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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The Day Supernatural Didn’t End: Some Inspiration from There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done

 

May 18 is a day circled in many colors on my wall calendar, and a day that will always bring a jolt of emotion. It’s the day that Supernatural was supposed to air its last episode ever – its series finale. The day that Supernatural was supposed to end. I was supposed to be in Lawrence, Kansas, right now, gathered with fellow fans and friends (and lots of tissues) so we could support each other through that ending, in the place where the story began. Instead, I’m in my living room on my laptop, but I know that all over the world, fans are joining me in thinking about the significance of May 18 and the eventual ending of Supernatural.

For a long time, it’s a day that I was both looking forward to and dreading. This little show and its incredible fictional characters have been so important to me that losing it seemed on par with some of the most momentous occasions of my life. That might sound silly to someone who has never been a passionate fan and part of a passionate fan community, but it’s true. May 18 was going to be a day that I probably am never going to be prepared for.

The universe had other plans, and now we’re in what sometimes feels like a real life apocalypse, waiting for it to be safe for the cast and crew to film the final two episodes and for the final seven to be ready for broadcast. Sometime this fall, the CW promises, we’ll take our last ride with the Winchesters and Cas and Jack. I probably still won’t be ready.

We put together a new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, as a way of coping with the end of this special show. Both actors and fans came together to celebrate the legacy of Supernatural in a book that we hope is as inspiring (and beautiful, with fans contributing photography and original art) as the show itself. Jared and Jensen’s chapters bring together some of the emotional things they’ve said over the past year about the show ending, as a comfort and inspiration to fans, plus some new thoughts about Sam and Dean’s legacy. Misha Collins includes a special message to end the book, short but heartfelt. Fourteen other Supernatural actors and one of the show’s writers wrote chapters sharing their personal experiences on the show and with the fandom, and seventeen Supernatural fans also wrote from the heart about how the show and its characters and the fandom community have changed their lives. Actors and fans wrote from diverse perspectives and celebrated the show’s evolution in reflecting that same diversity.

We planned for the book to come out in May so that fans would have it to hang onto, as a source of comfort and hope and positivity, when the show came to an end. Somehow we pulled that impossible timetable off and the book went to print before the show went on a last surprise hiatus. The best laid plans, right? But now it seems like this is a time when we all need messages of hope and inspiration more than ever, especially from our favorite show and characters and actors and our fellow fans. Maybe it was for the best that There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done came out in May after all – we are all facing a lot of loss and uncertainty right now, so we hope this will be a source of comfort that helps to get us through.

And when that May 18 replacement date gets set and Supernatural does come to an end later this year, we hope you can reread the heartfelt messages of hope and inspiration in the book and get through that too. In the meantime, here are a few excerpts from There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done to get you through today!

It’s clear from their chapters that both actors and fans have been changed by this little show, and that it will always be important, to all of us.

Over the years (and lots of therapy!), I’ve gradually come closer to feeling like that brave, strong little girl I once was, which was why it was so important to me to portray Linda Tran on Supernatural. And although I still feel like a misfit and an outsider at times, I realize now that most people probably feel that way—our situations and particular details might be different, but we, as humans, are all much more alike than different. Perhaps that’s what has bound the Supernatural family so close together. We are all—fans, crew, and cast—a bunch of bighearted misfits who have come together around a show that we all love. At the end of the day, we all long for that sense of belonging.
– Lauren Tom (Linda Tran)

The best thing to come from the SPNFamily and Supernatural for me was the opportunity to do some good works in the world. I want to give full credit to Misha Collins for paving the way as the innovator and leader of the community in our charitable efforts. What is so rewarding about this experience is that it’s something I never would have chosen to do on my own. The “Less Than Three” campaign came out of the social interactions and conversations I had with people online who were following me, in a completely organic way… And again, we come back to family. The truly extraordinary, unique, inclusive SPNFamily.
-David Haydn-Jones (Arthur Ketch)

There’s another way in which Supernatural has changed my life. I can’t express how happy I am to have become friends with the cast members. I know I can reach out to any of the SPN ladies (not discounting the men here, but the SPN ladies are something special) when I need advice or I am feeling low, or when I’m stuck across town and want to kill a few hours. This was the best unexpected side effect of being cast on this show, and I am forever grateful to be a part of the SPNFamily. There is nothing more important than having magical women in your life that you can trust to show your entire true self to—the good, the bad, the ugly, the badass. How lucky I am that Supernatural has given me that . . . and so much more.
– Julie McNiven (Anna Milton)

That camaraderie and built-in support group that Julie talks about in her chapter is exactly what so many of us have found in the fandom as well. When you can be real with people, when your creativity and self expression is supported, that can be life changing.

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A Supernatural Celebration! Book Launch Party for There’ll Be Peace When You are Done

The book many of us have been working on for almost a year is finally ready to be launched – and we’re having a party to celebrate!  Join me (the editor), Alana King (who wrote a chapter) and Kim Prior (who coordinated the gorgeous photos in the book) for a Book Launch Livestream Party!

When and Where?

Wednesday May 6 kicking off at 9 pm ET/6 pm PST on Alana’s YouTube channel!

Who Will Be There?

We’ll be joined by lots of the actors who wrote chapters for the book at 9 pm – Andrea Drepaul (Melanie the werewolf), Carrie Genzel (Linda in Just My Imagination and Bugs), Chad Lindberg (Ash), Lee Majdoub (Hannah), Julie McNiven (Anna), Tahmoh Penikett (Gadreel), Lee Rumohr ( of the ‘hunter husbands’), Todd Stashwick (Dracula), Shoshannah Stern (Eileen), Brendan Taylor (New Doug)  and Lauren Tom (Mrs. Tran) are planning to join the fun (schedules permitting). And we’re expecting a few more actors to join in too, so stay tuned!

We’ll also have almost all of our talented fan contributors – writers, photographers and artists — joining us at 10 pm to chat about their journey with Supernatural and the SPNFamily and how the show and the fandom have inspired them.  Tedra Ashley-Wannemeuhler, Michael Banh, Patricia Barbera, Allison Broesder, Tanya Cook, Tara Coste, Sherri Dahl, Dawn Gray, Cris Griffin, Amy Hutton, Kaela Joseph, Liz Madsen, Gail Z. Martin, Jessica Mason, Vickie Ann McCoy, Suzanne McLean, Joelle Monique, Dmitri Novak, Emerson Lopez Odango, April Vian and Sarah Wylde will join me, Alana King and Kim Prior to talk all things Supernatural!

About The Book

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural has chapters by the cast of Supernatural and the fandom, and is all about what has made this show so special. The actors talk about what it has meant to them to portray their characters and how the SPNFamily has changed their lives. The fans talk about the characters and the actors who have inspired them, how the show has evolved over fifteen years, what this show has meant to them, and how the SPNFamily has done a ton of good in the world.  And we ALL weigh in on the legacy of this one-of-a-kind show and how we’ll (always) remember and love it. Including these two guys.

We hope this book will be something inspiring and comforting to hang onto as we come to the end of Supernatural’s fifteen year road trip (and also in this really stressful time when we all need good positive things in our lives).

Join In The Fun!

Please leave your questions for our contributors, both actors and fans, in the comments below or at the @FangasmSPN twitter post or Facebook post of this article. Then tune in to the livestream at 9 pm on Wednesday May 6 as they answer your questions and talk about their own journeys with Supernatural and the SPNFamily!

Come celebrate Supernatural with us!

— Lynn

You can pre-order There’ll Be Peace

When You Are Done now at

Peacewhenyouaredone.com

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done – Thanks To All Our Incredible Contributors!

 

When Supernatural announced that it was ending, I was too caught up in my own grief for a while to even think about what might help all of us get through a loss of this magnitude. Then I thought about the many people who have told me that the inspiring messages in Family Don’t End With Blood written by the cast and fans of Supernatural had helped them get through difficult times. Would a book that gave us all something tangible with which to celebrate and remember the show be helpful now?  I had already been working on another book about the show – one that would trace its evolution in terms of representation, especially for the women of Supernatural, and including the voices of actors who hadn’t written for Family Don’t End With Blood. Now that the show was ending, I thought about expanding that book. Maybe a book that would celebrate all fifteen years of this incredible show and its legacy would be an inspiration and allow all of us to “always keep fighting.”  A book that would give us all something beautiful (inside and out) to hang onto so we can always remember this extraordinary show and fandom.

By the time I had this realization and called my publisher at Ben Bella, the date on which the last episode of Supernatural would air was little more than a half year away. Was it even possible to put a book together that quickly and actually have it be released in time for the series finale?

I think my wonderful publisher at first laughed, and then maybe asked, wide eyed: Oh wait, are you serious?

I was.

It felt important to pull together the cast and fans of this one-of-a-kind show one more time to celebrate the legacy that Supernatural leaves behind. But that meant we had almost no time to gather people together and ask them to write about their experience with Supernatural at a time when they were already emotionally raw from the news of it ending (both the actors and the fans). It meant asking them to write something very personal very quickly. That’s asking a lot, especially when many of them were already over-the-top busy. It’s a real testament to just how important this show is to both cast and fans that 20 actors and 18 fans managed to contribute something to There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. Or, as my publisher has said, it’s a miracle.

But then again, Supernatural always has defied the odds, hasn’t it?

This is my thank you to all the talented people who contributed to There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, both fans and actors.

A big giant shout out to Tedra Ashley-Wannemuehler, Michael Banh, Patty Barbera, Allison Broesder, Tanya Cook, Tara Coste, Dawn Gray, Amy Hutton, Kaela Joseph, Alana King, Gail Martin, Jessica Mason, Joelle Monique, Dmitri Novak, Emerson Lopez Odango, April Vian and Sarah Wylde for sharing their powerful stories. Each one of their chapters was a labor of love, and it shows on every page. I think every fan of Supernatural, no matter why you watch or how you watch or how long you’ve been watching, will find something to relate to in these amazing chapters.

Fans not only wrote this book; they also made it beautiful. A special shout out to my partner in crime, the uber talented Kim Prior, who not only contributed many gorgeous photos but also coordinated the other talented photographers who contributed (and kept me mostly sane throughout this entire process). Those photographers, all fans of the show and the cast they focus their lenses on with so much talent, also came through with a tight deadline. Thank you to Monica Duff, Liz Madsen, Krista Martin, Suzanne McLean, Hansi Oppenheimer, Melissa Rothman and Chris Schmelke for contributing your beautiful photos. We also were incredibly fortunate to have the talents of three amazing artists – Christine Griffin once again created the breathtaking cover art, and Sherri Dahl and Mary Twist contributed sketches that bring the chapters to life. The talent in this fandom is almost unbelievable.

 

As is the talent onscreen – the actors who bring Supernatural’s characters to life. Another big giant shout out to the cast members who took time out of very busy schedules to contribute to the book (and who didn’t run away screaming when there was yet another nudge from me in their inbox…)  Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester), Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) and Misha Collins (Castiel) all contributed even though they were in the midst of dealing with their own strong emotions about Supernatural ending after being such an integral part of their lives for so long, and in the midst of still filming that show we’re trying to celebrate. Jared and Jensen both wrote chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood also. Misha has written substantial chapters for not one but two of our previous books. He was in the midst of about a dozen projects (most of which are helping to save the world), yet still contributed a briefer but heartfelt special message. (Most importantly, we’ve partnered with Random Acts once again — this book, like our previous one, benefits Random Acts – to help Misha keep saving the world!)

So many other actors also contributed chapters. A big shout out to Hugo Ateo (Cesar), Andrea Drepaul (Melanie the werewolf), Adam Fergus (Mick Davies), Carrie Genzel (Linda Berman “with sparkle on her face”), David Haydn-Jones (Arthur Ketch), Chad Lindberg (Ash), Lee Majdoub (Hannah), Julie McNiven (Anna Milton), Tahmoh Penikett (Gadreel), Lee Rumohr (Jesse), Richard Speight Jr. (Gabriel/Loki), Todd Stashwick (Dracula), Shoshannah Stern (Eileen Leahy), Gabriel Tigerman (Andy), Brendan Taylor (New Doug), Lauren Tom (Linda Tran) and Rick Worthy (Alpha Vamp), and to writer Davy Perez. Despite all the other projects these talented creators are juggling, they managed to write with genuineness and candor about this show and this fandom that has had such an impact on them.

A special thank you to Eric Kripke, who created this show and these characters that have changed all our lives. Without Kripke, there would be no Supernatural. I am beyond honored that he contributed a cover blurb for There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done that captures his love for the show and the fandom.

The book includes its original theme of exploring the evolution of Supernatural over the past fifteen seasons in terms of representation and the emphasis on family of all kinds. Both actors and fans wrote from diverse perspectives themselves in terms of race, sexuality, gender and disability. They are people of color, Indigenous people, deaf persons, gay and lesbian and bisexual and trans persons and all sorts of other persons. Some trace the evolution of the show in terms of representation as they themselves have searched for it. The book is also a celebration of Supernatural for all that it has brought to its fans and its cast, and of the important legacy it will leave behind. Some relate a powerful personal story of how this show and this fandom changed their lives, supported them through a tough time, or even helped them survive. Every chapter – and every author – is different. What ties them, and all of us, together, is Supernatural.

We all hope that when you read There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done that it will be a permanent way of remembering just how special Supernatural is, and will always be. Something beautiful and heartfelt to hang onto, to help with the inevitable grieving – and at the same time a joyous celebration of the Little Show That Could.

Every purchase benefits the important work of two charities that were created out of the show and the fandom: Random Acts, a partnership between Misha Collins and the SPNFamily, and SPNSurvivors, a non-profit organization started by fans of the show to bring to life and spread the “always keep fighting” message.

–Lynn

You can preorder now at

Peacewhenyouaredone.com

and get bonus goodies too!

If you missed Family Don’t End

With Blood, there are links on

the home page.

 

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done

 

Fifteen years. Two brothers. Angels and demons. A story like no other. And one of the most passionate fan bases of all time.

That’s Supernatural.

When a show you love ends after changing your life in countless ways, saying goodbye is hard. When characters are as richly written as Sam and Dean and Castiel and so many others, they become as real to us as our own family. When the actors who portray them are as inspiring as the characters they play and surprisingly accessible, they also become important parts of our lives. And finally, when you find a group of people who share your passion for something – and then discover you share all sorts of other things too – you build a community that supports you through the toughest times. All that, from a little television show on the CW.

We’ve cherished having all this for fifteen years, and that makes it difficult to know we’ll be saying goodbye to the show itself in a few short months. At the same time, I think we all feel indescribably grateful to have had these wonderful things for so long — these characters, this cast, this SPNFamily. It’s been lightning in a bottle since day one, and I honestly don’t think there will ever be another show and family like this.

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural is an emotional look back at the television show Supernatural as it wraps up its final season after fifteen unprecedented years on air.

We’ve put this book together so we can all remember how special Supernatural is, forever. So we can celebrate the way the show has evolved in terms of diversity and representation, and the way the characters have inspired us, with chapters by actors and fans who are themselves representative of the kind of diversity we all look for in the media we love. So we have something to hang onto and revisit every time we want to immerse ourselves in all things Supernatural once again, with heartfelt words and breathtaking pictures and art. The actors who contributed chapters are every bit as emotional about the importance of the show and the legacy it leaves behind as the fans who contributed chapters are.

Supernatural has changed all of us, and made us all SPNFamily.  #SPNFamilyForever.

Both a celebration of Supernatural and a way of remembering what made it so special, this book is a permanent reminder of the legacy the show leaves behind and a reminder to the SPN Family to, like the series’ unofficial theme song says, “carry on.”

The book includes very personal chapters written by actors Hugo Ateo, Andrea Drepaul, Adam Fergus, Carrie Genzel, David Haydn-Jones, Chad Lindberg, Lee Majdoub, Julie McNiven, Tahmoh Penikett, Lee Rumohr, Richard Speight Jr., Todd Stashwick, Shoshannah Stern, Brendan Taylor, Gabe Tigerman, Lauren Tom, and Rick Worthy. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles’ chapters pull together some of the most heartfelt things they’ve said already over the past year about the show and its ending, plus some new thoughts about Sam and Dean’s legacy. Misha Collins contributed a short but heartfelt message that provides a hopeful end to the book.

 

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done is the ultimate send-off for this iconic show that has touched and changed the lives of so many fans across all walks of life. Every copy benefits the important work of non-profits Random Acts and SPNSurvivors, and we hope it will help you always remember why this little show has been, and will always be, so special. On sale now wherever books are sold – click the link below to order –

Order your copy!

–Lynn