Today is a special day in the Supernatural fandom – the birthday of Rob Benedict! There are few people who are more integral to the SPNFamily than Rob. His character, at first seemingly the mild mannered Chuck, became so much more as Rob himself became a fan favorite – first a stand in for Eric Kripke himself and later, quite literally, God. Albeit not exactly a benevolent version. The part Rob has played in this show has been as important as the role suggests, and he’s been there right through until the end in the last few episodes.
It’s not only the part he’s played on the show itself that makes Rob so important to this fandom and this family, though. Early on in the now long history of Supernatural conventions, Rob brought his talented band, Louden Swain, to play at the conventions on Saturday night. I remember going to one of the first concerts and bringing Richard Speight, Jr. with us; we all sat there going WOW. (I feel like that was part of the spark of something else great and memorable in Supernatural history that eventually became and now is again Kings of Con). Having a band like Louden Swain made the conventions so much more fun, and did their part to keep the cons going and the fanbase passionate.
Those Saturday night concerts became special in a deeper way after Rob had a sudden stroke at the Toronto Supernatural convention in 2013. It was the closeness of the Supernatural cast that saved his life that night and the love of the SPNFamily who helped him fight his way back. Rob wrote a heartfelt, incredibly powerful chapter that takes you moment by moment through that night and the long recovery that followed in Family Don’t End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Changed Lives. I remember when he sent me the first draft, how I read it with my heart in my throat, even though I knew he was okay – it was that compelling a chapter and his story is that compelling. That year, the Saturday Night Special, while Rob couldn’t front the band, carried on without him – in his honor. When he returned to Louden Swain and the SNS, there were tears of joy and gratitude that were unstoppable. We had all learned, when we almost lost him, that Rob and the band are truly the heart and soul of this SPNFamily. And we would never forget it.
I’ve had many long chats with Rob as we’ve gone on this journey with a little show on the CW that turned into so much more. In a weird way, I feel like Rob’s journey with Supernatural and my own are oddly intertwined. I was on set the same day he was on set for the first time – introduced as Chuck in ‘The Monster At The End Of This Book’. I sat there and watched him film some of his first scenes with Jared and Jensen, little suspecting that he would become such a big part of the show and the fandom and my own life. I was on set again in Season 11 when Rob was back on the show – I didn’t know at the time that he would be there and squealed so loud when he got out of the van to say hello, “ROBBBBBB!” that Jensen reminded me “hey, I’m here too.” Anyone who knows me at all knows that is REALLY saying something! (This is not me dissing Jensen, I knew he was there but Rob was a wonderful surprise).
I’ve been so thrilled to watch Rob’s success over the years — with Louden Swain and in so many acting roles, in Kings of Con the show, and now on Kings of Con the podcast.
I’ve traveled across the country to see Louden Swain play live more than once. I am more likely to have Louden Swain playing in my car than just about anything else, with Radio Co. the other top contender.
I am forever grateful that Rob and Billy and Mike played at the book release party for Family Don’t End With Blood at the Study in LA – and Rob did a reading from the chapter he wrote, to my great delight (as you can see…)
Like so many Supernatural fans, our love of Rob Benedict and Louden Swain has enriched our lives in countless ways.
Clearly I’m a big Rob fan, as most of us are. But my partner in crime, photographer extraordinaire Kim Prior, is a Rob girl through and through. So here are her happy birthday wishes for Rob, along with of course some very pretty pictures…
Listen, I could probably write an entire book about all the wonderful things about Rob Benedict… and while many of you might appreciate that book, I should probably keep this short and sweet instead. I’ll start with a few of my favorite photos.
The thing about Rob is, well, he’s Real. He is real, and genuine, and sincere. It’s the way that he brings his true self to his podcasts with Richard Speight, Jr. – from his full belly laugh at the things that are said, to the way that he gets frustrated when he stumbles over his words or can’t find the right words to explain something – it’s like eavesdropping on an actual conversation between long time friends. It’s the way he really listens to the questions during his meet & greets at conventions, and in the way he puts thought into his answers, in the way he gives us his truth. It’s those little moments on stage during a convention, when he is listening so intently to someone else speak, the flash of a sparkle in his eye when someone is telling a funny story and he is enjoying their moment with them. It’s the little wave that he gives to a fan as he sings during the Vendor Room Jam. It’s the hug that he gives during photo ops, as if each and every one one of us are an old friend that he hasn’t seen in awhile. In every way, in every moment, Rob is sincere and genuine and Real.
That continues as Rob is onstage performing during the Saturday Night Specials, and at Louden Swain concerts. He is up there, singing, playing his guitar, performing – and pouring every ounce of himself into it. I can feel his heartbreak as he sings “She Waits” or “Rock Song.” I can feel his peace as he steps away from the mic and listens to us sing “Hallelujah.” I can feel his joy as he challenges us in singing “This is How” back to him.
I have said this before – watching Rob during a Louden Swain show, whether at a convention or at another venue, it’s a lot like being at an amusement park. It’s like the thrill of a roller coaster, taking me upward and upward, filling me with anticipation, then speeding downward and sideways and sending the energy and excitement coursing through my veins… and then in the next song, Rob can take me on a slow ride down a lazy river and soothe my soul. And yes, all of that is part of being a Showman, a great performer… but it is also a tribute to Rob and his willingness to pour himself into the performance, to allow himself to be so completely free up there on the stage, to give everything he’s got to us.
It has been awhile since they ended a Saturday Night Special with the song “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends.” First, it’s a great song. But also, it was the perfect ending in that it really brought home just how genuine Rob is – as he looks at the other cast members on stage, those wordless glances between them that say more than any words ever could… as he opens his eyes and looks out into the crowd, as if to say we’re all in this together… Rob is just so real. So human. And right now, perhaps at a time when we all need it, I find hope in that.
And of course, never forget this:
Now that Supernatural is coming to an end, I sort of feel like I’ve known Rob Benedict forever – from the ‘before times’ as it were. At one of my very first chats with Rob, we talked about how Supernatural wasn’t yet known by most people. It was still the little show that was flying under the radar, but some of us – Rob included – already knew how special it was.
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.”
Many years later, as the little show that brought us together prepares to air its final episodes, that’s still 100% true.
Happy Birthday, Rob Benedict! Thank you for being right here with us.
— Lynn (and Kim!)
You can find both the books written by the
actors and fans of Supernatural at the linked
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3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Rob!”
I love Rob Benedict. He is so genuine. I met him at the convention after party for the showing of Wayward sisters. I asked him about his health and we formed a connection. My husband has also had a stroke so I identified with what he said. He is a lovely, caring man. Happy Birthday indeed
He is indeed. I hope your husband is doing okay too.
Happy birthday Rob, one beautiful soul who knows how to win hearts by just being himself, a talented actor, amazing singer and a courageous man.