Barry Watson is an American actor, best known for playing ‘Matt Camden,’ the oldest of the seven children of ‘Reverend Eric Camden,’ in ‘7th Heaven,’ Aaron Spelling and Brenda Hampton’s successful series. The charismatic young man had started turning heads with the ‘Primetime Emmy’-nominated show in the mid-1990s. ‘Matt’s character fetched Watson millions of young female fans across America and abroad. It became a major contributor toward the runaway success of the show. Unfortunately, while he reached the peak of his fame with the series, and seemed to have paved his way for much bigger things for himself, an unexpected diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease (a type of lymphatic cancer) brought things crashing down in 2002. Watson showed immense fortitude and fought back to overcome the disease. He resumed his acting career by first guest-starring in the remaining seasons of ‘7th Heaven’ and then starring in series such as ‘What About Brian’ and ‘Samantha Who?’ He has since appeared in many supporting roles both on television and in films.
Childhood & Early Years
Barry was born Michael Barrett Watson, on April 23, 1974, in Traverse City, Michigan. He was the third of the four children born to an attorney father and a paralegal mother. He has two older siblings, Scott and Christie, and a younger brother named Kip.
At 8, he left Michigan with his family to settle down in Dallas, Texas. In Texas, he first tried his hand at modeling, appearing in several print ads and local commercials. The actor once stated that he grew up among cowboys and was the only kid in junior high with long hair and a pierced ear, for which he was apparently bullied.
Watson was single-minded about becoming an actor and a star. He lobbied with his parents to let him take acting lessons and ended up learning the art from director Linda Seto at the ‘Dallas Young Actors Studio.’
While he was honing his acting skills, at age 14, his parents got divorced. A year later, he traveled to Burbank, California, to look for acting opportunities and almost instantly earned a recurring role of a teenager in ‘NBC’s popular daytime soap opera ‘Days of Our Lives’ (1990).
After a 6-month stint with ‘Days of Our Lives,’ Watson had to return to Dallas in 1992 and finished high school at ‘Richardson High School,’ Richardson, Texas. Almost immediately after graduation, he packed his bags again and moved back to Los Angeles. As a 19-year-old boy, he took a night job as a valet at the ‘House of Blues’ nightclub and spent his days auditioning for any and every acting job he could find.
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Watson first started scoring guest roles in popular series such as ‘The Nanny’ (1994), ‘Baywatch’ (1996), and ‘Nash Bridges’ (1996). Soon, he caught the eye of producer Aaron Spelling, who cast him in his short-lived series ‘Malibu Shores.’ The five-episode gig was brief but led to his breakthrough role in Aaron Spelling's next project, ‘7th Heaven.’
He was cast in ‘7th Heaven’ because the producers thought he fit the teenage hunk archetype perfectly. The series ran for 11 successful seasons and remains ‘The WB’s most watched TV franchise ever. The character ‘Matt’ appeared in a total of 153 episodes, garnering Watson a ‘Teen Choice Award’ and a ‘Young Artist Award’ nomination.
After beating cancer by enduring 6 months of chemotherapy, he came back to ‘7th Heaven’ in 2003, with frequent guest-starring appearances. He has since been a series regular and supporting cast in numerous shows and telefilms. Some of his projects were the drama ‘What About Brian’ (2006–2007) and the two-time ‘Golden Globe’-nominated ‘Samantha Who?’ (2007–2009), opposite Christina Applegate.
Watson has also appeared in several big-screen projects, such as ‘Teaching Mrs. Tingle’ (1999), ‘When Strangers Appear’ (2001), ‘Sorority Boys’ (2002), ‘Love on the Side’ (2004), and ‘Boogeyman’ (2005), besides starring in several acclaimed telefilms, such as ‘ABC’s ‘My Future Boyfriend,’ alongside Sara Rue and Fred Willard.
He has also worked as a writer and director for ‘7th Heaven.’ He also directed an episode of the ‘ABC Family’ hit series ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’ (2010).
His late career saw him in major roles in hit series such as ‘Drop Dead Diva’ (2010), the immensely successful ‘Gossip Girl’ (2012) and ‘Hart of Dixie’ (2014). In 2015, he played the role of ‘Michael’ in the horror ‘Ominous.’ In 2017, he was seen as ‘Ricky Cooper’ in the Canadian production ‘Date My Dad.’
In 2019, he appeared in meaty roles in the pet drama ‘A Dog's Way Home,’ alongside Ashley Judd and Bryce Dallas Howard, and in the heart-wrenching telefilm titled ‘My Mom's Letter from Heaven,’ a callback to his own struggles with cancer, albeit in a reversed role.
Watson has also been roped in to play ‘Lachlan Murdoch,’ son of media mogul and ‘News Corp’ owner Rupert Murdoch, in ‘Showtime’s ‘The Loudest Voice’ (2019), a seven-episode miniseries about ‘Fox News’ founder Roger Ailes. The series is based on the bestselling book ‘The Loudest Voice in the Room’ by Gabriel Sherman, who also co-wrote the first episode of the series.
Family & Personal Life
‘7th Heaven’ producer Aaron Spelling’s daughter, Tori Spelling, introduced Watson to his first wife, Laura Payne-Gabriel, whom he married on November 21, 1997. They divorced in 2002.
He was then reunited with his high-school classmate, reality TV personality Tracy Hutson, in December 2003. The couple had dated for a short while in their 20s. Thus, rekindling affection was not hard. They had their first son, Oliver, on May 2, 2005, and their second son, Felix, on November 13, 2007. The two married on July 14, 2006, and divorced in 2011.
Watson had a daughter, Clover Clementyne Watson, with his new girlfriend, Natasha Gregson Wagner, daughter of actor Natalie Wood, on May 30, 2012. The couple got married on December 21, 2014, and reportedly live in Watson’s Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills home.
The actor once stated that his early struggles in Los Angeles and his brush with a life-threatening disease had made him who he is today: “hopefully, a better human being, a better dad, maybe even a better actor.”
Watson received an ‘MTV Movie Award’ nomination for his film ‘Teaching Mrs. Tingle’ in the late 1990s.
He made an uncredited appearance in the star-studded 2011 Hollywood blockbuster ‘Ocean's Eleven.’
The actor claims to have seen “Bigfoot” outside his window as a kid. He is a basketball fan and supports the ‘NBA’ team ‘Los Angeles Clippers,’ often attending their home games.