We were extremely excited to see Kevin mentioned on the S10 sneak peek promo with a big question mark, and to hear Bob Singer tease that maybe he’d be back – because we love both the character and the talented actor who plays him. We sat down to chat with Osric Chau over dinner at VanCon, and invited photographer Karen Cooke to join us and snap some photos (Karen’s beautiful photos are featured in Fan Phenomena: Supernatural too).
Lynn started out the interview unable to figure out how to make her iPad record….which is pretty typical of Lynn’s technical skills.
Lynn: (handing the iPad to Osric) Um, can you figure out how to make it record? I can’t seem to…
Osric: (graciously) That’s all right, we all have our strengths. Then you find some people who have complementary skill sets and you don’t have to worry.
(Good advice. And yes, he figured out the iPad within about 20 seconds. We have an unfortunate history of turning to our interviewees for technical help. There’s a chapter in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls in which a superhumanly patient Danneel Harris crawls under tables (literally) in the green room trying to find us an outlet… and that’s only the first technical disaster we encountered trying to interview her.)
L: So last time we talked, you had filmed your last episode of Supernatural but it hadn’t aired, so you couldn’t really talk about it. What was that day like? How long did you have to lie there with your eyes covered, and what were you thinking?
O: it was a very sad day. I mean, there was some talk that I might be coming back, but that wasn’t something that I wanted to hope for just in case. It was one of those days I was a little more serious, and other people weren’t joking around either.
L: So everyone was affected.
O: Yeah, everyone thought it was my last episode. They were like, ‘Is this it? This is weird’. Throughout the day, I tried to be like, yeah, you know, I’ll come back and visit, that kind of stuff.
L: Right, sort of blunting the impact – you live in Vancouver, and you do the conventions, you’ll see them.
O: Exactly. So I kinda did that throughout the day, and then a couple hours before the end of the day I went up and did about 45 minutes of prosthetics and they put these two pieces over my eyes because I had to like really feel it, so I was completely blind.
L: What were they made of? Some of it was probably VFX, right? But it looked pretty awful. What was it like for you?
O: Yeah, it was made of latex and then painted, and then visual effects kinda went over it again, so it was a combination of the two.
L: (grimacing) And were they literally like stuck on your face?
O: Yeah. So I wasn’t able to open my eyes, my eyes were closed, and then they were put over my eyelids, so it was completely black.
L: So did they put them on in the makeup trailer? Did someone have to like walk you over to the set after?
O: No, this is in the makeup realm but it’s a different department, so they bring in a specialist to do prosthetics, it’s a specialty. It was in a separate trailer they brought in for that day. We did it in the trailer, and it was one person who I didn’t know, and then yeah, they walked me to the set.
L: I’m just trying to get my head around the headspace that you must have been in, because you’re already in this sort of emotionally vulnerable place…
O: (nodding) It was very strange.
L: Then they take away your eyesight and are sort of herding you over, to the place where you’re going to die – I mean, that is just really powerful!
O: It was very strange. I didn’t think it would hit me that hard, but yeah – just like, doing that walk, and you kinda hear people but not really, no one’s really saying anything. And every now and then, you kinda get like a hand on the shoulder.
L: It sort of must feel like you’re going to your execution.
O: (laughing because by that time we were all feeling way too emotional) Yeah, you know it really did, it was so strange. And then I get there and you know, we just – they say okay Osric, you’re going to be right here, there’s nothing behind you, and I had a pad for my hip and they’re like, are you good, do you need anything else? And I’m like no, I’m good, and then it was just like okay, roll camera, action. And the action was very simple, hand on the head and then I just kept falling to the floor and just lie there, and we did that a few times and then basically that was my coverage. So the last bit of it I was just lying there listening to Jensen.
L: So was that all filmed on the same day?
O: Yeah, that scene was all done that day and it was the last scene I did on that episode. It was tough, and then at the end, you know, I didn’t really stick around, I just got ushered back out. And since I was out already, I didn’t have it in me to go back in and say bye to everyone. So I just went back to my trailer.
L: I can understand that. And so when you were lying on the ground and Jensen came in to do his lines, there was no like, oh hey Osric…
O: Well he was in the scene, he was part of the scene.
L: Oh that’s right he saw it happen, Dean was there.
O: Right. So we did it up to a point, he’d rush in, I’d do the fall, and then we’d do the next set up and that’s when he falls down.
L: And then as you were lying there, you had to hear him say ‘Kevin’ in that terribly broken voice…
L: (possibly a bit choked up at this point) That was such an emotional moment, so I can’t really imagine what it was like to be lying there, unable to see anything, and hear that.
O: It was tough. I was probably crying underneath all that stuff, I couldn’t tell though. I was just trying my best not to move and to be dead.
L: Because dead people don’t usually start sobbing.
O: No, they usually don’t move. Well maybe, there’s probably gas bubbles or something…
(This totally lifted the mood, which had become very somber indeed. We all burst into laughter.)
L: I’ve never acted so I’m always so fascinated by what you must have to go thru psychologically to get into a space like that.
O: I think you’re in a good place to understand it [as a psychologist], I mean acting is empathy, right? If you can empathize with the character, you just put yourself in that person’s shoes and you kinda live that life for a minute at a time. And that’s all it is, right? So you just justify reactions like okay, why would my character pick up this fork? Because he’s hungry, and then it makes sense to you. That’s all it is.
(We’ve heard Jensen say something very similar about acting – no wonder that last scene with Kevin and Dean worked so well.)
L: (nodding) You have to make it make sense in order to do it organically.
O: Exactly, because if you believe it, then who’s to say you’re wrong? That’s kind of the trick, instead of you’re actually acting, like I’m picking up this fork (he helpfully demonstrates) and then it’s like oh, that person’s acting. For stage it kinda works because you have to show it, but for camera especially with all the tight lenses and stuff, you pick up all these nuances from just the thought, so when I’m rehearsing it’s training my thought process more than anything. To get that moment, I’m gonna think about this. And thinking of this will make my eyes look that way, will make my nose twitch this way, you’ll do all those little things that your body normally does. And so it becomes real.
L: So you let it sort of happen – almost like if you’re thinking about it too much, you’re acting instead of experiencing?
O: Exactly. So you kinda guide your body in a certain – in the way that the scene goes – and then you’ll do the things that you’d normally do as that person, or however you’ve taught yourself to do it as the character, and the more you do it, the more automatic it becomes and then you can start thinking about the more technical aspects. Like okay, I’m gonna do the same thing but I’m just gonna move myself back for the focus or I’m gonna catch the light here, and you can start thinking about those other things. You get to the point where you don’t have to think about all of it
L: So you need the automaticity of that empathy before you can have the awareness of all the technical stuff.
O: Exactly. It’s much like playing guitar, once you learn the song you figure out all the finger stuff, then you don’t think about that and you can start learning how to sing. Until then it’s like you’re trying to do two things at once. It’s like anything, right? Practice makes perfect, it’s like riding a bike takes forever to learn, but once you get it, you’ve got it. Same with driving a car, driving standard, right?
L: Um, I can’t do that.
O: (cracking up) Well, let’s say you learned…
L: (sheepish) I tried to learn…
O: (metaphorically patting Lynn’s hand) That’s all right.
But it’s just something that just happens, you don’t think about it, you just know which gears to go, and it just becomes part of the system.
L: (brightening) Writing is like that for me at this point! I don’t have to think about it, it just flows.
O: Yeah, very much a skill set.
L: So do you feel like you had enough time playing Kevin, over – was it two seasons?
O: It was… the end of s7 to mid s9.
L: So yeah, past 3 seasons but 2 years – and you did other things in between – but do you feel like you had enough time to really ’get’ Kevin and really invest in that character?
O: For sure. It’s not very often, if ever, that you get a chance to play a character who has gone through so much. Especially in such a short time. He’s changed completely, I mean season 7 Kevin and season 8 and 9 Kevin are completely different characters.
L: They really let the character evolve.
O: I know, and it’s great – I mean just the haircut, you know? I still think that was like the luckiest accident, that they let me keep the short hair. I think it was instrumental.
L: I remember you said that that was actually your haircut.
O: Yeah. That was my haircut. Before that for 3 years I hadn’t gotten a haircut on my own. I grew it long – not that long, but pretty long – and I’d get a movie or some show and I played a monk a lot, so they just shaved my head. And then I’d grow it out again after and by the time I got my next job it was like, oh, another monk, shave my head.
Everyone: (is laughing)
O: Third year, grew it out – and not a monk! It was an assassin role, and then at the very last second, they were like oh there’s also this monk role that we’re gonna write into this other role, so … you can do both?
Everyone: (laughing more)
O: So…shaved my head!
L: I can’t believe you had so many monk roles…
O: I know, right? And so it became okay, I just can’t do another monk role. And then I came in for Supernatural and thought there’s no way they’re gonna keep the long hair, they’re gonna give me a haircut, because that’s just what people do. Because I’m super lazy in getting my own hair cuts. But they just kept it!
L: It worked, for the first episode, especially, you looked so much younger.
O: Yeah they just combed it really nicely and then between the seasons I worked on this live action Halo movie, and I told them, it’s a military thing, they’re gonna have to shave my head, and Jim Michaels was like, we don’t wanna stop any of our actors from getting work.
(sidenote: I love how this Show supports all its actors.)
O: So they measured my head for a wig. And then at the beginning of season 8, Robert Singer was just like, huh, wig on, wig off, wig on, wig off…and then he was like, you know what? Let’s just put it in that Crowley gave you a haircut, whatever.
Everyone: (cracks up)
L: It sort of made the evolution of the character more obvious. He was not Kevin Tran AP playing the cello.
O: I know, and I thought it was cool, it started that relationship between Kevin and Crowley too. That he would take the time and give me a haircut.
L: That’s true. And Crowley is such a nuanced and unusual character, that was totally believable. Crowley would do something like that. He’s evil but he’s so likable and he’s always had these bursts of affection even towards some of his enemies.
O: Yeah, it was fun.
(And speaking of fun…)
L: So tell me, how did you dislocate Jared’s shoulder?
O: (laughing) Okay….So we’re in the green room, we’re a little bored, and Jared asks if we can wrestle.
L: As you do…
O: And I’m like okay, and he just starts coming towards me. It was a really small green room – he’s like that big and it’s like this big (Osric helpfully jumps up and shows us) and there’s couches here and he’s standing there and Jensen and Ty and Tahmoh are there and there are tables here, couch here, couch here, table here (gesturing). So I’m here and Jared just starts coming over and I’m like ‘woah, hold on, shouldn’t we like move stuff and clear some space?’ And he’s just like RRRRR, like going at me like a bear…
Everyone: (is literally laughing so hard we can’t catch our breath at the image that Osric is painting)
O: So I’m like ‘all right all right this is happening!’ So he’s trying to like choke me out right away and I wouldn’t strain against him, just look at those arms of his…
L: (silently) Oh we have…
O: And he’s trying to like bear hug me and choke me out. So it’s not my specialty but I’ve done enough jiu-jitsu and stuff so I just get some room and probably within a minute or two I’m on his back and I’m choking him out. So he’s standing up in front of the first couch here (pointing to the imaginary couch in the imaginary green room) and I’m on his back and I’m not really choking him out I’m just like, ‘come on, tap out’ and I’m expecting him to, but he’s still fighting, so I’m like, okay I’ve gotta crank. So I start applying pressure, and then I see that he’s starting to go sideways and I’m like Ohmygod, so at that point I’m just like RRRR which makes him do it even faster – and this right here (gesturing) is like a marble table!
O: So thank you Jared for not going into the table. And he tries to fit like in this little sliver of space between the couch and the table. I saw the floor coming and I kinda rolled out of it and then on the floor we struggle some more and I end up on top of him and choking him out and I see his hand tap, and I’m like phew, ok that was crazy. And then he’s like, ‘I think I dislocated my shoulder’.
O: And I’m like, ‘come on Jared’.
L: You think he’s joking.
O: I always think he’s joking! And then he slowly gets up and his face is PALE. So it turns out as he was trying to flag me down, he hit his elbow on the couch and it just — it was an old injury, he had done it before, but I didn’t know that at the time – I was just like devastated.
O: And I mean, everyone was a little concerned, though I swear to god Misha…
L: (laughing) That’s probably because Misha has gotten hurt wrestling with those guys too!
O: But I was so, ‘OMG I’m so sorry, like what do we do?’ I was so worried. And he just needed to sit there for a minute, and he was so pale and so quiet and no one knew what to do. So then Clif just popped it back in, it wasn’t out that much. But then they all start egging me on, like “Grand Master, Master Chau” and at this point, I’m just like ‘guys, no! This is not the time!’ Which just made them want to do it even more.
L: (laughing) I can’t believe they started that right then!
O: Almost immediately. Right? It made me so uncomfortable, and Misha’s like ‘c’mon man’, and I’m like ‘NO NO he’s right there!’ I was so uncomfortable. So everyone’s freaking out and he had to cancel his panel Ohmygod, and even then Jared’s like ‘yeah man I’m gonna have to go out there and tell them I can’t go onstage because you broke my arm… let me call Gen and make sure Customs intercepts you at the airport and you can’t get back in to the country, and I’ve gotta give Jeremy Carver a call and make sure Kevin never comes back.’ Like even during the pain, he’s doing that.
L: His sense of humor didn’t take a break, I see.
O: I know, right? So we get him up to the room and he’s like ‘I’ll be fine I just need to rest up’, and he’s trying to stretch it out and we’re like just let it be, and he pops it out again, this time even worse. Only Clif and Tahmoh were there for that one so Clif was like, ‘Tahmoh just hold him’ and grabbed him and like it took two minutes to get it back in and Jared was saying this was the most pain he’s ever been in. He had to take some painkillers and just passed out. And everyone else was going to lunch at this really nice restaurant they always go to in Italy, and I just couldn’t go, I’m like ‘I’m gonna stay with Jared.’ So me and Clif were just there watching Italian soap operas while he slept.
L: You can’t make this stuff up…
O: He was supposed to wake up in two hours but after three he was still out. After a certain point, Clif said go to the restaurant, it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss out on – when he wakes up, I’ll bring him around if he’s feeling all right. And maybe like 11 or midnight, Jared finally came around. I think he only came because he knew that I was worried. So even though he is an asshole, he’s a really considerate nice asshole.
L: (laughing) Awww. He cares about you.
O: (smiling) Yeah. And then he had to get the surgery and he wouldn’t tell me about that, I learned it from Clif, like he’s trying to keep everything from me so I wouldn’t feel bad. When he’s fully recovered I’ll probably be more ok with it. When I saw that he had a sling on in the preview I’m like ‘OMG that is because of me!’
L: It was an accident though – he fell and hit a table…
O: And thank you, Jared. Because if he chose to try to slam me on the table, it would’ve been a lot worse for me – though if my head hit the table and was gashed I probably would’ve been the same, I wouldn’t blame Jared, I would say ‘I should have put my hand out’. But it’s still hard not to take responsibility. I’m glad the surgery went well and he’s on the way to a solid recovery.
L: I have to say, that whole wrestling in a tiny green room thing? That sounds like the dumbest idea ever.
O: And then they all start telling me all the wrestling stories. I’m like, really, you guys?
L: (probably smiling way too much at the thought, because, really…) Boys will be boys…
O: We’re just both so competitive.
L: I think that goes for all of you guys.
O: (nodding) It’s a never ending pissing contest. And usually I just sit back and let them do their thing, but he challenged me at wrestling…
L: We’re just glad you both survived.
Let’s hope that Kevin Tran does the same. We’d love to see him back on Supernatural Season 10!
Look for part two of our chat with Osric soon. And follow us on twitter @FangasmSPN for live coverage of DallasCon this weekend – check back here for more interviews, photos and con coverage!
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