VANCOUVER, BC. To recap, back in October I worked the red carpet at a special 200th episode gala in Vancouver for The CW's “Supernatural.”
Now it's time for my interviews with the assortment of beloved “Supernatural” supporting players who attended the 200th episode party, actors who may not have been around for the duration of the show, but have made their marks in different ways.
That certainly includes Misha Collins, whose Castiel didn't arrive until the fourth “Supernatural” season, but has played a key role in the move to shift the drama from its monster-of-the-week format to the higher Heaven-and-Hell stakes that have characterized its later years.
Showing up a season later was Crossroads demon Crowley, played by Mark Sheppard. Thanks to “Supernatural,” “Doctor Who,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “The X Files,” few actors have the body of cult-favorite work accumulated by Sheppard.
So I talked with both Collins and Sheppard about their role in the longevity of “Supernatural.”
Genevieve Padalecki may only have appeared in 12 episodes as Ruby, taking over the role in the fourth season from Katie Cassidy, but she also married Jared Padalecki in 2010, giving her a unique perspective on the “Supernatural” phenomenon.
And while Felicia Day's Charlie Bradbury has only been in four episodes thus far (with another on the day), few performers are more tapped into the world of online phenomena, which “Supernatural” surely is, than the woman behind “The Guild” and other Internet ventures.
So check out my Q&As with Misha Collins, Felicia Day, Mark Sheppard and Genevieve Padalecki below. And remember that the 200th “Supernatural” episode airs on Tuesday, November 11.
HitFix: Do you remember the first moment you realized the effect Castiel was having on fans?
Misha Collins: No. [He laughs.] Not at all. But I do remember that I went, there was a little party at McG's offices, McG's one of the executive producers on the show and he had a little screening party for the premiere of Season 4, which was the episode in which my character was introduced. I was standing next to one of the show's producers and writers at the time, Sera Gamble, while we were watching the episode and my character has a very dramatic introduction/introductory scene and she sorta bumped me as we were watching and she said, “Your life is about to change.” And I thought, “You are so full of yourself. What are you talking about? This is just another guest spot on another silly TV show. I'm sure this is not gonna have any lasting impact on my life.” Lo and behold, seven years later, I'm living up here in the Pacific Northwest, I've had two kids working on this show, traveled the world going to fan conventions and having a job that is a dream job, that I never dreamed could possibly have evolved from that moment. So I don't know the exact moment, but I do know that it was a gradual unfurling. [He briefly gets whisked away for pictures.]
HitFix: As you mentioned, Castiel did have a truly iconic character introduction. At the time did you at least recognize how badass that intro was?
Misha Collins: It was a badass introduction, for sure. I knew that. It was very cool to have. That was hands-down the coolest character introduction I ever had on anything I worked on. It was very hard to keep my cool during that scene, because I was getting shot and I was wired with squibs, there were showers of sparks coming down and singing my scalp. Normally when a squib goes off you're supposed to react like you've been shot, so you respond to it, so to act like nothing's happening when there's something exploding on you is quite another thing, but it was good. It was trial by fire.
HitFix: Perhaps more than any of the other castmembers, you made the decision very early on to be out there on social media and to engage with the fans in that forum and whatnot. Why did you decide to do that? How often have you felt that was a good move and how often have you regretted it?
Misha Collins: Oh, I don't regret it at all. I'm not actually that pop culture or social media savvy. I really didn't know what Twitter was when I created an account. So for me, it was just something that I was playing around with and I think I just didn't know the rules. I didn't know how I was supposed to engage with the fans, so I was just kinda f***ing around and having fun with them and it ended up being a very playful and, I actually think, ultimately creative and productive dynamic that I've had with fans. We started a charity together and we've broken Guinness World Records with fans of “Supernatural,” which is kinda amazing and I've just actually enjoyed it as a really cool, creative tool and way to interact with the fanbase. A lot of times on a television show you're really just performing for the crew and your fellow actors and you never get to see your audience at all, because everybody's just watching it on the screen. But we're lucky because we're on a show that has a lot of interaction with the fans. We get to go to these fan conventions, we interact with them online, so we get a lot of that direct feedback, which I think is great. It makes it a lot more palpable, fun, gratifying.
HitFix: But you never back up in the morning, look at the number of replies and go, “Oh, dear Lord. What have I done”?
Misha Collins: No, because I never reply to anyone. That's my secret. And I can't read my Mentions, because it's like a couple hundred an hour. There's so much of it and it just becomes snow and I can ignore it. [He looks truly apologetic.] Sorry, everyone!
HitFix: You directed your first episode last season. Talk a bit about how you're different as a result of that experience.
Misha Collins: More than anything it was an enlightening process for me, because I got to see aspects of production that an actor never sees. We don't get to see the concept phase or building and designing sets or the casting phase or location scouting or any of those things. We just show up on a set, a set that's ready to go. It was really helpful to see all of that process, but it also was helpful to say, “Oh, waiting for actors to come out of their trailer really kills your day.” So now I try not to slow things down by staying in my trailer too long.
HitFix: So you've become prompter as a result?
Misha Collins: Definitely! Definitely.
HitFix: Which of your co-stars did you find yourself appreciating more as a result of that experience?
Misha Collins: Oh, well I don't like any of the guys I work with… [He laughs.] The experience just made me even more, if you can believe it, bitter towards my co-stars.
HitFix: At how photogenic they are or other things?
Misha Collins: Yeah. They're just too good looking.
HitFix: Is directing something you're hoping to return to? And what are the conversations that have to take place to make that happen?
Misha Collins: Yeah, I would love to direct again. At this point I think there's just a little bit of a queue. Waiting in that line. I'm queued up.
HitFix: I feel like when you appear on a show, it's a certain seal of approval to the show. What does it take to get The Felicia Day Seal of Approval?
Felicia Day: I do get offered a lot more roles than I choose to do. I'm very busy as a producer and a writer, especially with my Internet stuff, and I tend to only accept the roles that I know will have an impact and has a fanbase. I'm much more interested in shows that maybe not everybody loves, but a lot of people REALLY love. That's how I am as a person. I'm as extreme as the roles in the shows that I like to be on.
HitFix: So what resonated most immediately when “Supernatural” and Charlie came a-calling?
Felicia Day: Well, “Supernatural” is a show that I really enjoyed, especially in the beginning. The first couple seasons I was a huge fan of it. And when I was here working on “Eureka,” actually, I met some people who worked on the “Supernatural” set and I was like, “I really hope I get to be on that show one day.” And then I thought the show was gonna end without me being on it and lo and behold, they called me and I cleared everything to be able to do it, because A) The show and then B) The writing and then C) The character. I had to do it. So yeah, that's how I was drafted in and thank goodness the fans like me, because I think that's the only reason I'm still here.
HitFix: Did you expect the fans to like you/the character or did you have caution?
Felicia Day: I think some people cautioned me. Like it's a fandom that feels very invested and I'm always tentative. You never know how people are gonna receive you and especially a character that's so close to the fans in type, but the fact that she resonates with them, she is a true fangirl in that she's not defined by it. She's a real person who just happens to like things that are “geeky,” quote-unquote, and the fact that she's an integral part of the world and has a very clear and natural relationship with the guys? She doesn't feel like she's shoe-horned in. She really fits and I think that's a testament to the writing and hopefully the way that we work together.
HitFix: Your primary job, as it were, is one where you have total control, where it's basically your thing. How easy or hard is it for you to walk onto another set and drop all of that control and just act?
Felicia Day: You know, it's actually a relief, sometimes. I just sold my company to Legendary and I'm working with them on transitioning. I'm still working on the company a lot, but it's a lot of change. I'm a business person, I'm a producer, I'm a writer, I'm a performer every week on my own thing and I don't have a lot of time for other things and when I get something where I can just be focused on one thing, as a performer, that's where I came from! It's a real treat. It helps me go back with a different perspective and just more enthusiasm. It's really hard and it's 18-hour days, because Charlie is in a lot of scenes, which is great, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
HitFix: Do you sleep better when you're only wearing the one hat? Or are you constantly thinking and worrying about the other hats you're supposed to be wearing?
Felicia Day: I have anxiety disorder, so I never sleep well. [She laughs.] If someone can be anxious about something, I will find it.
HitFix: But you can still find it fun to be like, “OK, I'm just gonna sit back and I'll act when I'm called to set”?
Felicia Day: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well… Yes. I have worries in other ways. It's good to let the other worries have a vacation and have different worries take over and then go back to the old worries.
HitFix: Can you actually sit without your phone on, without constantly checking email when you're acting? Or is that just impossible?
Felicia Day: I try to limit it, actually, because I'm not the same person and I am in a different mindspace, in a sense. I'm not sitting there in my trailer in a Method-sort-of-incubator, but I do try to, especially the things that draw me back to what I'm doing in LA with all my stuff that I do there, I try to be a little more disciplined about it. It doesn't always work. Sometimes I'm playing “Settlers of Catan” on my phone for an hour, OK? I'll admit it! Sometimes I'm really concentrating on the dialogue so I won't mess up my lines.
HitFix: In that context, playing a game sounds entirely healthy if it means there's other work stuff you're not concentrating on.
Felicia Day: Thank you. I like you a lot. Yes. Thank you for enabling me, sir.
HitFix: So, Crowley, what do you think makes him so tied to the Winchester Boys at this point?
Mark Sheppard: I love that you call me “Crowley.”
HitFix: No no! There was a comma there. I'm asking about your character, not you.
Mark Sheppard: I love that! I love that! Even just the fact that you would think that I would have Crowley's opinion. That's such an honor for me. It really is. It's an honor for me to be associated with something that's so much fun and so delicious in that way.
HitFix: So, Mark Sheppard, what do you think keeps Crowley, and you I guess, attached to the Winchesters?
Mark Sheppard: The writers, primarily. It's never really been a malevolent relationship. There's a lot of love there. You're never quite sure where Crowley is.
HitFix: This was a character who could have been a one-off or a two-off and he just kept showing up. How have they let you know over the years when they want you to come back and how has that changed?
Mark Sheppard: The stories just got thicker and more delicious and it was just like, “Oh, I guess I'm still alive.” I got a wonderful call from Bob and Phil once from the writers' room going, “You're dead! But don't worry, you're back in Episode 16.” So there's been a lot of that. Jeremy'll tell you any time I call the office they put me on speaker-phone and I'm like, “So am I dead yet?” and they're like, “We're just writing that now.”
HitFix: So you actually have called them over the years to check in?
Mark Sheppard: I do! I call them all the time. My opening phrase in any conversation with Bob or Phil or anyone else is, “Am I dead yet?” and the answer is always, “I'm writing that as we speak.”
HitFix: Have you always felt comfortable enough to do that?
Mark Sheppard: They're amazing people. It's a highly intelligent environment populated with highly skilled, highly talented people.
HitFix: When you first came on, what would you have guessed the chances were that “Supernatural” would still be around at 200 episodes?
Mark Sheppard: Well, it was really close to 100 when I came on and it was pretty close to the end. Eric had originally foreseen it as a five-year arc and it's changed a lot from that. It just endures. We have a new audience. I've 12 and 13 and 14 and 15-year-old kids coming up and going, “I'm a big fan of the show” and you're like “When did you…” Because they can now watch this on Netflix and other content delivery systems.
HitFix: You've been on a handful of shows with some of the most passionate fanbases that there are out there. Do the fanbases feel different to you at all?
Mark Sheppard: No, because a lot of it's the same fanbase. I can go out there and “Who” fans are watching “Supernatural.” There's a movement for “SuperWhoLock,” if Steven [Moffat] or Mark [Gatiss] put me in “Sherlock,” I have been the first actor to create the “SuperWhoLock” situation.
HitFix: Have the things people recognize you from shifted?
Mark Sheppard: Yes. Like my dad, I was “that guy.” I was that guy, “Hey, hey, hey. You're that guy.” And then it becomes “Battlestar” and “Firefly” and those amazing fandoms change what it is that's going on and it sorta endures. You suddenly realize you've been doing this… First season of “X Files” for me was 21 years ago, here in Vancouver. I was here 21 years ago doing television that didn't even have a guaranteed pick-up.
HitFix: You have a unique perspective on this whole thing, having been part of the 200 episodes as an actor, but also very close to somebody who was a part of all 200 episodes.
Genevieve Padalecki: I feel incredibly blessed from both angles. I feel like, first of all, being cast on the show, this changed my life. It was such a great role and I can't believe I got cast in this role and I got to play Ruby and it was so much fun. I loved what she got to do, the conniving-ness and how subtle it was in so many ways. That was so fun as an actor. And to then shift and meet my partner-in-life, who was also my partner on the show, and now we have children together. It's all kinda surreal and it's blended in a way. It's kinda funny.
HitFix: Do you ever go back and watch those episodes you appeared in? Can you see glints in peoples' eyes when you watch them?
Genevieve Padalecki: Sometimes yes! But sometimes I'm like, “What? Oh my God! I look so young. What happened? There are two babies! What the hell?”
HitFix: Well give me a moment where if I go back and watch, I'll be able to go, “Oh right. There are two people falling in love.”
Genevieve Padalecki: Absolutely. We can look back and there are moments where I'm like, “Oh, I do remember that scene and I remember that we were sharing iPods with each other and I was reading this book and you were reading that book and we were sharing notes…” That I feel very special about and I'm glad I can share that with our children.
HitFix: The show had been on a while when you came on. Did it already feel like a big deal when you were on it? Does it feel different now in the midst of all this?
Genevieve Padalecki: I think now I'm more used to it. At the time, I came off of an ABC Family show. It was funny because I was No.1 on an ABC Family show and it was very under-the-radar. It was very sweet. It was about a girl and her horse. And then I was suddenly thrown into a sci-fi/horror hit and I was not used to that kind of fanbase and me, I was very overwhelmed. I wasn't used to it and I thought, “Oh my gosh. Wow. People are really paying attention to every move you make and I can't screw it up.” I felt a little bit more pressure. But now when I look at it, I just think of how much hard work and how amazed I am by how the boys carry it and I'm glad to be a supportive role now as wife in that way.
HitFix: When people see you and approach you and recognize you, what is the mixture of people who approach you and remember you as Ruby and how many just approach you as Jared's wife?
Genevieve Padalecki: Oh, it's half-and-half and I'm happy to play either role. It's kinda a funky thing. Most people don't realize that I was Ruby, so they'll be like, “Can you take my picture.” And I'm like, “Yeah, no problem.” And Jared's like, “Well, you know that's Ruby.” And they're like, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” I'm like, “No, no. I'm better as a photographer.”
The 200th episode of “Supernatural” airs on Tuesday, November 11 at 9 p.m. on The CW.