TV Article

Father Knows Pests

What the ''Family Ties'' dad is up to now. Michael Gross kills creatures in Sci Fi's ''Tremors'' but still has time for stupid questions

Michael Gross, Tremors | GROSS ENCOUNTERS Michael turned his ''Tremors'' movie franchise into a Sci Fi Channel series
Image credit: Michael Gross: Kevin Folley
GROSS ENCOUNTERS Michael turned his ''Tremors'' movie franchise into a Sci Fi Channel series

One minute he's a touchy-feely pacifist dad, the next minute he's a paranoid survivalist blowing up giant killer worms. Either way, he's knocking 'em dead -- by the gross. But now Michael Gross, 55, star of ''Family Ties,'' faces a bold, new challenge: to turn his ''Tremors'' movie franchise into a cult hit series on the Sci Fi Channel (premiering March 28 at 9 p.m.). As he prepares to suit up again as monster hunter Burt Gummer, we dressed him down with some dangerously stupid questions.

What would we do, baby, without us?
You and I personally? Uhh...

You know what'd be a cool catchphrase? If every time you left a room, you shouted, ''Gross, out!''
Gross, out. That's perfect.... Yo Yo, Mo Fo Gro! Yeah.

I read that you ran with a gang in high school. That's kind of badass.
We called ourselves the Imperial Dudes. Seriously. We did not have money for leather jackets. We had black cloth jackets we bought at Sears. We were really second-rate.... When I was 16 and on probation for breaking and entering and grand larceny, I decided to go straight. If I was going to get caught, this was not a great career path for me. So I became an actor.

As a ''Tremors'' star, how does it feel to be within only one degree of Kevin Bacon?
People are trying to get to know me for exactly that reason. It's embarrassing. Sometimes I feel closer to him than I bet even Kyra Sedgwick does, you know?

You're shooting the direct-to-video ''Tremors 4'' in addition to ''Tremors: The Series.'' How are the groupies different on the two sets?
Let me put it this way: I would love a groupie of any sort. I think I'm too old to have groupies. No, they're in Idaho, hunkered down with their weapons, calling themselves the Aryan Great People's League or something. Or they're in prison.

Your show features weird creatures called ''Graboids,'' ''Shriekers,'' and ''Ass Blasters.'' Is this a good time to mention that you graduated from the Yale School of Drama?
All that blank verse is going to come in handy. I propose we do ''Tremors 5'' in rhyming couplets in Elizabethan England. So there.

Originally posted Mar 21, 2003 Published in issue #701 Mar 21, 2003 Order article reprints
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