Q&A: 'Supernatural's' Bobby Singer Lays All His Cards On The Table
Your character, Bobby, has definitely been put through the ringer before in seasons past on Supernatural. Can you talk to me a little bit about some of your favorite lore that the show has touched on in the past and which were your favorite demons to fight?
That's interesting...I liked the stuff with the trickster because I love the idea of-- certainly in the episode that I worked in (editor's note: referencing "Tall Tales," Season 2, Episode 15) -- to see sort of bizarre, fantastical things coming to life and challenging us. We had the kung fu lingerie models and chainsaw massacres, and all kinds of stuff in one episode-- all kinds of stuff in one scene, actually-- and that was just kind of fun. Off the top of my head, I guess that's one of my favorites in terms of the fantastic lore of the show.
Recently the show kind of turned to scripture for the angels versus demons arc, so as someone who grew up in a religious family, was this something that excited you-- as a new direction for the show-- or were you a little bit more skeptical because of your own upbringing?
Well, I wouldn't say either. Growing up a preacher's kid, you know, this whole apocalyptic, Book of Revelations stuff was fairly familiar to me, and it's interesting to see the kind of quote unquote real life variations that Eric [Kripke] and the staff are ringing on it. I guess, you know, I guess I'm sort of like the fans in that I'm very intrigued to see where it's going to go, and you know, I don't know where it's going to go.
That was going to be one of my next questions!
Yeah, I'm presuming Eric does [know where it's going]. I presume he has a plan for a resolution, but I don't know what it is, so very much like the fans I'm just excited to see what he does with it. I think it's very interesting and exciting and maybe a little bit scary ground he's trodding on right now. I'm going to be very interested to see how well he both keeps the fans excited and without running off somebody else. I know I'm glad I don't have to figure out how the apocalypse works itself out! I don't know that I've ever been involved with a show that had such a-- well, you know, a lot of things talk about an armageddon, but Eric's actually putting it on stage, and that's pretty amazing to me. I think a lot of shows just say "We can't go there," but Eric seems pretty fearless, and it makes for exciting television.
Bobby, in "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester," makes a bet with a demon that is unlike the past deals we've seen so far. But even in saying that, Bobby still knows about the consequences that come with dealing with such devils, so to speak, so can you talk a little bit about what motivated Bobby to make such a risky bet?
Well, as the viewers are going to find out, Bobby's not doing well with his new situation-- with being partially paralyzed. He's not handling it well, and he's both, I think, angry and despairing. Which are-- we've seen Bobby angry before, but we haven't really seen him despairing, and so out of that despair comes a sense of desperation. When this magical fellow with his magical poker game shows up and offers Bobby a chance to get his youth and his health back, I think out of that desperation, Bobby jumps at it. Of course, any time on Supernatural when a bad guy offers you something good, it's probably got a catch.
It certainly does in this case, and Bobby ends up having to be rescued by Sam and Dean rather than the other way around. It's both a funny and delightful episode and a rather dark and disturbing one at times.
Image © CW
I think the fans are going to feel very much for Bobby in this one, and I think emotionally it's going to be a pretty powerful episode in that regard. But it's also, I think, a hoot, because there's a lot of funny stuff with the fact that both Bobby and Dean get aged quite a bit in this episode. It's going to be a kick in the pants; it's one of my favorite episodes that I've done so far.
Oh, wow, well that's great to hear. Were you and Jensen both put through the prosthetics in order to get the proper aging effects then?
They put me through the prosthetics. They hired someone to play the older Dean. Chad Everett plays Dean, and I think he's just perfect casting. I didn't know Chad before this one, but he's not only an incredibly good-looking man, especially for seventy-two!, he's got the same sense of fun and sort of sassiness that Dean has. I think he ends up playing him very very well. It's a lot of fun to see him, you know, in Dean's clothes and doing Dean's mannerisms. But I on the other hand didn't have to age as much. Bobby doesn't age as much as Dean ages, so I had the unfortunate luck of the draw of having to go through the prosthetics, which is a pain in the neck.
Adds quite a few hours to your day, huh?
It was cool to look at. I wasn't crazy about taking it off, but it was definitely cool to look at. And oh yeah, a couple hours to put it on and then another couple of hours to take it off so...I mean, I can't really complain. My late wife Cecily (Adams) played a ferengi on Star Trek, and I never had to go through anything like what she had to go through on a much more frequent basis. At least I didn't have a big rubber head!
True. That might have been a bit more involved, though I'm sure the fans would line up to buy Bobby masks for Halloween or general convention-wearing.
So for awhile now Eric has been saying that the show-- at least the Winchester arc-- is set to end with this fifth season, so can you talk a little bit about what you'd like to do next if that does end up being the case, and Bobby is no more, come summer 2010?
Well, if season five were to end up being the last season, you know, I'd be, in a lot of ways, unhappy because it's a great role with really splendid people to work with. As an actor, you know, I've spent over thirty years trying to move from one job to the next and just hope they keep coming-- and just hope they keep being interesting! So far I've been lucky in that regard. I suppose if anything I'd love to get a haircut! I haven't had a real haircut in about seven years! You know, I think it's hard for some people to believe but up until 2002, I made my living playing cops, and I haven't looked like a cop in a long, long time. [Laughs] So I'd love to get a high and tight again just to remember what my skull looks like.
But you know, as far as life after Supernatural, I'm pretty easy: as long as I get to keep working, I'm happy. One of the things about working on this show-- and having to do it out of town-- has cost me is I don't get to do as much theater as I'd like. I had to cut down a few plays this year because Supernatural got in the way. You know, happy to do it; happy to have the job, but if I stopped having to go to Vancouver every few weeks, I'd probably find myself on stage a little more just because I love that as well.
And of course there's always the further adventures of Bobby Singer! It's not the worst idea for a show...
No, or even a web series. I know The CW is tapping into more of those these days.
[Laughs] Well you know, whatever comes, if it gets even a fraction of the wonderful response from the fans that Supernatural has gotten, and that I have gotten from playing Bobby, it will be a real blessing. In a lot of ways, this has been a turning point in my life-- playing this part. It was the first thing that got wide recognition, and everybody has been so lovely and splendid to me these past five seasons-- both on the show and in viewership and the fans.
Jim Beaver is also currently working on an independent film called Johnson & Johnson, in which he plays the role of "Fisherman." His memoir, "Life's That Way," is available in stores across the country, as well various online merchants.
Be sure to tune into Supernatural tonight-- as well as every Thursday night-- to see if Bobby and the Winchester boys can save the world after all.
Story by Danielle Turchiano
Starpulse contributing writer
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