Skip to content

He Played Matt Camden on "7th Heaven." See Barry Watson Now at 48.

The actor played the eldest son in the wholesome family drama, which premiered in 1996.

Barry Watson played the moody, rebellious, and flirty eldest Camden kid, Matt, on 7th Heaven, from 1996 to 2007, though he had to take a leave to deal with some pretty serious health issues. Before the wholesome family drama, the actor had had some minor roles on another show produced by Aaron Spelling, the short-lived Malibu Shores. Watson had also appeared in episodes of The Nanny, Sister, Sister, and Baywatch, but it was taking on the character of Matt Camden that really catapulted him into fame. He told People in 2021 that he never expected the show to be a hit. "I was so broke at the time that I just did it for the pilot," he said. "I was like who is going to watch this show about a minister's family? It was completely unexpected how the show took off."

Here's what Watson's been doing since 7th Heaven turned him into a teen idol.

READ THIS NEXT: See Heidi From Home Improvement Now at 56.

He's still acting and just appeared on a superhero show.

Barry Watson in 2000
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

After 7th Heaven, Watson continued to take on roles, starring in What About Brian, Samantha Who? alongside Christina Applegate, and Date My Dad. He had recurring roles on Gossip Girl as Steven Spence and on Hart of Dixie as Davis Polk and showed up in several TV movies as well as episodes of shows including Wilfred, Masters of Sex, and Into the Dark. In 2019, he played Lachlan Murdoch in Showtime's miniseries about Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice, and this year, he played the adoptive dad of the titular superhero in the CW series Naomi, which was unfortunately canceled after one season.

Watson has taken on movie roles too, appearing in Teaching Miss TingleSorority Boys, and A Dog's Way Home, among other films.

He battled cancer.

Barry Watson in 2002
Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage for InStyle Magazine

In 2002, when he was 28, Watson was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He temporarily stepped back from 7th Heaven after Season 6 to undergo treatment and later returned as a recurring guest for the final seasons, with his first appearance back in the 150th episode.

The actor's cancer has been in remission since 2003, but it's not completely behind him. Watson told ABC News in 2021, "[Cancer is] still such a big part of my life because I still think about it, but also time has passed where it's almost like, 'Did that really happen? Did I really go through all that?' And now having this whole other life with my wife and my kids that they weren't even a part of that time, it feels like a lifetime ago."

He was troubled by revelations that surfaced about his co-star.

Barry Watson in 2012
JB Lacroix/WireImage

The actor who played the Camden family patriarch, Stephen Collins, saw his career end in disgrace several years ago. In 2013, a recording of Collins confessing to sexually assaulting underage girls during a marriage counseling session was leaked to TMZ. Afterward, the actor issued a lengthy statement to People admitting that between 1973 and 1994 he abused three minors. Collins was never prosecuted for those crimes, reportedly due to the statute of limitations, but 7th Heaven reruns were pulled out of circulation in light of his confession.

In 2019, Watson opened up about his reaction to what had come to light about Collins during an episode of Michael Rosenbaum's Inside of You podcast. Per the International Business Times, Watson claimed that he'd had no reason to be suspicious of his co-star during filming, and after first saying that "nothing shocks [him]" anymore, he added, "We were all so close, so, sure." Watson also said that learning about Collins' misconduct "hurt because [7th Heaven] was such a huge part of [his] life."

For more celebrity updates sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

But he's open to a reboot that doesn't involve Collins.

Watson said on the same podcast that he knows there's been demand for a 7th Heaven reboot that focus on the now-adult Camden kids, no parents involved. But would he do it? Maybe.

"I don't know," the former teen heartthrob said. "If it was put together in the right way, yeah, I would be interested in doing that and hanging out with all those kids again." Watson's 7th Heaven siblings included by David Gallagher (Simon), Jessica Biel (Mary), Beverley Mitchell (Lucy), and Mackenzie Rosman (Ruthie).

He's a father of three.

If you're noticing that Watson's career has been carefully curated since 7th Heaven, with the actor being choosey about roles and taking mainly TV work, that's not by accident. He told People in the same 2021 interview that he has turned down a lot of projects to focus on his family. "I said no to probably too many things in the past and it affected my work. But I have no regrets," Watson said. "I'm proud because I can coach my daughter's basketball games, go to the games, and really be a part of their lives. And hopefully, my kids will recognize that Dad was always there."

The star has been married three times. He was married first to Laura Payne-Gabriel from 1997 to 2001, then he wed Tracy Hutson, with whom he has two sons: Oliver, born in 2005, and Felix, born in 2007. He split from Hutson in 2010 and married Natasha Wagner in 2014. Together, the couple welcomed a daughter named Clover in 2012.

Karen Fratti
Karen Fratti is an entertainment and culture writer. She went to Temple University, where she received a B.A. in English and has an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School University. Read more
Filed Under