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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.
Read more

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles on Writing a Book for the SPNFamily – and Being Thankful

 

It’s the season in which we celebrate what we’re thankful for, and this year I’m very thankful for a television show. Not just because it has brought me tremendous joy over the past twelve plus years, or because it has allowed me to find some of my closest friends, or even because it has gotten me through some tough times. This year I’m thankful that Supernatural and the special people who make the show and are fans of the show allowed me to give something back to the community I love – the SPNFamily.

Even at this time of year – maybe especially at this time of year – many of us are hurting. As a psychologist, I know that better than most. Anxiety, depression, self doubt, and loneliness make life a lot more challenging. One of the things that helps is feeling like you’re not alone in your struggles, particularly if people you relate to or admire have been through some of the same challenges. That was the idea behind Family Don’t End With Blood, a book with chapters written by most of the actors on Supernatural as a message of support and encouragement to the fandom. When you hear that the Supernatural actors have doubted themselves, fallen into despair, even wondered if they could get up again and keep fighting – but that they DID – and you read it in their own words, raw and uncensored, that is the best kind of inspiration to do the same. I was honored to work with the actors and fans to put this book together.

Since Family Don’t End With Blood has been published, we’ve received countless emails, tweets and messages about how someone read the book when they were at their lowest point, and this was the thing that convinced them to keep fighting. That words written by Kim Rhodes or Briana Buckmaster or one of the other actors rang so true they felt understood. That words written by Jensen Ackles or Misha Collins or Jared Padalecki convinced them they really were not alone. The actors have heard the same from many fans, on social media and at conventions. We are all so very grateful. We wanted the book to make a difference, and we are absolutely blown away by how much of a difference Family Don’t End With Blood has made.

The stars of Supernatural were in Washington DC for a convention with Creation Entertainment a few weeks ago, celebrating the success of Season 13 of the show and answering fans’ questions. Many of the actors appearing at the convention also wrote chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood. Both fans and actors shared in the book how the show has made an impact on them, changing lives and in some cases even literally saving lives. As fans, we often take this for granted, knowing how life-changing it can be to be passionate about a television show or a film or a band or whatever it is we geek out about. But in the case of Supernatural, the show and the fandom have had an equal impact on the actors, including the two actors who bring the iconic characters of Sam and Dean Winchester to life, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.  At the convention, Jensen and Jared were onstage for a panel and were asked by a fan about their experience writing chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood. They shared some insights about that process and about working with me as editor of the book (both seriously and with playful ribbing, which is par for the course with Jared and Jensen).

Read more

Rob Benedict Talks Family Don’t End With Blood, Louden Swain and Kings of Con!

One day last week, I was driving my niece to school with the Louden Swain ‘Saturday Night Special’ cd playing. My niece has a developmental disability and is not very verbal and that can make life extra challenging. It was early, but when Eskimo came on, without thinking I turned it up a bit and maybe started singing. And maybe started drumming on my steering wheel a little. (Hey, it’s one of my favorite songs, so…) Suddenly I heard a noise to my right and noticed movement. I turned my head, and my niece was not only humming along but was air drumming enthusiastically. With the BIGGEST smile on her face. I grinned back and we rocked the hell out of the rest of that song, and then put it on repeat. It was one of the most fun drives I’ve ever had at 8:00 in the morning.

A few days later, I had a chance to catch up with Rob Benedict and I shared that story.

Rob: Awww, that’s so sweet, I love that.

Lynn: Your music is pretty special, obviously.

Rob: That’s so great.

Lynn: it was. So thanks for that. Okay, so questions. First I wanted to ask you about the chapter you wrote for Family Don’t End With Blood. You really did write a very personal and very powerful chapter, all about having a stroke at the Toronto convention several years ago. So many fans who have read it have told me how moved they were by your chapter. What kind of feedback have you gotten, and how does it feel now to have written such a personal unguarded chapter?

Rob: It’s been absolutely overwhelming, the response. There are still a number of people who didn’t really know that happened to me. So it varies, from people feeling empathy to people saying a similar thing happened to someone that they know, or just that the sentiment was something that they recognized. People say the nicest things, about it being one of their favorite chapters in the book, and all sorts of unbelievably gracious and complimentary things. I wind up signing as many books as I do head shots of myself. I think it means a lot to people. And I don’t think you automatically get my autograph with your ticket to the con or whatever.

Lynn: No, you hardly ever do. Unfortunately.

Rob: Right, so people are buying that so I can sign their book, which I think is the biggest compliment to you and the effect that Family Don’t End With Blood has had on people.

Lynn: And to you, because your chapter is one of the ones that really made an impact! I’ve gotten such incredible reactions to the book. It had the exact effect that we were all hoping for – as support and inspiration for people when they’re struggling. I’ve heard stories of people sharing the book with their parent, saying this is what’s helping me not cut anymore. I’ve heard people say that this makes all the difference – that they’ve been ready to give up, and then went back and read one of the chapters about people they admire having their own life and death struggles – and decided to keep going.

Rob: Ah that’s amazing, that’s what I mean about it being overwhelming. It’s like, you almost can’t even fathom how much it means to people and how life saving it’s been. I’ve experienced that with our music as well. It’s something about this fandom that I don’t think people really comprehend. How deep it really goes.

Read more