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Whatever Happened To The Actor Who Played Alan Abernathy In Small Soldiers?

Over the years, "Small Soldiers" has developed a bit of a cult following. Considering the film was directed by Joe Dante, who also directed "Gremlins," it's no surprise that it's a dark comedy masquerading as a kids' adventure. It also came out just a few years after "Toy Story," but takes a decidedly different approach to the concept of self-aware toys coming to life and causing all sorts of chaos. All of this makes it a funny, irreverent, and surprising flick.

Any kids' adventure needs some strong kid leads, and this movie has two of them: Kirsten Dunst, who was already a big-time star when the film released in 1998, and Gregory Smith, who also had a surprising number of big roles to his name when he played Alan Abernathy. "Child lead in a cult classic that was a little ahead of its time" sounds like the perfect recipe for an actor who ultimately doesn't continue in show business — but in fact, Gregory Smith has put together a pretty successful Hollywood career. Here's what's happened to the actor after wrapping on "Small Soldiers."

Gregory Smith's other major roles

Gregory Smith was already a successful child actor before starring in "Small Soldiers." Prior to the film's release, he'd had major roles in movies like "The Climb," "Harriet the Spy," and "Krippendorf's Tribe." As he began the transition from child actor to young adult actor, the roles kept on coming.

A few years after "Small Soldiers," Smith appeared in the Mel Gibson historical epic "The Patriot." Alongside Heath Ledger, he played one of Gibson's character's sons. After protesting the arrest of his brother, Smith's character is shot by the sadistic William Tavington. This act spurs much of the action throughout the film.

In 2001, Smith was tapped to be part of the "American Outlaws" ensemble, where he played Jim Younger alongside other young actors like Colin Farrell and Scott Caan. It was clear that "American Outlaws" was shooting to be the next generation's "Young Guns." Unfortunately, it lacked the charm of its inspiration and got seriously thrashed by critics.

A lead role in a popular WB series

As a child actor, Smith mostly stuck to movies. He occasionally played some guest roles on television or appeared in TV movies, but he didn't land a recurring role on the small screen until 2002. That said, it probably became the role he's best known for in his entire career: Ephram Smith on the WB drama "Everwood."

"Everwood" focuses on a brain surgeon who moves from New York to small-town Colorado after the death of his wife. It explores the trauma he and his two children go through, in addition to the adjustments they have to make in order to fit into their new life. As Ephram, one of the two kids, Smith got a chance to show off the serious acting skills he'd developed over the years.

"Everwood" was never a gigantic success, but it did have a multi-year run, and won over a lot of fans with its quiet melodrama. Fun fact: "Everwood" was also one of megastar Chris Pratt's first major gigs. He played Bright Abbott throughout the series' run.

He holds a Guinness World Record for kissing

Iconic kisses in movies are everywhere: Long-lost lovers finally reuniting, passionate smooches before going out in a blaze of glory, and even upside-down superheroes making out in the rain. Gregory Smith has one of his own — and it's actually in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-ever onscreen kiss in a movie. This pivotal smooch came in the 2005 film "Kids in America." Before we tell you how long it is, see if you can guess. Take your time.

Ready? Here you go: This kiss lasted 6 minutes and 44 seconds. It plays out over the film's credits between Smith and actor Stephanie Sherrin. That's a long time to lock lips!

Teen comedies aren't generally known for poignant social commentary, and "Kids in America" straddles the line awkwardly. It didn't particularly resonate with too many critics, and currently holds a dismal rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems unlikely that Smith will lose that kiss record any time soon, however, unless someone sets out exclusively to beat it.

Underwhelming movie roles pushed him out of the spotlight

With "Everwood" coming to an end in 2006, Smith started returning to the big screen. "Kids in America" may not have won over many critics, but that wasn't going to stop him. Surely some of his other roles would get him back into Hollywood's good graces — right?

Well ... not so much. 2007 saw the release of the horribly named "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising." An adaptation of a popular sci-fi-fantasy novel riding on Harry Potter's coattails, "The Seeker" never saw much love and absolutely did not rev up a money-printing franchise, as its heinous Rotten Tomatoes score makes clear.

The same year, Smith played the young version of Christopher Plummer's character in the romance "Closing the Ring." Though it boasts an impressive cast and some big aspirations, it also received some pretty harsh reviews. To close out the year, Smith appeared alongside Mila Kunis in a thriller called "Boot Camp." It didn't see a wide release, and doesn't even have enough critical reviews to warrant an aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. The so-so audience score should tell you to stay far, far away from this one, however.

A return to TV breathed new life into Smith's career

As a child actor, Smith had several major successes on the big screen. After "Everwood" ended its successful television run, however, Smith struggled to recreate that cinematic success. A return to television probably seemed like the perfect option, and indeed, Smith struck gold in 2010 when he landed a lead role on the police drama "Rookie Blue."

Smith played Detective Dov Epstein on the series, which follows a group of rookie cops starting their careers in Toronto. Though it's a Canadian series (known early in its life as "Coppers"), "Rookie Blue" aired in the United States on ABC. The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "[The series was] billed as 'Grey's Anatomy' in the world of rookie cops."

"Rookie Blue" ran from 2010 to 2016. Although it never dethroned the big dogs in the police drama realm, it built up a pretty good audience over that period. Smith enjoyed a main role on the series in its entirety.

Smith appeared in a cult classic black comedy

When Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez combined to release "Grindhouse," they ended up creating some truly ridiculous trailers for fake flicks that played before each of the real film's segments. Interestingly, one of these trailers wasn't made by Hollywood A-listers like Edgar Wright, Eli Roth, or Rob Zombie. It came from a duo of Canadian filmmakers without a lot of name recognition: Rob Cotterill and Jason Eisener.

The duo won a "create a grindhouse trailer" contest at SXSW, and the one-minute long trailer for "Hobo with a Shotgun" was added to certain releases of "Grindhouse." It wasn't long before the duo began to think they could pull together and make an exploitation film of their own. Thus, they decided to up the budget and turn "Hobo with a Shotgun" into a full-length feature. In addition to landing Rutger Hauer in the lead role, they also recruited Gregory Smith to play Slick, a sadistic crime lord and one of the nameless hobo's central foes.

Is "Hobo with a Shotgun" peak cinema? No. Is it a darn good time? You better believe it — and a big part of that fun is watching Smith chew up scenery and take a shotgun blast to the crotch.

His last onscreen appearance came in 2017

"Rookie Blue" contained Smith's last major role. However, this was not his final onscreen appearance. That would come on the television series "Designated Survivor," where Smith had a memorable guest appearance in 2017.

On the episode "Two Ships," Smith played Lieutenant Will Griffin, who's on a submarine that gets stranded after a collision. Griffin is promoted to captain after senior leadership is killed. Though most of the crew is rescued after abandoning the ship, Griffin makes a heroic decision to stay behind and destroy any intel that could be salvaged from the sub. Thus, he sacrifices himself in order to keep military secrets from falling into enemy hands.

This episode gave Smith the chance to showcase the charm and charisma he'd long used in his roles. As of this writing, it contains Smith's last onscreen performance. He has never made any announcement that he's done with acting, however, so we could always see him return.

Gregory Smith, television director

It seems that one major reason Smith slowed down on acting is because he found the director's chair. He started out directing episodes of "Rookie Blue," and apparently liked being behind the camera enough to start pursuing the experience more frequently. He soon directed a few episodes of another Canadian series, the supernatural medical drama "Saving Hope," before finding his true calling: comic book television. Specifically, he discovered the world of DC Comics on The CW.

In 2016, Smith directed several episodes of "Arrow." Things moved quickly from there. He was soon on the credits of nearly all of The CW's Arrowverse shows, including "Legends of Tomorrow," "The Flash," and "Supergirl." He has returned to direct the police procedural "The Detail," and has also helmed episodes of "God Friended Me," "Katy Keene," and "Riverdale." The most recent series Smith has directed episodes for is "Superman & Lois," where he seems to be a particular favorite.

He got married in 2018

Another reason that Smith may have slowed down on acting comes from his personal life. In 2018, the actor got married to Taylor McKay, a model and actress. People magazine had all sorts of beautiful photos of the couple announcing their marriage; in each shot, the love is palpable.

If we follow the timelines, it seems likely the two met on set. Outside of "Rookie Blue," the first series Smith directed an episode of was "Saving Hope." One of the first episodes he helmed of this series was "Fearless," which is also the very first episode of the series McKay appears in. McKay appeared in five episodes of the show over three seasons, and all but one of them was directed by Smith.

McKay also seems to have taken a break from acting; her appearances on "Saving Hope" are her last onscreen roles, as of this writing. She also did some voice over work for the horror video game "The Chant" in 2022.

He and his wife have two kids

Getting married surely distracted Smith and McKay for a bit, but they'd have to get back to acting at some point, right? Not if they start having kids! In 2021, the duo were happy to announce the birth of their first child: Harry Edward Smith. The couple welcomed Harry into the world on January 25, 2021, and it wasn't long before they decided to try for kid number two.

On August 19, 2022, the couple welcomed their second child. They named their daughter Primrose Elizabeth Smith, and immediately started sharing her adventures with the world. The couple particularly loves taking photos of their happy little family enjoying life outdoors.

Though we wouldn't be surprised to see Smith and McKay get back into film and television acting at some point, they might not. Intriguingly, McKay's Instagram indicates that she's finding a lot of enjoyment as a portrait photographer and a prenatal/postpartum doula.

Smith got to direct a major send-off episode

One of the more recent shows Smith has gotten to direct episodes of is "Superman & Lois." Though it's been generally well received, fans were a little concerned what all the shake-ups in the DC Extended Universe and the end of many of The CW's Arrowverse shows would mean for the series. Since Smith seems to be such a well-regarded comic book TV director, he was the ideal person to bring in to direct the show's Season 3 finale, "What Kills You Only Makes You Stronger" — especially since it seemed like it might be the series finale.

Luckily for fans, "Superman & Lois" was renewed for a fourth season ... with a few catches. Season 4 will reportedly be a smaller-scale show, with a lower budget and a pared-down cast of characters. As such, Smith was tasked with giving a send-off to a number of principal cast members, like Dylan Walsh, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Erik Valdez. Some of these actors may still reprise their roles, but they won't be series regulars any longer. Since Smith has been a deft hand in juggling the superhero melodrama of The CW, it's nice that he got a chance to give these actors what could be their last hurrah on "Superman & Lois."