We've got a ton of insider information on this returning CW series
On Thursday, September 18th, The CW's cult hit series Supernatural returns for its fourth crazy season premiere. And this year promises to present one of the most exciting episode runs in the entire history of the show. When last we saw our beloved demon hunters, Dean's contract was up and he was sent soaring deep into the bowels of Hell. In the season four opener, Sam and demon hunter/mentor Bobby Singer will hook up with a TV psychic to try and track down Dean, attempting to save him from his horrible fate. To celebrate the upcoming season, we tracked down Bobby Singer (aka Jim Beaver) to talk exclusively with him about what we can expect to see over the course of the next few months. Here is our very scoopernatural Supernatural interview with the man:
For the uninitiated, can you give us a little bit of background on your character, Bobby Singer?
Jim Beaver: Yeah. Bobby Singer is a Hunter. He is someone that hunts down and kills demons. He was a friend of John Winchester for many years. He is now a sort of surrogate father and uncle-type figure to John's two sons, Sam and Dean. That's it in a nutshell.
I just saw a clip from the upcoming season four premier. Dean returns to your house, alive. And you try to stab him with a silver blade. Can you extrapolate a little bit more on that scene, and how it continues to play out through this particular episode?
Jim Beaver: If you are a professional demon hunter, and a dead guy shows up at your front door, you don't take it for granted that everything is okay. That's what happens with Dean when he shows up at Bobby's front door. Bobby is very suspicious. Well...Suspicious isn't the word. He knows that this can't possibly be Dean. And he will take all the necessary steps to eliminate whoever this is. Bobby certainly has a surprise coming for him.
How does this play into the rest of the season? I know that Bobby and Sam team up with a psychic to find the real Dean. How does that run through the rest of the series?
Jim Beaver: That's kind of hard to say. I am not privy to what happens in the episodes I am not in. Nor the rest of the season from the point we are at now. I can't say what Eric Kripke has in mind. I don't recall the psychic trying to contact Dean. It may look that way in the clips you've seen. But that is another problem entirely. There may be some misdirection there. Our Psychic Network friend wasn't there to contact Dean.
Do you think Bobby Singer is going to venture into Hell this season?
Jim Beaver: I don't know. They haven't said one word about that. I'm sort of hoping not. Just because Dean comes back, doesn't mean everybody gets to. I have no idea if I will go to Hell or not. I have done three episodes out of the six that were shot for this season. We just finished. Beyond those three, I don't know what happens. Speculating is something a cross-town bus can do as well as I can. I don't know any of the secrets until they allow me to shoot them.
Are you going to be sticking around for the entire season? Or do you even know that much?
Jim Beaver: I don't know that much. I don't know anything. I'd presume that Bobby will be around in some sense for the entire season. He drops in when the boys need him. And they manage on their own when they don't. The producers will call me up a couple of weeks ahead of time, and they will tell me they have an episode for me. But until then, there is no sense of how many episodes I will be in. When the season starts, I don't know if I will be in nine episodes, or twelve. Or just the three. It all comes as it shows up.
What sorts of things can we expect to see out of Bobby Singer in the three episodes that you've already shot this season? What sort of storylines are you involved with?
Jim Beaver: I think we continue the traditional layout of the past seasons. We do a few episodes of the long-standing story arc, which deals with what is really going on with the Winchester brothers. And how their lives are shaped. And where their lives are going. That will be counterpoised to the individual adventures that they have. We have already shot a little bit of both. There is always a threat that comes from their ongoing lives. The one we just finished, episode six, is an individual adventure rather than an advancement of the mythology of the Winchester family. But still, there is always a touch of that. There are some revelations, or near revelations, that have occurred involving the brothers and what is really going on with them. Those will be quite tantalizing to the audience. So far, it has been a mixed bag. The first two episodes of the new season I was present for. In large part, they are explorations of Dean's return. And what that means to the show. What steps the hunters ought to take. There will always be a lot of variety on the show. I think Eric doesn't like to get stuck in one particular rut. He likes to mix up the styles of the storylines. I know there is going to be some real stylistic adventures this season. We have some episodes that will be completely different from any other episode in the entire run of the show. Especially in terms of their look and their approach. That is going to be fun. Well, it will be fun to watch. I wasn't really involved in those.
Do you have a particular moment that you are really excited for the fans of the show to see this season?
Jim Beaver: I think the opening few scenes of the first episodes are going to hit the fans hard, both in terms of excitement and in terms of emotion. I am really looking forward to hearing what the fan response is. Especially to the things that happen in the first part of the first episode. I will be pretty excited to see if the fans feel the same way about it that I do. I can't imagine they wont.
Your character is very well versed in the occult. Is that something you had to study up on when you came onto this show?
Jim Beaver: (Laughs) No, that is what writers are for. I let them tell me what to say and do. If I were playing an archeologist or a gold miner, I might do a little digging into that. But most of this stuff is so far outside my own area of expertise. But it is certainly right up Eric Kripke's alley. So I let him handle the research. He is much better at it than I would be.
I guess that also goes into your look. Did you have a hand in creating this iconic look for your character, with the trucker hats and the sleeveless flannels?
Jim Beaver: No, not really. Though, I am glad about the trucker hat. It means I don't have to spend much time in the hair stylist's chair. I wear baseball caps all the time in real life, anyway. So, I was happy about that. But I didn't suggest it. Again, I figure that the professionals whose job it is to come up with that stuff are better at it than I would be. I have sat with Eric, and talked about his vision. It is not really my job to impose my own vision. This is Eric's show. For the most part, I am happy to wear whatever they tell me to wear. For the most part. Yesterday was the first time I ever asked if I could wear something different than what they laid out for me. It was simply a matter of the scene. Bobby had just taken a shower and gotten cleaned up. Why would he put on a dirtier hat than he had on before? But that is a pretty small thing. These guys usually know what they are doing, and I let them do it.
You've been involved in series television since about the mid-70s. How has that changed compared to what is going on with series television at this current moment in time? And also, you act as a mentor in the show. Does that sort of bleed into real life, with you teaching Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles little tricks of the trade here and there?
Jim Beaver: To answer your second question first, there isn't much I can teach Jared and Jensen. I wouldn't really try. They are very good at what they do. In some ways, they are better than I am. Because they are here for everyday of the shoot. They are very good at technical things. I've probably learned more from them then they have from me. I'd be flattered if they picked up any tricks from me. But I don't think they need to learn anything from me. Except respect for their elders. I would say that series television has changed a lot since I first stuck my toe in the water a few years back. Fun genre shows like Supernatural tend to treat their audiences more seriously. They presume more intelligence. A lot of the stuff I did while breaking into the business seemed sort of inane compared to what we have now. I'm not just talking about the really deep shows. Even the fun, entertainment shows seem more intelligently put together. They are certainly aimed at a smarter audience. I think that is the biggest change I have seen. But that presents some challenges. I think the audience's attention span has diminished somewhat over time. There is a battle, because there are so many options for an audience. It's too easy to sit there with your remote. When I started in television, you had to get out of your chair and walk over to the TV to change a channel. That alone has made a big difference. You have to really engage your audience.
Looking at your resume, I noticed that a lot of your characters have been named after producers or other key crewmembers behind the scenes. Is that coincidental, or is there something more to that.
Jim Beaver: Hmm? Bobby Singer is the only one I can think of. That started out as a joke and sort of stuck. In the first episode I was in, Bobby was just named Bobby. But someone in the art department hung a sign over the wrecking yard that said Singer Automotive, just to make that connection between our producers Robert Singer. And that kind of took. But I don't think anybody writing the show started out intending to call him Bobby Singer. On Deadwood, I played a character that was named after a producer I knew of. But it was not someone I worked for. And that was by my request. The character had been named Ellsworth. By the end of the second season, they decided to give him a first name. I asked that he be called Whitney, because Whitney Ellsworth was a producer on a show I was a fan of (Adventures of Superman). It just seemed like a good name for the character. So that wasn't a coincidence. That was my choice. I can't think of any other examples.
And with that, Mr. Beaver was pulled from the interview. Be sure to catch the fourth season premiere of Supernatural airing at 9 pm only on The CW. You don't want to miss it!