Pushing Boundaries with Chad Lindberg
Fangasm! is all about pushing boundaries and frequently stomping all over them in our pursuit of the “truth” about fandom. So who better to talk boundaries with than actor Chad Lindberg. He’s pushed quite a few of his own lately.
We sat down with Chad fresh on the heels of filming his comeback turn on Supernatural. He got the news that he’d be back on the show while finishing work on I Spit On Your Grave, and it caught him a bit off guard.
Chad: It was towards the end of filming, and I got the news that I was going to be back and at first I didn’t believe it. I was like, “What, a convention? Another convention? A Supernatural convention?” And it took me a little bit to register that it meant that I was going to be back [on the show] and it was an awesome feeling to know that work was coming in and that I didn’t have to audition and it was like a little extra bonus, a big extra bonus actually from what I was already doing. It was pretty neat to get the news as I was working.
Chad hasn’t entirely kept up with the show, so we attempted to fill in the gaps for him, with amusing results.
Chad: So the apocalypse is happening? I’m not sure. I haven’t been keeping up with the show – I try to!
Kathy (always a woman of few words, who likes to sum up an entire season with a sentence or two unlike Lynn who would have cheerfully bent Chad’s ear for an hour going over all the nuances.) Yeah – Sam’s fault. He let Lucifer out of hell.
Chad: I didn’t catch season four – wasn’t he like, licking blood?
Kathy: He was. He was a blood addict. A demon blood addict.
Chad: *gasps* A demon blood addict! *ponders* And I’ve caught that Dean is resenting him for that.
Kathy: Yeah, Dean’s been blaming him. A lot of tension between the brothers about who started the apocalypse first – was it Dean or was it Sam. (Kathy is also skilled at understatement.)
Of course, being big Ash fans ourselves, we want to hear whether we’ll get to see even more of him (and Chad).
Kathy: So they left it open ended? There’s the possibility Ash will be back?
Chad: I think they definitely left it open ended, as they do on Supernatural. So yeah, I think anything’s possible. And we’ll see what the response this time is to Ash.
Kathy: Any stories from filming you can share – without giving anything away?
Chad: There was a moment, I would say, without giving too much away, it was one of those moments I did something — basically, I screwed a take up really bad and I wasn’t aware I was doing it and everybody else was kind of laughing hysterically but trying to keep it together. They kept the camera rolling, and it went on and on and Jared and Jensen basically had tears streaming down their faces. And Jensen was finally like “Cut, cut, cut!” and everyone had this giant laugh – the crew and the cast. It was a really good moment, a really nice moment for everybody. Obviously, when it comes out I will be able to tell you what that was, but if I tell you what it was [now] it will spoil something. They’re just funny dudes and they’re really down to earth so it’s easy to joke a lot. Jensen would fool around with the camera equipment on the DP’s [Director of Photography] and the DP’s wouldn’t know it and they’d be like “What the hell?” and checking the equipment. Just little stuff like that. That’s a constant that’s on the set. There are a lot of laughs. It’s nice to work seriously, but then you’ve got to laugh at some stuff too.
And people wonder why we love this show?? And why we want it back for a sixth season!
Kathy: What’s the feeling on the set? Do they feel like they’re wrapping up?
Chad: That’s a tough question. It’s hard to say. I would like to think that they’re going to continue…. There have been rumors of everything. I won’t say either way whether they are or not. I felt like it’s none of my business. I’m not sure. I’m hoping, but…It’s hard to say until they actually announce it. I hope so.
Needless to say, we hope so too!
Pause here to observe that once again technology threatened to derail an interview. A three-way (and doesn’t that just sound wrong) Skype connection suddenly became a two-way when Lynn’s microphone failed. While Lynn moaned in the background – “It was working on Saturday!!!” Kathy soldiered on, taking to Chad on Skype and Lynn on her cell phone, acting as go between as well as having to be “the one who talks” – not something she normally enjoys doing. (It could have been worse though. Tech issues when we were interviewing Danneel Harris introduced us to the world of Blackberries, forced Kathy to learn really quickly how to make a voice recorder work through her laptop and occasioned ridiculous searches for electrical outlets – picture three women, one the gloriously patient Danneel – crawling around on the floor and poking behind furniture. But hey, at least we got to meet Icarus! )
Chad too is wonderfully patient (and probably amused) and the comedy act that the interview becomes. (Seems that it not only amused Chad but also Lynn’s department secretary, who keeps sticking her head into Lynn’s office to ask if she’s lost her mind. This too is a common occurrence. Alas.)
The reciprocal relationship between fans and the creative side has come in for a lot of attention lately – both academic and mainstream. Now that both fans and actors and everyone else have Twitters and Facebooks and instant access to each other’s opinions, do fans have more influence than ever? And is this development good or bad? Fandom often disagrees on such things. Some want to fans to remain passive, albeit enthusiastic, consumers. Period. Some want to be more active consumers but do not, under any circumstances want TPTB to take notice of what they’re doing. And others want to be heard. At full fangirl volume.
Regardless of how the fans feel, the immediacy has worked well for Chad.
Kathy: So what was it like being back on the Supernatural set and how did that come about?
Chad: Overwhelming, I would say. It was a cathartic moment for me because I worked so hard to get back to that point with the show. You know, making a lot of the connections, meeting all the fans, and really sort of immersing myself with them and being in tune – on Twitter and Facebook and I don’t know, sort of leading an army (laughs) and responding to their letters and their videos and their love for the character and for me. And I got back to the set – Eric Kripke wasn’t there, unfortunately, so I didn’t have a chance to thank him personally, he was busy, but the general consensus on set was that the fans were a major part of why I was back. And that was kind of like a full circle thing for me – in life and where I’ve been in the past few years and it was awesome. It was awesome. It was great to be back, the boys are as classy as ever and there was a lot of joking around like they do, a lot of laughs were had and it was just honest laughs. The mullet’s back
Chad: The bottom line is they’re bringing sexy back! I’m excited. I know the fans are jacked up. We’ll see what happens. It will bring a new awareness of Ash. There are probably some fans who haven’t watched Season Two, so it will make them maybe go back and catch up with Ash. And who knows, maybe they’ll have me again – but I felt blessed just to come back for the one time. And they [the fans] taught me how to fight. You know, how to really fight. And along with Twitter, which has opened up a lot of avenues. It’s kind of cool.
Lynn (via Kathy): How do you think TPTB knew about the fans’ wanting you back? Were you aware of how that information got across to them?
Chad: I don’t know. I think it was the first director who told me when I got on set – he said “Man, the fans love you.” Basically Eric Kripke got the news somehow – I don’t know if he was checking or got emails, but collectively he was [aware] that “The fans love Chad and we have to have him back.” And so that was the word that I was given and that’s amazing – you know, that it works! And that’s partly why I announced it on Twitter, because I felt they had a hand in helping me achieve that and I wanted to share that with them and let them take that ride with me. When it comes out, Ash will be, I think, better this time around.
Kathy: Do you think that’s a new feature in film and television – the power that fans have?
Chad: Well this particular fan base is, I think pretty strong. They have the power to shut down Twitter! I’ve seen write-ups about them in magazines as being a pretty unique and strong fan base. It’s pretty awesome.
Kathy: Have you seen it being harnessed in any other ways?
Chad: Yeah. Remember that show Jericho? It went off the air and the fans got together and got it put back on the air. I don’t know if it’s still on, but they actually managed to make that happen. That’s the only time I’ve heard of that. I’m sure it happens a lot. Fans will get together and make it happen and I think we did and that’s cool.
We love Chad’s solidarity and genuine use of the word ‘we’ when he talks about himself and the fans.
Chad: (about Twitter) – We’re creating our own publicity, our own buzz….this is what I have to do, and what you guys have to do.
Kathy: Do you think this is the wave of the future, going straight to the fans themselves?
Chad: Hey, it’s a good option. You need a publicist and I’ll get one when the time’s right. But I’ve sort of had to get creative with it. And I saw an opportunity with Twitter because every week the Supernatural fans were taking on Twitter with something, right? And it was just creating all this buzz about Supernatural online, so I jumped in there with them and I was gaining up to 200-300 followers a day and I just said “Let’s get me back on the show.” And they were fighting for it and then there was a petition started with 1500 signatures! There was all this energy being shifted Eric Kripke’s way and it worked, So I think there’s a lot of power in that. So yeah, the fans are what’s truly holding the show up in a lot of ways, so of course they would have a lot of power. That’s exciting. Ten years ago, I don’t think that would have been possible. Now there’s that instant communication with them. So it worked for me.
And we’re glad it did!
Piggybacking on our friend Kayley’s fabulous interview with Chad last week, we wanted to follow up on some of Chad’s recent work and the challenge of taking on a provocative role.
Kathy: I wanted to ask about your new project, I Spit on Your Grave. It’s a violent film, it’s disturbing – what kind of emotional toll does it take on you as an actor playing that role?
Chad: It definitely takes a toll. You know emotionally you have to go to places that you don’t usually go to. And that one, that one was a tough one. You know, doing a rape scene is not the most natural thing in the world. It was very harrowing, and after each take I remember going and actually heaving for a good couple of minutes – sort of the natural visceral reaction you have to something like that. It’s an awful thing. But working with the cast – we were all kind of tripping, we were all kind of in a state of
weird actor euphoria. Because it was like the kind of scenes that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. As an actor those are the kind of scenes that you definitely want to be doing. At the same time, you know “What the fuck are we doing?” So, you know, it was amazing and really had some moments that will . . . stand out for a long time. Just moments with different actors, with everybody contributing to that and the experience of going through that together. It was bonding and it was awesome – one of the great movie making experiences of my like. So I’m really excited about it.
Kathy: How long did it take to film the rape scene?
Chad: Half a day. But we did a whole torture – sort of emotional torture prior to that. So it’s this long build up. The whole first [part] of the movie is basically this build up to the rape and torture and then she comes back and kills us – you know severely.
Kathy: Lynn passes along her empathy . . .
Chad: That’s okay. You’re there as an actor and actually that’s where you hope to go. You want to go to those places. I’m really excited about it. You know the old one definitely pushed boundaries as far as horror cinema goes. I didn’t know it was a remake until after I had gotten cast and then I did all my research and I was like “Wait a second – this is like a cult sort of phenomenon.” So to walk into something that already has this buzz is very cool. The last one pushed boundaries so I’m hoping this does the same in that respect.
Kathy: Were there any conversations about what I guess might be perceived as the misogyny of the movie, with the graphic lingering on the way the character is treated?
Chad: I think the original did that more than this one is going to. I mean, look, it’s there, but in this one it’s more implied. We are going there, but it’s in a more realistic manner. And then, more of the focus of this one is the torture – how she empowers herself and comes back and it is a female revenge film, for women. So you know, she really hands it to everybody – more in this one than the old. I realize we’re probably going to get it from every direction, but at the same time, you know, it’s a movie, it’s entertainment and if we get people talking, it’s ok.
We ended our interview by revisiting a topic we explore a great deal in Fangasm! – the view from the other side of the fence, how it feels to be famous and to have fans instead of be a fan. We’ve talked to everyone about this, from the working actors determinedly pursuing their craft to the ones who’ve ‘made it’. What does celebrity feel like and why are we all fascinated by it?
Chad introduced us to filmmaker Tony Zierra and producer Elizabeth Yoffe a few years ago, when it struck him that our book and their brilliant film, My Big Break (which just got a wonderful write up in the New York Times) were talking about many of the same things. We’ve been kindred spirits ever since. Kathy now uses it in the classes she teaches on fame and fandom.
Chad: I love hearing that because to me the bottom line of what the movie is about is that it’s a teaching tool, and if that’s what it’s doing, then that’s its job. And if it’s causing a reaction in students – I love that.
(We do too – we’ll talk to Tony and Elizabeth here in the next few weeks about My Big Break and what we’ve all learned about the lure of fame and its pitfalls in the course of writing books and making films.)
Kathy: It seems like 2010 is your year. Your career is taking off. How does that feel?
Chad: It feels good. I’ve got to say it all kind of started when I was cast in the Ed Harris movie about a year ago – Once Fallen. And having that experience and meeting Ash – the director Ash Addams – it kind of shifted things in a way for me. I had to make a lot of hard choices as far as my career went, and I did that and I jumped through those hoops and then things kind of simmered for a year, I would say. I went to [Supernatural] conventions and built that up and then lo and behold I got I Spit on Your Grave and that was this cool, unique, horror movie that wasn’t just another horror movie. And that fired me up, and then to get Supernatural was the cherry on top of everything and I really felt there was momentum behind me. I haven’t felt that in a while So I’m really pumped and excited. I feel like anything’s possible at the moment. We’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a good year, a controversial year. I’m excited to see all these things come to fruition. I’m excited to see the Supernatural episode, and I’m excited to see the fans’ reaction.
We’re excited too, Chad!
So tell us your reactions. Are you psyched about Dr. Badass making a reappearance? Do you want to hear more about the scene that cracked Jared and Jensen up so badly that Jensen had to yell ‘cut’?
And now that we’re ready to kick Fangasm! into high gear we’re starting a new tradition. Every Sunday, we’ll blog about something here that’s fandom related, and often Supernatural related. (And yes, we realize we’re posting this on Monday but we’ve had a few feet of snow to deal with in our neck of the woods – give us a break!) In the coming weeks, we’ll bring you snippets of our interviews with Jensen and Jared, Misha Collins, and many of the other Supernatural actors, as well as series creator Eric Kripke, writer/producer Sera Gamble, and the show’s amazing DP, Serge Ladouceur. We’ll also include bits of our chats with the fandom’s favorite musicians Steve Carlson and Jason Manns, and the Ten Inch Hero cast and crew. We’ll try to squeeze some intellectually provoking discussion in between considerably less intellectual fangirl exploits and embarrassing moments. And from time to time we’ll include some new interviews with actors, directors, and other celebs featured in the book.
We’re not seasoned journalists, we’re fangirls. And professors. Who write books. On fandom. But we’re fangirls first. Our questions may at times be unorthodox ( “Did you seriously just ask me that?” ) but the answers are often just as surprising as the questions.