, ”Watson said.

Watson is currently filming a new series produced by Ava DuVernay called “Naomi” for The CW – a DC superhero show starring Kaci Walfall. Watson plays his father.

Being chosen as the parent of a teenager is interesting for Watson, now 47, who first came to prominence as Matt Camden, the eldest child in Aaron Spelling’s healthy drama “7th Heaven. “, on a reverend and his large family. Jessica Biel and Beverley Mitchell played her younger sisters.

“It’s weird because I’m always doing stupid things and I’m pretty much always a clown on set, but everyone comes up to me with questions about stuff and I’m like ‘Oh, okay, because I’m the old man who’s been doing this for a while now. ‘”

Watson, who has starred in two projects with the word ‘heaven’ in the title and jokes’ what’s the next thing I’m going to do in heaven? Was brought up as a Roman Catholic. He identifies himself as spiritual rather than religious.

“I think everyone has some kind of spirituality in them,” he says. “We are all angels, we are all here to help each other, and I think there is something very spiritual about humanity in this way.”

Doing good and giving back is important to Watson and his family. His wife is Natasha Gregson Wagner, daughter of producer Richard Gregson and movie star Natalie Wood. Her stepfather is Robert Wagner.

Watson and Wagner share a daughter, Clover, 9, and Watson has two sons from a previous relationship, Felix, 13, and Oliver, 16.

During the height of the pandemic, Watson and Wagner made a habit of sending gift cards and food to his hometown hospital, Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan. Clover sent letters to doctors and nurses.

“At the very beginning, they would respond to him,” Watson said. When the answers stopped coming he said he must have explained, “They are very busy people, but they appreciate everything you do.

Watson is especially grateful to healthcare workers because almost 20 years ago he fought his own serious health battle. In 2002, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 28. He has undergone chemotherapy and has been in remission since 2003.

“It’s still such a big part of my life because I always think about it, but time has also gone by where it’s almost like, ‘Did that really happen? Did I really go through all of this? And now having all this other life with my wife and kids that they weren’t even a part of back then, it’s like it’s a lifetime ago, ”he said.

“My oncologist was so amazing and made me feel so confident. I was like, ‘OK, I have this. I have another soldier who will help me fight this thing.

He remembers rationalizing the symptoms at the time.

The extreme fatigue was attributed to his work schedule and the itchy skin he suspected was due to winter and dryness. The warning bells came from night sweats. “The whole bed would just be soaked, like someone had just thrown water on me.”

Watson urges people to stay on top of their health.

“Over the past year and a half with COVID-19, people almost sometimes stayed away from their doctors. It is more important than ever to take your exams, to have your blood tests. Looking back, my body was trying to tell me something long before I was diagnosed. Listen to your body.

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