Next up in our Supernatural Spring Break celebration week, another chat with one of the Supernatural actors who made their way into our hearts – this time while dressed as Dracula. Todd Stashwick is a genre favorite actor from so many of my favorite shows, as well as a bona fide fan himself. We met over a decade ago at an early Supernatural convention, and I was so taken by his understanding of fandom and passion for all things geeky that we included that chat in our first two books. When I put together a book to celebrate the legacy of Supernatural as it was ending, I knew I wanted to ask Todd to write a chapter – and I’m glad he did!
At the end of last year, the online There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done book club for that book invited him to drop in and answer some questions about his chapter and the show, and I’m glad he did that too. Here are some excerpts from that discussion, that I was happy to join in on also.
BC: So glad you could join us. Can you talk a little bit about how you decided on what would be in your chapter?
TS: Kind of you to say (smile). Thinking about the long road you all traveled down, and looking back at the fact that you all found commonality of experience through the show got me thinking about fandom as a whole and what that means to me. So I reflected back to what I believe lit the fuse of being “fan” in myself. How we don’t “become” fans, we notice that we are, we find ourselves innately drawn to certain stories, characters, and franchises because it answers some need inside of us. It connects us to other people. It gives us a tribe.
BC: I adore that you have a long history of being a fan of so many things! My husband is a huge Star Wars fan, but I never experienced that kind of community until SPN.
TS: It’s also not restricted to sci-fi/horror/fantasy. My mother in her 70’s attended Downton Abbey parties. We seek like-minded souls.
BC: When you wrote in your chapter that “We are tribal creatures who use mythology to come together and understand ourselves” – that really resonated. So true!
Lynn: Yes, that is so much what fandom – ANY fandom – is about. We seek like-minded souls, and finding them validates us and feels incredibly satisfying. It’s like a primal need, for belongingness.
TS: Mythology is a way to analyze ourselves, our culture, explain the unexplained, wrestle with death. It gives us a metaphor to understand ourselves. Mythology gives us an escape. It’s really fun. And horror allows us to field-test fear without consequences. Like a roller coaster, we tempt fate, death, and come out okay.
Lynn: Yes – and Supernatural has both mythology and horror. No wonder it’s so compelling. People always ask me, how did you choose who would write chapters in the book? A decade ago, I sat down with Todd in the green room at a convention, and was so taken with how deeply he understood fandom that I never forgot it – something he said, “television is our campfire” resonated with me so much I couldn’t get it out of my head. So I knew I was going to ask him to write a chapter in the last book about Supernatural and its legacy.
TS: It’s (TV is) just an extenuation of our oral traditions.
BC: I also think it’s so wonderful that someone who is such a fan themselves, and who has such an appreciation for fandom itself, played the shapeshifter enamored of classic monster movies, and with such pathos. We very rarely see a villain on SPN, especially those with a humorous bent, evoke such a sympathetic response. I think that moment is one of the reasons it has endured as a fan favorite (for me at least).
TS: It’s what drew me to the role, the high melodrama and the quiet fragility.
BC: It was a beautiful performance.
TS: That is kind of you to say. Thank you. Hard to believe it was 12 years ago.
BC: I’m studying fandom/fanfiction in all its facets and I’ve picked a few major fandoms as my Foundational Fandoms. I think your chapter, Todd, explores a similar subject in how fandoms can shape us and allow us to not only find our “tribe” or ourselves but to really help shape the culture and world we want to see. Do you think fandoms have a power to make great change in the world in ways that perhaps more conventional things (ie politics or religion or social work) can’t?
TS: Well, of course, just look at how Misha mobilized the fans for good. Just today, fans rallied around Michael Hogan (from Battlestar) who suffered a head injury. The fans have gotten together and raised close to 200k overnight. I got to work with him on 12 Monkeys. Fans are powerful.
BC: Why do you think that is so effective in a way that perhaps other efforts might not be? Is it because they’re fans and band together as a tribe or is it because fandom taps into our humanity in a way other things don’t/can’t or a bit of both??
TS: Plus, the shows tend to be aspirational, if we emulate some of the ideals…courage, family, empathy, we are powerful. Television is a very specific medium, it’s more intimate than film. You welcome characters/actors into your living room. On a weekly basis…. You let them affect you, which is both vulnerable and involuntary. You cry, laugh, or are frightened in spite of yourself. But you are willingly allowing the stories and performances to do that. That’s a powerful thing. So when the call goes out, out of a sense of camaraderie, gratitude, and kindness, you give back.
Lynn: Todd, do you have a favorite memory from filming Supernatural? I remember you telling me some fun stories and you put some in your chapter too. I mean, there was lederhosen, after all.
TS: The alley set was amazing. The cobblestones, the mist.
BC: Did you really enjoy riding on the scooter?
TS: That was maybe my first scene on the set. The scooter was fun! I practiced tooling around in the parking lot in between takes. Always afraid I was going to get the cape caught under the wheel.
Lynn: Lol – yes, that is why Dracula does not usually ride a scooter!
TS: He lives dangerously.
BC: Those costumes had to be amazing. What was the makeup like? Did they go full-scale old school black and white film caked on, or was it somewhat modernized?
TS: I had done a lot of research on Lugosi’s look that I was able to instruct the makeup dept. on what to do. I also complained that they made me fangs. Lugosi never had them.
BC: I am always forever quoting the coupon line. I think we all do that here. The people I know in my real life aren’t into the show so they don’t get it. I’m sure people quote to you all the time, Todd.
TS: I can usually tell what people know me from by what they quote at me. “No garlic!” “I have a coupon.” They are def SPN fans. If they ask me to sing Don’t You Forget About me, they are 12 Monkeys fans.
Lynn: You’ve been in so many genre favorites, they have lots of choices!
TS: This is true. My life is a Nerd Circus.
BC: I want that on a t-shirt.
TS: I’m working on that shhhhh (smile)
Lynn: I think you have found the official book club shirt!
TS: Nope, already trademarked (smile) not kidding.
TS: I’m starting a little side project. Keep your eyes peeled for Todd Stashwick’s Nerd Circus [which is now up and running and can be found at the link below]. Basically for fans by a fan. I realized my life has been filled with so much nerdy joy between the things I love and the things I’ve been a part of, I wanted to celebrate that. I’m still in season 9 of SPN. THERE’S SO MUCH CONTENT!!!
BC: Some aspects of fandom seem somewhat protective of their fandoms – like it was a secret club just for nerds and now they’re letting everyone else in. I think the SPN fandom is extremely welcoming and you don’t have to prove you’re a nerd. Have you observed that at cons for other fandoms?
TS: It’s not so much with TV shows because people always want you to watch their favorite show. But there is that joy of loving something that is still under the radar. Like Legion. I think the first few seasons of SPN were like that. 12 Monkeys is definitely like that. By the time something gets a Funko Pop it’s crossed over.
BC: I’ve watched my husband at cons with other Star Wars & Star Trek geeks and it’s like they have to answer the secret questions to be included. It’s weird to me.
TS: Star Wars is very divisive within its fandom. It’s been around for over 40 years and has so many different iterations that it causes infighting.
Lynn: Lots of genre shows draw passionate fandoms, but few last for 15 seasons. What do you think it is, from what you’ve experienced of SPN and its fandoms, that made such an unprecedented run possible?
TS: Well, from a business standpoint, for a long time it was a relatively inexpensive show, there were only two series regulars. The audience hung on, so the CW kept renewing it. And then it got a head of steam, it was THE most profitable show on the CW. They were able to ride your love.
Lynn: Todd, you have such a way with words – yes, that’s right, they were!
TS: You then add to the mix a cast that genuinely loved their jobs and the response. Actively participated in the celebration of it, through cons, etc… I remember running into Jared at the Austin airport, a few years back and I asked him if they offered him season 12, 13, 14 would he take it and he, without hesitation, said “yep”.
Lynn: And they did! Their enthusiasm and genuine love of the show and those characters have definitely made a difference.
TS: The fact that they could maintain their enthusiasm and gratitude is admirable and a testament to you guys.
BC: SPN had the luck that both leads stayed not only past 6, but to 15 years.
[Book Club asked Todd, right before the finale aired – you come back at the very end as God/chuck’s dad and put him in a time-out, amiright?]
TS: Nah, I think it’s better that I was one and done. Makes Drac. “ELEGANT!”
BC: Any projects you can tease?
TS: I’m currently writing on a video game, and working on another project with Skydance Interactive as a writer (both jobs you can do during a pandemic!) I have a film I’m in coming out called Love, Weddings, and Other Disasters. And launching the Nerd Circus!…Also playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. And if you’re looking for a new fandom, 12 Monkeys is pretty great (smile) only on Hulu. The fans remind me of you guys, passionate and kind.
BC: Thank you for joining with us fans tonight, Todd. So awesome to chat with you.
TS: Oh my goodness, I’m humbled to be asked. You guys are the reason we do it. And I get it, from a fanboy from way back, I feel your love. Peace.
Check out all Todd’s new projects, and do some shopping at the Nerd Circus – “groovy wares and nerdy paraphernalia”. I personally love the vintage tees – The Nerd Circus
You can read lots more from Todd about his experience on Supernatural, working with Jared and Jensen, and why fandom is so powerful in the chapter he wrote in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done.
Stay tuned for more as we wrap up our Supernatural Spring Break celebration!
You can find There’ll Be Peace When You Are
Done and the other book written by the Supernatural
actors and fans, Family Don’t End With Blood, at
the links on the home page or at peacewhenyouaredone.com