Group Hug for the Supernatural Fandom – With Only A Few More Days of Filming

Supernatural has just completed its second to last week of filming – and the SPNFamily really needs a hug. It’s Sunday afternoon as I’m writing this, and my heart is a little broken (okay, a lot…) knowing the show has filmed its last scenes in the studio. Ever. That it only has two more days of filming, out on the road on location in beautiful Vancouver, and then it comes to an end. That’s probably going to make my look back at last week even more emotional than it would have been otherwise, so bear with me. I want to make sure I capture everything that happens in the last months of the show filming and airing, so this is my weekly round up of all things Supernatural (and how many made me need tissues. Hint: A lot).

But let’s pick up where we left off.

Last Sunday, Jared Padalecki posted a photo of himself riding along the sea wall, looking very contemplative, or perhaps even sad about it being perhaps the last time. The cast and crew are as acutely aware as the fans are that every day now brings a last this or a last that. Every day there are emotional posts, from guest actors and long-time crew members, and producers and writers and PAs. Everyone who has worked on this show, some for a very long time, are struggling with the reality of it finally ending. Again, I’m so grateful that they’re taking us along on the end of this ride with them, but every time I see them get emotional, I get even more emotional.

They will miss Vancouver, their home away from home, so much, I’m sure. I’ll miss it too – I only travel there a few times a year, but it’s always for this show, and I always fall in love with the city and look forward to returning. I’ve had many adventures trekking through the beautiful landscape searching for past filming locations with friends. Watched location filming in some incredibly majestic places. Gathered with fans from all over the world for conventions, which brought some of the crew and local cast together with us also. I know the city will be there and will be as beautiful as ever, but I won’t be there as much as I have been and this little show won’t have its home there anymore. Jared’s post sort of says it all.

Monday another promo trailer dropped, which mixed anticipation and excitement in with the sadness. This time, the CW really did it right – they let the fandom know exactly when it would go live, so thousands of fans from all over the world were waiting for it to run, excitedly corresponding in the chat while they waited. There was even a 2 minute countdown, just to ratchet up the anticipation even more!

We watched with bated breath, then consoled each other about the fact that Dean seems to be sobbing in every other frame and Chuck looks seriously ominous stalking around the halls of the bunker.

cap Stabgigi
Cap: EW
Cap lemondropsonice

SLIGHT SPOILER  BELOW –

We also got a glimpse of young Sam and Dean in a flashback, which I am looking forward to and simultaneously dreading in case a) it breaks my heart or b) it doesn’t.

cap bowleggeddean

Okay, END SPOILER.

Misha also cheered us up with a photo of him ‘tasting the rainbow’, and Jensen could not resist a snarky reply. Location in the photo? Hard to say – which seems to be the point!

Fans continued to create evocative fan art that ensured that we were all reaching for the tissues multiple times throughout the day, however, despite Misha’s best efforts. Including expressing hopes that favorite characters might somehow find a happy ending, like this fan-made graphic hoping for that for Castiel.

Graphic Offlarjun

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We’re SuperNotOkay – Supernatural Begins Filming Its Last Episode!

It’s the weekend, so I’m sitting down to process everything that happened last week on Supernatural and in the Supernatural fandom (before the next promo trailer hits us and renders all of is incapable of coherent thought for a while). This is installment 3 of my series of articles designed to try to experience fully (and document) every bit of this show’s final filming and airing. I’ve watched Supernatural for fifteen years, and been madly in love with it for fourteen of those years (it took me a while to fall, but when I did, I fell hard!)  I’ve documented that love and the show itself in six books and countless interviews and articles – but these articles are a little bit different. These are the last months in which Supernatural and its iconic characters still exist – and the last months in which the SPNFamily interacts in the way it has for fifteen years. I want to remember – and celebrate – the way it is now, and I want to cherish every single moment.

Spoilers ahead but only to the extent that’s been on social media already. I’m keeping speculation to a minimum so far!

Last week Supernatural filmed the rest of its penultimate episode (Inherit the Earth, 15.19) and on Friday they began filming the first day of the LAST episode – the series finale, Carry On.  The cast and crew, hard at work in Vancouver filming the final two episodes, have been wonderfully generous in sharing some of their experience with us, so it’s been another week of almost constant Supernatural content. Which is glorious! That’s one of the things I’m going to miss the most – being able to hop on twitter and see post and post after post about the show I love.

I’m assuming the actors who are there took last weekend for themselves, to prioritize their emotional and physical health – and no doubt supported each other in dealing with the upcoming end of the show – as they’re hopefully doing right now as well. As they returned to filming last Monday, Donald Painchaud from the Sound Department shared a photo of a small group of fans showing their appreciation for 15 years of the show. (Due to pandemic concerns, fans were asked to stay well away from filming, and from all accounts it seems like most did that).

They filmed some of the penultimate episode (15.19) in Cloverdale, at an iconic looking gas station that Jerry Wanek and his brilliant team constructed just for Supernatural. Its name is a shout out to director John Showalter, as the show pays homage to those who have made it special in its last few opportunities to do so. Paul Orazietti, of the Cloverdale Business Association, posted some beautiful photos of the construction – and deconstruction – of the gas station, along with Baby waiting for her close up. I’ve been privileged to watch the ingenious crew of Supernatural at work as they put up sets and take them down, amazed every time at how they work like a well oiled machine and all get along so well. I swear there will never be a cast and crew like this one ever again, together 15 years and like family.

Photos @Paradeguy

Alex Calvert posted a photo from that location with the message “the end has no end,” leaving fans both perplexed and hopeful.

I desperately want to believe you, Alex!

Jared Padalecki’s tweet that day was not quite as optimistic – and turned out to be prescient, because by the end of last week there were MANY tears as the show wrapped its penultimate episode and began filming of its final episode ever, the series finale of Supernatural.

Excuse me as I go grab a tissue from my very depleted box.

Also last week, Misha, Jared and Jensen joined most of their fellow cast members in posting their support of Samantha Smith in her fight against breast cancer, modeling the Rise tee shirts from Stands charity campaign.  We’re all sending so many good wishes your way, Samantha!

Misha’s was fancy – angel wings and all! You can buy a T shirt and donate at shopstands.com.

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Behind the Scenes of The Last Season of Supernatural with Director Richard Speight, Jr.

Richard Speight, Jr. has a birthday coming up, and that has me thinking about a) how long I’ve known him and b) the incredible impact he has had on Supernatural and on the SPNFamily. In our very first conversation, close to 12 years ago, I was impressed with how smart and thoughtful he was. It wasn’t long before he talked about wanting to direct in addition to acting, and I was not a bit surprised when he added that to his repertoire – and kicked ass at it. He’s come a long way from 2014, when producer Jim Michaels posted a photo of Richard shadowing director Tom Wright on the set of Supernatural, going on to direct eleven episodes and to shape the show in significant ways.

I also knew early on that Richard was an excellent writer, because he wrote a chapter for one of my first books, Fan Phenomena Supernatural. When it came time to write my last book on the show that captured my heart as it went into its very last season, I knew I wanted Richard’s voice in that book too. His chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done is, fittingly enough, a conversation between me and him. Like countless other conversations we’ve had over the past twelve years, in hotel restaurants or convention green rooms or in a taxi so he could show me where he’d filmed in San Francisco, his chapter is brimming with insights and a little bit of his trademark humor. In There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Richard also gets serious about this little show that has changed so many lives. The way he describes Supernatural’s legacy, and what makes it so special, makes me tear up a little every time I read it. He gets it. From Richard’s chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done:

The “Supernatural” take on family ain’t the Lifetime version. It’s dark, it’s rough, it’s painful, it’s broken. It may not be a perfect family, but it’s our family. It may not be a perfect world, but it’s our world. And I think the way Sam and Dean and Castiel choose to navigate that world and how they deal with each other along the way is inspirational to a lot of people and will continue to be an inspiration for a very long time.

Richard understands why the SPNFamily is so important, and why the show and its iconic characters will always be with us, which is what that book is all about. He also gets the show itself. That’s why I couldn’t wait to talk to him about the episodes of the show he directed for Season 15, three of which have already aired. In part 2 of my conversation with Richard, he takes us behind the scenes of those three episodes with so many fascinating insights. And maybe makes me a little emotional again as he talks about the upcoming end of this incredible show.

Part 1 of my epic interview with Richard shared insights into his new film Driven, his hilarious podcast with Rob Benedict, and some behind the scenes stories of directing his first episode of Season 15, Proverbs 17:3. I had a few more questions about that episode, because so much about it was SO good, so we pick up there…

L: Switching gears again, another scene I really liked in that episode was with the actress who played Lilith, who was so good – things very quickly go from all serious and horrifying to this poor traumatized girl falling on some antlers and being impaled, to her just getting up and brushing herself off! How challenging was that kind of split second progression?

R: Let me tell you, first off, Steve Yockey wrote a great script. So clever, the miscues were great. It was like my third or fourth Steve Yockey script, so we work together well. We connect on the material, he likes what I do, I like what he does. As we go through and adjust, we’re always on the same page. But I really really think, to pull that moment off, I give massive credit to Anna Grace Barlow. Finding her was finding Nate Torrence for Sully. I cast her off tape, I never met her. She turned in an audition that she shot in the garage during a short film she was doing that was so fantastic. And she came up and just knocked the leather off the walls. She was so good at every scene, from day one. Day one, her first day of shooting, she was confronting Sam and Dean in a parking lot as Lilith and taking the gun. She was already doing heavy hitting stuff right out of the gate. I thought she was incredibly talented. And she got the character. We discussed the character, she got the beats, and she played all that drama for real. Because you don’t get the joke, you don’t enjoy that moment, if you didn’t buy into everything that has happened before that.

L: Yes, and you really did.

R: You believed that she was in distress, you believed that she was a victim in this scenario, that she was in peril and incapable of doing anything to defend herself. And she’s completely distraught by what she’s witnessed and probably damaged for life, and then she stumbles and dies on those antlers and it’s a WTF moment of massive proportion.

L: Massive! She did a great job there and Jared and Jensen did too, with Sam and Dean’s WTF just happened expressions.

R: They did, they played it like the audience should have been too. But Anna Grace did such a good job and when she makes that turn, she’s Lilith the rest of the time. We had such fun crafting that character. To really go into this episode, I started talking to Jerry Wanek about the episode two weeks before we went up there because he read it and he called me and said “Wes Anderson”.

L: Ohhhhh

R: And I said, you had me at Wes. Because he’s like, I’m trying to figure it out, tonally I don’t want you to hang your hat on the set here but if you’re into it, I’ll lean into it and let’s create that vibe of symmetrical sets and straight on angles. And I said, oh absolutely. Then Carrie at the costume center got on board and that’s why Anna Grace Barlow looks like she’s from Moonrise Kingdom.

L: Yesssss

R:  If you go back to the campsite scene, we used plaids and all these things ala that heightened style. I loved that episode so much, and every set was a meal. It was all stylized. The sheriff’s office, very stylized. We used angles that reflected that kind of style – I don’t wanna say an homage because every shot is an homage because you picked it up from somebody at some point – but nonetheless it was a consistent style thing through the whole episode and it was so fun to do. Anna Grace in her little beret and kerchief being super evil was just so phenomenal.

L: That really added to the character being memorable and full of personality.

R: Everything she does previous to that scene – when she did that hospital scene and expressed her fear to Dean and in the hotel room telling him she doesn’t know what she’ll do now because her friends are all dead? That scene rips your heart out.

L: Yes, you have no idea at the time.

R:  She was shaggin’ flies with every take. Everything was a great take by her, so she gave so many options and choices. And when she went dark, she went dark so well. She was a fantastic villainess. In many ways, I wish it was Season 5 instead of Season 15, because I think we would have seen her many more times.

L: My favorite moment was when she asks them to give her the gun, and Dean says, “the Equalizer?” and she just deadpans “I’m not gonna call it that.” I laughed out loud.

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A Chat With Richard Speight, Jr. – Driven, Kings of Con and Supernatural!

I hadn’t had a chance to chat with Richard Speight, Jr. since the fall of 2019, when, as we all know, the world was very, very different. So it felt like a welcome little slice of “normalcy” to sit down (in two different parts of the country) last week to catch up on what’s going on in his world – including the new film Driven, the newly renamed podcast with Rob Benedict, and the four episodes of Supernatural he’s directed in Season 15.  We’re so excited that Richard has a chapter in the new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural — his is one of the most inspiring chapters in the book and really wraps up what the show is all about and why so many of us love it. That chapter came from our last chat in the fall, and this chat turned out to be equally fascinating!

But first, our conversation last week began with the obligatory wow, 2020.

Lynn: Crazy time. Interesting time to be a psychologist.

Richard: Interesting time to be an auto mechanic! Everything is so bizarre. Every now and then, as I move through my day, I just have a moment of ‘Holy cow’…

L: It hits you like a slap in the face, doesn’t it? Like oh, this is actually real… It’s nice to cling to these little bits of normalcy. I’ve really been enjoying your podcast with Rob. Last week you announced it’s now going to be both a podcast and sometimes a youtube show – called Kings of Con. Which made a lot of people very happy, including me. How did that come about?

R: Well, we started the podcast on a lark, just to be creative and kill time, so we didn’t think about it or plan on writing the songs or anything. And it just became its own thing as we went along, and we discovered what was funny and what worked. Then, 12 episodes in, we started talking to some people who are much more ensconced in the podcast world and got some advice – one thing that is valued across the board is expanding the brand. And My Guest Is Richard Speight is a wonderful title if you know who the hell Richard Speight, Jr. is, but if you’re just scouring podcasts that’s not gonna mean anything to you.

L: (laughing) Very true.

Rob & Rich: The Kings of Con!

R: So we began aiming for a very specific audience vs. aiming for an audience in general. And because we’re enjoying doing it and we’re finding a comedic style and format that we really like, we thought, “let’s take the advice of people who do this for a living and really try to make this a cooler brand.”

[Detour on the phone call for Dad Richard, which was frankly adorable]

R: Hang on Lynn, I’m with the kids by myself, I need to keep my eye on things…

L: (also a parent) Yes you do.

R (to young son): Your hair looks great, but you’ve gotta get dressed.

L: (cracks up)

R: (to Lynn) His hair is fabulous, but he’s totally naked.

[Yes, this was one of my favorite parts of the interview. Anyway…]

R: So we’re gonna have to discover this new podcast the same way we discovered that the first one worked.  We’ll figure it out, we’ll involve some guests, but not much is gonna change. We still like what we were already doing — the songs, the banter. We like everything. What we’re gonna do now is expand the brand so it’s a known property, but it’s not gonna be Richard Slate and Rob Bennett and the cast of the series, you know? It’s just like, we’re the dudes from the convention who are that voice and face of cons.

Richard emcees a con

L: It’s a great idea! So many of the people we love seeing at conventions, but especially you and Rob, can just sit and riff and make it hilariously funny. But this will allow other people who don’t know who you are to find it – and I think it will fill a real gap because you are the guys who have this vast knowledge of cons and con stories and other actors, so I think it will feel a real gap right now when people are really missing conventions.

R: Yeah, and I’m itching to have people come in and join us, from that world and elsewhere. The whole zoom recording and youtube posting, which were not things we really had considered, were strong recommendations from the people that we are tapping for info. So I figured we’d try that and see how it goes.

L: It’s a great time to explore and evolve – there’s a freedom to that I imagine, as an artist, to do what you want to do.

R: Yeah, it’s incredibly freeing — because it’s just us making crap up!

L: (laughing) There’s that.

R: There’s no time limit, no context, no ad dollars, nothing. It’s great!

L: I’m enjoying it, and I look forward to the new format. I really enjoyed the indie film you co-starred in that came out recently too, Driven. The film has an almost theatrical feel to it, since for most of the film it’s just the two main characters, often in a car. It had an intimacy to it with that close focus. What are the good things about that and what were the challenges?

R: In this case, I think when you have a movie that is theatrical in its style, which this was, you’re at the mercy of the dialogue — so you better hope it’s well written. I happen to think this was very well written, which was why I agreed to do it to start with. I thought it was very clever and fun.

L: It was!

[Phone call interlude, this time for the dog]

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Remembering #NashCon Over The Years – Sunday Panels!

Kim and I and quite a few of my other friends have had a bit of a tough time this weekend, since we’re all very aware that we had planned to be at the Creation Supernatural convention in Nashville right now. We’re missing our favorite show, and we’re missing our favorite cast, and we’re missing each other – so we thought it would be therapeutic to take a walk down memory lane and remember all the fun times we’ve had in Nashville in the past. So here are a few memories from me, and alot of pretty pictures and more memories from Kim. Enjoy this walk down memory lane with us!

2011 and 2012

[Lynn]  I went to the very first Nashcon, as it was then called, way back in 2011. It was before I did convention recaps here, back at the time Kathy and I were working on our very first book about Supernatural and fandom. We hadn’t planned on going, but impulsively decided to take a road trip down to Nashville, with Kathy’s ever-patient husband Dave as our driver. We stopped for hushpuppies along the way. Yum. I remember being awestruck by the Gaylord Opryland hotel complex, and getting lost every time I tried to make my way from our hotel room to the convention area. I had no decent camera and no decent seat in the back of the GA section, but Dave did manage to grab a giant cardboard poster of the Impala advertising the convention from a stand in the hallway on the last day of the con because I didn’t have the guts to – it still hangs in my office at the university to this day. Thanks, Dave.

Nashcon 2011 was also an incredible experience because it was the first time I got to witness Jensen Ackles and Steve Carlson play together. They did a jam session for a small group of people, and it was amazing – even though Jensen was clearly anxious. I caught up with him in the green room later and he asked with trepidation if it had been “okay”. OKAY?? It was fangirl heaven – and it seems even more special now, almost a decade later, as Jensen and Steve have released their amazing Radio Co collaboration. Here’s a small excerpt from my write up of what we were treated to that day (alas, no photos were allowed):

The last song they saved until last for a reason – it was the first song they ever played together. Steve was working on it one day and Jensen came over and started singing harmony. So Steve threw him in the woodshed (aka studio) and that’s how they recorded “Come Around More Alabama”.

Steve: He thought he was coming over for a beer, and I threw him in the woodshed and put him to work! And now that’s one of the most requested songs on itunes, because of Mr Ackles’ popularity.

Jensen (interrupts): And your genius writing skills.

Fans: Awwwww.

Their rendition of the song was incredible, the harmonies spot on, everyone in the room pretty much riveted. Afterwards, Jensen gave a heartfelt thank you to the fans for their donations (proceeds in part going to charity).

Jensen: It’s humbling and gratifying to be around people who are so supportive. You guys are awesome.

As he and Steve got up to head out, Jensen stopped once again, and sounding a little choked up, shook his head and said, “Best fans in the world.”

We couldn’t agree more, but it goes both ways. Right back at ya, guys.

2011 was also the year we spent a lot of time in the green room doing interviews for our first two books, Fandom At The Crossroads and Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. We were chatting with talented singer and great guy Brian Buckley while Jared was also in the room, so we got to witness him starting his Twitter account and hear the conversation that led up to making it @jarpad! We were privileged to be there as he watched his follower account slowly start to take off. Hard to believe that now, in 2020, he has 3 Million followers!

This seems to be the one blurry photo I managed to take in 2012 at Nashcon, but I remember it being a special convention for it being the first con after one of our books had been published, and how gracious and supportive the entire cast was about wanting a copy.

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