When the producers of teen soap The L.A Complex asked Alan Thicke to play an ecclesiastical television producer, the former Growing Pains patriarch didn't need to look beyond his former TV family to get in character:
"I channelled Kirk Cameron," he said in a recent interview.
Thicke plays Donald Gallagher, the star, director and executive producer of Saying Grace - a 7th Heaven-esque show-within-a-show - in L.A. Complex's second season. Beyond offering an opportunity to poke fun at both his paternal archetype and his former co-star, the 65-year-old says the role allowed him to dig up his past a theology student at the University of Western Ontario.
"I was threatening to become a minister," he recalls. "I was in a denominational school - Westminster College - and had been very active in the Protestant church, giving sermons on youth day, that kind of thing."
Thicke eventually traded his divine aspirations for more earthly pursuits. ("That kind of commitment required a better person than me," he says, laughing.) However, he still enjoys dabbling when he can.
"One of the more successful comedy bits that I drag out of the closet every once in a while is a reverend character, doing monologues at various functions," he boasts. "I will fashion a Genesis monologue, 'In the beginning there was Walter Gretzky and he beget Wayne . . .' It's a good character that I play, so I was intrigued when I was offered the part (of Gallagher).
"There's very little proselytizing or preaching in the role, as I play it (the script didn't call for that), but relating to the somewhat holier-than-thou aspect of this guy's character was easy enough to do."
The L.A. Complex Season 2 premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MuchMusic and The CW.