From Bugs to Dying in Castiel’s Arms: Tyler Johnston Talks Supernatural

tyler johnston njcon

I had the pleasure of meeting Tyler Johnston (most well known by the SPN Family as the adorable but tortured angel Samandriel, but he was also the kid in Season 1’s classic episode, Bugs, eleven years ago!) at a few recent cons. His panels are always a lot of fun, so I was excited to have the chance to chat with him about his experience on Supernatural – and of course, since this is me, about all sorts of other things too.

Somehow the entire first part of our conversation was about cats and dogs. But hey, pets are important! And anyway, there’s nothing more endearing than hearing someone talk about a beloved pet.

Tyler: I miss my dog. I was just in LA for a month and a half, and now I’m back in Vancouver, so I’m going to have to make an appearance at my parents’ house here in the next couple of days.

I shared that we lost our SPCA rescue dog a few years ago, but I travel so much now that it doesn’t seem fair to get another.

Tyler: So you need a little pocket dog, one you put in your purse.

Lynn: Not sure that’s really me…

Tyler: (joking) Oh I agree. I want a dog who can run with me or run ahead of me and not rely on me to carry its frickin lazy butt around.

Lynn: (laughing)

Tyler: My sister actually went and bought a chocolate lab… I say bought, but that’s not… She “acquired” a chocolate lab a few years ago and my dog Hudson and her dog Hildy are just the best of friends. So we go to the lake in the summertime, and they are out there swimming together and playing together… We call it our little pack.

The pack. From Tyler's twitter
The pack. From Tyler’s twitter

Lynn: Right, you guys are the alphas, they are the pack dogs.

Tyler: Yeah, well, we’re supposed to be, but sometimes I think Hildy makes a run for that position.

Lynn: We used to call our dog Princess because she was definitely the Queen of the house. They get to be about 15 or 16, and I mean, who’s going to quibble with them?

Tyler: Exactly. And its just like with my cat, too- my parents’ cat. So I’m at their house, and I’m sleeping. And it’s 3 in the morning. And he comes in, and he’s meowing and meowing. And I’m trying to ignore him. And I know he’s just going to keep meowing and meowing until I get up and do whatever it is that he wants me to do.

Lynn: That’s right. They are the boss.

Tyler: Yeah, yeah, totally the boss. (laughs) Yeah, you know, with a dog, you know you can kinda give them a little tap on the butt or a stern speaking-to, but with a cat, its like, they just do what they want. With no repercussions. It’s just hilarious.

Lynn: We’re pretty much a dog family. We’ve only had one or two cats over the years. But even dogs, they know how to make those eyes at you, and you just melt.

Tyler: We had this dog trainer, because Hudson was a bit of a wild dog, right off the top. So she helped to discipline him and teach him some skills. But she would say, ‘ know that he is your best friend. But you’re the alpha. You have to discipline him. He’s looking for discipline. It’s part of his brain’s make up. He’s looking to be your right hand man.’ So you’ve gotta put away those feelings, forget ‘aww, he’s my best friend, I can’t yell at him.’

Lynn: Tyler, you’ll find out that you kind of have to do the same thing when you have children.

Tyler: (laughs)

Lynn: Even when they make those big eyes at you, they still need some limits, so this is good practice for you.

Tyler: Yeah, there ya go.

At this point Tyler, who is clearly a better interviewer than I am (I’m way too easily derailed by cute dog and cat stories) starts the interview. Thank god someone did!

Tyler: So how are you?

Lynn: (belatedly remembering this is an interview). Oh, I’m good, thanks. And you?

Tyler: Good.

Lynn: Okay, so…let me ask you a few questions.

Tyler: Of course.

Lynn: So going back to your first episode, Bugs, which was in the first season of Supernatural, and one of the really early episodes… did you know anything about Supernatural, being a Vancouver actor? What was the atmosphere on the set? What were the cast and crew thinking at that early point, about where it was going and how long it would be on the air?

Tyler as Matt in 'Bugs'
Tyler as Matt in ‘Bugs’

Tyler: Well, it was 10 years ago, and it was actually my first time as a guest star appearance on a television show. Well, I guess technically my second. But it was very early on in my career, and I was happy to be there. You know, it was a CW show, actually a WB show at the time… And I was 17 years old, and I got to meet Jensen and Jared, two guys in their 20’s who had solid careers up to that point. They were very welcoming, genuine guys, similar to what they are now. And it was a big production. I hadn’t really been a part of anything like that. Here in Vancouver, we may do movies of the week or small episodic shows, but nothing like… I mean, this is a big, American production. And it was nice to step onto set and fully immerse myself. Like they built an attic for the attic scene where we were being harassed by those bees! Just the scale and the production was very cool to step onto…

[It’s true. Their sets are amazing – I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw the Men of Letters set, so gigantic and so realistic in every way that you really can immerse yourself and feel like you’re really there]

Tyler: As far as going on into the future, they really didn’t know how the show would do. Back then, the show was a lot darker, even the cinematic photography, it was darker and more edgy than the current episodes.

Lynn: It was, definitely.

Tyler: Obviously, the show has had a few transitions throughout the years. Now it’s sort of elevated in its characters, and its energy. In Season One, it was still sort of grounded. And I had a blast!. I remember I was working for my father – he owns an auto glass company here in Vancouver – and I had graduated high school and I was out working with him, lugging around windshields, and then I got a call that I booked Supernatural as a guest star. And I called my mom, and she came and picked me up that day right from work. So my dad will never let me live that down. He’s like, “One phone call and you quit on me.”

Lynn: You totally deserted him!

Tyler: (laughs) I did, I did. I think now that I probably should have stuck around and helped him.

Lynn: That must have been really exciting, though. I didn’t realize that was your first guest star role, so it was such a new thing for you.

Tyler: I had done this thing, it’s what we call an ‘actor role,’ where you have like 2, or 3, or up to 5 lines, on a movie called… what was it called… unfortunately, I can’t remember what it was called at the moment… the name will come to me eventually. It was with a director, Neil Brennan, who co-wrote The Chappelle Show. It was called “Totally Awesome,” that’s what it was! So it was a 2 or 3 day thing. But then I booked Supernatural, so my agent had to do some agent work to get me out of the contract for that other thing in order to do the guest star on Supernatural. But the other show was super understanding and they let me go, so I guess I kinda owe them.

tyler johnston 2

Lynn: It was a big role though. For a guest role on Supernatural, that was a large role. You were in most of the episode. Considering you hadn’t done a lot of that before, and how fast paced television is, was that challenging to have that much dialogue and that many scenes, kind of boom boom boom?

Tyler: Yeah, it was. I grew up doing plays and stuff in high school and middle school, so line memorization hasn’t been a huge struggle for me because of the “theater background” that I’ve had. But for this, I was so excited, like you couldn’t pull the script outta my hands! I had the lines down! And it’s funny but back then, I put less pressure on myself than I do currently. I think as you get older, you come to more of a realization of the industry and your life and who you are as a person. Back then, I was 17, happy to be there, just wanted to kick some ass and not really thinking about all those other variables that unfortunately come with being an adult. So I was young and naïve, but not that I was unappreciative or took it for granted.

Lynn: My son acted when he was a kid, but he never took it very seriously. He had fun. He got lucky and booked some TV parts and film parts, but he never took it too seriously. When he got older, he realized he was going to have to angst about it if he was going to really do it, and he decided he wasn’t going to do that, and he wanted to be an engineer instead.

Tyler: It comes with the self awareness, and some people I know chose different paths. My younger sister was acting for a few years, but she just graduated from nursing school, which is super awesome. But you know, it’s the awareness and adulthood, you have to wake up and do adult things and make some money, and stop living in a fantasy world. Not that I’ve ever felt those things, but those are just the realities of this business for some people.

Lynn: Just the pressure. I’m the kind of person, I like some security, so the idea of constantly having to audition for jobs and success, that’s scary for me. I would have trouble with that.

Tyler: Yeah, its like, even when you get a show…we always laugh, like, you have to work to get a pilot, and then you work to get an audition…and then audition to get in the room… and then audition for a callback… and then you get a callback…and then you have to audition for a test… then you test for the network and you hope the network likes you… then hope you get chosen… then go to a read-through and hope you don’t get fired after the read-through… and then you gotta film the Pilot, and if the Pilot is successful, you gotta make sure it doesn’t get re-cast before the Pilot gets picked up… and if the Pilot gets picked up, then you have to make sure you don’t piss off any producers, because they can write you off in one sentence… You’re always sort of fighting for the next ‘Whatever’.

Lynn: OMG I’m having anxiety just thinking about it! I mean, so much of what you do is just getting and then keeping the job! There’s not that kind of ‘relax’ time.

Tyler: Nope. That’s not part of this business. Again, growing up in it, I never made that conscious choice. I grew up as an actor. But they are sort of impressed upon me now as an adult. But I’m fortunate to have some TV shows up here quite consistently. I was on an HBO Canada show, “Less Than Kind” for 3 seasons. And I’m on another show now, “Letterkenny,” which is doing quite well up here. So I’m one of the fortunate ones, but that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from some of those feelings we were just talking about. It comes at every level.

Lynn: (nods)

Tyler: Unless you’re Jensen and Jared, who are doing Season 12 of Supernatural. I think their minds can rest at night, you know.

Lynn: I think it’s really inherent in the business. You never know if it’s gonna be, I mean, how many seasons is Supernatural going to go? [ETA: Hopefully many more. Just sayin] Will they have an experience again like Supernatural?

Tyler: No chance in hell!

Lynn: Exactly! This is lightning in a bottle. And they know it. So I don’t think they take it for granted, even now.

Tyler: At least financially they are in a position where it doesn’t weigh on their minds, but creatively, they’re still young men, so what’s going to happen [for them] after Supernatural? I’m sure they think about that, maybe go into producing and start making things…

Lynn: Or directing maybe. Though I selfishly hope they keep acting.

Tyler: Like imagine those Harry Potter kids. They’ve all done a good job transitioning into adulthood and the next stage of their careers. But again, financially, they didn’t have to rush into anything. Sometimes actors have to be like, I need a job, I need a paycheck. They [the Harry Potter actors] could wait until something speaks to them as an actor.

Lynn: One of my good friends was called an overnight success, which is fraught with all sorts of angst.

Tyler: They always say that, “overnight success,” and even for me, if I were to book a show tomorrow and be thrown into press conferences, and they’d say “overnight success” and I’m like, ‘I’ve been doing this for 11 years.’

Lynn: You seem to be coping really well, and have your wits about you, and you’re very grounded about this business. And you’re not even 30 yet?

Tyler: No, but I’m getting close.

Lynn: (rolls eyes…okay, not really. But inside I totally did)

Tyler: For me, I grew up doing this. But I also grew up playing hockey and lacrosse, and my sister and my friends are not in this industry. So for me, my life doesn’t revolve around acting and this industry. I post on Twitter and Instagram about acting stuff, because that’s for the fans and building a fan base, but I’m gonna play hockey today and talk about things that aren’t actor related. And that helps me stay grounded. So many people do this because they want to be famous, but that’s not what life’s about. I’ve had some success, and I’ve had some downfalls, and I know this industry cannot be what my happiness is placed on. Otherwise I’d be a frickin’ head case. Don’t get me wrong, I still want success and positive relationships, but I don’t need to blow up and be Tom Cruise.

Lynn: Chad Lindberg said to me once, “If you go into this business for fame, you’ll be a head case, but wanting success and wanting to create is different than wanting fame.”

Tyler: I wholeheartedly agree with him. Chad is so great, such a calm and grounded soul. Especially where he’s been, on the brink of such success and doing such big movies. I like him a lot.

Lynn: Speaking of Chad, what have you been up to with Chad and Adam and Osric?

With Chad and Adam (from Tyler's twitter)
With Chad and Adam (from Tyler’s twitter)

Tyler: We met in Birmingham at a convention. Chad I met at my first convention and I’ve been friends with Osric for a while. So the fans suggested that we – we being myself, Adam, Chad, and Osric – watch ‘The French Mistake,’ so we hung out at Adam’s place, and ordered food, and we tweeted out to fans that we were doing it, ‘not-so-live’ live tweeting, and the fans joined us, and they seemed to really like it, so it became “SPN with Taco.” Adam, Chad and Osric and me. It’s a nice way of interacting – it’s what I love most about the Supernatural fandom, it’s such a community. I love using my twitter as a way of answering my own uncertainty. I was in LA and asked where should I go, Johnny Rockets or Steak ‘n Shake?

Lynn: (laughing)

Tyler: And people responded with pros and cons and I went to Johnny Rockets because of Twitter.

Lynn: That’s awesome!

Tyler: And that’s what I love about this fandom, how they love to interact with us and with each other.

Lynn: Not only are the fans a community, but the cast are friends for real – even if you didn’t work on the show together, because there’s so much interaction outside the show, so many of you are friends too. And that’s very unique.

Tyler: Yeah. Absolutely. And I didn’t realize – the first season, the fandom wasn’t like it is now. The conventions were an eye-opener for me. At first, I was a little unsure, but I got there and OMG it was nothing but love and everyone is there to have a good time, and people are so supportive, I really enjoy how the fans support each other. Because I understand people deal with loneliness and depression sometimes, and I think it is a beautiful, beautiful outlet for people to talk to each other. That’s why I try to respond as much as I can.

Lynn: (nods)

Tyler: And now Osric and I are friends, and Adam and I are friends. We have things in common other than Supernatural too, but that’s what brought us together. I love expanding my friends circle and learning from new experiences.

Tyler, Adam and Osric (from Tyler's twitter)
Tyler, Adam and Osric (from Tyler’s twitter)

Lynn: Osric and Chad are two of my favorite people.

Tyler: Such great people.

Lynn: The new book we have coming out, it’s all about that, how the show and the fandom have changed lives, been a support system for people, actors and fans alike. It’s extraordinary, what this show and this fandom have done. I don’t think any other show has this kind of reciprocity, it’s unique.

Tyler: It is unique. And it starts with Jared and Jensen being the guys that they are. They are just solid friggen’ dudes, humble and down to earth guys, and they make it easier for everyone else to trickle down that same energy.

Lynn: I agree. For ‘Bugs,’ you didn’t really know them…

 Jensen and Jared in Bugs. Babies!
Jensen and Jared in Bugs. Babies!

Tyler: But I wanted to be their best friend, I remember that. (laughs) I might have tried to invite them to dinner or something like that. I was so young, I was trying not to be that annoying kid, you know? I thought I was like doing them a favor, like if you guys need to know where to eat, let me know, I’m from here.

Lynn: Awww

Tyler: I think they probably had that covered though.

Lynn: (laughing) I think that was Jensen’s third show filming in Vancouver…

Tyler: Exactly. They were fine.

Lynn: Aww, but that was sweet. What was it like when you came back in Season 8? Did they remember you, did you remember them?

Tyler: I remembered them. I hadn’t gone a day without thinking of them…

Lynn: Hey, most of the fandom can say that too, Tyler.

Tyler as Samandriel
Tyler as Samandriel

Tyler: (laughing) I had a picture that they signed in Season 1, and I had it in my room for a long time. I originally had gotten it for my sister, and then about three years later it’s still in my room and people are like oh, you’ve got a picture of the Supernatural boys and I’m like ‘oh yeah, it’s for Kelsey…’

Lynn: (laughing, because I might have a few pictures…)

Tyler: I was excited to go back but I had no idea what I was in for. I hadn’t followed the show and didn’t realize the level of fandom, but I was very excited, because I knew it was a success and a hit. I showed up and they put me in a silly weiner outfit, and I shook Jensen’s hand when he came up to say hi. And Jared came up to say hi and said ‘oh yeah, you worked with us before, right? Season 1?’ So Jared actually remembered me, and I was like god, you must have met 50,000 people since that day!

Lynn: Seriously

Tyler: Maybe someone hinted him off, I don’t know, but it made me feel very welcome and part of the team in a sense. Because you go into shows 8 seasons in or even 2 weeks in, you feel like a bit of an outsider and you just want to stay under the radar and do your job and not ruffle any feathers, you know? Not really an outsider, I don’t want to be dramatic, but it’s like going to a new school or a new job. You don’t know anyone, you want to get to know them, so you lay low and try to assimilate naturally. But Jared and Jensen both came up to me right off the bat and shook my hand and welcomed me back to set and I was like, screw it, I’m here.

Lynn: I’m not surprised. I’ve interviewed so many people who have guest starred on Supernatural and they have all said something similar. I guess it is unusual when the leads of a show really try to help the guest cast feel comfortable.

Tyler: It’s 15 seconds of their time and it makes a huge impact on everyone else’s day. Another a guy I work with, Jared Keeso, on Letterkenny, I think Americans can find it online. He’s the lead actor, and four years ago I played the younger version of this hockey icon and Jared played the older version. So we bonded over sharing the same character. So when Jared made this tv show Letterkenny, he asked me to come back. And he’s the kind of guy who shows up on set, shakes everyone’s hand, and by day 2 or 3 he knows everyone by name. I can’t tell you how much that does for the crew, when the leads are there shaking everyone’s hand and treat everyone as equals, and that’s something Jared and Jensen have done as well. The show has gone 12 seasons and that’s not by accident, that’s not a mistake. There’s a reason for that, because people still love working on the show.

Lynn: That’s what you mean by ‘flows down from the top.’

Tyler: Exactly. I grew up playing hockey, and they’re the captains of the hockey team. Jared and Jensen are like the team captains, and when the captains are humble and welcoming, the rest of the guys are going to fall into place.

Lynn: Every time I’ve been on set, I’ve been so impressed with how well everyone works together – not just the cast, but the crew, everyone. And how much they seem to enjoy each other – between takes everyone was goofing around and laughing.

Tyler: Oh yeah, yeah. Right on. It’s a well oiled machine, that’s for sure. They know what they’re doing and they really hammer through episodes at this point.

Lynn: Unfortunately in your season 8 episode you were tortured quite a bit.

Tyler: Yeah…

Lynn: How weird is it doing a torture scene like you did, when you’re like all out screaming in agony – I mean, hopefully it wasn’t real agony! Is that one of the harder things to do as an actor?

Tyler: It is tough, but you just gotta let go, fully give in to the situation and the circumstance. You look and you feel more like an idiot, or more insecure, when you go half-assed. It’s like with comedy, I do a fair amount of comedy too. You only look foolish when you don’t fully commit.

Lynn: Well, it certainly looked like you committed!

(From Tyler's twitter)
(From Tyler’s twitter)
(From Tyler's twitter)
(From Tyler’s twitter)

Tyler: It’s like, okay I have these pins in my head in four different points, I’m strapped to a chair, I’ve been stabbed multiple times, I’m thinking I’m in a lot of pain here. So, it was kinda nice as far as the setting and the makeup were concerned – it made it a lot easier to fall into the situation and just sort of let go. I look back on that scene and I’m definitely yelling and I’m definitely snot-nosed and it’s looking very painful, but again, you’ve just gotta commit. My throat was sore and my head hurt a little bit the next day, but I think the scene turned out very well, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Lynn: It really did, I think that’s why I asked, because you totally sold it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a psychologist and we have to be empathic, but those sort of scenes – I know they’re fictional, but they’re still hard for me to watch, when someone does go all in and portrays it in too realistic a way. That scene was hard for me to watch, it was too painful.

Tyler: (laughing) Well, that’s nice to hear.

Lynn: Gee thanks (laughing)

Tyler: I’m so glad I made you uncomfortable.

Lynn: I’m so glad you’re glad, Tyler…

Tyler: Like you say, empathy is something I latch onto as well. As an actor, I feel emotions and I feel for people. So as an actor, that’s what you want to portray. You want people thinking things and feeling things, and even though it was a little uncomfortable for you and you wanted to turn it off, I consider it a job well done.

Lynn: No, in all seriousness, it was.

Tyler: As long as it’s for the right reason, and not for disgusting gore that’s making you want to turn it off, it’s emotion that hopefully you were feeling. And if I can bring that out of you, then I consider that a job well done. Like I watched ‘Room’ a few weeks ago…

Lynn: (groaning) Ohgod I watched that too… it so stuck with me.

Tyler: It’s one of those movies when I turned it off and you just think and think and think. I was with my girlfriend and we just didn’t talk for about 25 minutes afterwards.

Lynn: Same. Same. I watched it with my daughter.

Tyler: Oh, and as a mother, I can imagine.

(We then sidetracked into a long and passionate conversation about a really disturbing film. Check it out if you won’t be too upset).

Lynn: And what was it like working with Mark Sheppard? He was one of the people torturing you.

Tyler: He’s funny. He really likes to play up the A-hole card, even at conventions and stuff, and he is that, sort of non apologetically him, but he’s definitely not an asshole. We’ve had some very nice conversations. On set he was very welcoming and accommodating. He made fun of me of course, like he kept telling me they were gonna leave me strapped into the chair for lunch hour…

Lynn: (laughing)

Tyler: But it was usually him making sure that I was comfortable and that people were there to unstrap me when I needed to be unstrapped. He was also one of the guys who recommended I do some conventions too, he said you’ve done four or five episodes now, your character is kinda cool, you might want to. Nothing came of it for a few years after, but I remember him suggesting it. He’s a very nice man. And I met his son at one of the conventions and we got along quite well – he’s a family man and you’ve gotta love him, he is who he is. There’s no one I’d rather be tortured by than Mark Sheppard.

Lynn: That’s such a nice thing to say. Um, I think. And then you got to be killed by Castiel and if I’m not mistaken, you got to die in Misha’s arms.

(From Tyler's twitter)
(From Tyler’s twitter)

Tyler: I did, I did! And I love to say that at conventions, just to get people going a little bit.

Lynn: Oh, and it does…

Tyler: But yeah, he saves me and then kills me. I’m reading the episode and the whole episode was about saving Samandriel and I’m like, this is awesome, hopefully I can come back. And then cut to Castiel stabbing me in the heart.

Lynn: Typical Supernatural.

Tyler: They spent 35 pages saving me, and then they kill me in one scene.

Lynn: That’s the definition of Supernatural, pretty much. Stomp the heart right out of you.

Tyler: And I think a lot of people like yourself really felt for him in the torture scene and then when they killed him, they were devastated.

Lynn: It was shocking!

Tyler: I love to hear that – not the part of me dying but that the death made an impact.

Lynn: Well by that time, we felt like we knew him, and he was an appealing angel even in that embarrassing outfit. I think actually that helped with the empathy.

Tyler: (laughing) At first I kinda thought it was silly but then I realized it made Samandriel even more endearing.

Lynn: And there are plenty of people who do have to wear a uniform they’d rather not or work a job they’d rather not, so I think a lot of people related to him.

Tyler: Yeah, absolutely, he was selling hot dogs. We always joke that maybe that was Matt Pike (from Bugs) emancipated. He moved his family away and started a hot dog stand and became Alphie…

Lynn: I think it was also shocking because at that point, the audience didn’t really know what was happening with Castiel. The idea that he would do something like that… it was horrifying.

Tyler: He got the orders though, it wasn’t him in his right mind. But still, what a jerk… lol

Lynn: Any other interesting experiences in either season?

Tyler: In the first episode I did… I was never really interested in bugs as a child. I grew up not really afraid of spiders and snakes and things, but I didn’t mess with them the way some other kids did. I had no interest in playing with them. So when I get to set, and I know that I have to be playing with a tarantula, I — they send me over to this white van – that’s not creepy at all – and there were all these bugs…

Lynn: Oh yeah, that’s not creepy at all…

Tyler: And this guy – he was the bug wrangler – and he had me hold onto a tarantula that climbed up my arm onto my head..

Lynn: ARGH

Tyler: He made me comfortable with them, and that was a pretty interesting experience, being someone who never really messed with them in the first place. And then we were put up into the attic for the finale of the episode. And I’m sure the boys have told this story, but Kim Manners, the director, came into the attic and took his protective suit off too and was just in there in his regular clothing like the rest of us cast, and it was one of those moments when the director was definitely on our side. He let it be known that he was there for us and he was a team player. Because me and Jared and Jensen were all there in the attic with just regular clothing on and there were 50,000 bees buzzing around, you know?

Lynn: REAL bees!

Tyler: And you know, they did a sting test on us to make sure we weren’t allergic or anything before we went in there.

Lynn: Ow

Tyler: And then Jared sat on a bee and it stung his butt, which was quite hilarious.

Lynn: Ouch. I can’t believe you didn’t get stung more!

Tyler: I know, I was kinda petrified. But all the bees went to the light. They all just kept flying toward the light. Which made it difficult for the crew, because there were no bugs in the frame and they were all covering the light. So now the lighting had to be adjusted and they had to insert CGI bugs in the final shot.

Dean and Sam in the attic in Bugs
Dean and Sam in the attic in Bugs

Lynn: Bees aren’t very good actors.

Tyler: No. They weren’t getting paid the big bucks…

Lynn: I had a lovely chat with Carrie Genzel from the Bugs episode, did you work with her?

Tyler: We had a short scene in the back yard, where Jensen and Jared show up to inspect the house and Carrie was the agent. She asked if the boys were dating or not.

Lynn: Oh yes, that was the scene where Jensen slaps Jared’s butt!

Tyler: (laughing) That’s right, yeah. It was a short scene, but we’re friends on social media. We know each other in passing as well but we haven’t had a big juicy scene we’ve worked together on.

Lynn: She’s wonderful. She told some good stories about the bugs too. It sounded a little rough.

Tyler: Well, you’ve just gotta commit. If this production is gonna put a tarantula in my hands, I think there’s some accountability that comes with this so I’m just gonna trust them.

Lynn: Though it must take a while to get over the instinctive reaction to having a tarantula on your head.

Tyler: Yeah, and it was hairy and it was nasty.

Lynn: This is why I’m not an actor.

(everyone is laughing)

Lynn: I had the pleasure of meeting your dad at a convention. What is your dad’s view, after going to a convention with you, going way back to that long ago day when you got the call from Supernatural and left work? It sort of comes full circle with him coming to a convention.

Tyler at Vegascon
Tyler at Vegascon

Tyler: He loved it! He has always been very supportive, but he just doesn’t know a lot about the industry. He’s only been to set maybe twice with me. So the convention was very eye-opening for him, and seeing the number of people who support Supernatural… And he was even asked to sign a few autographs for a few fans, so that was great. He was my right hand man for the weekend. Then we turned it into a father-son trip to New York, and we went to some football games and some jazz bars and had some dinners, so it was a great experience. To see all that come to fruition was pretty cool for him.

Lynn: It must be an incredible thing to see that your son has fans, that people are lining up for autographs and photos. Of course as a parent you think your children are the coolest ever, but this is other people.

Tyler: He’s a pretty humble guy, and he just sort of took it for face value, but he was very excited. You sort of equate fans with social media, and he doesn’t see the tweets I get or send, because it’s not usually a discussion we have. I don’t go hey dad, look at this fan mail I got.

Lynn: (laughing) What are you up to right now?

Tyler: Well, Season 2 of Letterkenny is coming out later this year, and also a TV show for Hulu called ‘Shut Eye’, starring Jeffrey Donavan and Kadee Strickland. That premieres on December 7 – I have a lovely recurring role on that show too.

Lynn: So fans can see a lot of you coming up! Anything else?

Tyler: I’m also doing a movie next month with Kevin Bacon called ‘Story of a Girl’. His wife, Kyra Sedgwick, is directing.

Lynn: Wow, you’re a busy man – and it’s all good stuff! A lot to look forward to. Before I let you go, anything else you’d like to add?

Tyler: I don’t mean to sound sappy, but I just want to thank the fandom for welcoming me into this community with open arms. I receive nothing but positive tweets and Instagram posts and I’m very thankful to have been welcomed and also to contribute in my own way to the community. I’ve made some great friends (like Adam and Chad and Osric), I’d like to do more conventions, it’s a great opportunity to connect to people. I feel like new experiences make me a better person and a better actor.

Lynn: I hope you can, you’re great onstage.

tyler johnston vegas

Tyler: I’m trying to be more honest and truthful and real, not deep dark secrets, but tell people I love them. And that is something I really admire about the fandom, that people are who they are and they love and support each other through good and bad situations. I’ve seen people come to each other’s aid for no reason other than to be supportive. I love the support among the fans.

Lynn: It’s pretty extraordinary, the community that love of this show has created.

Tyler reiterated that he loves interacting with fans, so don’t hesitate to reach out to him on social media or to leave him a message here in the comments. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Samandriel back one day – this is Supernatural, after all! Until then, look for Tyler in season 2 of Letterkenny, and in ‘Shut Eye’ and ‘Story Of A Girl’!

Read more from the cast of Supernatural in our books,
Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls and Fan Phenomena
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3 thoughts on “From Bugs to Dying in Castiel’s Arms: Tyler Johnston Talks Supernatural

  • ooooh I have to mute Alfie screaming every time that ep comes up. ugh. so horrible I just choke up. I was so upset. He was such a sweet-heart. :sobs: Tyler did such a good job, I sobbed the first time it aired. Thank you for this interview.

  • I was very sad when Samandriel died. Supernatural is my favorite show and his interview was one of the reasons why I love the show, the things he talked about. As for social media, I haven’t had J2 or Misha like or reply to my comments, but I’ve been lucky to have had several actors from SPN to like them. Mark Sheppard, David Haydn Jones, Matt Cohen, Sebastian, Rachel Miner, a few others and even Tyler himself like a tweet or some more than once. That’s nice to see and why I’m in this fandom.

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