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Kurtwood Smith says you’ll be hooked by ‘Perpetual Grace, LTD’

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Kurtwood Smith says you’ll be hooked by ‘Perpetual Grace, LTD’ (Photo courtesy Lewis Jacobs/EPIX)

The new EPIX stylized series “Perpetual Grace, LTD” has aired only two episodes as of this writing but it’s already generating Emmy buzz for star Sir Ben Kingsley over his portrayal of diabolical small-town New Mexico preacher Pastor Byron Brown. Think of this noir-ish thriller as “Ma and Pa Kettle from Hell.”

Kurtwood Smith (“That 70s Show,” “Robocop,” “The Ranch”) has a recurring role as Uncle Dave, and says working with Kingsley is something all actors would love to do.

“He’s such a great guy and so fabulous as this preacher who is not what he appears to be,” Smith said of Kingsley during an interview.

“Perpetual Grace, LTD” also stars Jimmi Simpson as James, a drifting grifter who tries to out-con the pastor and his wife Lilian – played by Jackie Weaver. The show was created, co-written, directed and show-run by Steve Conrad and Bruce Terris, both of whom work with Smith on Amazon’s comedy-drama “Patriot.”

“Steve called and said ‘Hey, I have this new show and a part for you if you’re interested,’” Smith told me. “I said ‘Say no more, I’ll be there.’ Everyone on this show is incredible. Jimmi Simpson might be the sweetest guy on the planet. Luis Guzmán is a regular on this show and he’s a terrific guy and a hilarious actor. Terry O’Quinn and Chris Conrad are also on the show and were on ‘Patriot’ with me.”

Jimmi Simpson’s James is trying to escape his past – one that has nearly consumed him with guilt.

“He’s not looking to run a number on anyone at first,” Smith said. “Another character (Paul, played by Damon Herriman) convinces him to help him run a con on his parents – the pastor and his wife. Part of the con requires James to pose as Paul. My character – Uncle Dave – is Paul’s uncle. He just got out of prison after being wrongly accused and convicted of being a sexual predator. I’m in a halfway house in the next town over. If my character shows up in this town, the con will be exposed.”

The first season of “Perpetual Grace, LTD” consists of 10 episodes shot last winter in several New Mexico towns, including Santa Fe, Los Cerrillos, Los Alamos and Las Vegas, according to Smith.

“I met quite a few people in Santa Fe and Las Vegas, New Mexico and they were all terrific,” Smith says. “Before we started shooting they said, ‘You know it gets cold here.’ I said ‘Really? How cold?’ They said ‘Well, it snows here’ so I’m thinking it will be 30 degrees. I can deal with that. The first morning they picked me up to go to work, it was like 12 degrees. It went all the way up to 19 that day. I wasn’t quite prepared for that, especially since my character wears only a skimpy little jacket.”

New episodes of “Perpetual Grace, LTD” are scheduled to air Sundays at 10 p.m. on EPIX.

“Once you start watching, you’re hooked. I have a feeling this show will be around for a few years,” Smith said.

Smith is best known as gruff, grumpy and hilariously opinionated Red Foreman on the long-running sitcom “That 70s Show” and says he loves getting to work again with some of that cast on Amazon’s “The Ranch.”

“This last year and the year before, I did some episodes with Ashton (Kutcher) and Danny (Masterson). A number of ‘That 70s Show’ alumni pop up on ‘The Ranch.’ I see Debra Jo once in a while. I stay in touch with Wilmer. Topher and I are always trying to find a way to get together. A couple of years ago, we shared Father’s Day together and had a great time. He’s a dad himself now. He has a little girl and I’m looking forward to meeting her.”

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