It’s Danneel Ackles’ birthday, so we thought for our continuing celebration of Supernatural Spring Break week, this was a good time to both wish her a happy birthday and share the rather amusing story of one of our first times meeting her.
There have been a few memorable times since, including the party celebrating ‘Supernatural Day’ in Austin with Mayor Adler, which was just plain fun and an opportunity for some real conversation.
And I’ll be forever touched that Danneel wanted a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood (and how incredulous she was that Jensen actually had a chapter in it!) and that she has read our other books too.
The actual first time we met Danneel was a long time ago – at the after party following the premiere of indie movie Ten Inch Hero, which was at a club in LA back in, I think 2008. We all left the premiere and walked over to the club, invited by director David Mackay – the cast and the audience all together.
We had a lovely little chat with Danneel there about the film, met screenwriter Betsy Morris who’s still a friend today, and asked actor Matt Barr (now of Walker) to watch the rest room door while I in desperation used the men’s room because there was a huge line at the women’s. (He was lovely about it and it makes me laugh now every time I see him as Hoyt).
It was a momentous party, what can I say? After that, my co-author Kathy and I interviewed David over a three hour brunch in Vancouver for the first book we were working on, and mentioned that we’d love to chat with Danneel too. To be honest, we didn’t really think that would happen. But a few months later, while we were in LA for the Supernatural convention, we got a call from David.
I’ll let some excerpts from our second book, Fangasm! Supernatural Fangirls, take it from here…
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.]
The eighth episode of Supernatural does not get a lot of love – in fact, it’s one that’s routinely skipped on rewatches or ridiculed for its “bad writing”. But honestly? ‘Bugs’ is a great episode, especially now in retrospect. All those early episodes are frankly amazing, with both the acting and the writing top notch and the cinematography off the charts gorgeous.
Bugs are not my favorite thing, so there are some parts of this episode that are indisputably cringeworthy, but it goes with the territory. The guest stars on this episode are also amazing, especially Carrie Genzel (who wrote a wonderful chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done and would memorably return to the show in Just My Imagination) and Tyler Johnston, who played a young Matt here and would later return as Samandriel. See the end of this review for some (cringeworthy and also hilarious) behind the scenes insights from Carrie and Tyler about the filming of this episode.
So, what’s not to like?
I watched, as always, with some of my friends and fellow Supernatural fans, via zoom. Which, after a year of the pandemic, is how most of us live life half the time anyway!
The open is, as is often the case, pretty scary – a guy working in a housing development falls down a hole, breaks his ankle and is trapped. While his friend gets a rope to try to save him, he looks around and to his horror hears the sound of thousands of beetles coming for him. He screams for help as they crawl into his ears, his mouth… by the time the other guy shines his flashlight into the hole, guy number one is dead dead dead.
Everyone doing the rewatch: Ewwwwww
Cut to the boys, as always. Sam’s reading the paper in a bar, about the “local death that’s a medical mystery” as Dean comes down the stairs, grinning and shuffling a fist full of bills. I’m struck sometimes now by how carefree early seasons Dean is, despite what they’re already facing. He is genuinely thrilled that he’s won a bunch of money in a poker game or whatever.
Sam: You know, we could get day jobs…
Dean: Hunting’s our day job. Besides, we’re good at it, it’s what we were raised to do.
Sam: How we were raised was jack.
Dean: Says you!
The brothers are still new to being back together, Dean still sensitive and defensive about the hunting life that Sam left behind and Sam still critical of all the things that he left to get away from.
Also they are extremely distracting because they look like THAT.
The newspaper suggests maybe mad cow disease, which – remember that?
Dean: Wasn’t that on Oprah?
Sam: (incredulous) You watch Oprah?
Ah, the things we (and Sam) were learning about Dean Winchester. So much softness underneath that performatively gruff (sometimes) exterior.
The Impala streaks across some beautiful Vancouver countryside on her way to Oasis Plains. Sam and Dean pose as Uncle Dusty’s never-before-mentioned nephews, rolling easily with the guy’s skepticism and flattering him enough that he forgets about it soon enough. They’re good at what they do; John taught them well. And, as I’ve pointed out many times already on this rewatch, they’re SMART.
They amass some intel, like the guy’s brain disintegrated in an hour or less and that, unlike mad cow disease, there was no sign of dementia, lack of motor control, or anything else weird.
Sam and Dean look down the very deep hole.
Dean: Only room for one, you have a coin?
Sam: Dean, we have no idea what’s down there!
Dean: Okay I’ll go if you’re scared. You scared? Call it in the air, chicken!
Sam: (exasperated) I’m going.
Dean: I said I’d go!
Sam: I’m going. Don’t drop me!
Me: I could sit here and listen to their brotherly bickering and banter all damn day. I miss it so much it makes my heart ache.
That accomplished, they get back into the Impala and pass an open house that’s advertising Free BBQ, and Dean pulls over.
Dean: I know a good place to start. I’m hungry for BBQ, how bout you?
SaM: Free food’s got nothing to do with it?
Dean: Of course not, I’m a professional.
This time the banter is good humored, the brothers gently teasing each other, smiling when the other isn’t looking. Dean looks around at the brand new housing development as they get out of the car, saying that it would freak him out growing up in a place like that, manicured lawns, etc.
Dean: I’d blow my brains out.
Sam: There’s nothing wrong with normal.
Dean: I’d take our family over normal any day.
Both brothers know they’re not talking about Oasis Plains. I really appreciate it now, how neither of them will let it go – they go round and round and round, each stuck in their own perspective of why Sam left and what that means. That strikes me as so realistic – it’s what we do, we get stuck on this stuff, and it gets in the way of our relationships with people we love. I so enjoy watching Sam and Dean struggle with it, knowing that eventually they’ll work it out.
Larry the developer welcomes them to the open house, taking one look at Sam and Dean going house shopping and assuring them that “we accept homeowners of any race, religion, color or…. Sexual orientation.”
It’s no secret that Davy Perez is one of my favorite Supernatural writers. If you read my episode reviews regularly, you’ve heard me say that more than once, and he’s the only writer who wrote a chapter in the new book There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural, all about his journey as a writer and his experience on the show. There’s an online book club that’s currently reading Peace, and they’re inviting the contributors to join in their discord chat when they’re discussing that chapter. I pop in when I can, so I joined them when Davy’s chapter was the topic of conversation – and so did he!
It was Davy’s first time using Discord, so the only emoji he could find to try to express himself was the watermelon – which has remained the Book Club’s favorite emoji and is now used for all kinds of positive expressions in Davy’s honor.
The book club always has great questions and Davy had some great answers, so I’m sharing them here with the rest of the fandom (with Davy’s permission of course).
BC: What was it like to write an episode for Supernatural?
DP: I used to watch a lot of shock horror (in the) 80’s and kinda channeled that.
BC: How much influence did the network or the studio have on the writing?
DP: The network and studio give notes, but don’t mandate or dictate anything. They are more there to
guide you toward the ideals that they want the show to always be (striving) for. The writers/producers are still in charge of the story in the end.
BC: You said in your chapter that you had only watched a few episodes of Supernatural when you were hired, so you were not overly influenced by what had come before and had fresh takes on the characters and story line direction.
DP: In general, writing an episode is a lot like doubting yourself every step of the way (while also having
to) believe in your own genius. Also, specifically with SPN and with any show, you always do the work, from beats on the cards, to outline, to then just working on the scenes. I aim for an act a day when
(working) on a script. I actually found that whenever I watched an old episode, I found inspiration for
bringing something back, or looking at something from a new angle. I was hired to bring in fresh ideas, for sure, but I like innovating from existing stuff vs. just fabricating from thin air.
BC: What do you think have been your most significant contributions to the characters’ development?
DP: My most significant contribution might be either the glasses or the sweaters (in Mint Condition and American Nightmare).
Chad Lindberg is one of the first Supernatural actors that I got to know well, way back in the early seasons of the show. When Kathy and I were researching and writing Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls, we sat down with Chad to chat one day at a very early convention, and immediately hit it off. In fact, in the middle of our interview, after we’d gotten into a deep discussion of fandom and why it’s so compelling, Chad jumped up and said “You have to meet my friends – they’re making a movie about the same thing you’re writing about in your book!”
That’s how we met Tony Zierra and Elizabeth Yoffe, the filmmaker and producer behind the film “My Big Break,” which starred Chad Lindberg and Wes Bentley among others. We partnered with them and Chad to screen the film and share our thoughts on fandom and stardom in multiple cities, which meant some wonderful dinners and a wild time on Bourbon Street and lots of great conversation. Some of our adventures with Chad are in the pages of one of our first books, Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. On occasion, he’s even helped us out at convention vendor rooms and with impromptu livestreams!
So let’s just say, I really miss Chad! He contributed a chapter to the new book by the actors and fans of Supernatural that celebrates the legacy of the show, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, which was released in 2020. I hadn’t spoken to Chad since he put that chapter together, so we connected by phone near the end of the year.
Chad: Good to hear from you!
Lynn: OMG you too! When I talked to you last year about writing your chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, the world was a completely different place.
Chad: It certainly was. Every day continually astonishes me. And not in a good way.
Lynn: I know what you mean. I’m wondering, because you wrote your chapter a year ago and it’s about your personal journey with Supernatural and how it impacted you, how has your journey continued over the past year?