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Updated: 05/10/2018 08:30:01AM

Gross on ‘Family Ties’ and ‘Tremors’

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Michael Gross playing Burt Gummer.


Michael Gross doing a promotional photo for 'Tremors 6.'


Michael Gross, left, doing a guest appearance on 'Orange is the New Black.'


The cast of 'Family Ties.' From row: Tina Yothers. Middle row, from left; Justine Bateman, Meredith Baxter, Michael j. Fox. Back row: Michael Gross.


Michael Gross in one of the 'Tremors' movies.


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While speaking with actor Michael Gross, the original plan was to discuss “Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell,” which is the sixth installment in the cult-classic movie franchise, “Tremors.” However, listening to Gross reflect on his acting career was a tale in and of itself. He is best known for his role as Steven Keaton on the NBC sitcom, “Family Ties,” which aired from 1982-1989.

“I’m blessed,” says Gross. “I’ve actually been able to make my living pretending, which is what I did as a kid for free. So I’m thrilled. More than that, it’s the variety of work. I’ve always thought of myself as a character actor, not particularly a leading man, but somebody that works well with an ensemble and can fit in with different sorts of roles. Playing the kind, loving, understanding father on ‘Family Ties’ for seven years was as interesting to me as playing the obsessive, compulsive, disordered, comically paranoid Burt Gummer (from the Tremors movies).”

Gross went on to say, “next week I’m going on (the Netflix program) “Grace and Frankie” to play a gay man. I love the variety of the freelance life, I really do. Fortunately people have trusted me with a variety of different sorts of characters and what could be better than that?

“There are certain people, let’s say, who are diehard “Tremors” fans, or some of my work on ‘Law & Order.’ I’m always the perp. I’m always cast as the perp on everyone of the Law & Orders. Every time you see me (on Law & Order) you can pretty much guarantee I did it.”

Continuing on he said, “there’s certain people who are absolute diehard ‘Family Ties’ fans, and fortunately that’s not all they talk about. Having said that, I love when they talk about it. It would be ridiculously wrong to talk about Lucille Ball without talking about ‘I Love Lucy.’

“It (Family Ties) was something that I think America very much needed at the time. Those were the Reagan years, the 1980’s, the conservatism. A very different sort of conservatism than you see now,” reflected Gross. “It was one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite shows, as well as a lot of liberals. It showed you that we had far more in common than we had in differences. It was a time that I think America could learn from now. People could be on totally different sides of an ideological fence and yet we all got along. We disagreed but we were never disagreeable. In fact, we could laugh about our differences. We Americans seem to have lost our sense of humor.”

The actor said, “‘Tremors’ was a real blessing to me because it came on the heels of ‘Family Ties.’ To be doing it 28 years later, and revisiting Burt (Gummer, the lead role in Tremors) from time to time, which I think is comic gold, has been such a pleasure. I’m happy to be a part of that.

“I cannot believe the enthusiasm that comes with this franchise. As a kid I loved monster movies myself. I totally get that. And they (the audience) love Burt. I keep thinking, what’s the attraction there? First, Burt is funny. I think he kind of embodies that American idea, we like to think of ourselves as independent, facing the world alone. I think Burt kind of fits into that — the independent, sort of stoic, American hero.”

“Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell,” was released direct to DVD on May 1. It is the perfect mix of action, horror and comedy. The movie comes with exclusive bonus features that take the audience deeper into the world of Tremors. It includes behind the scenes footage of the making of the film, commentary from the filmmakers and an up-close look at the very first underwater Graboid (monster) attack.

“Tremors: The Complete Collection,” was also released May 1 and contains all six Tremors movies.