Creation’s Supernatural convention in San Francisco this month also gave us a chance to catch up with actor Richard Speight, Jr., aka Gabriel, aka The Trickster, aka one of our favorite people. Before we sat down to chat over a delicious lunch at Calzones, Richard gave us a tour of North Beach, a neighborhood we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Full of vintage music stores, mismatched architecture, insanely steep hills and the kind of historic sites you don’t always read about in the brochures (a strip joint where a piano apparently killed a performer, for example), North Beach is also where Richard directed and starred (as ‘the Rockstar’) in a film of the same name ten years ago. The film was a labor of love, and well worth adding to your Netflix cue or petitioning from Amazon.
Considering the name of the place we went to lunch, we both ordered Calzones, and eventually got around to chatting about Supernatural. We’ve had many conversations with Richard over the years about the show and the fandom, and always look forward to sharing our more ‘thinky thoughts’ with him – and hearing his. The first time we interviewed him, in 2008, Richard ended up asking us more questions than we asked him! We’ve been carrying on the ‘conversation’ ever since.
Back when none of us knew that the Trickster was actually an archangel, we had a long discussion about why nobody was writing fanfiction about the character. After all, that’s one of the primary ways that fandom shows its love. Richard hypothesized that it had something to do with the Trickster’s adversarial relationship with Sam and Dean. Looking back, what he said then seems almost prescient – that the Trickster doesn’t really hate the boys, but is envious of their relationship, how close they are as brothers. Interestingly, that turned out to be quite true – but it’s Gabriel’s issue, not the Trickster’s. The archangel is grieving the loss of closeness with his brothers – no wonder he’s jealous of Sam and Dean, poster boys for brotherly love that they are. Okay, were. Will be again, damn it!
Richard: Isn’t that weird? I guess the writers and I were thinking the same way. It does make sense.
Very true. And SPN fans are all about the brothers, that’s for sure.
Now that the Trickster is Gabriel, he’s also tied into the mythology in a different way, and thus more woven into the fandom as well. We told Richard that Gabriel now played a more pivotal role in all kinds of online fandom, from LJ communities to Facebook pages.
Richard (with sad puppy eyes): Ironically, I’m no longer a pivotal part of the Show.
Which, as we informed him, is a common gripe on the part of fans. ‘Bring back Gabriel!” pops up all over fannish spaces. So why does he think Gabriel is so much more popular than the Trickster?
Richard: I think the Trickster was about fucking with the boys, and Gabriel is about helping them. When he goes from that to being a friend – even a weird friend! – when you’re on the same side as Sam and Dean, that makes him on the right side.
Lynn (nods): Right! He’s also a more complex character, not one dimensional. He’s got his own agenda, and in “Hammer of the Gods” he even got to have a romantic relationship that wasn’t played for laughs.
Richard: It’s interesting, because I think they really spent a lot of shoe leather developing Gabriel in just that one episode. Dan Loflin and Andrew Dabb – I’ve become friends with Dan, we hang out every now and then.
He’s a smart guy.
Show seems to attract a lot of those smart creative types….present company included. We’ve also been repeatedly struck by how down to earth and grounded most of the SPN actors are. As Richard put it:
Richard: People can get too wrapped up in acting and become “actors” – versus people who act. I don’t much like “actors.”
We’ve had that same conversation with quite a few of the people who act on Supernatural – the distinction seems to hold true for most of them.
It’s always interesting to compare our perspective as fans immersed in the Show, with actors who love being involved, but don’t spend time in fannish spaces. We told Richard we felt like he had a much larger SPN fanbase now that he’d played the archangel. Did he feel like his character’s popularity translated to his own popularity as an actor?
Richard: I think there’s a bit of a disconnect. I have a couple thousand followers on Twitter and Facebook, but I can’t say I’ve noticed a swell. In fact, I was thinking the opposite, that the further away I get from being on the show, it would taper off.
Nevertheless, the power of the SPN fandom makes itself known in unexpected ways. When Richard showed up to work on a new rom-com, Three Blind Saints, it turned out that the church-funded filmmakers were Supernatural fans. In fact, that’s how they found Richard! He was surprised, since on the surface Show’s irreverence isn’t entirely church-friendly. One of the first things writer Jeremy Carver told Richard when he started reading up on lore about Gabriel was, “Yeah, we don’t so much go by the Bible….” (It should be noted, however, that there’s a tremendous amount of fan-penned meta out there analyzing religious themes and spirituality in Supernatural – perhaps it’s more accurate to say the relationship is a complex one. What relationship isn’t? Just ask Sam and Dean….)
Similarly, Richard’s recent Pepsi ads with Snoop Dogg garnered quite a bit of fannish attention on youtube, much to Pepsi’s bewilderment.
Pepsi brass: Who are all these people commenting on here? And why do they keep talking about someone named Gabriel??
Snoop’s manager (equally bewildered): Wow, Snoop got some comments, but Richard tore it up!
Perhaps they should have been tipped off by one of the production assistants on the shoot. When it was decided that Richard would snap his fingers in a rather familiar way, Richard cautioned, “Um, you know what the Supernatural fans will think, right?
PA with excellent taste in television (smirks): Yep. I know.
We told Richard how much we loved that story – and how unsurprised we were.
Richard: Pepsi was struck by the response, and so was I – it was like wow, you’ve really got a following online.
He does indeed. Interestingly, as loyal as the SPN fans are to Show, the cast and crew seem equally loyal. Like many of the guest actors we’ve talked to, Richard has a stronger attachment to Supernatural than to many of the other projects he’s worked on (Band of Brothers being the other emotionally significant project, for obvious reasons.)
Richard: It’s weird not being involved in the Show anymore. But it’s weird that I even think that! Every job I do, I leave, but usually I’m like fine. I definitely have an emotional attachment to SPN and to the character, and I think it’s partly doing the cons that keeps it alive. But then sometimes I think, there’s gotta be a shelf life to this, I know at a certain point the party’s gonna continue and I won’t be on the guest list.
Frankly, it won’t be nearly as wild a party without Richard. Anyone who has attended a con karaoke party can attest to that!
Richard: I was really hoping they’d find a reason to bring the character back. It’s funny because I was talking to people involved with the show, and I understand there’s a new angel around.
Lynn: Balthazar, yes, and he’s great – but fans still want Gabriel back.
Richard: I think I’ll have lunch with Kripke, not to say hey write me back in, because those arcs are decided way in advance, but just because I’m so involved with the Show’s second life at the cons, and he was such a friendly guy when we met. I’ve only met him and Sera one time when I was with Bob (Singer) and Phil (Sgriccia). It would be nice to get to know the guy a little, we’ll be doing the Rome con together this spring.
Lynn: *sobs because that con is smack in the middle of the semester and professors probably shouldn’t run off to Italy for cons*
Richard: Last year was so much fun.
Lynn: *sobs more…and glares a bit too*
Kripke is apparently in high demand for lunch dates. Gabe Tigerman (interview to come!) also mentioned that he had lunch with Kripke recently. Eric directed several of Gabe’s episodes, so they got to know each other a bit. We have a feeling that after kicking around in Italy, Eric and Richard will be much better acquainted. Not that we’ll be there or anything….
Everyone we’ve interviewed knows that we have a bit of a reputation for asking the sort of questions journalists don’t tend to ask. In fact, we once made Jeannie in hair and makeup drop her brush in the middle of doing Jared Padalecki’s hair, she was so sure she’d mis-heard our question. But no….
So our last few questions weren’t the standard. Naturally Richard fielded them without blinking.
Earlier in the day, we had inadvertently eavesdropped on a few fans who were discussing Richard’s nude scene in a film, which frankly caused our heads to whip around so fast we got dizzy. Nude scene? Seriously?
Richard (blushing….or was that just the lighting?): I did, yeah, in Open Water II. But it wasn’t – they all took their bathing suits off to make a flag, so – you could see my ass, but it wasn’t a romantic scene, not a traditional nude scene at all.
Who said fans like traditional? The ones we overheard seemed pretty happy about the nontraditional view. Just sayin’.
And speaking of non-traditional, we wondered how Richard felt about his character finally starring in plenty of fanfiction (much of it slash, which as most of you know is a truly transformative work of fiction that romantically pairs two male or two female characters who are canonically straight – Gabriel/Castiel for example.)
So, is he happy to be slashed?
Richard: Yes! I am, and you know why? Because, you go to certain cultures and you go into the deepest darkest woods, and if their way of saying hello is to throw poop on your forehead, you let them throw poop on your forehead. So if their way of saying we love this guy and we love this character and embrace this character is to make him part of slash fiction? Slash away, babe!
Okay, poop analogy not the most appetizing metaphor over Italian food, but that aside, we think we know what he means. Thinky thoughts indeed.
Check out the excellent North Beach trailer on Youtube and the film’s IMDB page — and the fanfiction just about everywhere, if that’s your cup of tea.
More from the San Fran con soon – then on to LA!
56 thoughts on “It’s All About The Brothers – Richard Speight Jr on Gabriel, Nude Scenes and Sam’nDean Envy”
Great article! Richard is such a great guy, and I love his attitude toward SPN and fandom. Thanks!
We couldn’t agree more – it’s always a pleasure to chat with him and pick his brain a bit 🙂
I’ve only gotten to meet Richard once – in Chicago in 2008 – but he has a special place in my heart. It was his first con and he seemed so at ease and made me feel at ease.
It was the first con for not only Richard but also for Samantha Smith and Charles Malik Whitfield. With all three of them, their first “job” of the day was the photo ops. I get nervous so for all of them the only thing I said as I approached was “hi ‘so-and-so’ it’s nice to meet you” and held out my hand to shake. ALL three of them immediately asked my name then said Hi Erica”.
Later on in the day after all three finished their photo ops and their Q&A sessions they were all signing autographs. I handed a picture of Richard as The Trickster to his handler and gave her my name so he could personalize it. When he finished with the person before me the handler slid the picture across the table to him and said “this is for Erica”. Richard took the pic then looked up at me and said “of course it is! I know Erica. We go way back.” Then he signed the picture and handed it back to me. When I looked at it later he had written “Erica! Remember our photo-op moment? Ah I do.”
This is why he has a special place in my heart! Such a kind, sweet, funny man. I thoroughly enjoy reading interviews with him. I really really hope we can see him back on the Show. Not just because I love his character but just because I love him.
I hope there’s plenty about Richard in Fangasm the Book…when is that book coming out anyway? 😉
Thanks so much for sharing this!
There is absolutely plenty about Richard in Fangasm The Book — keep demanding its publication!! And thanks for sharing that story about Richard, it’s a great example of what this particular fandom is all about. 🙂
Yay I’m so happy there’s plenty o’ Richard in Fangasm The Book!! Makes me even more excited to buy and read it. I didn’t even think it was possible for me to be more excited. 😉 Consider this another official demand for its publication.
And you’re very welcome! That is one of my very favorite (if not THE favorite) celebrity-related con stories to tell.
I love Gabriel/Trickster/Richard. He’s booked as a guest for All Hell Breaks Loose III in Australia next year so I’m really looking forward to seeing him there. I think he’ll always be part of the Supernatural family…a very much loved character and obviously great guy.
So glad you’ll get to meet Richard in person at AHBL — we agree, he’ll always be part of the ‘family’. Thankfully 🙂
Great interview, thanks! I’ll join the chorus asking for Richard’s return to the show. I loved him as the Trickster and I actually did write a story from his perspective for an entire chapter, and that was before we found out he was Gabriel! After all Mystery Spot was one of the all-time great episodes and while we didn’t know the Trickster’s real purpose, they certainly tantalized us with numerous possibilities.
Richard’s popularity comes from him being such a generous and fun-loving guy and also for bringing such an intriguing character to life. How many actors could bring such depth to a character, especially with so many questions about his intentions and where the story was actually going? As a man who acts, Richard fits right in with all the talented creative forces of Supernatural who never let fame and the silliness of their careers change who they are as people. Supernatural excels at hiring great guys who are also insanely talented.
I know, right? Show really does excel at hiring people who are both talented and just all around awesome human beings. Also agreed that Richard was able to bring both characters to life and invest them with enough complexity to make them fan favorites even after an episode or two. We’ll have to let him know that our theory of the Trickster not appearing in fanfic was incorrect though! Thank you!
Richard is such a cool guy, and so very intelligent. I started to look for projects he’s worked on, just because he’s who he is, so yes, you can call me a big fan, and I’ve got to say that my admiration for him and his character on SPN started before we knew he was Gabriel! Balthazar is a pale imitation, and I still live in hopes that Gabriel was pardoned because of the ultimate, selfless action that caused his death. Sam, Castiel and Bobby were brought back. I want Gabriel!
While I wouldn’t ever dream of throwing poop on Richard’s head, I must say that I occasionally dream of a spinoff series starring Gabriel and Crowley as adversaries who sabotage each other like Tom and Jerry, and who somehow never manage to kill each other off. It would be a sitcom to remember!
So, Richard, if you’re out there somewhere, please mention this to Kripke when you have lunch with him…
That would totally be a sitcom to remember – can you imagine those two?? Glad to hear you wouldn’t throw poop on his head tho 🙂
We are continually impressed with Richard’s intellect as well as his genuine affection for both Show and fandom.
Thank you for sharing! It made the pain of the hiatus a little more bearable.
You’re very welcome! Particularly since the hiatus is going on a bit longer than planned. Not cool, CW.
Now I can’t wait to see him even more at the LA Con (along with both of you ladies!!!!!).
Richard is incredibly entertaining onstage — and just a wonderful human being. You’re in for a treat 🙂 See you in LA!!!
I know how you feel – Asylum is RIGHT in final exams. Not a time I can pop off to England for a week. 🙁
Another great interview – did you do the pic too?
Oh, the woes of being a professor!
And yes, I did the pic too. *beams proudly* In the backseat of a moving taxi cab, no less. Impressive, right? LOL Richard really is an awesome tour guide.
The other photo is courtsey of Oscar Benjamin, a for real photographer. Hence its vastly superior quality. Oh well.
Fun article. Thank you.
You’re very welcome, glad you enjoyed!
Thank you so much for the interview! Very appreciated 😉
(And what DID you ask to make that poor woman drop her brush? XD)
You’re very welcome, glad you enjoyed it! (You’ll have to read Fangasm the book to find out what we asked to traumatize Jeannie. We promise, it’s in there – along with every other ridiculously embarrassing thing we managed to do over the course of researching the book….) Thanks again for reading and letting us know you liked the article 🙂
Way to tantalize us! 😛 Now I have yet another demand for the book’s publication!
I love Richard so much, what an awesome guy.
Thank you for such a great interview, ladies. Sure looking forward to seeing you next week. 🙂
We agree with you wholeheartedly, Richard is awesome! And so are you — can’t wait to see you in LA!
How is Richard so awesome? *happy sighs*
I like Balthazar and all but he’s nowhere near as charismatic or as interesting as Gabriel. Not by a long stretch.
I can only keep my fingers crossed that Gamble and Kripke will see sense and bring him back. It’s not exactly like anyone actually stays dead on SPN anyway so they’ve really got no excuse.
You make a very good point — this is Supernatural, after all! Sam and Dean have both died more than once, so….. let’s all cross our fingers that we’ll see the charismatic Gabriel back on our tv screens soon 🙂
Loved the article and LOVE the idea of bringing Gabriel back. He’s my husband’s favorite and I can’t wait to meet Richard in Nashville. Please keep bringing the great articles and I will scream till I am hoarse at the publisher for your book. 🙂
So glad you liked the article, and that you (and hubby?) will get to meet Richard in Nashville. Sending your screaming demands straight on to our agent 🙂 Thank you!
Another excellent article ladies. Are you SURE you aren’t going to Rome? Amanda would love to see you
Temptress 😉 Glad you enjoyed 🙂
Thanks for your article! I love Richard. He is fun and adorable
We agree, he is tons of fun — glad you enjoyed the article 🙂
wow, this was interesting!! Thank you so much for sharing this, ladies! After meeting him in L.A. I became an even bigger fan of this lovely man. There is this irrational wish that they should bring him back… I might be delusional here. But, you know, I don’t suffer from detachment from reality. I enjoy it *ahem*.
Hi Jas! You know we totally agree with you, a little detachment from reality every now and then can be quite enjoyable 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this too!
This was a lovely interview! I am such a big fan of his and I want him back on the show! I mean, Cas was brought back, why can’t he be? I hope I get to meet him one day at either a convention or on a acting project. He seems to be so damn awesome and cool.
We hope you get to meet Richard too, he really is a great guy — and we definitely agree, this is Supernatural, anyone can come back!
I first ‘met’ Richard on JERICHO and then joined his FB and twitter pages. Such a nice guy!
Isn’t Sera Gamble on twitter? If she is, we could all tweet her and ask for Richard’s return to SPN. What else is everyone doing to try to get him back on the show?
What is this book you are talking about and how do we get it published? THANKS!
Richard’s facebook and twitter pages are becoming pretty good proof of SPN fans’ wanting to have him back, so keep up the good work! Fangasm is actually a book as well as a blog, chock full of several years of our experiences all over the US and Canada, behind the scenes and otherwise, on what we call our ‘Supernatural roadtrip through fandom.’ We’ll make sure our agent sees your comment and passes it on to publishers — thanks!
Awesome interview! And i got some new information from it. Could you please give me permission to translate it into Russian and to put it on our site fargate.ru/supernatural? I’ll give you credit as authors of course. Thank you in advance.
Absolutely! A link back to the blog would be most welcome, for the photos if not for the text 🙂
Thank you. Of course, we put the link to the whole your article, text and all. 🙂 If you’re wondering, there is the link to translated piece: http://fargate.ru/supernatural/content/941 .
Richard is amazing! <3
I'm a huge Gabriel fan, I wish every day that somewhere in a writer's room a bunch of great people will write him back to life.
Great interview. I loved Richard in B.o.B. too.
An the Pepsi stuff? Oh yes, just check out all the YouTube comments. Mostly they're to Richard. especially the one with the snap XD
Richard has a quite solid fanbase in teh SPN Fandom. It's not that ridiculously big, but it's still a base. And I don't know any fan who didn't love The Gabester!
We want him back and no, he won't be forgotten. He has the Fandom's love, we don't just stop with that, even if Gabriel's not around in canon.
"Slash away, babe!"
Will do sweetheart ;D
So glad you enjoyed the article — and we totally agree, the Gabester is a fan favorite for just about everyone 🙂
Um…I may or may not be one of the fans you heard discussing Open Water 2. I actually found it at Big Lots and bought it for 3 bucks. (Best 3 bucks I ever spent, if only for the reactions I get whenever I mention owning it. LOL)
I even had him sign it at the con. I probably wouldn’t have except for some ridiculous reason I mentioned to him on Twitter that I owned it and he responded there. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to the tumblr post I made about it, including a picture of how he personalized the dvd case: http://heyassbutt-hellotrickster.tumblr.com/post/2809176124/so-a-little-explanation-when-richard-speight )
I love his character (all versions of it!) so much. When Tall Tales first aired and I saw he was still alive, I cheered! Especially since it’s rare that Dean actually likes and doesn’t want to kill something he’s been hunting. For him to have been an archangel all along just made things even better!
I am in such denial about Gabriel even being gone (See how I don’t say “dead”?) that when I was asked what dead character I would want to see brought back, Richard’s character never even crossed my mind. Because he’s not dead.
As far as I’m concerned, God brought him back and he’s been stuck in TVLand, posing as the Pepsi Max delivery man. (Hey, Castiel died and was brought back by God *twice*! I see no good reason why God wouldn’t see fit not to being back the Archangel who was his messenger and helped Sam and Dean and I just can’t even conceive of the possibility that Gabriel will never be back.
…ANYWAY. This was a lovely article! I enjoyed reding it very much.
I think you actually are who we overheard! Thanks very much for your contribution to this article 🙂 And we agree with you wholeheartedly – Gabriel, dead? No way!
Awe, Richard seems like such a sweet heart! I’m in love with him, even if he’s 20 years older 🙁 lol. I also think its awesome how he adores being in slash (my personal favourite is Sam/Gabe ahahaha).
And blushing about nude scenes! So cute!
Sure seems like Supernatural (and everything surrounding it from its fellow cast and crew to its fans) really stick with people. Mark of a great show and amazing people 🙂 ♥
You summed it up perfectly – mark of a great show and amazing people, both on the creative side and the fan side! Thanks so much for reading 🙂
I love this article, and I also love Gabriel/Trickster/Richard! I hope he one day returns!
We’re so with you on that — fingers crossed!
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Do you know how annoying it is to find a show you like (years late, apparently), only to go online and find out that one of the characters you really like gets, to quote the show “ganked.” Seriously. How does an angel die and where in the world would it go?? Back to heaven? Fine. Recycle!
Now that I’ve gotten that out…I did really enjoy the interview as well. What’s funny is I can see a shred of the Trickster humor there.
Sadly I’ll miss the con in Dallas this year because I’ll be with Uncle Sam, but I’m thinking if the online fandom and interviews like this are any indication, I’d get a kick out of one. So maybe someday… Thanks for posting though!
Well, it is Supernatural, so you never know! We have come to adore Richard, as have the rest of the SPN cast, so everyone would be thrilled to have the Trickster/Gabriel return, that’s for sure.
The cons are loads of fun — like a wild and crazy family reunion, with both fans and cast reconnecting and engaging in alot of mutual appreciation, slightly inebriated karaoke, and photo taking. We hope you get to join in — and welcome to the fandom!
Thanks for the welcome! I’m hoping once I’m done with training–and hopefully not deployed, though I doubt it–I’ll be able to go to a con. They sound like a blast.
The multi-talented, the one and only… he definitely is my Spirit Animal. I just finished the Band of Brothers for the 100th time. I had seen BoB years ago but of course, the actors did not mean much to me. Now it’s different. And Rich is good. I haven’t yet met him but he seems like a really lovely guy. Thank you for sharing 🙂