Jim Beaver Interview(No Spoilers)

Posted: May 12, 2010 by ddbabygirl13 in Uncategorized
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Supernatural will end its fifth season on May 13 with “Swan Song,” which promises the ultimate showdown between good and evil, with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) surely caught in the middle of it all.  But official word is that a “beloved character” will perish in the hour.  Could that be Castiel (Misha Collins)?  Might it be the brothers’ hot wheels, their 1967 Chevy Impala?  Or maybe it’s Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), the boys’ ally, father figure and friend, who’s doomed to perish?  During a recent exclusive interview, Beaver — a veteran character actor, playwright, and screenwriter whom audiences will also remember as Ellsworth on Deadwood — slyly refused to tip his hand about Bobby’s fate.

You came on Supernatural near the end of season one.  How surprised — or not — are you that both the show and Bobby have stuck around so long?

I’m not surprised.  Once I figured out what kind of show this was and what kind of heart it had I figured it would run for as long as the people who make it wanted to make it.  So it doesn’t surprise me at all.

Early on, (creator and departing executive producer) Eric Kripke said that he had three years of stories ready to go and that he could imagine the show running for five seasons.  We now know that Supernatural will be back on the CW for a sixth season.  In what ways would you say the show has evolved over the years?

Well, when I first came aboard I didn’t expect to be experiencing the end of the world.  That came as a bit of a surprise.  I guess if anything has been surprising it’s just the scope and ambition of the show.  When I first came on I thought, “Oh, well, it’s another supernatural/adventure show.  There will be creature things and they’ll battle one a week, and that’ll be that.”  But ultimately it’s clear that Eric had a much bigger vision in mind.  To me it’s just been a delight to watch it unfold because every season brings new surprises.  I’m kind of lazy and not necessarily the most creative person in the world, so I don’t think I ever would have come up with some of the stuff that our writers have come up with in terms of that scope, but also the growth and development of the show and characters.  I think it’s one thing to write formulaic episodes where some version of the same thing happens week after week, and it’s quite another thing to write what is essentially a massive novel for television, which is what I think Eric and all of the writers have done.  It’s quite impressive, especially given the state of television these days.

Sam and Dean have been to hell and back, literally.  At this point, what do you see as Bobby’s role in their lives?

I think my role on the show is very much the classic foil, somebody who can both support and counteract the impulses and directions of the main characters.  I have always enjoyed playing that role on this show and other shows.  In some ways it’s less demanding and in some ways it’s more demanding than being the central figure on a show, but often a lot of the color on a show is to be found in the foil, and Bobby is certainly a colorful character.  If nothing else I show up often enough to be intriguing without showing up so often that I’m unwelcome.  It’s a great part.  It’s one of my favorite parts in my whole career.  And I’ve certainly never had this level of fan response, where I know from day to day what people think of me and think of the character.  That’s very rewarding.

Season five is about to end.  You’re of course not going to give us all the scoop, but tease it a little.

To me, great writing and great drama consists of going in very unexpected directions and then having the reader or the audience, in the aftermath, look at it and say, “Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but that’s exactly where it should have gone.”  I think maybe that’s where we’re going with the show.  I don’t think it will be expected.  I think a lot about the wrap-up of this season will surprise people and at the same time they’ll look back on it and think, “That was inevitable.”

There are all sorts of rumors going around about the fate of certain characters.  Whenever the journey ends for Bobby, whether it’s in “Swan Song” or next season, whether it’s with him dying or the show ending, what do you want/need to know about him to have complete closure on your experience playing the character?

I think that, ultimately, it’s the same question that all people have at the end of their journey, and that is, “Why was I here and what did it mean?”  I suspect that if the show plays out to its natural end that the audience is going to understand what this journey meant both to themselves and the characters.  Not every show gets the opportunity to play out to its natural end.  Having been on Deadwood, I can tell you that (from experience).

Let’s talk about a couple of other things.  Your published a memoir in 2009, Life’s That Way, and that’s out now in paperback.  In it you recount how, in 2003, your daughter Madeline was diagnosed as autistic and how, less than two months after that, your wife, (casting director and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actress) Cecily Adams, was diagnosed with the lung cancer that would claim her life just a few months later.  How cathartic was it for you, writing that first as a series of personal emails to family and friends, and then as a book?

The writing of it was done in real time, as it was all happening, and it was enormously cathartic and helpful to me.  I was initially very reluctant to put it out there for public consumption.  I had a pretty big audience when it was going out every night in emails, but the idea of putting it out as a book was quite daunting because I was not really sure if it wasn’t a little too private.  That sounds a little weird after putting out emails to four or five-thousand people around the world, but it still felt private.  But I heard from so many people that something about the way I opened up had been not just interesting, but also helpful.  I had a lot of encouragement from other people, almost to the extent of browbeating, and I finally realized it was a story I shouldn’t hide under a bushel.  As it turned, the book far, far exceeded my hopes.

A decent chunk of time has passed from when the book was published to now, with the paperback.  What updates, if any, did you add?

I made some adjustments in the epilogue.  Those are intended to catch readers up a little bit on some of the people involved in the story in the period following the year that I wrote about.  I (also) had a few additional people to thank by the time the paperback came around.  But other than that, it’s essentially the same book.

What will you be doing during your off-season?

I’m doing a lot of appearances at Supernatural fan conventions during the spring.  There’s not much time for normal hiatus work on other projects.  I’m literally going around the world in 80 days.  That’s another blessing of doing Supernatural and stepping into Bobby Singer’s shoes.  I’m getting to see some places I’ve never seen before and probably wouldn’t have the chance to see if it wasn’t for the show.  It’s a great gig, man.



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