Something exciting is happening tomorrow – Supernatural actor and new director Matt Cohen (also well known for General Hospital and South of Nowhere) begins production on his short film “Mama Bear” and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with! I’m especially excited because Matt’s passion for this project is contagious, and I was happy to catch it when I chatted with him yesterday. To see a filmmaker so on fire to make a film, and a bunch of incredibly talented actors on fire to make it with him, reminds me of why we all love movies and television shows and books and all the ways we tell stories. Reminds me that those stories make a difference and help shape our views of the world and each other. They also entertain us, and I think ‘Mama Bear’ is definitely going to do that!
I mean, you can’t really go wrong when this is the premise: “A gritty, high-octane punch of absolute awesomeness, Mama Bear follows a regular, everyday soccer mom with a hidden, violent past who has 24 hours to save her dying son in need of a transplant — but it means hunting down her powerful crime lord ex-husband and taking his liver.”
Mama Bear stars Cohen’s real-life wife Mandy Musgrave as a mother who will do whatever it takes to save her child. In real life, Musgrave is mom to the couple’s four year old son Macklin, and I have a feeling she’s just as fierce as the character she plays when it comes to her son (hopefully without any liver theft involved).
What could be more perfect for Halloween than talking with the director of some of the scariest projects out there? Eduardo Sanchez burst onto the film scene in 1999 with the innovative and terrifying Blair Witch Project. He has gone on to direct in film and television, including my favorite show of all time, Supernatural.
I am fascinated by every aspect of creating the Show I love, because if there’s one thing that has become very clear to me after researching and writing about that Show for over a decade, it’s that Supernatural is a collaboration. It takes top notch writing, set dec, locations, cinematography, make-up, special effects, producing, acting and directing (among a multitude of other things) to make Supernatural the special thing it is. So I’m always genuinely interested in the perspectives of all the many people who contribute to that collaboration. I loved hearing the actors’ perspectives when they wrote chapters for Family Don’t End With Blood and the insights of director of photography Serge Ladouceur in Fan Phenomena Supernatural and all the contributions that everyone on the set shared in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. I am endlessly fascinated by what it takes to make a show like Supernatural.
So it was with great anticipation that I scheduled a chat with Sanchez, who has done four episodes of Supernatural so far, not to mention the groundbreaking film The Blair Witch Project. And guess what? Our chat was even more fun and more fascinating than I had anticipated! (And not scary at all). So sit back and relax and enjoy a director’s insights into the diverse episodes of Supernatural he has directed so far.
Lynn: The first episode you directed is one of my all-time favorites, The Chitters. That’s partly because it introduces two of my favorite original characters, Jesse and Cesar (Lee Rumohr and Hugo Ateo), affectionately known in the fandom as the “hunter husbands”.
Lynn: Written by Nancy Won, who I wish had stuck around on Supernatural, this episode was groundbreaking in its own quiet way. It was the first time Supernatural told a fully fleshed out story of two gay characters in such an organic and matter-of-fact manner. There were articles after the episode aired praising Supernatural for being “quietly progressive” with an interracial gay couple who are both hunters and heroes. Were you aware that it would be an important episode in that aspect?
Eduardo: I didn’t know the history of Supernatural. I came in like the tenth or eleventh season, so it was impossible to watch every episode to catch up. But they told me that there hadn’t been this sort of thing in the show before, so we cast it really carefully and wanted to kinda ground it in not being stereotypical and just make these guys as real as possible and make their backgrounds as real as possible. At a certain point, yeah, I started to realize that this was an important episode. It was also just a fun episode for me – it was the first time I had done the show so I was nervous. The crew made me feel very much at home, and the guys were very friendly and welcoming. It was cool that we ended up bringing in these two characters who I know people really loved and I really loved bringing them to life. It was an all around good experience.
One of the scenes that really crackled in last week’s Supernatural episode was the intense power-struggle-disguised-as-flirtation scene between Michael and the beautiful but dangerous werewolf Melanie. Although it was a relatively brief scene, Andrea Drepaul managed to bring Melanie to life and make me even care about her a little (despite the fact that she was intent on eating Michael and therefore Dean Winchester!) Okay, maybe I don’t care all that much…
Andrea had shared a few enthusiastic posts about her experience on the show, so I was eager to ask her about her guest role and her take on Melanie the werewolf. But before we go there, in case you’ve forgotten (which is highly unlikely), here’s a brief reminder of the scene. Michael is dressed to the nines, charming as he offers Melanie a glass of wine.
Melanie: Mmmm, very elegant. But then, so are you.
Everyone watching at that moment: (nodding enthusiastically)
They banter, and Michael tells her that Duluth is nothing like his hometown, which is windswept and barren and oh, there are lots of dead bodies lying around.
Melanie, instead of running away like I would have in about two seconds flat, giggles.
Melanie: You’re so funny…what a nice surprise meeting you.
Not what my reaction would have been, but then again, this is Jensen Ackles in a tux.
Their banter takes on a darker tone as it goes on, Michael’s cruel streak coming through as he assures her with a hint of derision that he most certainly does know why she was in that bar alone. They each think they’re playing the other, but Michael has the upper hand – he knows she’s a werewolf, but she has no idea she’s planning to eat an Archangel. Nevertheless, nothing he says discourages her or frightens her – this is one badass werewolf.
Melanie shows her (rather substantial) teeth, and Michael picks her up by the throat like she’s nothing and tosses her across the room, coolly ordering her to summon her master.
So much for the power struggle!
I had a few questions for Andrea about her portrayal of the fearless werewolf and her experience on Supernatural.
Lynn: You were able to make Melanie a memorable character even with the short amount of time she had onscreen – it was a well written scene but you also invested her with a great deal of personality. How was the character described when you auditioned for the part?
Andrea: This scene was my audition piece. From the first moment of reading the scene I felt very connected to Melanie. The character description was very limited. I believe they do this to see what the actor will bring in the room. It made no mention she was a werewolf, or monster of any kind. The one thing that stood out for me was they had mentioned she “Seemingly had an ulterior motive.” As I dug a bit deeper, the writer mentions in the screen direction that she was sophisticated, and the location was a high end hotel. I saw right from the the get go she was a very complex woman. This scene was in fact a ruse. A tactic that Melanie was using to get what she really wanted. As a performer, I find leaning into the strength of the character is really what makes her exciting. Also because she loses in the end of the scene, I wanted her to be in control until the end. So in fact the scene becomes a dark twisted power struggle between Michael and Melanie.
Lynn: Yes, that’s exactly what came through in the scene! I loved how sassy and confident Melanie was (even if she was wrong about being the baddest monster in the room). Was your personal take on the character that she was attracted to Michael (even if she planned on eating him…)? I mean, it is Jensen Ackles we’re talking about…in a tux no less…
Andrea: Oh definitely yes! But I feel that her attraction came from feeling his power. In a sadistic type of way. Because Melanie is always in control, always in power, she relishes in a man who can hold the same power as her. Her sass and confidence comes from the fact that she believes she is stronger than humans.
Lynn: That definitely comes through, even when confronted by the likes of Michael. Melanie and Michael’s interactions were very flirtatious. Was that a fun vibe to play or is it challenging to enact that sort of vibe with another actor who you may not know very well?
Andrea: It’s a funny thing when a scene is written in a certain way. Because I would say that it reads flirtatious but I definitely didn’t feel that way when we were shooting. I was more locked into the certainty that I could have some fun and eat him too! Boy oh boy was Melanie wrong! Jensen is an incredible actor — he was very generous in his performance so I felt completely comfortable working with him. There’s definitely a salt of the earth quality he has that allows a performer to feel safe.
It’s been a whirlwind and very Supernatural-centric week – which is of course the very best kind. First the 100th Creation Supernatural convention in New Jersey (lots more about that soon) and then a wild and wonderful Monday in New York City to celebrate the Season 14 premiere of the show — with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles!
For once living on the East coast was a benefit instead of a liability, so I went all out to try to get tickets to Entertainment Weekly’s screening of the Season 14 premiere and to Live with Kelly and Ryan for Jensen’s appearance on that show. Getting tickets to both NY events was a lot like the early days of Supernatural cons, where fandom would wait hovering over their keyboards (yes, at the time we didn’t use our phones for everything) constantly hitting refresh waiting for tickets to go on sale so we could grab the best seat. When Entertainment Weekly announced that they would be hosting a screening of the Season premiere episode on October 1 in NYC, and that it would be offered only to existing subscribers, I was ecstatic. I’ve been a subscriber since before Supernatural was on the air, and I’m within driving distance of the Big Apple, so I eagerly awaited my email on the day they were to go up for grabs – and waited – and waited. Nothing! I’ve lost none of my fangirl propensity for getting emotional when it comes to my favorite show, so I promptly freaked out and started frantically tweeting the universe trying to figure out why I hadn’t gotten an invitation when I was seeing people happily proclaiming that they already had their tickets! It was like fangirl hell for a while there – but the lovely Sam Highfill replied and an equally lovely person from EW helped me out as well as several of my awesome fellow fans and all was well eventually. Phew!
Next announcement was that Jensen Ackles would tape a segment of Live with Kelly and Ryan that same day – cue another adrenaline-fueled OMG how do I get tickets panic on my part. Some of my fellow fans were kind enough to give me instructions on how to set up an account, but by the time I figured it out, I didn’t get tickets. Instead I was waitlisted, which meant more constant refreshing and lots of freaking out. Do some work, hit refresh, nope, still waitlisted. Do some work, hit refresh, nope, still waitlisted. Do some work, hit refresh, no….wait! It says ‘Available’!!!! I’ve never typed my information in faster to snag those tickets before it magically turned back to ‘Waitlist’ once again!
My friends Liz and Kristen and I got approximately 2 hours of sleep on Sunday night after working our butts off at the con, but getting up at 4:45 am is a lot more doable when you know you’re going to see Jared and Jensen and the premiere of Season 14 if you do! We headed out into the dark and made it into the city by 6 am, where we joined a small group of fans to wait for the Live show to let us in. We weren’t lucky enough to be Priority, which meant we had no idea if we would actually get in or not – there were no guarantees for us general admission folks. But there was a Starbucks a few blocks away and lots of fellow fans to chat with, so the wait wasn’t too bad. We watched the sun come up over the city, and even got to tape a little promo with Ryan Seacrest. No clue if it ever aired anywhere, but it was fun anyway.
I didn’t actually relax until we managed to get inside the studio, and even though our seats were way off to the side, I was incredibly grateful just to be there. (I also haven’t done the whole studio audience thing, so the experience was fascinating). We were right by the entrance door to the studio, so we saw Clif appear and knew the fun was about to begin! Danneel and JJ came through the studio first, Danneel holding JJ’s hand as they crossed over to the other side to watch the taping, and that got a huge ovation from the Supernatural contingent of the audience. We were coached on hand signals that meant “clap” or “clap more” or “add some hoots and hollers” but when Jensen finally appeared, we didn’t need any coaching – our section of the room burst into screams of joy.
Jensen high fived fans as he came in, and clearly we were all VERY happy to see him!
This is birthday month for the OG’s of the Supernatural family – and today is Mr. Matt Cohen’s turn! We first met Matt shortly after he appeared on the show as young John Winchester, and were enamored of him from his very first con. He didn’t know how conventions worked and assuming there were thick boundaries between the actors and the fans just wasn’t on his radar, so Matt wanted to hug each and every person he met that weekend. His down to earth personality and infectious genuine joy made him a fan favorite from day one. The first time we sat down to chat with him, we realized there was so much more to Matt Cohen than a pretty face or an incredible physique. (Not that we didn’t already know that)
The first time Matt shared the stage with Richard Speight Jr, his frenetic energy and rapid fire improv style were a bit of a contrast with Matt’s more laid back approach. We watched as Matt and Rich found their rhythm together, both in panels (later joined by Rob Benedict for the now iconic R2M) and in Friday night karaoke. Matt and Rich together spearheaded the evolution of karaoke into a few fans taking the mic in a hotel bar to a crowd of fans singing along and batting a hundred balloons in the air as actors and fans share the mic onstage. It’s been a wild ride, and one that Matt has been an integral part of.