If the 2001 Disney Channel original movie Motocrossed means anything to you (and it should!), you’re going to appreciate Friday’s episode of Nancy Drew on a whole other level.
“The Gambit of the Tangled Souls” (The CW, 9/8c) turns Nancy’s world upside down when her dads essentially revert to their teenage selves, resulting in one of Riley Smith‘s favorite episodes of television he’s ever done in his career. And he knew it would be from the moment showrunner Melinda Hsu Taylor pitched him the idea.
“She came to me and said, ‘We have these two dads that were teenage heartthrobs, and we’ve never really touched on that at all,'” Smith recalls. “She was like, ‘A lot of people who watch the show might not know or remember, but their parents might, so we thought it would be fun to do a standalone episode where you guys become your teenage selves again.’ I was immediately hooked.”
Smith, who played a pro racer in the aforementioned Disney movie, says Ryan spends quite a bit of time around motorcycles in the episode, while there are also little nods to Scott Wolf’s role on Party of Five. Jacket and all.
“I was getting dressed on Day 1 in my trailer and I was like, ‘I’m going to put on the Motocrossed theme song,’ this song ‘We’re At the Top of the World’ by Juliana Theory. If you know the movie, you know the song,” he says. (We do, and we do!) “So I cranked it in my trailer as I’m getting the jersey on, I’m spiking my hair up and I’m ready to go. The first take we did was Scott and I speeding down the road in this suped-up car. The chance to relive our glory days one more time was amazing.”
Unfortunately, reality has a way of humbling us sometimes. While shooting promotional photos for the episode on Day 1, Smith was asked to do a jump kick with a guitar, which he did successfully… until he landed wrong and threw his back out.
“For the first three days of shooting, I was hobbling around like an old geezer pretending to be a teenager,” Smith says. “If there was any way to remind myself that I’m not a teenager anymore, that was it.”
Playing Nancy’s biological father — even if we didn’t know that’s who he was playing at first — has been a joy for Smith, who says, “Ryan’s journey has been the most fun turnaround I’ve ever played. It’s been a lot of work for me and the writers, it’s been a group effort. He was not very likable in the beginning, but over time we’ve gotten to see why he was like that. It’s so fun to play a guy who’s just trying to figure it out.”
Hit PLAY on the promo for tonight’s episode below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on Nancy Drew‘s third season thus far.