Today is a special day because it’s the birthday of a special person – actor, singer, writer and just plain awesome guy Rob Benedict!
I’ve written many times about how Rob is the heart and soul of the Supernatural conventions, and it’s just more true every year. Once Rob and Louden Swain became the house band, and Rob and Rich became the con hosts, the Creation Supernatural conventions turned into something that no other con has been able to duplicate. So much of the energy and the positive vibe and the pure FUN of a con is due to Rob and Rich and their boundless enthusiasm. Didn’t get more than an hour of sleep the night before thanks to too much partying with fellow fans? Don’t worry, Rob and the band will wake you up and get you in the mood for celebrating in no time.
Louden Swain has become our favorite band for many Supernatural fans. Sometimes I think about how sad it would be if Rob had never been on Supernatural or ended up coming to conventions or brought the band with him, because then I never would have discovered Louden Swain’s incredible music. Tragic! The Saturday Night Special is often my favorite part of the con, because it’s the time when we all come together and feel most like a family – the passion in that ballroom on a Saturday night is infectious, lifting your spirits and setting your soul singing. So much of that is due to Rob.
He’s more than the front man for an awesome band – he’s the linchpin that pulls us all together. When Rob had a stroke at the Toronto convention several years ago and had to give up conventions while he worked on recovering, we all felt his loss like a palpable thing. Not just fans, but his fellow cast members, missed Rob and his energy and kindness and sincerity – he’s never shied away from expressing his emotions, both in song and in words, and that has made the SNS the powerful emotional experience that it is. When Rob was gone, the SNS became all about keeping that emotional energy alive while we crossed our fingers and waited for Rob to come back and take his place at the mic. When he did? That concert was a ten-tissue-pack experience for everyone, on both sides.
You can see how much Rob brings out the emotions in his fellow cast members too – if someone is gonna get a hug or a kiss, it’s gonna be Rob. That warmth translates right down into the audience, so if you’re sitting there or watching from afar onscreen, you can feel it too. When Rob holds up his hands in a heart after the entire ballroom has held aloft glowing blue lights in support of him while he sings ‘She Waits’, you know he means it.
I’ve had quite a few occasions to sit down and chat with Rob over the past decade, and have enjoyed every one. I was on set while he filmed his very first episode of Supernatural. Little did I know what an important role that guest star would play in the future of the show and the fandom. I was on set again in Season 11 when he returned as Chuck, and by that time I knew what a privilege it was to watch him act opposite Jensen Ackles, both of them so comfortable and in tune with each other. We’ve had some one-on-one chats over the years that I thoroughly enjoyed, and some tandem chats with Richard Speight Jr (which invariably ended up being hilarious, as you can well imagine).
In one of our very first conversations, we talked about how Supernatural was not well known by people outside the fandom.
Rob: It’s funny too, when you talk to some people in the industry, it’s just not on people’s radars.
Lynn: I know, it’s weird
Rob: Very weird. But in a way I almost feel like this thing we have here almost thrives on being, you know, like we’re all sort of a band of outsiders.
Lynn: I know what you mean
Rob: And even the actors get that. They’re on a show that is that. So they feel that too, and we’re all in this together, and we’re all going, “at least we’ve got each other.”
It’s that kind of sentiment, way back before the Saturday Night Special even existed, that made Rob so important to the cons and to the Supernatural fandom becoming a family.
It was a tremendous privilege having Rob write a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood. I knew he had a story to tell that would be powerful, of having a stroke at a Supernatural convention and fighting his way back to recovery. He hadn’t, however, divulged the details of what happened that evening in Toronto, and it was asking a lot to invite him to do so. I’m incredibly honored that Rob felt safe enough to tell the whole story in his own words and entrust it to me for the book – if you’ve read it, you know that he takes you through what happened moment by moment. It reads like a suspense novel, you turn the pages with your heart in your mouth, not knowing what will happen next. Even knowing that the story has a happy ending didn’t keep me from biting my nails!
The whole point of Family Don’t End With Blood is to inspire people who’ve faced similar challenges to keep fighting, and Rob’s chapter accomplishes that. We didn’t know just how important that would be until we started hearing stories of fans who read Rob’s chapter and then realized that they or someone they loved was having a stroke! Rob’s chapter has literally saved lives, and also inspired many people to keep fighting no matter what the challenge is that they’re facing.
We are so glad you’re here, Rob Benedict.
Thank you for making us laugh at cons and on the show and in Kings of Con.
Thank you for making us cry with your powerful chapter and your amazing performances.
And thank you for inspiring us to tackle our own challenges the way you’ve tackled yours.
You can trip down memory lane with me and read some of our other chats with Rob over the years here:
Beautiful photos here by Kim Prior, who is a BIG Rob Benedict fan. Actually that’s an understatement. No seriously, that’s a serious understatement…
Happy birthday, Rob!
You can read Rob’s powerful chapter (along
with many of the other Supernatural actors)
in Family Don’t End With Blood – links on
the home page!