Guy Bee has always been one of my favorite directors on Supernatural, directing some of the pivotal episodes, starting with ‘Asylum’ in the first season. I met him a long time ago (which he for sure does not remember) in the green room at an early Supernatural convention. I was waiting to do an interview and he was chatting with some of the actors and I remember wanting to compliment his directing but feeling too shy to do that. This was also the time I was so nervous that I poured myself a very large glass of what I thought was wine from the carafe in the back of the room – except it was very expensive bourbon and that much would likely have left me on the floor. Luckily Kathy intervened. With an eyeroll.
That’s our storied history, Guy Bee! I’m grateful I didn’t embarrass myself, at least. Since then we’ve shared some zoom hello’s and some less fraught convention hello’s, but that first “meeting” will always stick with me.
Fast forward to the present. There’s an online book club that some fans started to discuss the two books that I edited that have chapters by the cast and the fans of Supernatural – Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. They often invite the actors and fans who wrote chapters to drop into the book club on Discord and answer some questions about their chapters, and I drop in too when I can. And because the Supernatural cast and crew is like no other, they actually do drop into the book club and join in the discussion of their book chapters and the show!
Rick Worthy (the Alpha Vamp on Supernatural) dropped in a few months ago to discuss the chapter he wrote in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, and the conversation turned to Rick’s collaboration with director Guy Bee in creating the memorable character. Rick mentions working with Guy and becoming good friends in his chapter also. The book club was so intrigued, they invited Guy to come chat with them the next time they met. I was excited to join in too, because directors always have some fascinating insights and I will never ever get tired of hearing about Supernatural. Maybe especially now that it’s ended – having some new insights feels like an incredible treat!
Here’s the Book Club conversation, with some wonderful memories of Supernatural and some interesting thoughts on directing too.
Book Club: Rick Worthy was here at our last meeting and talked about the two of you collaborating to create the Alpha Vamp character. You seemed to work very well together. Is this kind of collaboration common between an actor and a director to flesh out a character? What made Rick great to work with?
Guy: I remember having some suggestions for the part (Brad Dourif) and we auditioned my pal Nick Lea [SIDEBAR – Nick Lea played Alex Krycek on the X-Files and was eventually on Supernatural in the ‘Time After Time’ episode] who lives in Vancouver, but when I saw Rick’s audition tape I knew he was the only guy to play the Vamp! That Voice! One of the joys of directing is working on subtext and a motif, (collaborating) with the actors and finding subtleties that aren’t necessarily “on the page”. Rick is a consummate actor who thrives on that kinda stuff. He’s a director’s dream because he ALWAYS elevates the script from just ink on a page to a fully realized, believable character!
[SIDEBAR – Rick Worthy enjoyed filming that episode as much as Guy did, and it sounds like Jared and Jensen did too. Here’s what Rick Worthy had to say about the episode: When Sam and Dean come to his house there is this big long Citizen Kane table where the Alpha Vamp presides, and it was just awesome, a beautiful set design, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. And then Dean attacks and comes after me and I have to hurl him, just toss him over the table like he’s paper! It was one of those really cool stunt scenes and I love to do those. I remember Jared got very excited and came up to me and said dude, you should totally record this on your iPhone! So I gave him my iPhone and he said I’ll record it for you. When the director Guy Bee called ‘Action’, we do the stunt and then I just toss Dean (I believe it was his stunt double) over the table. I think we did it in two takes, and I remember looking back at Jared and he gave me the thumbs up like, yeah that was really cool! I love working with actors who enjoy what they’re doing and have respect for the process. How many times has he done this kind of shot? Dozens and dozens and dozens of times, maybe hundreds since the pilot. I really loved that.]
[And on his friend Guy Bee: He’s a great guy. He’s like the one director who goes to conventions and does karaoke. He does “Dirty Deeds and They’re Done Dirt Cheap” and sings his ass off. He’s a fun guy to hang out with.]
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Guy at a convention, you know that’s true!
BC: Which of your earlier directing jobs has turned out to afford you the most future opportunities? Did you meet specific people early on or have mentors who paid it forward?
Guy: Things ebb and flow in this business. I’ve been a director for 21 years… Some busy and others not! You can think you did a great job on a show and never get invited back without knowing why. Sometimes you get invited back because you impressed someone you didn’t even realize was watching! It’s very fickle. I have a few mentors but everyone gets into their own orbits/bubbles and you drift apart. I try and give help/advice to those just getting started but it’s equivalent to training your replacement!
BC: Do you have a preference between directing genre shows like Supernatural vs. other types of TV shows?
Guy: I call myself a “Method Director,” meaning whatever style/genre show I’m doing NOW is the one that I immerse myself into… I do lean toward true crime/procedural stuff if I have a choice.
BC: What is it about true crime/procedural shows that make you lean towards those jobs? What do you like about those?
Guy: I think my sensibilities are closer to that genre. I was never a big Sci-Fi fan even though
Blade Runner and Alien are two of my favorites…Digging The Mandalorian too! I used to say I wasn’t a horror fan, yet Jaws & Hitchcock are big favorites… I will say that all the genre/fantasy stuff I’ve done has been a blast (SPN, Arrow, etc.).
BC: Which of the SPN episodes that you directed were professionally the most challenging or exciting to do?
Guy: Asylum was challenging… New show, ambitious script – seven days in a REAL de-commissioned asylum! Frontierland was tough because of the shitty weather but it looked GREAT in the end. They all have challenges.
[Both of those episodes looked AMAZING, I think we can all agree on that!]
BC: What was the most challenging situation you confronted while directing SPN?
Guy: There’s too many to recount! Every episode, every day, every hour there is a new “challenge” – Mostly weather and the odd effect (Blood squirt machine on the fritz, etc.).
[On Supernatural that would indeed be a big deal to have the blood squirt machine on the fritz, considering how often they need it!]
BC: You directed Frontierland – was it as much fun as it looked like it was getting to direct an episode in the style of a Western? The humorous touches were amazing like the STD saloon girl…and “I’m a posse magnet”. How did you keep it together during some of those scenes? It seemed like the cast could barely keep it together! Any specific memories from Frontierland that you’d like to share?
[Book Club are clearly big fans of Frontierland – understandably]
Guy: Frontierland (original title: Gallows Pole) shot in White Rock near the US Border on an old set for a long canceled series called Bordertown. It was meant to be a dusty old west town but in January it was a mudbath! The interiors all needed to be “finished” because they were either just facades or had rotted out over the years. I stayed at a cheesy hotel for 3 nights when we shot there so my commute wouldn’t be so long and I could get some sleep. It was getting dark at 3:30 – 4:00 so we had to shoot fast! Fun but difficult. I LOVED my guest cast!
[That episode also had a humorous scene Guy directed that now seems like someone had ESP and could predict the future – namely, Jared Padalecki now starring on ‘Walker’ as the quintessential Texas Ranger. Which meant the fandom had the perfect gif before the show even started]
BC: Early on, you worked as a videographer, touring with some pretty major music acts. How did that experience differ from directing for TV?
Guy: From 1988 – 1989 I was a camera operator… Did a ton of music videos, which was great because I’m a huge rock and roll fan. I took a lot of that with me when I started directing (timing, rhythm, pacing, composition) – there are many similarities. My goal was always to direct narrative TV/Movies.
BC: When directing on location vs. working on a sound stage, do you enjoy the on location challenges (lighting, weather, etc.) or do you prefer the total control of a sound stage?
Guy: Location work is great when all the factors are working but it introduces a whole set of X factors that you can’t control 100% – It looks great but you pay for it mentally! Stage work affords control (You can move walls, it’s quiet) so in many obvious ways it’s preferable but a great location is the best and most cinematic!
BC: Much has been said about the great working environment on Supernatural. Is there anything you’d like to add about that? Was there something that they did on that set that literally set them apart from other work environments you’ve experienced?
Guy: The heart and soul of that show, the entire run… And the reputation it had was that J & J [Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles] were a blast to work with and that they were very supportive of guest actors… No “Star” attitudes. Every actor in town wanted badly to work on the show because of this. Believe me when I say that very few shows are like that and the boys did it for 15 years! They’re legends in Vancouver for that!
BC: On Supernatural, aside from Jared and Jensen, which actor/actress did you most enjoy working with/directing?
Guy: This is an easy but tricky question because it was an embarrassment of riches and I don’t wanna leave anyone out! Jim Beaver and Misha Collins are two of my favorite people for sure. Rick Worthy, Kim Rhodes, Ty Olsson, Erica Carroll, Curtis Armstrong, Sam Hennings, Corin Nemec, Mitch Pileggi, Alaina Huffman, Osric Chau, Ruth Connell, Mark Pellegrino, Mark Sheppard, James Patrick Stuart – When I tell you it was an absolute joy to work with these people I’m not exaggerating! (I know I left a few out…)
BC: If you could have directed a classic movie with a cast or story that you loved, which movie would that be? And is there an actor or actress who is no longer with us who you would have loved to work with?
Guy: The Verdict. And Paul Newman.
BC: One of my favorite episodes you directed is “The Things We Left Behind”. Especially the Castiel and Claire moments and drawing on family threads. What was memorable for you about that episode?
Guy: Kathryn Newton was cast in LA so I didn’t meet her until a few days into the shoot when she came by the MOL set after her wardrobe fitting. I took her aside and warned her (jokingly) that J & J are going to mess with and prank you… DON’T put up with it! Throw it right back at them! You’re about to have the best time of your life with the greatest “Big Brothers” in the world! She is an amazing golfer (could’ve gone pro!) She hit balls with Jensen and Clif and embarrassed them!
BC: Did Kathryn roll with any pranks and throw it right back at them?
Guy: Kathryn was awesome. She was 17 years old at the time (going on 24!). She didn’t take any of their shit and had a ball. They treated her like a little sister immediately and we all protected her the same.
[Which I’m sure surprises nobody!]
BC: In your opinion, what was the most influential factor in SPN staying on the air for an unprecedented 15 seasons?
Guy: Quite simple… J & J [Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles] – Those guys are infinitely watchable, freakishly talented, great human beings — and good looking! The brotherly love/family aspect to the show of course. I think the writing was pretty great for a genre/fantasy show. That’s not easy! The crew, for what it’s worth and though it doesn’t translate to the screen… was a big part of the long run and success too! Serge [Ladouceur] and Jerry [Wanek] to name a few.
BC: What was your most memorable experience/scene/episode directing SPN and why?
Guy: They’re all memorable… If I re-watch an episode I get a flood of memories/feelings/thoughts about the details of any particular scene… Collaborations with Jerry in pre-production, riding to work with Serge and planning out the day. Brad [Creasser] (Camera operator)) and Dave (Dolly Grip) about the specifics of a shot… Getting pranked, hanging with S.E. Hinton! All great!
BC: Did you watch the Supernatural finale and if so, what did you think?
Guy: I did (Had to!) – I always thought (and we talked casually about) the ending being a version of “Butch & Sundance” – Cornered, no way out without surrendering and going out in a blaze of glory… However the way they ended, for me was the best, most satisfying way to do it. I always thought they’d end up in a heaven/utopia reunited with the people they loved in the last fifteen years. That sorta happened!
BC: Do you have a favorite episode of Supernatural?
Guy: My favorite episode is Asylum. It was all so new, the show had just gotten picked up for a whole season, so everyone was on a high over that, plus the script was GOOD!
Having just done the rewatch and review of that episode, I wholeheartedly agree with its director! And Guy’s directing was part of the reason Asylum is so creepy and scary, but also so filled with authentic emotional beats that progress the brothers’ relationship too. I’m so glad that wonderful script was in Guy’s capable hands!
We all look forward to seeing what Guy Norman Bee tackles next – and grateful to have all these brilliant Supernatural episodes to rewatch for as long as we want: Asylum, Family Matters, Frontierland, Hello Cruel World, How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters, There Will Be Blood, Blood Brother, Taxi Driver, Devil May Care, Stairway to Heaven, and The Things We Left Behind.
Thanks to Guy Bee for sharing his insights about Supernatural and directing. Stay tuned for more interviews, reviews and news this week for our Supernatural Spring Break Week!
You can read Rick Worthy’s chapter in There’ll
Be Peace When You Are Done, along with
the other Supernatural actors’ chapters – links on
home page or at peacewhenyouaredone.com