Fantasy Camp For All of Us – A Chat With Supernatural’s Richard Speight, Jr.
Supernatural fans need something to smile about right now — we’re stuck in a two week hiatus and gnashing our teeth over what’s happening on the Show right now. So what better time to share a chat with one of our favorite Supernatural actors, Richard Speight, Jr.? Lynn caught up with him on the fall convention circuit. Richard was one of the very first actors we interviewed for our books, which means we’ve known him for seven years (that’s a photo from our very first chat above). This explains why our interviews with him now tend to cover a rather broad range of topics and possibly even get a little rambling. (Yes, even more rambling than our interviews usually are…) But chatting with Richard is always interesting!
In fact, we jumped right into some sociological analysis. And some talk about hotness. Probably nobody who reads this blog regularly is all that surprised, come to think of it. And Richard has read our books (as well as contributed to them), so he probably wasn’t all that surprised either.
Lynn: I just rode in the elevator with a couple of fans who were talking about how hot you are.
Richard (possibly blushing): Umm, I mean, it’s great – nobody doesn’t like to feel liked – and when I go back to my real life, there’s not flocks of twenty-somethings that find me attractive….
Lynn: That’s a little weird, right? But hey, it’s just like the characters on the show, it’s just a great fantasy (Lynn pauses, momentarily distracted by thinking of fantasy and the Supernatural boys simultaneously…) Umm….but of course reality is often not as good as fantasy.
Richard: (laughing) The fantasy is much better! So when I go to these things, it’s great, because for all of us, it’s fantasy camp too.
Lynn: Yes! That’s so true – this is fantasy camp for all of us, celebrities and fans alike.
Richard: It’s Pretendville, but with some boundaries, or it would just come crashing down around you.
Lynn: Well, you can’t have a relationship with a persona. (Otherwise Lynn would have taken off after a Winchester years ago.)
Richard: It’s like, we’re all in this together, like at karaoke, but it’s safe.
Lynn: Exactly, and it’s fun. I think we’re all aware that you guys, the guests, are here because this is a job, and these are the parameters of the job. But we also want to believe that you’re here because you want to connect the same way fans do.
Richard: I think the thing that we have going for us is that that is not the most untrue statement – the fact is, the way I am built – and again, not to overstep my role here, but I’ve kinda become the defacto captain of the B team – we survive on the fact that we really actually DO have a good time!
Lynn (wryly) I don’t think you could fake that — you’re a good actor, but not that good.
Richard: (agreeing) So when I’m laughing at Matt or Rob, I’m genuinely amused, because if I don’t think it’s funny, I’m not gonna laugh. And karaoke really IS fun. Sometimes it’s tough because we say “Barbara, come up” and then nine people come up onstage. Like last night they did Love Shack and there were a lot of people, so I left the stage for a little bit, and when I came back they were like, “Why didn’t you sing with us?” But there were like nine of them onstage and three microphones!
Lynn: Down side of karaoke being so popular now, everyone wants to be onstage. Except me and Kathy of course. (shudders)
Richard: And I’m okay with that, as long as the stage can sustain it. It’s a fragile, barely wired together thing.
Lynn: It’s interesting that the cons are getting more and more popular, when you’d think for a show in its ninth season, it would be going the other direction.
Richard: Yeah, I know. It is building. These conventions are building. It’s weird to think that they will be done at some point, and people will reflect back on these as an interesting moment in time.
Lynn (heroically resisting the impulse to say Na Na Na I can’t hear you….) For you guys, this will be a whole chapter of your life, doing Supernatural cons all over the world.
Richard: Super weird –unexpected. Doesn’t make any sense – but cool!
(And what a chapter it is – we love the way the SPN gang all gets along. I mean, look at them!)
Lynn: I feel that way too. Writing books about SPN and fandom has been a wild ride – we’re so grateful for everyone who’s read ‘Fangasm’ and told us it validated and celebrated their own experience. And it’s been really cool to be on NPR and Slate and Wired to talk about the book and to get the word out about the best Show in the world to lots of people who’ve never heard of it. And speaking of wild rides — tell me about your film America 101! it’s been unexpectedly – or maybe expectedly for you – successful.
Richard: Yeah, it’s doing really well. We have now hit 25 festivals (ETA – now 29!) since February. We – I guess I should say me, because it’s like a one man operation – but it’s been cool, a really great experience. I set about doing this, and I’m really proud of the project. We’re playing Raindance in London, which is a hugely competitive festival, Vancouver International at the end of this month.
Lynn: Film fests are super hard to get into, so that’s a big deal.
Richard: (beaming like a proud father): We won our first award, best comedy in Florida.
Lynn: Were you like shocked?
Richard: If I say no, does it make me sound like an asshole?
Lynn: (laughing) No, it sounds like you had confidence in what you did and thought you really had something.
Richard: Here’s the thing, I’m proud of the piece. I’m proud of the way it looks, the way it’s paced, and the vibe and tone I was striving for. I’m also pleased with the content of the piece – I think it’s a comedy with a point – it’s about…
Lynn: Wait! Don’t tell me, I haven’t seen it yet!
Richard: This is what I’ll tell you, this is the one line – it’s one man’s twisted tour of his own version of the American experience.
Lynn: That sounds pretty intriguing. Is it autobiographical?
Richard: Not at all. It literally is very much an exercise in examining what is perceived to be the expectation of the average American male, and how much of that is genuinely affected by the socioeconomic changes of our time and the idiocy of the choices we make.
Lynn: Was it an idea you had in your mind for a long time? Or did you just sit down one day…
Richard: I sat down one day and wrote a monologue. That was it, on a lark. And I was at Rick Gomez’s house, he’s a buddy of mine from Band of Brothers, a good friend, and he’s got a biting sense of humor, and he’s the voice of the Bravo network as well, has been for six years, so he has the ability to speak at a breakneck pace while still being very intelligible and hitting all the levels. So I went over to his house that night and we literally recorded it as an MP3 file. Just for fun. And I liked the monologue, so that was kind of neat. And then it was several months later and I wanted to write something, and he said, “You should do that! Everybody we play it for loves it.”
Lynn: So you started getting good feedback?
Richard: Yeah you know from friends – you go, hey, listen to this thing we did, and people just loved it. So I was like, maybe that is what I should do – because I write features, but I’d never done a short and I wanted to do a short film and it suddenly made sense. Rick said he’d be in it and so I just plowed ahead – I rewrote it as a screenplay, but it’s still basically a monologue that comes to life around the guy who’s telling the story. It becomes everything that’s happening around him. I had to rewrite some of it, had to put in a beginning and an end, but it came together and I was really happy with it. And I don’t mean to sound – you know, when you asked, was it a surprise – I didn’t really expect – I was really really pleased with the festivals and the caliber of the festivals. So I don’t mean to say I expected – I mean, we’ve also been rejected by some excellent festivals…
Lynn: But that’s par for the course.
Richard: It is par for the course, so I didn’t expect to get into everything, but I thought we might have a shot at getting into some places, because I know the landscape a little bit and I know what people are doing and I thought this would fit a festival format in its tone and style, so I thought we might do okay and we’ve done better than I expected.
Lynn: Bring it to Philly so I can see it!
Richard: I just signed a distribution deal for the film, so it will actually be out – I signed with Shorts International, they do all the Oscar releases so it’s a great company. They’ll release it through iTunes and amazon.
Lynn: Awesome! I had breakfast with Rob — now I really want to see The Sidekick too!
Richard: It’s funny – Ironically, I made a film, Matt made a film, Rob made a film and I’m the only one who’s in all three! But all three are so dramatically different.
Lynn: They’re all funny though, right?
Richard: (nodding) Matt’s is giant camp, Rob’s is grounded camp, and mine is dark comedy. They’re very different.
(Rob, Richard and Misha all had films at the recent Oxford Film Fest – clearly our boys are some of the most multi-talented people in the industry!)
Check out the trailer for America 101 here –
Richard: It’s been a great ride, and I just got my first job off the short – I was in NYC directing a commercial – I got to direct based on the short, and we shot for 5 days in New York.
Lynn: Are you thinking of moving in that direction?
Richard: Absolutely. I’m not IN my short for a very specific reason. Because I wasn’t doing it as an acting showpiece. I wrote and directed and produced it. I don’t have like an agent doing it for me, this is just my thing that I’m doing. Because I wanted to put my money where my mouth is. I say all the time that I want to direct, and I’ve done some small things, but I realized, I wouldn’t hire me, so why would anyone else?
Lynn: You needed to prove yourself, expand your repertoire.
Richard: Yeah, it’s a big difference. And then directing in NY was unbelievable, it was great opportunity. It’s for a cable company, but it will air in Manhattan, which is a big market so that’s good.
Lynn: We’ve had some producers contact us about making a film of “Fangasm.”
Richard: Do you think it would make a good movie?
Lynn: Some filmmaker friends think so – so now we’re working on a screenplay. Which is so different than writing a book!
Richard: Writing a screenplay is drafting on autocad as an architect. It’s got a format and it’s gotta be literary, but really what it is, it’s a tool so everyone knows how to make the movie.
Lynn: I think all of you should play yourselves in the film version of Fangasm.
Richard: Or let’s switch it around, I’ll play Rob…
Lynn: (laughing) And Jared can play Jensen…it will be very meta.
Richard: I’ve always been a little surprised that there hasn’t been a documentary about this whole universe.
Lynn: You don’t know how many people have said that to us.
Richard: I don’t mean you – I know, I made a 7 and a half minute movie that took up my effing life for a year – it would take back breaking effort and a year of time and money, but still…
Lynn: It would make a great documentary – I wish we’d recorded the last seven years!
Richard: You know what’s weird? I have a rash of people pretending to be me on Facebook recently.
Lynn: Oh, I meant to ask you about that – a friend asked me the other day if this person on Facebook was really you. When I said no, she asked me for some questions to ask them that only you would probably know the answer to. So I said, ask them the title of our new book on Supernatural that Richard wrote a chapter for (which comes out this spring). And damned if fifteen minutes later they didn’t come back with the right answer! And yet I knew it wasn’t you, so that really freaked me out. So I said ask him what the title of his chapter is…
Richard: I don’t even remember what the title of my chapter is…
Lynn: (laughing) The Pro of Cons.
Richard: (laughing) Oh, that’s good.
Lynn: It is. Anyway, they couldn’t answer that, but they came back with some bullshit thing like, I don’t want to answer too many questions, it will give imposters ammunition.
Richard: I know, I’ve had a lot of good friends of mine say dude are you friending me on Facebook? And I say no, I don’t use Facebook. I’ve had people who’ve been fooled and had dialog with the guy – friends of mine even, and lots of fans. My instinct tells me it’s the same person. Today Val said 3 different people tried to friend her and is that me and I said no. The one that bummed me out was one guy has pictures of my kids up there. I don’t have any pictures of my kids online.
Lynn: Oh no, that’s not okay.
Richard: It really bummed me out. I went on that site and said how did you get these pictures? I went in every thread he had and said, this is not me. But now I’ve been blocked, so I can’t do anything about it.
Lynn: That’s so weird.
Richard: I say this knowing I’m at a convention for Supernatural, but I’m not famous, I’m not Tony Stark.
Lynn: Yeah, why are they picking on you?
Richard: I don’t know. Maybe because I’m not famous. Just on the fringe.
Lynn: But they also know you have some popularity. I mean, this person had had the account for like two days and already had hundreds of friends. From SPN fandom.
Richard: It’s clear it’s not me, right? I don’t post pictures of myself ever anywhere. You’ll never see “here’s a picture of me at VanCon.”
Lynn: It doesn’t even sound like you. I said to one person, look there is no way Richard would reply “U R such a tease” with a smiley face.
Richard: Somebody said it’s a rite of passage.
Lynn: You know you’re famous when you have an impersonator?
Richard: (laughing) If I’m gonna have an impersonator, I wish I was more famous! To enjoy the whole roller coaster ride. I have no problem with roleplaying – they say right on it I am not Richard Speight. So go crazy. But don’t lie to people. People were like omg I had like a 5 day conversation with the guy!
A few fans came up to chat with Richard, since we were in the restaurant of the lobby hotel. It was their first con, and he wanted to know how they were liking it. (A lot) After they left, we chatted a bit about how each con is different – they all have their own character, partly based on where they’re held.
Richard: This is a really mellow con.
Lynn: It is. By the way, I love that you brought Mark Pellegrino a cowboy hat to match Misha’s when they were onstage earlier.
Richard: Well, Misha had one. I figured Mark needed one too.
Lynn: He did. I tweeted some pictures of both of them with the caption, “Dayum. Hot.”
Richard: I bought those hats in Oregon. As a joke, I bought cowboy hats for everyone in my family.
(Cue adorable photo of the Speight family in cowboy hats on Richard’s phone)
Lynn: Awwwww. Okay, now I’m going to accost you with picture taking.
Richard: (who has endured far too many of Lynn’s attempts at picture taking over the years) Should I re-enact some of our earlier ones?
Lynn: I seem to always be taking pictures of you with glasses of alcohol everywhere…
Richard: (protests) This is water, but it does look like a snifter…
It does indeed. Also, those women in the elevator were right. He looks pretty damn hot. Who says Lynn’s a terrible photographer??
Stay strong through the Mini-Hiatus, SPNFamily —
To share our adventures in fandom
and behind the scenes of Supernatural in
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