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EXCLUSIVE: Harley Quinn Smith Calls Ariel Winter a 'Big Inspiration,' Talks Defending Dad Kevin Smith Against Haters

by Emily Krauser 11:03 AM PDT, August 31, 2016
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Harley Quinn Smith Calls Ariel Winter a 'Big Inspiration,' Talks Defending Dad Kevin Smith Against Haters

It's not easy being a teenager in the age of social media bullying, but Harley Quinn Smith is doing her best to keep a good head on her shoulders.

Luckily, she has some amazing peers to look up to, including her BFF and Yoga Hosers co-star, Lily-Rose Depp, and Ariel Winter.

Yoga Hosers marks the first leading role for Harley, but when she and her famous father, Kevin Smith, spoke to ET on Tuesday, the 17-year-old actress gushed over another project she's dying to have a role in: Modern Family.

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"That show is spectacular in every way," mused a starry-eyed Harley.

"That's the only thing she ever really talks about," Kevin chimed in. "She's like, 'I want to be on Modern Family one day."

"If they were like, 'You have to slit your father's throat to be on Modern Family,' she would seriously think about it," he jokingly added, making a slitting motion as Harley laughed, "Maybe!"

It helps that Ariel has a major role on it as the middle daughter of the Dunphy family. "I love her," Harley explained. "She's a really big inspiration, for sure."

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As much as she loves the ABC sitcom, it's Ariel's off-screen persona that Harley appreciates the most.

"I just love her confidence and she also, in a very eloquent way, doesn't let anybody mess with her on social media," she said. "She gets a lot of harassment for the way she dresses... [and] it's hard to not let it get to you, but she deals with it in such a good way. I just look up to her very much."

Even though her dad has been a public figure for nearly two decades, the spotlight is new for Harley. But much like Ariel, she's already figured out how important it is to use her voice in a positive way, advocating for causes close to her heart, including animal rights and online bullying.

"I know it annoys some people that I write, like, huge paragraphs on Instagram, because that's not what they want to see, but it's really important to use your fame, for lack of a better word, to do something good in the world instead of just selfies," she said, acknowledging that she does, of course, post some of those when Kevin ribbed her about seeing "a lot of selfies, too!"

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It's a tough business that Harley has decided to come apart of, one that she admitted to ET that she has to work twice as hard because of the name recognition. "This happens to no one. This is very lucky," she said, though Kevin had his own feelings on the matter.

"Don't beat yourself up, man. Everyone gets a break. You just happen to be related to the break man. Hey, it happened to Ben Affleck, and he wasn't my kid!" he reiterated to Harley, referring to casting his old friend in movies like Mallrats and Chasing Amy.

"Everyone brings something to the table," he added. "This wasn't me going, 'Let's push this kid into show business because that's what the family does… but [Harley] showed A) interest and B) a natural aptitude, and suddenly I was like, if she likes this s**t, I used to do this s**t really well back in the day -- not so much anymore -- but I can literally put her in movies. Everything you described as this first-time experience is awesome for her, except it comes with a price tag: the movie is a Kevin Smith movie. You know what I'm saying? That's a deficit. She'll be working off that deficit for the rest of her life."

Kevin is self-deprecating, which, in part, undoubtedly serves as a bit of a self-defense mechanism from having had a ton of cruel words thrown his way over the years by both critics and fans alike. Harley is already seeing the unfortunate side effects of criticism at the hands of Internet anonymity, but it's the shade thrown at her dad that affects her the most.

"Nobody wants to see anybody they love get or receive hate, so it really makes me feel really [bad]," she admitted. "I kind of hate seeing criticism towards my dad more than me. It does hurt."

Sweetly, Harley turned to her father before saying, "I love you, and I think everything you do is great, so I hate it."

WATCH: Lily-Rose Depp Comes to Johnny Depp's Defense

Though Kevin can come off as a comic book-loving big kid, he and his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, have clearly shaped Harley into a strong, poised young woman, and he's "insanely proud" of his only child.

"Of course, I have to love her by virtue of the fact that she's my daughter, but I don't have to like her as a human being. And I do like her a lot," he explained. "I have a fondness for her. I would hang out with her if we didn't know each other. She's got a good head and heart -- that's the most important thing to me."

"How that happened? I give all the credit to Jen… Whenever I see Harley, naturally, I see my daughter, I see her own person, but I see the strong work my wife did while I was off f**king around with a backwards baseball cap," he added. "What I recognize in myself in her is the stuff that you can't avoid. Her and I are kind of like twins, except that she's d**kless and beardless, essentially. So, we're very in sync with one another." ("It's true," agreed Harley.)

So, yes, comic book sensibilities and goofy natures aside, Harley is mature beyond her years. She even has the whole dating thing down better than some adults! The actress has been with her boyfriend, Corey Ring, for over three years, and, yes, Dad digs him.

"This kid is it on a stick, man," Kevin told ET. "I may like him a little better than her."

"I think you do as well," Harley quipped.

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"Once she was of age to start dating, there was a fear of, 'I don't care how good your personal radar is for somebody, people get in all the time that turn out to be ticking time bombs.' You can never tell," he continued. "Cory is this like incredibly upstanding, good dude. They were dating for like six months and I said, 'Marry this man'. And she was like, 'I'm 15, Dad, and I said, 'Doesn't matter, because it doesn't get better than this.' And my wife gets angry. She's like, 'She's got to date a lot of people in life before she gets married.' And I'm like, 'F**k that! She found a good f**king dude.'"

So, how does Harley feel about marriage at such a young age? While she clearly appreciates having her dad's approval, she admitted, "That's crazy!"

As grown up as she might be, the high school senior is fully aware that she's still got to get through the next few years like a normal teen. In fact, it's nice to see that Yoga Hosers doesn't feature Harley or Lily-Rose trying to act like grown-ups, but rather like the 15-year-olds they were while filming.

"They never said, 'Dad, we don't talk like this,'" Kevin points out, "but I encouraged the girls like, 'Look, you've got to remember this was written by a middle-aged man, and I know your voices, but at the same time, I don't know what kids talk about these day or the catchphrases, so anything you guys feel like putting in, put in.' So the girls say basic a lot in the movie, and that was them. They were like, 'Right now everyone says basic b**ch. And I was like, 'We're not going to say b**ch, so let's go with basic,' and they were like, 'Basic's cool.' So yeah, they informed it quite a bit, and thankfully they were never like, 'This reeks of a 45-year-old man!'"

Yoga Hosers hits theaters Sept. 2.

WATCH: Harley Quinn Smith Talks Online Bullying and Her 'Suicide Squad' Connection

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