Now that we’ve posted some of the highlights that Jensen and Jared provided at Rising Con (and now that there are vids and transcripts and photos of the boys all over the net thanks to this awesome and talented fandom who love to share), we wanted to share our thoughts on the other members of the SPN family who joined us in Barcelona. We’ll save Misha Collins’ antics for the next post – for now, the awesomeness (hey, Kathy’s not here to stop me from saying that as many times as I want!) of Jim Beaver and Samantha Ferris.
Many of the fans in the audience were up to date on Jim Beaver’s travels all over Europe for the past seven weeks thanks to his Twitter and Facebook prowess, so no one was surprised by his facility with all sorts of languages, or by the fact that his tee shirt was in Catalan. Alas, all we could read was “Bobby Singer”, but the rest of the fans definitely appreciated it. As Jim wryly commented, “Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I have no secrets.” That’s something fans are never going to complain about, Jim.
Jim loves to tease, and his appreciation of the fandom is so genuine that nobody minds.
Fan: “I was at the (Supernatural) convention in Germany (last month).”
Jim: “And you came again? Locas!.
In response to a male fan who stepped up to the mike, Jim exclaimed, “It’s a guy! How’d you get in here? There he is, folks, the male Supernatural fan!”
Actually there was more testosterone at this con (no, I’m not just talking about onstage…) than we’re used to seeing at American and Canadian conventions, some of them husbands or boyfriends, some of them fans themselves. Still a small minority, but the difference was noticeable.
Jim talked about missing his daughter, for whom he was collecting snow globes everywhere he went, and was also asked if his character Bobby had kids, how would he raise them?
Jim: “Better than John Winchester did!”
Jeffrey Dean Morgan got plenty of love from the audience in absentia, but Jim expressed his gratitude for JDM’s takeoff into fame – after all, if John was still around, the boys wouldn’t need another father figure, right? And he does feel Bobby would make a good father, judging from the way he stepped in to be a father to Sam and Dean.
When we interviewed Jim at the Chicago convention (see Dec 2009 blog post here), we asked him about the challenge of being in a wheelchair for several episodes. He talked again about that experience, saying that the more he worked from the chair, the more respect he had for people who use a wheelchair — how uncomfortable sitting constantly is, how difficult it is not to be able to get up even when you want to. He did allow that being expected to run around was a challenge of a different sort, as he found out in the episode “All Hell Breaks Loose”, when Bobby runs after Jake (the energetic and adorable Aldis Hodge). He had to chase Aldis quite a distance, running as fast as he could, only to see Aldis take off like a shot. A winded Jim suggested to Bob Singer, “Maybe Jared can chase Jake and I’ll die.”
Some great questions:
Fan: “Would Bobby allow Dean to get close to his daughter (if he had one)?”
Jim: “No ma’am, not within a thousand yards – or Sam – and especially not Castiel!”
Jim was asked about the origin of his character’s name, and said he thought it was originally just Bobby until the set dec team hung a “Singer Automotive” sign. Apparently, Bob Singer gets a lot of flak from friends for being egotistical enough to name a character after himself, although he wasn’t actually the one who did it! (In one of our first interviews with Eric Kripke, we asked him the same thing, and have been wondering if it would come up at a con ever since. Not that we ever doubted it.)
Fans also managed to embarrass Jim (not an easy thing to do) with more than one question about the recent Bobby/Crowley kiss. Dispelling rumors, Jim swears there was “absolutely no tongue involved, although Mark tried.” He complained about the discomfort of having to kiss somebody with stubble, sending out empathy to those who have to deal with such things on a regular basis. That’s Jim, naturally empathic. Though he can be as stubborn as Bobby at times, apparently. “I can clench my teeth very tight,” he deadpanned.
He also claims he keeps getting sweet little notes from Mark, but isn’t sure ‘what that’s all about.’ Maybe Mark’s more forgiving of stubble?? Jim went on to say in a conspiratorial whisper, “I think Jared and Jensen were jealous of that kiss, they were complaining that they only get to kiss girls.” He stopped for dramatic emphasis, then grinned, “Oh, I’m sorry, have I let out a secret?” To the fans’ delighted laughter, he glanced around with mock anxiety and muttered, “Those guys are gonna come in here and kick my butt!”
Jim’s afraid after all his years of acting, what they’ll put on his tombstone is “He got kissed by Mark Sheppard.” He concluded the kiss discussion by once again insisting that the kiss “wasn’t any fun.” To which the fan replied, “For us it was.”
I think Jim already had that part figured out.
Jim expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the opportunity to travel all over the world to go to conventions. In fact, when he talked about his father, with whom he was very close, he commented that he wished his father could see “this” and gestured to the overflowing auditorium filled with fans. “The best thing about this convention,” he said, “is if you guys are having fun, because that’s why we’re here. Sometimes it’s work, but mainly it’s fun. I mean, it’s a whole room full of people saying you’re awesome – you guys are such an ego boost!”
Hey, Jim uses the word “awesome” too! Awesome.
The fans love all the boys, but the next guest shatters the stereotype that SPN fans don’t like any female characters. Samantha Ferris was the very first actor we interviewed when we started writing this book and researching fandom, and we were blown away by her kindness and honesty. She’s a strong woman who makes no bones about being just that, in many ways similar to her character Ellen Harvelle. In person, she’s warm and tough at the same time, not afraid to take on the misogynistic assumptions of the industry or question The Powers That Be. She asks every fan their name and where they’re from, considers every question carefully, and comes back with thoughtful answers. She’s also curvy, kickass and refreshingly frank, whether she’s talking about celebrities’ responsibility to do some good with whatever fame they garner (use your celebrity for good things, not getting in front of lines), or laying out the psychological vulnerabilities of being a woman in the business.
After a quick pronouncement of “Spoiler alert!” Samantha shared her opinion that we’ll see Ellen again in Season Six, though she has no inside information about whether it will actually happen. What she does know is that the writers and producers pay attention to the fans, and that the fans have a lot of love for Ellen. The show needs a ‘tough broad’ – after all, Paris Hilton “fought like a girl.”
Samantha herself is a fan favorite because she’s right there with us lusting after the boys – like the vast majority of fans, she has no trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality, and celebrating the fun of using your imagination. When asked how she would have liked Ellen to die on the show, she replied “Naked? In bed with one of the boys?” Then she paused for a second, and said with a conspiratorial smile, “Well, I’d like that, but maybe not Ellen.” The crowd cheered, their expressions saying ‘yes, she’s one of us, she gets it’ with clear recognition of a kindred spirit who appreciates a hot guy and isn’t ashamed to admit it.
In fact, we suspect she may have joined in the heartfelt shouts of “Muy guapo!” that greeted Jared and Jensen wherever they went this weekend. Or maybe that was us.
Rising Con fans gifted Samantha with a beautiful shawl, which she wore onstage Sunday. Another fan gave her a handmade book all about Ellen, which Samantha realized must have taken hours to put together – she plans to give it to her own mother, she was so touched.
Samantha also gets why Ellen is popular with the fans. She’s not a mother figure, because Eric and the writers knew the fans didn’t want anyone replacing Mary Winchester. She’s not a love interest either, though Samantha initially was hoping her character would be getting it on with Jeffrey Dean Morgan (cue more appreciative screams because heck, who wouldn’t hope that?). When Ellen and Jo were first introduced, Samantha read some of the fan reaction online, just as Eric and the producers do, so she realized very quickly that “you guys hated the female love interests. So I read that and said oh, thank god I was never a love interest!”
Not that she hasn’t thought about it. I mean, who hasn’t? In response to a fan question, she admitted that for a night of hot sex, she’d go with Dean Winchester (“Don’t tell Jared,” Samantha warned, laughing). For a relationship, though, she’d choose Sam, since Dean is just “all over the country humping everything, isn’t he?” If she had to choose another character to play on the show, she’d choose “someone who got to make out with Jared or Jensen – maybe Julie, she got to make out with Jensen in the back of the car, right?” LOL. We love you, Samantha.
When we first met Samantha over two years ago, we talked a lot about fanfiction. Samantha gets that too, saying that while she and all the actors have seen it, she realizes “it’s not meant for me – it’s written for you guys for each other to read, it’s a story you can create for each other. I read the stuff about the boys and was like woah, and I read some really interesting stuff, very well written, very creative and intelligent. And some of it was asking what if Dean and Ellen got together? Because I think I had more chemistry with Jensen than Alona playing my daughter did.” Samantha proceeded to get sucked into an apparently well-written NC17 fanfic about Dean and Ellen, from which she shared an excerpt with us in her trademark sexy deep voice: “…and then she took off his shirt and kissed him up and down his chest and….” To the audience’s great delight, Samantha admitted, “And I was like ooh, I’m getting warm here – it was very sexy, like a Harlequin romance, like what they call a bodice ripper. So I’m like, Eric, there are a lot of comments out there from fans about Ellen and Dean gettin’ it on….you know, maybe it could be a flashback….”
Alas, Eric didn’t go for the suggestion, but Samantha isn’t giving up. “Eric listens to you guys,” she urged. “So if you want that to happen, I’ll step up to the challenge – just give me some notice so I can lose weight!”
The crowd of mostly women let her know in no uncertain terms that while many of us can relate to that reaction, Samantha is gorgeous exactly as she is. Just look at her!
One of the things we love about Samantha is her frankness. She spoke candidly about the psychological costs of rejection inherent in the acting business, and the difficulty of most other actresses ‘being sticks’ while she’s got a ‘good voice and big boobs and some meat on me.’ As Samantha put it, “They don’t cast real looking women who represent humanity.” She also shared that at the end of Season 3, Ellen was supposed to come back, but the network felt she was “too old”, and pushed for the writers to create “two new hot chick characters.” We all know how well that worked out.
Ellen and Jo’s last scene was an extremely emotional one for Samantha to film – and an extremely emotional one for all of us too. As so many who work on SPN have said, when the same cast and crew come back and stay together for five years, that really says something about the show. Jared and Jensen are both gentle and kind and it’s a treat to work there, Samantha said, and going back is like going to see family.
Phil Sgriccia gave Samantha and Alona Tal (Jo) a dvd of all their scenes set to Tom Jones’ song ‘She’s A Lady’. As Samantha said, “I may never have that kind of connection with a show again.” So the scene itself was heartbreaking for her, and she needed no preparation to get into the role and portray Ellen’s agony and sacrifice with her own tears. After the episode aired, Samantha had almost 200 comments on her blog, many of them from mothers and daughters who had been moved to deepen their ties or even renew them after an estrangement. We had tears in our eyes as Sam related some of these comments, and she had to stop when she got too choked up, expressing her awe at being able to have that kind of impact on others’ lives.
Samantha had high praise for our friend Chad Lindberg (Ash) as an amazing actor and a wonderful person. (Check out his new film, I Spit On Your Grave for evidence – more in our Feb 9, 2010 blog post here). Chad’s a fan favorite too, and Samantha thinks the character of Ash will also be back in Season Six. Yay! Chad’s responsible for Samantha now being on Twitter, after he told her how much the fans love it.
Like the other guests, Samantha had nothing but praise for the fans. When asked what she liked most about Spain, she exclaimed “This! Look at me, I’m in Barcelona!” We’re glad you are, Sam.
Look for our exclusive interview with Samantha about her experience at Rising Con, coming up soon – and stay tuned for more Misha!