Canadian actor Zach Smadu portrays Daniel Svennson on the legal dramedy Family Law, which just premiered its first season on The CW Network.
Family Law focuses on Abby Bianchi, the protagonist, who struggles with addiction and must work at the family law firm.
Smadu plays the middle child, Daniel, and TV Fanatic chatted with him about Daniel’s character development, his place in the family, and our favorite legal cases so far.
Hi Zach. It’s great to chat with you. How important is this setting of Vancouver to Family Law?
I think it plays a character in the show. All of the drama that comes from the relationships on the show and the cases are based on Canadian law in Vancouver and the characters’ interests. Vancouver is quite beautiful. There’s often a charity about forests or oceans happening.
For instance, one case we do in one of the upcoming seasons is about environmentalism. It’s a vital issue philosophy, but specifically for Vancouver people, it’s essential because it’s a real place and a tangible thing you go to, talk some tea and utilize almost every day.
So little things, like restaurants, local parks, and architectural places, make it an authentic setting for our show and so specific.
Sometimes it’s very generic when you’re shooting in a place where it’s supposed to be in New York, but we can’t show anything of New York, So it’s going to be a random street. On our show, we highlight the beautiful features because of the above, and Vancouver is an important character.
I find that interesting, and that helps with the show.
I agree. I had never been to Vancouver until I was cast for the show. I fell in love with the vibrancy of it. It’s a huge metropolitan city, but it’s located between the mountains and the ocean. I was thrilled the show was going to utilize that.
When we started shooting season one, I thought this would draw people into the city to shop. We have beautiful overhead over the water and across the mountains near the cityscape shop that we have Incorporated in the postseason and will continue for the rest of the season. I’m very proud of this vibrant tone.
I also really appreciate the range of topics the series has covered. How do you make them so relatable?
That is partly due to our writers and our showrunner, Susin Nielsen. She and the team have a great finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world, both culturally in North America and Canada and in the news. They want to make episodes related to current topics that people are talking about.
We have the format on the show where we can debate these issues because it’s a law show, so you have the form that you get multiple perspectives on this without it coming across as preachy from other characters.
This is why law shows are exciting despite people’s points of view on specific topics and issues, such as child custody or we have a transgender case in season two. We have a couple of different things that speak to the current movement on environmentalism stuff.
You can flush those things out, and having current issues makes people interested in the show and enjoy it because it’s not just one note. Hopefully, we can have nuanced conversations and highlight different points of view about it.
Has there been a specific topic that has resonated with you or your character?
Family Law Season 1 Episode 5 was one of my favorite episodes. It’s the next one to air on The CW.
My character Daniel has a specific thread in the case we’re doing. He’s helping a former colleague and someone who’s acted like an adopted father to him. His wife has Alzheimer’s, so there’s an issue with her being in the home and the devastation that affects the husband and the children.
Daniel, specifically, has relations with them and a history with them. Besides the topic, I had family members who had dementia, which affected me. I’m sure it would because it’s quite a common thing.
This episode allows Daniel’s side of himself to shine through because, until that point, we have a bit of his relationship with his girlfriend Danielle, and the relationship between Lucy and Harry and Abby was introduced. Now, we get to see a part of his past that was exciting to get into and the case that allowed it to happen naturally.
Yes, I was going to say up until now, we have not seen much of Daniel’s personal life. When are we going to delve more into his emotional and personal journey?
I’m glad you’re interested in it. We scratch on that as Season One progresses. Setting the tone with Abigail in the first couple of seasons since she’s our number one protagonist makes sense. But I think the writers have done a fantastic job of making the other characters, like Harry, Daniel, and Lucy, and seeing their story come alive.
From episode five to the rest of the season, we get more personal with Daniel and only continue further and deeper as the seasons go on. We’ve already shot Season Three, and Season One is airing in the United States, while Season Two is airing in some places, not even Canada. There’s a lot more coming.
Will you be delving more into Daniel and Harry’s relationship and why he thinks he’s the neglected child?
I’m glad you phrased it like that because that’s how Daniel would maybe see it.
That’s what he said in the last episode.
Exactly. I think Lucy and Abby agree there is some rivalry on that claim. We do, though. I’ve said before that the relationship between Daniel and Harry was so fascinating to me when I read the first script.
It has so many qualities to it, not just the father-son relationship, as The relationship is tested and maybe not the healthiest, but what is beneficial in relationships? There are millions of versions of what a father-son relationship can be.
But we have that mixed in with the professional and his father, Harry, being the Top Dog in family law and just a serious character in the community and have a lot of bravado and clout and power that Daniel lives in the shadow of.
In specific ways, navigating that in the father-son and boss-and-employee relationship is interesting as how those come about from episode to episode and the cases they deal with, working on issues together and Harry supervising cases. Daniel’s level within the law firm and prestige also changes.
And what has it been like working with Victor Garber, Jewel State, and Genelle Williams?
I have been having the time of my life because of the three of them. Despite the challenges and relationships on the show, Victor, Jewel, Genelle, and I are fortunate to genuinely enjoy each other’s company and spending time with each other. I’ve never met more supportive castmates but friends through work, and it’s a joy to go to work and hang out.
We work long days and shoot for four and a half months. We’re there every day, which can be tiring for anybody, even if you’re enjoying the material. Still, it’s special when the people you’re surrounded with elevate everything to the next level, workwise and energy-wise.
We have dance parties as we walk onto set, and on weekends, we often spend with each other anyways, even though we spent the last five days with each other. It’s pretty much, what are we going to dinner? Where’s the reservation? What do you what to do? Let’s go for a hike in the forest.
Sometimes, we go paddleboarding in the morning. I went paddleboarding on the show and thought we should do this in real life.
I saw they brought your love of riding into Daniels’s character. Do we get to see any more of your hobbies pop up?
That’s a good question. I think the riding and the outdoors exercise world for Daniel is entirely showcased. We’ll see Daniel and myself connected in the next few seasons, which is why I love doing these types of scenes.
They get me in wet suits to go swimming. Many actors don’t enjoy them but love them. If the writers said they wanted Daniel to go bungee jumping, like, giddy up. I’m ready to go. I fish and run all the time. The showrunner has traveled the world with those racing bikes, so we’ve talked about Daniel doing a triathlon. That’d be fun to write into the show.
So, anything sports or exercise related you love?
Yes. I love that, and that’s a massive thing for Daniel. I enjoy music, writing, reading, and other artistic outlets. I love cooking and just moved into a new place here in Vancouver. Coming across the country and setting up my kitchen, I’m like a kid in a candy shop.
I’m so excited to start cooking and having people over and cooking some recipes. I don’t think that has transferred across to Daniel yet.
That would certainly be fun to see. Do you have anything else you would like to add for your fans to know?
Before addressing the fans, I’d like to inquire what has been your favorite storyline so far of Season 1. Have you just started Season 1, or have you seen anything else beyond season 1?
I have not seen anything else but Season one. I have liked everything I have seen so far. I was impressed with Family Law Season One Episode 4, praying away the gay camp and getting Cecil undercover.
That one was fun. Maybe it was the first time, but it’s not the last time Cecil gets involved in a quirky way to help. For all of us to keep straight. Brett Kelly is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met on-screen, and it’s nearly impossible for us not to laugh when filming.
Any scene when Brett is being Cecil is almost painstaking to shoot because we’re all laughing hard.
Yeah, he was so fun going undercover. I liked it, even though it’s a serious scene, it was nice to see him more involved.
I’m glad you enjoyed that. And I’m pleased to say that happened more as the season continues. You’ll appreciate that part, too, since everyone loves Brett Kelly. I saw him a few nights ago to celebrate Jewel doing a guest spot on Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 6. We did a little viewing party for her.