Behind the Scenes of Supernatural with Director Richard Speight Jr.

I’ve known Richard Speight Jr. for a long time – a decade in fact! I loved his portrayal of the Trickster and Gabriel on Supernatural, and I’ve always loved talking to him. About the show, about the cons, about the fandom, about the business – Richard has always had the most fascinating insights. He wrote a chapter for our third book, Fan Phenomena Supernatural, which I love. And it’s always just plain fun to sit down and chat with him, especially as a wonderful way to end a hectic but fun con weekend. Richard talked about wanting to direct early on, so it’s been truly awesome to watch him pursue that dream and be successful thanks to determination, talent and lots of hard work. We don’t get to sit down and chat at the end of cons nearly as often as we used to, but we did in San Francisco. And yes, Richard still has the most fascinating insights – this time all about directing his most recent episode of Supernatural, and the incredible collaboration with cast and crew that has ensured the show’s success.

Lynn: War of the Worlds was a huge episode – It seems like (writers) Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner often get these episodes where they tie all these plot lines together.

Richard: Right.

Lynn: What is it like directing an episode like that, with three big reveals and so much plot movement? Does it feel as unmanageable as it sort of seems?

Richard: Well, it’s interesting, there’s a double whammy. I mean, Eugenie and Brad write phenomenal scripts, I think they’re very smart writers and they’ve been doing it a long time, they’re very experienced writers in the field.

Lynn: Which may be why they give them these complicated episodes.

Richard: Yeah, and I dig what they do so I was intimidated by getting one of their scripts. I’m intimidated by all scripts, to be honest…

Lynn: Well you haven’t been doing this that long!

Richard: Exactly, so everything intimidates me. But especially since Bob Singer is a mentor of mine, they’ve been together for a long time doing great work, so that’s intimidating. And the size of the script was huge in terms of what was involved. This was very challenging because every day was chock full and we moved like a freight train, but I felt like the story was in great shape when I got the script. We didn’t have to have a lot of conversations about ‘what about what about what about’. It didn’t need much massaging, it was kinda ready to go, so I could start working right out of the gate on what I thought the show should be from a shooting standpoint.

Lynn: That makes a lot of sense yeah.

Richard: And so to me it was as daunting as anything else is, but I think the thing that was most daunting were the fight scenes, because I had several. I had Castiel in the park and then I had the big fight scene in the bar, so those are the ones I kinda obsessed about alot – especially when I had the boys being thrown around in the bar, and Asmodeus throwing Lucifer and Castiel around in the bar. So those massive moments take a lot of energy and time and stunt work.

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Lisa Berry on Supernatural, Playing Death and Getting Excited for Wayward Sisters!

I was fascinated with Lisa Berry’s character when she first appeared on Supernatural as Billie the Reaper, and chatted with her shortly after her second episode aired. She’s not only a fabulous actress, but she’s also a Supernatural fan herself, which means we have a lot in common. So needless to say, I was thrilled to see Lisa return to Supernatural as Billie in Season 12 (to be killed by Castiel) and then again in Season 13 – this time as Death herself. We had a chance to chat after her appearance in Episode 13.05, the aptly named Advanced Thanatology. Billie had a pivotal confrontation with Dean Winchester, which was one of my favorite scenes in the episode, so I couldn’t wait to ask her about that and more!

Lynn: This last episode that you were in, that scene between Billie and Dean was so pivotal to that episode… it was amazing. What made it so pivotal is that Billie was in a sense the audience’s point of view – through her eyes, we realized how much Dean had changed. How hopeless and despondent he had become. Going into it, how much if anything did you know about what Dean’s mindset was at the time, because you really played that realization so well?

Lisa: Oh thank you so much, I appreciate that. As a fan of the show, I appreciate that you appreciated it! (laughing)

Lynn: I did!

Lisa: I didn’t get much background, I kind of was just assuming a lot of things. So when I got the script, I had to fill a whole bunch of things in. But the way that Steve [Yockey] wrote it, it made it easy enough to see that this is the path to where Dean is probably at, this is what he’s probably doing. A lot of clues were given in the script. So I think that was a really big help, but I didn’t get to read the first four scripts beforehand so I was kind of just like an audience member left with the Season 12 finale.

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Behind the Scenes of Supernatural with War of the Worlds’ Farrah Aviva

 

One of the things I’m really enjoying this season is highlighting the amazing women of Supernatural – that means being over the moon excited about the Wayward Sisters episode and possible pilot coming up, and it just might mean another book project in the works. I also want to celebrate the many talented guest stars we’re privileged to have on the show, many of whom are kickass women in real life too.

I sat down with director Richard Speight Jr. last weekend to talk about the making of ‘War of the Worlds’ so look for his fascinating behind the scenes insights soon. I also wanted to chat with guest star Farrah Aviva, who played the witch Daniela. Even in the short amount of time we had with her, Farrah managed to make the character memorable. She was clearly a strong woman, with the smarts to ask the Winchesters for help and the courage to sit there cool as a cucumber to trap Ketch.

Lynn: How was the character described to you and did you create any additional ‘backstory’ for her to help with those scenes?

Farrah: The character was originally described to me as: 30s, please submit all ethnicities. This exotically attractive woman is a witch whose life in in grave danger.  She nervously approaches Sam and Dean for help in her predicament…GUEST STAR.

I was working on a movie in a different city when I was asked to audition for Daniela so I had to put it on tape which can sometimes be challenging because you don’t get the opportunity to ask casting or the director if you’ve interpreted it properly.  I originally prepared her a bit more vulnerable.  In a way that showed I was risking everything by approaching the Winchesters.  To prep, I imagined it was the middle of a war and I had to ask the enemy for help.  Almost as if Anne Frank escaped the attic one day to approach a couple of Nazi soldiers to ask for help.  I know that can seem a bit dramatic but I love working off of ‘what if’s’.  What if I had to risk everything in order to save others and myself? And that’s exactly what Daniela had to do.  In order to save herself and the other witches she had to approach the boys and bring them to one of the witches’ safe houses.  Not only did that put her in the middle of nowhere with the Winchesters, I also don’t think the other witches would have forgiven her for it.

Lynn: That makes sense, it really was a big risk for her. And witches don’t seem very forgiving.

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Spotlight on SPNFamily Creativity and Making A Difference – Little Pop Workshop!

Sometimes it really helps to shine a light on all the good things about fandom – how we help each other, how we help others, how we try to make change in the world. It’s an integral part of fandom, and one that I cherish – that’s why every purchase of Family Don’t End With Blood benefits Random Acts’ important work helping those who need it all over the world, and Attitudes in Reverse with their mission of ending stigma and opening up conversation about mental health challenges to combat suicide. On this #GivingTuesday, if you haven’t read FDEWB yet, you can help make a difference by picking up a book for yourself or for a friend. Most of the Supernatural actors wrote chapters — Jared, Jensen, Misha and many others — in which they shared their own personal struggles and challenges, hoping that will inspire others to keep going when the going gets tough.

The book has been our way of trying to help, but there are so many people in fandom whose creative talents enrich us all and also make a difference.

Recently a wonderful thing happened in the fandom that also benefits one of Misha Collin’s many charitable endeavors. With the help of charitable organizer Stands on twitter, the “I Wish For This” campaign to benefit Lydia Place was launched. Lydia Place works to disrupt the pervasive cycle of homelessness and foster autonomy for families, something that Collins knows about from personal experience. Fan artist Little Pop Work made a customized Pop Funko Misha doll which was signed by Misha as an incentive to participate in the campaign – which was seriously awesome!

The I Wish For This Misha Pop is based on the touching story that Misha has told about his daughter, Maison. When Misha asked his kids what they wanted to wish for as they picked dandelions and got ready to make a wish on them, Maison simply replied “I wish for this.” Misha can’t tell the story without tearing up, and frankly I’ve never been able to listen to it without tearing up either.

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Sarah Troyer on Guest Starring On (and Being a Fan of) Supernatural

I really enjoyed the recent Supernatural episode “Tombstone”, and not just because we got Dean Winchester back in cowboy garb (along with Castiel this time. Sorta). The episode had both humor and emotional resonance, which is how I like my Supernatural. It also had some interesting guest characters. I was especially taken with Athena Lopez, who isn’t your typical coroner – or your typical guest character, for that matter. So I reached out to Sarah Troyer, who brought the character to life and made her memorable even in one episode. Sarah had tweeted that she had watched the show since she was a kid, so it was a thrill to work on it – which let me know she has excellent taste in television. She agreed to answer a few questions so we all could get to know her better.

Lynn: How was the character described to you or described in the breakdown?

Sarah provided the description, which is always fascinating to me to see.

Role: Athena Lopez
20s – early 30s, please include all ethnicities in your suggestions. This “Goth Rocker Betty Page” is a sexy, offbeat undertaker who has lived in an Old West cemetery her whole life…GUEST STAR (17)

Lynn: What did you add to your understanding of Athena to ‘flesh out’ the characterization? Was there any backstory that you constructed other than the bits of information we got on the show?

Sarah: After reading the script, I believed Athena to be a strong, determined character with a loving side to her. Although she may be seen as different (her style, music interests, job), she’s absolutely confident in who she is. I don’t think viewers got to see much of her office but it was plastered with her favourite bands, artists, pin up girls etc. She definitely didn’t hide who she was. Secondly, she didn’t have much issue telling anyone off, whether it was Sam, Dean or Dave (one of my favourite things about her). However, I knew Athena had a loving side and I tried to keep that in mind so she didn’t become too brash or even stand offish. When she finds out Dave robbed a bank and murdered someone, I didn’t think she could just flip him the bird and say have a nice life. I think there would be a lot of confusion and mixed feelings in a situation like that, a moral dilemma. She loved Dave and was with him for so long, she thought she knew him but now he’s turned into someone she doesn’t know – who is he really? She should walk away but it’s hard to walk away from someone you have so much love and history with. I reflected on my own relationship and tried to play it as honestly as I could. So maybe I didn’t give her much of a backstory, but I read in between the lines of the script to add little details about who she was and her thought process behind each of her actions.
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