After his tremendous performance in "Changing Channels," I contacted Richard Speight, Jr.'s manager to ask for an interview. A fan favorite and definitely my favorite Supernatural guest star, Richard is gracious, intelligent and funny. So without further ado...
Richard, thank you for agreeing to do this interview for the Supernatural Sisters! First, let me join the cacophony of praise for your performance in "Changing Channels." The show keeps telling us angels don't feel emotion, but Gabriel's pretty torn up over his family's situation, and you portrayed it beautifully.
Thanks a lot. That’s nice of you to say.
So, what was it like going back to the show? What did you think when they asked you back, and when you saw the script? Did you have any inkling at the time of your past appearances that there would be a revelation of such magnitude about your character?
I was thrilled to be asked back. I had no idea I’d be a part of such a big revelation until I read the script. I was blown away. I thought the “Changing Channels” script was outstanding. And it gave me some fantastic turns to make as an actor – which is rare when you’re guesting on a show.
This revelation seems to open up greater possibilities for a return, maybe for the expected big showdown at the end of the season. Is there anything you can say about that, or any thoughts you might have?
Here is some fascinating inside information: I have no idea. Seems I’m always the last to know if/when I’m going to be on the show and what exactly I’ll be doing. Even some of the fans find out before I do. I need to get a better agent. (Just kidding, Sheree).
What have you been working on between your Supernatural appearances? What can we look forward to seeing you in? (Especially, do you have any pending TV appearances?)
I just completed shooting what should be a funny scene in an otherwise very dark film called “Crave.” And I am a recurring character in the upcoming Showtime series “Look” set to air in early 2010.
I had the great pleasure of meeting you at the Salute to Supernatural in New Jersey earlier this year. If my memory is correct, you said that of all the things you do (writing, acting, music), you like writing best. Does writing take a back seat because you've been so successful with acting? What are you writing now (if you don't mind telling us)?
I do write a lot and I love it. I have a few projects in development right now. I don’t like to discuss them in detail because so much can go wrong before a project goes into full production. I don’t want to jinx it, nor do I want to look like a goon by talking about something like it’s a sure thing only to have it collapse. As of now, acting is what pays the bills. Eventually, I hope acting and writing split that duty.
You've talked about how you got your start in show business as a dancer. Do you still do any tap or ballet? How about performing with the/a band?
Good news for the dancing community – I don’t dance anymore. I stopped tapping when I was around 13. Truth is I wish I’d stuck with it. I love to watch great dancers, especially tap. If I had stayed with it, I’d probably be pretty decent by now.
I don’t perform with a band regularly anymore. I don’t want my weekends taken up playing music and not playing with my kids. I still play guitar for them all the time, though. There are the rare occasions when I get to play with a band. For example, the TV show “Life” had a band made up of Damian Lewis (the lead actor and an old friend from “Band of Brothers”) and some crew folks. They were playing a few songs in a bar in Culver City and needed someone to sit in on lead guitar, so Damian asked me. That was a blast. I was hoping to play with them again, but “Life” got canceled and Damian moved back to England. So much for rock stardom.
Preference: Movies or TV? Why?
Movies – although TV has gotten significantly better over the last ten years. Why Movies? I like watching one story – from beginning to end – in one sitting. I don’t watch enough TV to be able to enjoy shows with long arcs. It means I miss out on some good stuff, but that kind of TV just doesn’t fit my lifestyle right now.
For your (arguably) three highest-profile roles (Trickster/Gabriel on Supernatural, Bill on Jericho, Skip on Band of Brothers), what is the biggest element each has brought to your life and career?
“Supernatural” has brought me a relationship with fans unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The cons, on line… even this interview – all things completely foreign to me until I worked on “Supernatural.” I love the reception my characters get. Actors work in a bubble. You shoot, you go home, you watch it or not, you go on to the next gig. The ongoing experience my role on this show is creating for me is amazing. I love it.
“Band of Brothers” brought me some of my closest friends in LA. More importantly, it instilled in me a greater appreciation of what it means to be free, to be an American, and to be a man. I hope I can impart a fraction of what I’ve learned from “Band of Brothers” to my sons.
“Jericho” made me realize that no matter how hard I try, I look like crap in a tan Deputy Sheriff’s uniform.
You do regular updates on your Facebook page, and get tons of comments on your Wall there. Social networking gives fans unprecedented access to our favorite celebrities--we see that as a good thing. What's it like from a celebrity/working actor perspective, and do you think it's good, bad, or a mix?
I think it is awesome. For years, I had a website where fans could check out my stuff and post comments. But it wasn’t like Facebook. On my Fan Page, I can chat with folks, comment on stuff – I feel like I am a part of the dialogue. And I’m able to answer fan questions in a timely fashion. I really enjoy being able to do that. The fact that I have “fans” trips me out. I feel like if someone takes the time to join my page and post something, then I need to read it/look at it/answer it. It is the least I can do.
By the way, anyone wishing to visit my Facebook Fan Page, it is listed as Richard Speight Jr.
Before last week's episode, your appearances on Supernatural were limited in terms of screen time. Yet the impact is pretty powerful, considering it's drawn you to live appearances all over the country well after the episodes originally aired. Is this insane, or gratifying?
Speaking of conventions...can we hope to see you at any over the next year? Like, say, oh, maybe Parsippany, New Jersey, in July?
I certainly hope so. I had great time in New Jersey last year. If I am invited and it works out with scheduling, etc., I’ll be there.
And for a touch of silliness:
Would you survive the Zombpocalypse? Why or why not?
Yes I would. I’m pretty pale, so they’d think I was already dead and leave me alone.
Soda or pop?
Neither. I’m from the South. We call everything “Coke.”
Typical conversation heard at a restaurant in the South:
Y'all or you guys?
“You guys.” Not all Southerners say “Y’all.” But we do all say “Coke.”
Favorite NFL team? (In anticipation of your answer, this Patriots fan would like to offer an apology for 10/18. If I'm anticipating incorrectly...never mind.)
No apology necessary. I don’t really care about the NFL. If I had to answer, I’d say the New Orleans Saints because of Reggie Bush. Truth is, I only watch college ball. I’m a big fan of the USC Trojans – and a proud alumnus. Fight on!
Chips or fries?
Broccoli or Brussels sprouts?
Both – diced up and crammed into a casserole.
Most recent book you read:
I’m just about done with Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. Great book.
Most recent TV show that you got hooked on:
Ironically, “Supernatural.” I watched a bunch of recent episodes on DVD to prepare for “Changing Channels.” It’s a damn good show! Now I TiVo it. I’m a little behind, but I’ve got 'em saved.
Most fervent hope for the future (that you're willing to share with strangers):
A strong health care plan with a public option that covers all Americans and doesn’t add to the deficit.
Thank you so much, Richard, for doing this interview! I hope it wasn't torturous, and we look forward to seeing you on our screens for a long, long time to come.
Are you kidding? It was my pleasure!