Why Netflix's Lost In Space Gender-Swapped The Dr. Smith Role

Parker Posey in Lost in Space

If there's one trend that influencing the way TV and movies are being produced, it's nostalgia. Audiences' need to go back to a simpler time has resulted in certain reboots and long awaited revivals making a ton of money. As such, it seems like just about any property could be brought back; enter Netflix's upcoming Lost in Space. In stark juxtaposition to the beloved sitcom of the same name, the new Lost in Space looks epic and visually stunning. There are also plenty of changes being made, including making the character of Dr. Smith into a woman. Parker Posey will be playing the role originated by the late Jonathan Harris, and executive producer Kevin Burns recently revealed why that choice was made, saying:

Jon [Jashni, EP] and I had wanted Dr. Smith to be a woman. Why? Because we were very close to Jonathan Harris. I knew him very well. I had him in my ear telling me 'If they ain't got me they got nothing. Kevin, I love you, but it will fail because I am Dr. Smith and nobody else can be Dr. Smith. That's why that Gary Oldman movie died.' So we said we won't invite that comparison. What we'll do is we will cast someone who will bring to it everything Jonathan brought to it but from a totally different perspective without having all of that baggage.

There seems to be some solid logic here, and shows that the folks behind the new Lost in Space have some real reverence for the original series. Turning Dr. Smith into a woman allows Parker Posey to play in the series free from the shadow of Jonathan Harris, who is perhaps the most iconic character from the sitcom.

Kevin Burns' comments come to us from Wondercon, where CinemaBlend's Conner Schwerdtfeger asked the EP firsthand. Lost in Space purists who still love the original sitcom will no doubt feel some sort of relief, as it turns out that everyone involved in the new series truly does love and respect the OG version. So much so that Jonathan Harris' influence is still very much felt.

the original Dr. Smith

Of course, the comments also give a not so subtle jab to the 1998 Lost in Space movie. While it assembled a solid cast, the movie was a bit of a jumbled mess, and was a modest box office success. Gary Oldman played Dr. Smith, giving his typical fantastic performance, despite less than stellar material. Jonathan Harris actually turned down a cameo in the movie, as the role wasn't big enough.

Lost in Space will debut on Netflix, complete with Parker Posey's Dr. Smith, on April 13, 2018. In the meantime, check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch. Plus our Amazon premiere list and superhero premiere list to ensure you don't miss a single episode.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.