I’ve known Matt Cohen a long time. I was there for his first Supernatural convention a decade ago – I remember turning to my friend Kathy as we watched Matt try to hug every single fan he met and saying “this guy is a keeper.” I was thrilled when his reception at the cons ensured he would be invited back, eventually becoming one of the Karaoke Kings and an integral part of the Supernatural conventions all over the world. Matt was one of the first Supernatural actors I invited to write a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood, because I knew he would have something inspiring and moving to say. I was right. The chapter he wrote is candid, insightful and very personal – it describes the way being on Supernatural has changed his life and how his relationships with his fellow cast members has changed him as well. It’s one of the chapters that makes me smile and tear up simultaneously (like all the best Supernatural episodes).
I was thrilled when he returned to the show again to play John Winchester, and perhaps even more thrilled when he became part of the final season of the show – not as an actor this time, but as a director. By then he had already made his own short film, Mama Bear, which he had directed and proved just how talented he was behind the camera, not just in front of it. I loved that film, so I couldn’t wait to see what he did with Supernatural.
I waited until his episode, Gimme Shelter, had aired last month, then we caught up by phone.
Matt: It’s nice to hear your voice.
Lynn: It’s been a long time.
Matt: Too long as far as I’m concerned!
(I think the entire SPNFamily feels that way at this point – we all miss each other! We caught up with family stuff, and how his son Macklin is doing with online learning (great) and then dug into the episode.)
Lynn: I was super excited that you got to direct an episode before the show ends. It seems so right and so special.
Matt: It certainly was special and I feel lucky. This show has given me everything at this point, and for it to give me my first hour of prime time TV directorial debut? I agree with you, it felt right. I felt like I was at home because I knew these people were going to do everything they could to not have me fail.
Lynn: For sure. You’re family.
Matt: And to me, that made me work harder than I’ve worked on anything my whole life, to make sure I could get them out on time and get everyone home and rested and then back to my set again and we could just knock this one out and keep on moving. And that’s exactly how it went. It was a special experience with the most remarkable crew I’ve ever worked with. They were there for me and I was there for them and it was just beautiful. Every day was emotional for me. When I wrapped every single day, I felt that this was part of my eight day goodbye to the show. And it was difficult, you know? I tried not to cry every night.
Lynn: I can’t even imagine how emotional it was for you, after all this time and this being such an incredible, life-changing journey. This was one of those quintessential Supernatural episodes that has a little bit of everything – humor, excitement, and emotion. All of them came together, but it was a complex episode. The emotional moments are probably my favorite things about the show – in this episode, like the scene when Castiel talks about his journey – finding a family, becoming a dad.
Lynn: It struck me that is so similar to what you wrote about in your chapter of Family Don’t End With Blood, about your own journey finding yourself and becoming a dad too. Misha [Collins] was so good in that scene. How did you feel about the episode’s story?
Matt: I read the script that Davy Perez wrote and felt like, okay, I’m gonna go for the horror stuff here of course, and I’m sure a lot of it will get cut out because of network TV. A lot of the gore factor did get cut out, but I was very happy with what the editors and execs did for the final cut.
Lynn: (laughing) Yeah, that was definitely enough horror for me…
Matt: As far as the emotional scenes, Misha and really everybody – I didn’t have a Jared [Padalecki] heavy episode, Sam wasn’t as much in my episode, and that’s okay, I know the boys have their schedule worked out and it just happened to be a lighter episode for him and Jensen. With Misha, I kinda pushed and prodded him. I said look man, I wanna bring a little soap opera into sci fi, and this is the perfect episode to do it. I’m gonna play it with very very tight shots on your face, and I don’t know what the last five episodes of the show will look like, but I do know that this is my chance to make you guys look like movie stars and shoot you like movie stars on the 50 foot screen. And to me, that is from the chin to the eyebrows. I wanna see their faces tell the story without them having to do so much with the words.
Lynn: And they all can do that so incredibly well.
Matt: There are so many love stories in this episode, as there always are in Supernatural. You have the Jack and Cas love story, you have the love story between Dean and Amara, which is remarkable and is passionate in different ways for different reasons. Then you have the love story of Amara and God, and the pastor and the community center and those people’s love for God, and then the daughter had a completely different relationship with God. And I thought, I just have to let these actors act. The hard part for me was casting. I had to cast a bunch of guest stars – and as you saw, they were all tremendous.
Lynn: They were. The casting in this show is always incredible.
Matt: They were all well versed and remarkably talented, and I love each and every one of them. I would work with all those actors again in my career for sure. I spoke about this last week with Variety – I very much wanted to get the hell out of the way of what I knew was going to be capable of being pulled out of these actors. Misha and I talked, and I didn’t have to tell him very much. He knew this was a heavy episode for him and Alex [Calvert]. I think Misha is a very very unique human being.
Lynn: He is, definitely.
Matt: If nothing else, I know how he plays Cas and I wanted him to be affected by all the stuff that was going on. Dean sent him on this kinda blowing smoke journey and he’s going to fight this crime that doesn’t seem that important. But he needed to go on this journey with Jack, and that’s what it was. It wasn’t so much let’s go solve the crime, it was let’s go together and figure ourselves out.
Lynn: Yes, you could see the moment Cas was like no, we’re doing this, we’re going to help these people.
Matt: And during that, Cas and Jack witnessed how some people on the outside look at God, and how God may be looking down on them at that very moment. I really wanted to just let Misha act. There were several times where I had him and Alex, especially in the truck driving back to the bunker, where I just would not call cut. I irritated both of those actors into a performance by not calling cut!
Lynn: But that was such a great scene, both of them with so much emotion, Jack finally telling the truth and the way it slowly dawned on Cas, his horror, his heartbreak.
Matt: It was a very long scene, a wordy scene, an emotional scene, and they finished it and I refused to call cut and said we’re rolling, do it again from top! And I did that about three times. Some of that anger and those different emotions coming out of Misha may have been towards Matt and he was just trying to channel them into Castiel for Jack, but it didn’t matter to me.
Matt: I said I’m gonna let this happen, I know this guy can deliver. And I wanted to see him be – you know, these guys are movie stars to me.
Lynn: They are, they really are.
Matt: I really see these guys and girls on the show as movie stars, and I wanted to look at them as movie stars in my episode and if nobody else was to be satisfied, for me to be satisfied. I wanted these shots and these faces after 15 seasons — what do they look like now and what story are they telling now? With just their faces. I let the emotions run, I let the guys build their moments.
Lynn: I really watch this show for the emotions, and you really let that come through.
Matt: And I let Emily [Swallow] come in there and told her to do nothing — but do everything. Let your eyes do every single thing they want to do. Don’t control them, don’t do anything for the camera. Just do it. Emily and I have a very good relationship and it was a cakewalk letting her and Jensen [Ackles] sit down and explore each other like traditional good acting in movies and tv shows let you do. You sit down and you’re in for the ride, you buckle in, you’re trying to have an experience from the other actor. And Emily and Jensen were serving up moments to each other to slap back and forth, it was a game of tennis.
Matt: And the same with Alex and Misha. It was beautiful and I just wanted to let it unfold. I was really selfish in the fact that those tight shots and still moments were really for me. I wanted to see the acting make me moved, not the camera.
Lynn: Well, that really worked. I said in my review, I used caps from that scene in the truck with Jack and Castiel, and it’s just want you said, his face tells the story, it all comes through. It was a very beautiful episode, it reminded me a lot of the early seasons. I remember sitting down to chat with the director of photography, Serge [Ladouceur], way back in Season 3, and he was telling us how he lights the actors. That they’re so expressive and so beautiful, he said, “I can shoot them like they shoot beautiful women, like movie stars.”
Matt: And I agree with you and with Serge. Serge and I sat there, and Brad [Creasser] and everyone we were working with, and we kinda just got out of the way. There were a couple of funny camera set ups that we were trying to work in but like you said, it was one of those episodes that reminded you of the beginning. It had a lot of information and a lot of heart and when you have all these heartfelt moments… Trust me, I’m the first one who wants to do a tricky camera move and do something crazy and weird, but this was the first time for me directing something that was kinda absent of all the action. We had a little bit, but coming off of Mama Bear, where I was trying to create action within not action, and now I get this episode and I’m thinking oh, they’re gonna give me some fight scenes or a car chase or whatever and they didn’t, and you can only really do what you know.
Lynn: That’s true, and I adored what you did with Mama Bear and the nonstop action, but this was a very different episode to direct. And it really was beautiful.
Matt: I was there for three years over at GH [General Hospital] and I learned a lot there. I learned that good actors can make a scene that’s maybe mediocre much better if you just let them do the thing that they’re good at doing. Davy Perez wrote such a strong episode that I was worried that oh boy, I hope all these beats aren’t overplayed by the actors, because that’s something I do all the time as an actor. You wanna overplay these moments because you’re like oh I wanna make a meal of it! And they didn’t. It’s no exaggeration when I tell you that everybody delivered, Jared included. And when I say Jared delivered, he got in and he got out and he did everything that I wanted him to do. He was collaborating with me, he didn’t play any pranks, he didn’t rip my script up.
Lynn: (laughing) I’m not surprised – the mutual support on that set is as legendary as the pranks!
Matt: He was there for me – and you know, he and I are guys that mess with each other! He was there to see me succeed, Jensen was there to see me succeed. Alex and Misha were doing everything, showing up for me time and time again and then blowing me out of the water. And then my guest cast — everyone was there to just deliver. I don’t wanna discredit my directing, but this episode was about the actors and their performances and they made me look good.
Lynn: Well, you also really brought that out and made those critical decisions of when to get out of the way or how to shoot this or when to keep on going – those are the instincts that make you a good director, right? When I saw Mama Bear, I thought, whoa, Matt really can direct. And I know Richard Speight, Jr. said that too. I chatted with him about directing a little while ago and he said that you came up and shadowed him. What did you take from that?
Matt: Oh man, Richard and I, it’s crazy, we haven’t seen each other in over a year. We’ve talked, but I haven’t seen him or Rob or anyone. I missed a couple of cons at the end of the year because of work things and I had to cancel a con because I was sick so all I’ve done is direct Supernatural. Had I not shadowed Richard, had I shadowed anybody else, I don’t think I would’ve been able to do what I did as confidently and as conscious of everybody else’s feelings and emotions. It’s Bob Singer and Richard who are responsible for me having this conversation right now, for me being on that show and everything it’s given me. But Richard in particular — he made mistakes and he told me and then he showed me the mistakes. He gave me assignments, he looked over me, he pushed me. I gave him blocking and a shot list and he asked, why would you do that and why not this? We’d go back and forth after he would direct a scene and he’d go c’mon, show me what you’ve got, how would you have done it? And that is pressure. I don’t know what anyone who’s reading this article understands about being directed by a professional director, but when they ask you, oh you just saw me do that scene, how would you do it? What you really wanna say is, I’d do it just like you, because you nailed it!
Lynn: (laughing) Understandable.
Matt: But you can’t. Before Rich started the scene, I was required to make my shot list and make my blocking and then I would put it on the chair and we don’t look at it until after he’s done and we go okay, I would have done this, why would you have done that? Sometimes he liked my stuff a little better — and most of the time his was infinitely better!
Matt: Richard’s my brother, he cares about me and I care about him and I want to see him succeed and he wants to see me succeed. It’s almost more pressure on him.
Matt: Everyone at Supernatural gave Richard these beautiful opportunities and he rose to the occasion and conquered them brilliantly for all of us loving fans and loving actors and everybody involved. So for him to go hey Bob, hey Jared, hey Jensen, Matt can do this — I mean, that’s like the equivalent of you being in the mob and going up to John Gotti or whoever and going, look I vouch for this guy, he won’t do anything wrong and he’ll take care of you. I can’t let Richard down, I can’t let anybody on the team down. And when you have that type of pressure, you have no other choice but to rise up and do what you have to do. I’ve been given these golden opportunities, I’m gonna try as hard as I can to succeed and deliver. I don’t know what anyone expected from me, I don’t concern myself with that, but I hope to give them something more than what they expected. Whether I did or not, I don’t know. I’m waiting to have a call from Mr. Singer this week! (laughing)
Lynn: I feel good about that call.
Matt: I’m sweating in my chair thinking about it, but the fan response has been beautiful, the actor response has been beautiful, everybody seems to have liked it. I talked with Kevin Parks, the first AD, and everyone was happy with how the episode turned out.
Lynn: That’s saying something, since Kevin has been there from the start pretty much.
Matt: That being said, I’m not happy with it. There’s a lot I would have changed, done differently, now that I know what I know now versus what I knew at the beginning of this year. I’m constantly studying and I’m gearing up to direct some other stuff here so I’m constantly practicing and watching and learning. So I would have done some things differently but I’m not unhappy. I’m not unhappy because I got the thing I was hoping to get the most, and that was performance. Yes, I could’ve dressed up the camera movement a little, if I’m being honest with myself, I can always get better and I should be able to critique myself and also take your critique, the fans’ critique, make a decision and grow from it. I’m hoping Bob likes it and that he gives me his honest opinion about it. So going back – you know how I tangent when I’m drinking coffee…
Lynn: (laughing) Yes, I do – I’ve got a latte too, so it’s okay.
Matt: So going back to shadowing Richard, it was the single most fortunate opportunity a young director could have in his career, being a shadow to a guy who wants you to win as bad as he wants to win himself. And for that I am indebted to Richard and his family forever. There’s nothing I won’t do for him. I called him last week, like I did many weeks over quarantine, and said hey I’m about to get some movies made as a director and it’s looking good that I might have a deal happening and I’m throwing your name around a lot to be creative producer or a second unit director. I just wanted to let you know that whatever I do, I’m not gonna let you not be involved in it.
Lynn: I love that so much, how supportive you all are of each other.
Matt: That’s what we want. I wanna work with people like that, a guy who wants me to win and I want him to win and therefore we’re gonna infect everyone with that winning mentality of, you know what? Take a risk. You’re never gonna know if you can do it unless you take a risk. Rich brings that out and I bring that out of Rich a little bit. Moving forward, Richard and I are gonna have a long career working together because we’re the same drill sergeant. We wanna sit down, do the homework, have the answer to whatever question. Then when we get on the set we can work from a creative mind instead of like a school mind. We’ve done our homework at home, so when we’re on the set, we’re free and wide open. We also have an answer to everybody’s question. Those are the biggest lessons that Rich taught me. There’s something you can never say on a film set as a director, and that’s ‘I don’t know’. You’re the guy that knows everything. Everything in that 40 or 50 page script, ins and outs and upside downs, what color, what shape, what everything. You have to think what the head of every department thinks, two weeks ahead of when they think it, so you can answer their questions two weeks later when they come to you. Rich taught me to be prepared, do the homework, and so did Jensen.
Lynn: I was just gonna say that, because I’ve heard Jensen talk about this too – it’s like this developmental process. Kim Manners passed it to Jensen, and Jensen and Bob passed it to Richard, and to you… it’s like this wonderful legacy.
Matt: And to bring up Kim, I don’t remember who said this to me, but somebody said that the way I call ‘Action” across the room reminded them of Kim Manners and it nearly brought me to tears.
Lynn: Oh no, that’s gonna happen to me right now…
Matt: Whether they meant it or just said it to make me feel better, it didn’t matter. I didn’t know Kim personally, but I know what he meant to that show and how he defined what that show is. Every time I move a dolly and I say all right, Brad Creasser, we’re gonna do this with the dolly, I think of Kim and the cool dolly moves he used to do. It would almost be like an unthinkable dolly move and he’d just carry it out. And he would very easily explain exactly what he wanted to do and that’s the thing of a great director. You can have all the coolest ideas in the world but if you can’t tell somebody and make them understand how to get that idea across and why you’re going with that idea, that image, then you can’t direct. Because it’s all about communication as a director. I have to communicate to everyone what I want and then all these different minds that are different than mine have to figure out what my mind is thinking and come together and do this whole thing.
Lynn: That’s such a fascinating description of what it really entails to direct.
Matt: So yeah, Jensen would come up while I was up in the director’s office in the studio and he’d make sure I was working. I had a lot of people looking over me AND after me (laughing)
Lynn: Supportive family members, for sure!
Matt: People I didn’t know would talk to Richard, and then Richard would call me at the end of the day every couple days and say oh so I hear you’re doing this or that or you’re doing good or you’re doin’ bad or you’re making the day or not making the day and I’m like, you know what? (cracking up)
Lynn: (laughing) Sounds about right.
Matt: He wasn’t just sitting back, Rich was there as any great teacher or instructor would be — on the race course. He took me through the cones on the practice course, but here I am on the race course and we’re getting ready to wave the green flag, and guess who’s standing front and center on top of the wall at my pit stop? That’s Richard, and he’s my damn crew chief and he’s there to make sure the wheels don’t fall off the race car and it doesn’t run out of fuel. He was there endlessly and I asked him stupid questions, I asked him creative questions, and he was like an angel on my shoulder. I owe him for the rest of my life. If we ever get back to cons he may never need a chair, he may just sit on my back for the rest of our friendship.
Lynn: I’m kinda looking forward to seeing that…
Matt: Seriously. He gave me that much and he’s always given me that much. I’m forever indebted to him. I love the man.
Lynn: I know you do, and I know it’s mutual. I talked to him a little while ago before you directed and he was so excited that you were gonna direct. It’s a real genuine thing and you’re right, it’s going to transcend this show, these friendships. You mentioned Emily Swallow — she said that you guys had an unexpected snow squall and there was a moment there when Jensen literally had snowflakes caught on his ridiculous eyelashes and it was so distracting that nobody could act.
Matt: (laughing) Yes! I only had Jared and Jensen and Emily for the last couple of days of the shoot. So of course the boys, like they do, they’re with the car, and of course there’s gonna be a gas station somewhere involved in the script.
Lynn: Of course. Quintessential Supernatural.
Matt: Well, during prep my weather was perfect. Blue skies, beautiful cold Vancouver winter, sun shining. And every single day of my shoot — was rain sleet snow hail!
Lynn: Oh no!
Matt: You name it, I got the introduction of welcome to Supernatural Vancouver directing 101 weather! It came in, it punched me in the face, it kicked me in the shin, it was crazy!
Lynn: Trial by fire…
Matt: You have all these hopes as a director. I’m gonna do this scene, it’s gonna turn out fine, then we’ll move on to the next scene. But that is NEVER how it goes! There are always 50 speed bumps in every scene to get over. I got that scene set up rather quick, I’d thought it would be very easy coverage, I’d shoot it in two directions, not making it very complicated. Here come the boys, they come down to the set, which is an old gas station that the art department and production had turned into a beautiful set for me. And they hop out of the car – and it starts to snow!
Matt: And I’m like all right, I guess we’re gonna shoot this one in the snow…
Lynn: I guess so…
Matt: And this is their first scene in my episode! I’m like, boys, what’s up? And we’re hugging each other like we’re at a convention and then I’m like all right enough enough, now it’s time to work, and then the snow comes. I’ve got the beautiful beautiful Emily Swallow, and she’s got her hair done and she’s in the beautiful outfit and then it starts snowing. So I thought well, we’ll get whatever coverage we’ll need to get and I don’t remember what side we were on. So we got like half the coverage of one side and the snow picked up. And when I say picked up, I mean we had to stop shooting, move all the camera equipment, move all the tarps that we had been trying to cover things and over the actor’s heads and hiding the camera, and Jensen is like all right, let’s just do it, let’s just knock it out. And I kid you not. A snowflake, like it was perfect, like it was drawn out of a book…
Matt: And of course it was, because any snowflake that blesses the face of Jensen Ackles is gonna be a perfect snowflake and this thing, in the middle of the scene and it’s a pretty tight shot, they might have it in the outtakes, who knows – this thing falls on Jensen’s eye and it catches in his six foot eyelash…
Lynn: (doubled over laughing)
Matt: And it just – it’s the size of like a quarter or maybe even a half dollar – and it’s so big and the camera is tight on Jensen over Emily, so Emily is like looking at it and Jensen is still talking! I think he kinda blinked in the take and it doesn’t fall off, it stays there like a white eyepatch on his eye…
Matt: And he’s like staying in actor moment and then he’s like, I can’t do this, get this thing off, and we go again, but this was one of the many things that happened. Like that snow falling on Emily’s hair was so beautiful but then you turn around and see it on Jensen and Jared, who’ve been standing there for a half hour and those guys are soaking wet.
Matt: It wasn’t fun for anyone but we got it done pretty quick and were able to move on. But that’s how it is – plan for shooting the movie, they say. Which means plan all your extra shots and everything you wanna get when it comes to directing, and when you get to set, hopefully you’ll get something. You won’t have all day, all week, all month, you gotta shoot what you can and that’s what’s going on tv, so don’t screw it up.
Lynn: You didn’t! Okay, another weird question. I laughed out loud when Amara said that Dean had a distinctive musk. I think anyone who goes to cons or watches con videos has heard the ‘blame it on the musk’ bit, so that was really funny. Did that occur to you too?
Matt: (laughing) 100%. I gave Emily and Jensen very little acting direction. The one thing I did say was Emily, and I don’t remember my exact words, but when you say that line, you’ve got a very distinctive musk, to Jensen, then she says, I’m hungry, you’re hungry. And I said, why don’t you do me a favor? I’m not gonna give you a line reading because that would be disrespectful, but when you say you’re hungry to Jensen, make it because of his musk.
Matt: Like almost like using some sexual tension but I didn’t actually want to tease sexual tension, I just thought it was funny and made Emily appear strong, like super fiercely strong, like you’ve got a distinctive musk, I’m hungry, you’re hungry, and I just thought it was so funny.
Lynn: What I liked about the humor in this episode is it was never over the top, it was subtle. Like everything Alex Calvert did playing off Jack’s naivete, I laughed out loud at those scenes.
Matt: Yeah, thank you for saying that. Alex is a real talent. I love him and wanna use him in whatever I can because to me he’s a young River Phoenix and I just feel like he can do anything. He’s got this beautifully unique character in his face that I find extremely interesting to watch. So shout out to Al Cal because he’s one of my favorite humans and a very talented guy.
Lynn: He really is and also super nice. The first time he came to the WB party at Comic Con, we sat and talked for the longest time. Very grounded, very nice guy.
Matt: He’s an exceptional human being just like the rest of the humans who are involved with that show. He’s a perfect fit. He’ll be SPN family forever.
Lynn: Agreed. Okay, last question of my weirdly specific questions.
Matt: No, I like them! It’s me and you, we’re on a different level. Even though I want other journalists to be my therapist, they’re not. You are, and you can decipher what I’m saying to you and understand. So ask away.
Lynn: Did you know when you cast Steve Bacic that he’d been Dr. Sexy MD on the show and that was an iconic character on Supernatural?
Matt: To be honest, no, I didn’t know Steve had been on the show. I quickly found out, I think Jim Michaels told me immediately. I want this to be in the article – it was very important to Davy Perez, he wrote a diverse script and the characters were meant to be diverse, so I really wanted to make sure I cast a unique group of people that could still deliver the diverse characters that he wanted. So when Steve came in I immediately loved his face so much. For me, I see the face and then obviously I get to see the acting, but the face can tell a story without speaking. Actors like Brando, these actors have good interesting faces, Meryl Streep has got a good interesting face, and they tell you stories. I knew my episode was going to have a lot of tight shots so I was hoping for that. Steve nailed it and then I was like goodness gracious, I hope I can find the daughter that fits in this wheelhouse! And then we did with Nicole [Munoz]. We ended up getting a diverse cast and their talent was so diverse as well. They each had a different thing that was really really good and a fitting characteristic for their character they were playing. I tweeted out a picture of Steve and I, me in my role of being a director, and I didn’t think but I should’ve put some kind of doctor reference – because you know I played a doctor on General Hospital.
Lynn: That would’ve been really funny. Doctor…doctor… lol
Matt: But yeah, he’s a great guy and a very talented actor. I believe he’s also an acting teacher in Vancouver and he’s extraordinary. I honestly hope, and I don’t just say this, to take all these guest stars with me. That’s the type of person I am. I wanna work with people, and if they touch me, touch my heart and mind and spirit by working with them, I wanna bring them forward to other projects in the future. Each of them, the whole cast, is a really special group of people. And for a first time director, I got super lucky with the fact that they’re all wildly talented, you know?
Lynn: They really were. And I do love Davy’s writing and how diverse this episode was and the themes that he brought out. Davy wrote a chapter in my new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, which also includes diverse voices and chapters about representation on the show and how it has evolved, and I love his personal story on Supernatural.
Matt: The final line that Steve’s character says, with Cas and Jack, something about I spent my whole life caring for other people and kinda missed looking after his daughter, it’s such an interesting line.
Lynn: It is, it really struck me. Even people who are good people can get lost and be harmful to others, even people they care about.
Matt: And Davy is such an interesting guy. We sat down and talked about what he wanted the episode to look like and I wanted his input as a new director. I wanted to deliver for him in a big way as well as everybody else. I love writers. Everyone in Hollywood is kinda, F the writer generally, but I love writers and actors, they make my dreams come true. As an actor, I hope to read writing that’s great, and as a director I love to read writing and then talk to the writer about why. The writer took his or her time to write, why did they do it? Why does this character say that? Why is this punctuation here? Because there’s a journey in the writer’s head and I’m trying to tap into that. Like I said, everybody is coming at the episode with a different mind, but how do we possibly know? We’re trying so hard to get this interwoven into each other’s mind. That was a special thing in that episode, that it had these different people coming together in one place , under one roof, for one reason. I don’t want to make Supernatural reflective of the world and all its problems, but there are some very important lessons in love and acceptance woven throughout all of Supernatural.
Matt: Even right down to the brothers, and the acceptance between them of who they are, with all their faults, they are all of them. The brothers and their mom and dad, Sam, Dean, their dad – and I mean Jeffrey, not myself – John and Mary, they are all us, on the same journey looking for the same thing,. And that is about being different and fighting your own fight, in a world where everybody is fighting their own fight and everybody is fighting for their own truth, which in turn can make everybody else’s truth wrong in your eyes. So it’s this constant search for acceptance. The whole soup kitchen theme of the episode is just that, it starts out with the poor kid that gets strangled in the beginning. That moment of him and the pastor and the homeless woman coming in for soup, it’s easy for us to go eww, different, gross, stay away from me. But that’s not what humans are made for. Humans are made for finding the likeness in all of us, because we’re all the same damn thing. The same. Damn. Thing. There’s no difference. This episode kinda touches on all that stuff while retaining a fun, kinda jokey, light hearted episode at times, it still has these moments of, let’s examine what we believe in, why we believe in it, and who else’s beliefs are we willing to accept. It touched on all of that.
Lynn: It did. Beautifully. I was so so happy you got a Davy script. I love him as a writer and I feel like I got to know him just a little while he was writing his chapter. And I’ve known you for over a decade, and similarly got to know you even better when you wrote a chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, so I was thrilled to have you two working together.
Matt: For me as well.
Lynn: So, last question, since this was your final episode with the show and it’s about to end for real. What do you think is the legacy of Supernatural? What will the show leave behind?
Matt: I mean, if nothing else, it think the most important lesson is acceptance and inclusion. Kind of one in the same thing, from this show. And when I say that, I mean maybe not the story line but what the show has created in its universe for all of us, it’s just that. Because of the fan conventions – and we talk about this in Family Don’t End With Blood, in my chapter – because of these cons I can accept myself because the fans have accepted me and taught me that I don’t have to be scared of who I am. I just have to be willing to be who I am and accept all the other people around me, and that’s exactly what the cons have taught me. They’ve taught me to accept movie stars into my life, guys like Jared and Jensen, guys that when I met them I had nothing in common with – we were guys who acted on the same show but we didn’t have a ton of off camera back and forth. I had to accept that those guys wanted me to succeed, they wanted to be my friend, and we were gonna grow into a relationship.
Lynn: You did. Absolutely. You all did.
Matt: And then you get to accept all the people who are fans of your work, and all of a sudden, the line of fan and actor or movie star or whatever starts to blur, and the acceptance starts to roll in and then there’s a respect and a creativity and a growth that happens for all of us at the same time. I mean, growth because maybe I met and talked to and had a good meet and greet with some people one morning, and then because I talked to those people, I felt so good, I went in the green room and gave a hug to Kim Rhodes because I could tell that she was down and needed a hug because she was dealing with something. And then on the other side of that there were eight people in my meet and greet, and they go out and make six different friends each to go sit in a hotel room to watch the show with tonight, and two of those people didn’t have a hotel room so now they’re bunking with these people and they’re making new friends.
Matt: And not to mention on the other side of that hug that I gave Kim, it completely changed her day and she called her daughter and they had the best conversation ever and then her daughter was doing something amazing and her husband was feeling great. And then those people who got to stay in that hotel room woke up the next day and said hey, let’s buy somebody else breakfast because of what happened with us last night with the hotel room and new friends and a show that we love. The trickle down effect is endless and it’s all of us just accepting who we are and accepting each other in this big giant Supernatural family that has served us all the best that life can serve us. We’re being served by each other, right now, right here, as part of this universe, it’s the best life has to offer. People that are happy, loving each other, with each other. And hopefully we’ll be able to do it again in person. It’s therapy in the greatest way with the best human response.
Lynn: It is. It really is. I’m so glad we decided to do a phone chat and not a zoom call because now I’m crying…
Matt: Because it’s a beautiful thing, and I hold it in the highest place in my life, that’s where I put Supernatural and all that it has accomplished. It’s a large part of my existence — there will be Easter eggs in every project that I ever direct that go back to Supernatural. A scene or a prop or a line of dialogue. And I think it’s gonna be really really fun to be part of the movie that hopefully Supernatural will be making one day. Directing it, starring in it, doing craft service for it, I don’t care. One day that show needs a movie and it’s gonna be badass as it always has been.
Lynn: You are absolutely right!! Jensen has a production company now, so fingers crossed. Thanks so much, Matt, I’ve missed you.
Matt: I miss you too, thank you much for taking the time to chat with me. I hope that this world somehow will rise up and we can all get healthy and get back to being together.
Lynn: Me too!
I always leave my conversations with Matt Cohen feeling better about everything – the world, humanity, the future. I love hearing his fascinating insights about acting and directing and why this little show that brought all of us together has been so damn special.
As we head into Supernatural’s final week on the air, I’m going to keep re-reading what Matt had to say about the show’s legacy and hang onto his vision of the future (and that Supernatural movie!)
Stay tuned for more original articles and exclusive interviews as we celebrate Supernatural’s final week and series finale!
You can find the book with chapters written by Matt
And the other actors, Family Don’t End With Blood, and
There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done at the links in the
Banner or at peacewhenyouaredone.com
2 thoughts on “Celebrating Supernatural: An Inspiring Chat with Director Matt Cohen”
Lynn, this was a wonderful, heartfelt interview that brightened my whole day. And I just want to say now, here near the end, that I’ve been on this ride from the beginning, and when your books, interviews, and reviews came along, it made the whole experience richer. I thank you for that.
Matt is a sweetheart. At my first con, he put his arm around me for an entire verse. And when we were done he helped me down the stairs. I use walking sticks for my bum knees
He is kindness itself. Great interview