September 4th is an important day in the SPN Family – it’s the birthday of Supernatural’s own Richard Speight Jr. As I write this, Richard is hard at work up in Vancouver directing his second episode of Season 14. Today is an important day because, in my opinion, Richard is one of the most influential individuals in terms of Supernatural’s success. He’s been integral to the show not just in one capacity, but in three important ways. His first connection to Supernatural was as a guest star way back in 2007. He’s been on the Show as a guest actor intermittently since then as either The Trickster or the archangel Gabriel, spanning almost the entire run of the show. He made us laugh and fall in love with his character as the Trickster, but most recently as the tortured and traumatized Gabriel, he’s made us feel for the character and mourn his death (and cross our fingers that it doesn’t stick once again).
Second, Richard has been directing Supernatural in addition to acting in it for the past several years, including some of my favorite episodes. Along with Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Amanda Tapping, Speight is one of the few actors who have also directed the show. In fact, Ackles recently told me that it was wonderful being able to rely on Richard as a director when he had to play a new character this season, Michael. It was a challenge not playing Dean Winchester in the midst of all the familiar people and visual cues that make up the Supernatural set, so Jensen asked Richard to keep an eye on his performance and make sure it was coming across as Michael, not Dean. Richard was able to help him, as Jensen said, “craft the character.” The fact that the cast trusts Speight so much, in both a professional sense and as a result of the friendship forged in over a decade of traveling the world and doing conventions together, make Speight a popular and effective director for the Show – along with the fact that he worked his ass off to perfect his directing skills.