Exclusive Interview with Jim Beaver | Playing Two Truth’s and a Lie About the Supernatural Season Five Finale| March 31, 2010 at 1:19 PM EDT
An Exclusive Interview with the Kind-Hearted and Unmistakably Remarkable Jim Beaver
(He is a treasure to the entertainment community.)
Celebrated in TV roles on Deadwood, Supernatural and Big Love (not to mention garnering movie roles in films that include Magnolia, Adaptation and The Life of David Gale) Jim Beaver has more than “actor” on his work resume. He’s also a writer (for the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures magazine Films in Review), playwright (a two-time finalist in the national Great American Play Contest), screenwriter (one of the TV shows he wrote for was Alfred Hitchcock Presents, for which not only was he was honored with the 1987 CableACE Award, but I also want to point out is a show my Dad is still mightily obsessed with to this day) and film historian (his niche is George Reeves aka TV’s Superman and if that was his Jeopardy category he’d win bazillions).
These days, some people are predominately familiar with Jim Beaver as the grumpily lovable Bobby Singer on Supernatural. I urge you (*urges*) to continue being a super SPN fan, but also to look into what else Beaver has accomplished. Most recently, he penned a memoir called Life’s That Way which follows the year after his now-deceased wife, Cecily Adams, was diagnosed with lung cancer. To say that this memoir has been met with critical acclaim doesn’t begun to explain what a beloved and treasured resource that it is. If you’ve lost someone in your life, I know of no other book to more readily and confidently suggest. (Life’s That Way is highly-rated and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and IndieBound.)
Jim Beaver has wrapped his scenes for Supernatural season five, and is heading to Rome – but before he left I was lucky enough to talk to him. We discussed the amazing Bobby-centric Supernatural episode “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid”, the Supernatural season five finale, and Life’s That Way. I even introduced the game “Two Truths, and a Lie” to Beaver, and we played it about the finale! And did I ask about the recent “Bobby will be God’s vessel” theory? You betcha.
Jessica Rae (JR): Had you ever given much thought about what Bobby’s wife would be like? How did that compare to Carrie Anne Fleming’s portrayal of Karen Singer?
Jim Beaver (JB): I hadn’t given a lot of thought to what Bobby’s wife would be like. I was a little surprised when I saw Carrie for the first time because her wardrobe was very traditional-housewife. It wasn’t that I had any objections to that, it just hadn’t occurred to me that was the direction they’d go. In terms of personality, I didn’t have any strong preconceptions… but I was so amazed by what Carrie brought to the role, and brought to our scenes together. It was kind of electrifying for me as an actor to actually have this person there – so real and with so much nuance in her character. Until that moment I’m not sure I’d thought so terribly much about the character of Karen Singer as a person, so much I thought of her as an image. And when Carrie Anne Fleming showed up I could see Karen Singer. So, it’s not so much about the differences between what I imagined and the reality, it’s more that I hadn’t thought about it. I was a little bit startled to see such a rich, human character in front of me.
JR: The marriage did seem very actualized, as though you two had been playing it for a long time.
JB: Yea, that was one of the elements, in particular, that she brought. And by extension it drew the same thing out of me, I think. The moment she walked into the room I felt like we had been together for years. I’m not sure how much of that was on the page. I just felt a real history was there for us. It was actually one of the more exciting onscreen relationships I’ve ever had. You rarely meet some new character on a show and feel like you’ve got years and years of history. And that’s what happened.
JR: You’re an established professional, but did anyone ever take you aside and make sure you were okay with the very sad storyline they had been prepared Bobby and his wife in the Dead Men episode?
JB: No. But that’s okay. I don’t think I would be much of an actor if I’d had an objection. My point of view as an actor is that if you’ve got something in your own personal history or knowledge that can augment your work, then you’ve got a leg up over everybody. So while there were deep emotional resonances with Bobby’s situation and my own history, and they were not easy to explore, I always thought of it as a very, very good thing. If I’m going to have an experience like I’ve had in my personal life, it makes me very happy to be able to take a little of it and make something useful out of it. No one ever talked to me in the sense of getting my permission. But it wouldn’t have occurred to me that maybe they should. The people on the crew were very concerned. And there a great deal of emotional support from everybody on show. So, I don’t think anybody thought it was necessary to check with me if it was okay… I think they know me well enough to know that it would be.
JR: I’d like to talk a little bit about your memoir, Life’s That Way. Do you find it at all unsettling or scary to know how your heart is laid bare and sitting on bookshelves everywhere?
JB: Well, sure. If you’re gonna put it that way! (Laughs)
JR: I think it’s so brave when you write something that honest.
JB: I wrote something of that effect in one of the e-mails that’s part of the book. And that’s, that it just it didn’t seem worth writing if I was gonna cover up the truth like we were just one of those 50’s families where nothing is horrible and they all smile. I thought, if I’m going to write about this experience, that means being as honest as I can be about what happened and what we went through. When I initially wrote those e-mails there were times where I thought ‘I can’t believe I’m writing this’. I’ve often noted that while I’m a very shy person — and I don’t always come off that way, but I feel like a very shy person — under the right circumstances I’ll open up. I don’t know what that’s all about. (Chuckles) There’s brave and stupid, and a thin line between them. (Laughs) I think a large part of the value the book may have is that I decided I was going to be completely open.
JR: I think people are drawn to it because nothing is hidden. It’s all out there. And speaking of good things people are saying about the book, I was wondering if there’s any compliment you’ve received about your book that’s really stood out to you. Not necessarily from an editor or reviewer – but from anyone.
JB: What has stood out for me is not so much in terms of compliments… although, some of the reviews and statements from readers are things that an author wouldn’t even dare write for themselves because they’re so wonderful. But for me, the true compliments of the book have come in the form of letters and messages I’ve received from people who’ve read it and told me that the book has had more of an affect in their lives than I would have dreamed it might. That people have found cause to be more open and sharing. I’ve gotten lots of letters from people that say they, or someone they knew, had gone through a great tragedy years ago and they’ve never been able to speak about it to anyone until they read this book. And that is the greatest compliment.
JR: Are you familiar with the game two lies and a truth? Where you say two lies and a truth, and we don’t know which is which?
JB: No, I’m not familiar with that.
JR: Well, it’s pretty easy. You just say two lies and one truth. And I was wondering if you could tell us two lies and a truth about the Supernatural season five finale?
JB: Let me see…two lies and a truth…
JR: And say them in any order you want. (I quickly realized this may have been a harder question than I’d anticipated it might be. The powers that be don’t allow spoilers, so Jim had to be careful in what he said.)
JB: (Laughs) Yea, well then you’d know. Okay… All the main characters die. Some of the main characters die. None of the main characters die.
JR: A lot of themes of death, but that’s what we expect from the show. (Laughs)
JB: Yea, I covered all the bases. Two of them have to be false. (Laughs)
JR: And, you know, people are saying maybe Bobby might be God’s vessel…do you think that’s a possibility that you could play?
JB: Well, you know – it’s Supernatural. Anything can happen.
JR: If you took a video camera and shot sneaky behind the scenes footage of the Supernatural cast and crew, what secrets do you think you could reveal?
JB: Let me think… You’d see Jared (Padalecki) spending a lot of time lifting weights and playing with his dogs, more than anything. Hmm…What it’d really show is that people on our show work a lot harder than people probably think we do. That’s a tough questions. We also eat a lot.
JR: Do you guys all use those little Amazon kindles, or do you read from physical books?
JB: (Pauses) Oh, well I said eat. (Laughs)
JR: Oh! I’m sorry. (Laughs)
JB: No, (Chuckles) I don’t know anybody on the show that knows how to read.
JR: We don’t expect that, that’s okay. (Laughs)
JB: No, I’m kidding. I haven’t seen a kindle. I see quite a few books though. But there’s a lot of food going down.
JR: Well, thank you so much for talking to me. Have fun on your trip to Rome! We’re excited to see how Supernatural plays out the rest of this season!
JB: Thank you.
And then Jim Beaver went off to do what Jim Beaver does best…be extraordinary. I pictured him striding down a hall with a song by The Kinks playing, and a regal pet lion trailing at his side.
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