The Fosters’ Robert: In for the long haul

ABC Family/Tony Rivetti
ABC Family/Tony Rivetti

Callie’s had her fair share of shocking moments during two seasons on ABC Family’s The Fosters, but our mouths dropped again last week when she announced to Stef and Lena that she was going to go live with her biological dad, Robert Quinn. Up until this point, Callie (Maia Mitchell) has wanted nothing to do with Robert since he refused to sign the abandonment papers that would have allowed her to be officially adopted by Stef and Lena.

Callie may be on the verge of getting in trouble with the police over helping Daphne see her daughter last Christmas. So, unable to turn to mom/police officer Stef without risking her job, Callie naturally turned to Robert for help and thus far he’s answered the call without hesitation. The TV Junkies recently talked to Robert’s portrayer, actor Kerr Smith, about Robert’s motivations and whether or not his intentions are truly good ones when it comes to Callie and her future.

The TV Junkies: What is Robert’s initial reaction to Callie’s decision to move in with him?

Kerr Smith: Surprise. I don’t think Robert was expecting that. I also don’t think that he’s using it as some sort of ammunition to get her to live with the Quinns. I think it’s more of a ‘Look, this is my daughter. It’s my job as her father to keep her safe, especially in a legal situation like this.’ I think it kind of just worked out in his favour. If you ask Lena and Stef the same question, you’d get a much different answer.

TTVJ: Robert urged Callie to keep things secret from Stef and Lena. Is that something that may come back to hurt him down the road with the custody battle?

KS: You can imagine that Stef is going to have a real problem with that. There’s a reason it’s valid. She can’t help her [Callie] because she’s a police officer. She’s risking her career. So in a weird, weird way even though everything works out in Robert’s favour, he’s actually protecting Stef as well. She obviously doesn’t see it that way. I find that whole thing to have a unique dynamic to it.

TTVJ: One of the things about Robert is, as much as we don’t want to like him, we can’t help but feel for him and see his side of the story. Is he ever going to give us a reason to not like him?

KS: First of all thank you for saying that because that was my goal here. It’s funny because I’ve had a couple different interviews and not everybody says that. Some people just say ‘We don’t like him. He’s ripping her out of the family.’ The reason why I wanted to do this job is because of one fact: Robert didn’t know he had Callie back in the day. We know that now. If he knew and chose not to be in her life I probably wouldn’t be playing this role. To me that’s not very interesting and he’d just be the bad guy. What I wanted to do was play the antagonist, but at the same time get the audience to feel for him. Him not knowing about her and missing out on 15 years of his daughter’s life, he’s as much of a victim as Callie is in this situation. There’s a lot of guilt associated with him not being there for her even though he knows it wasn’t his choice. I think any rational person is going to be like ‘awww, I understand why he’s doing this.’

TTVJ: He’s her dad and he hasn’t done anything but make the right move since he’s found out about her.

KS: All he wants is his daughter to be a part of his life and vice versa. Can you wrong a father for wanting that? I don’t think so.

TTVJ: Do you think there’s ever a scenario that would allow everyone to be happy? One where Callie could be adopted by Stef and Lena but still have Robert in her life? What will it take to get us to that point?

KS: Time. Whatever decision happens with the judge and wherever Callie ends up I think one party is going to be happier than the other for awhile. But I think down the road everybody can start to understand this is kind of a win-win situation for Callie because she has the Fosters who love her on one side and she’s got the Quinns on the other side. There are some question marks with the Quinns because she doesn’t know them as well, but I mean come on, this is her biological father. There’s a lot of love there. It’s kind of a win-win for everyone but to answer your question in the beginning ‘No.’ I think there’s going to be an angry party and a happy party, but over time everybody can learn to appreciate the situation and realize that yes, it’s a good thing and everything has worked out.

ABC FAMILY/Rony Rivetti
ABC FAMILY/Rony Rivetti

TTVJ: Callie seems to be a magnet for trouble at times and it seems to follow her around. Is Robert ever going to throw up his hands and be like ‘I don’t need this,’ or is he in it for the long haul?

KS: I think so. He’s already got the Sophia situation happening that he’s dealing with that we haven’t touched on yet.

TTVJ: Exactly, that’s the only negative I have when I try to think of negatives about Robert. Here he had a daughter already who was having some problems and he seemed to be completely unaware of it.

KS: That’s an interesting thing I’ve been thinking about with the character is how good of a father is he? ‘How good of a father can I be when I didn’t know all this was going on with my daughter?’ I think it lends to the realization that ‘I’ve got another daughter now, maybe I can do better on this round.’ I don’t know exactly how I feel about that yet, because I don’t think Robert knows exactly how he feels about that. That’s kind of how it works for me.

TTVJ: Rosie O’Donnell comes back this week. What’s it like working with her and having her on set?

KS: Rosie’s great. We’ve had a lot of fun together. This is the first time I’ve met her. We’ve had a blast when she blows in on set every now and then. Our characters develop a friendship off screen and next week we kind of put together a pretty big surprise for Callie. I’m not going to reveal it because I’ll get shot. We’ve got other guest stars that are coming in too. We’ve got Patrick Duffy (Dallas) that’s going to be coming in to play my father. We were all really excited about that. You need someone that’s going to just really intimidate Robert and he’s definitely the guy! It was fun working with him.


What do you think of Robert Quinn? Are his intentions true? Do you trust him with Callie? Sound off in the comments below and check out Monday’s episode here:

The Fosters airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family and ABC Spark.