“A lot of people mistake success of an actor with celebrity status and that’s not always the case.” – Julian Richings, JaxCon 2017
The Creation Stands Convention was a whirlwind of activity, as we told you in Part One. If you haven’t read part one, what are you doing here? Go back and read it! There are just too many fantastic panels to cover in one post, so here in section two you will hear about Julian Richings, Alaina Huffman, Mark Pellegrino, R2M [Richard, Rob, and Matt], and the SNS or Saturday Night Special, the con-exclusive concert by Louden Swain.
Being the first panel of a con is undoubtedly stressful. Following an opening by Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict can’t be easy. Being the only female actor to appear during the convention is sure to be difficult. At least, we think so, but damn girl, Alaina Huffman didn’t break a sweat. Taking the stage as the very first panel, at the very first con of the 2017 season, she stole hearts. She told deeply personal stories about her life as a mom and the impact acting has on it, what it was going from playing a character as good as Black Canary on Smallville to playing a character as bad as Abaddon on Supernatural, and about that time when Richard Speight Jr. ran into her father-in-law, who was Rich’s Uber driver.
“I didn’t know my father-in-law drove Uber …I guess he retired and he was bored and… he sent me a picture [of him and Rich] and it’s like the cutest thing ever…”
Alaina fielded a lot of questions about what’s it is like for a woman in the industry. She never shied away from them and was stoutly in support of being a mother and a woman and an actor. She spoke eloquently about women not apologizing for working. It was clear she hoped her views came through with her portrayal of Abaddon, a strong, unapologetic, character on Supernatural:
“…I love that, as a bad guy [on Supernatural],I’m not hated.”
“Abaddon was meant to be a beacon of female empowerment.”
We believe that Alaina met her goal with Abaddon, She was a take charge character, strong independent and not afraid to go after what she wanted. Alaina was able to portray her with conviction and we think that’s one of the main reasons why, no matter how evil Abaddon was, she isn’t hated throughout the fandom. To further cement our love of Alaina she said this:
“…these conventions have been the highlight of my life.”
And we all swooned with how heartfelt her words were.
As always, no one who’s been on the show for more than five episodes escapes a panel without being asked about the pranks that happen on set. Alaina was in hysterics when she recounted the prank of her, Ruth Connell (Rowena), and Misha Collins wallpapering Mark Sheppard’s trailer with large prints of Castiel’s face from that years’ calendar.
“We put them everywhere, in the microwave, in the toilet, even in his shower. It took forty minutes and I went into Mom mode, ripping the calendars apart, organizing everyone until everything was covered in Misha’s face.”
We, and all fans, love hearing about what it is like to work with Jensen and Jared. Alaina was gracious enough to recount how their very first conversation was somehow about Vanilla Ice and she cannot remember why or how! She speculated with a fan about the kind of night on the town Abaddon and Rowena would have, as two of the more powerful female “villains” in the show.
“I think they’d go to the spa, maybe, as Ruth would say, a wee cafe, drinking, dancing, out on the town. Maybe they would team up.”
We do wonder what Rowena would say if she found out that Alaina’s favorite moment in the show was when she got to beat up Crowley.
“I think it was the time I got to beat the crap out of Crowley. All the crew were taking numbers for their turn.”
Though when it comes to her favorite line we have to agree with her when she said:
“‘I’ll stump ya to death, It’ll be swell.’”– I mean who even says that!”
Jay: I have to say I was so incredibly impressed with Alaina. For the very first panel of the con she really got it off on the right foot. She was so well spoken and so open and friendly I needed more. I actually went right then and bought a ticket for her photo-op and signing. She was an amazing sport and so fun in the photo-op. She was very liberal with the fans, taking time to talk to each one before the shutter snapped and she was down for anything! It was super fun!
Dawn: She was a doll and I kinda wish I had done the photo-op now. Also her energy during Friday karaoke was infectious.
For a man cast to play Death himself, Julian Richings could not be farther from the character he portrays. From the moment he stepped on stage to Rich singing “Oh, Death” in a ridiculous falsetto followed by Rob playing”Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, he was a ball of energy and exuberance. He bounded from one end of the stage to the other, filling the room with joy and excitement. Julian has truly embraced the fans love of him and his character, dressing in a tshirt with an adorable cartoon miniature Death– scythe and all– on it.
Julian started out by confessing he found out about his character, Mr. Hanley on Heartland, being killed off by stumbling upon the episode while watching TV and seeing the ambulance riding off down the road.
“I’m dead and inside! So I learned of my death in that way. I have died in both shows now.”
He talked about how he finds inspiration for each character he plays:
“In a funny way, I don’t differentiate so much between characters. I try to find the humanity in all the characters that I play, so in a way they are all aspects of me, I guess.”
We couldn’t agree more, as it is clear that Julian is just as passionate about food as Death was. He spent a lot of his panel expounding on his love of pizza–Chicago style is the best in his opinion–and how pepperoni was considered a special snack in England, and how delighted he was to find it so readily available on pizza in the US.
Jay: Julian was a ball of energy, he was funny and insightful, and I don’t think I’d have that much energy on a normal day let alone in front of hundreds of other people.
Dawn: I loved his “awkward schoolboy dance” every time he talked about having grown up in England.
When a fan inquired as to how, with such a bubbly personality, did Julian’s agent think he would make a good Death? We loved his response:
“I have cheekbones, I have an English accent, so right away it’s like: bad guy. So I’m always the creep who kills people in the first two minutes of the movie and then by five minutes in, I’m dead! I’m that guy.”
Julian really gave us some insight as to how he got involved with playing the character Death, how the producers were looking more for the dynamic between the Four Horseman than they were strictly looking for Death. So when he was asked to read for one of the Horseman, he actually read for Pestilence.
“When I got offered the job … I thought oh great I’m going to play Pestilence, and my agent said, ‘Oh no you’re going to play Death.’ Oh yes, Death, yes … So it goes back to one of the earlier question. Sure, I play Death but I try to bring as much humanity to Death as possible and see him as part of the cycle of life.”
After sharing a wonderfully personal and slightly horrible story of how he got a concussion by running head first into a plate-glass window while trying to catch a bus, he milked the crowd for all the aww’s he could get. It was adorable, especially when he politely said Thank you, after each chorus of aww. Julian Richings panel was entertaining and delightful. He was highly energetic and fully embraced the fans and their questions. By the end of it all it had been decided: Death Lives. Now we just have to wait for the writers to get on board.
R2M: We Three Kings (of Con)
Dawn: I have been challenged to write this part without turning into a flailing fangirl.
Jay: Impossible, she already owes me a dollar just for starting the review this way.
Dawn: SHUT UP I AM A PROFESSIONAL.
“You know what’s convenient? We have a Moose in our cast, and now, we have a Moose Knuckle.” – Rob
“This is the kind of sophisticated dialogue we have [backstage].” – Richard
Anyone who goes to the Richard, Rob, and Matt panel knows damn well this is not the place to go for deep introspection, powerful insights, or philosophical conversation. It IS the place to go if you want to hear about why men shouldn’t share dance belts, Gabriel and porn, and Matt “talking out of his ass.” This is comedy, folks, among three best friends. Welcome to it.
Questions ran the gamut, starting with the train story, which Richard seemed kinda tired of telling, to be honest, and is there anyone who doesn’t know it, at this point? Let me sum it up – Jared left Gen’s bags on the train platform, the train started moving, they couldn’t find anyone to help, Jared pulled the emergency stopped, and accidentally stopped all the trains in Northern Europe, thus ruining Mark Sheppard’s vacation, who was elsewhere in Europe, waiting on a train at the time.
There. Now you know the train story. Though admittedly, Rich’s Mark impression is really spot-on.
There were lots of questions about Kings of Con, which you are watching, correct? Rob and Rich made it clear that they are playing “a very cartoon version” of themselves, and that “Matt is for sure not playing himself.” It’s clear that they are all having a fantastic time making that show, which is, as Matt said, “good comedy with people I love.” Accurate.
Also the three of them often turn into adolescent boys. If there was a way to make a question or an answer even the slightest bit naughty, they found it. And the audience ate it up like candy. Delicious, inappropriate, probably lint-dusted candy.
Rob: By the way, I’m having fun fantasizing about [this question].
Rich: Yeah? What are we wearing?
The KoC questions were terrific, and I sincerely hope it gets them more viewers and a second season. So there were some in-jokes that probably confused anyone who hasn’t watched yet, such as how they got The Love Boat’s own Bernie Koppel to guest star on both the show and the aftershow, Kings of Conversation, and what a smooth old son of a bitch Koppel is. What would Bernie do, indeed.
Of course, there were Gabriel questions. Rich’s favorite moment was the great reveal at the end of “Changing Channels, “ but his favorite “channel” was “Jared getting hit in the moose knuckle.” His favorite thing about playing Gabriel? “I got to do porn.” More screaming. He then added a far more professional response about the rareness of getting to play a dual role.
“For me, the true gift of that was the complexity and the breadth of that role…And the porn.”
Yes, that was a theme. What would Gabriel do if he lost his Grace?
“God bless the internet. He’d still have access to dirty things.”
When Richard turned the question around and asked the audience what they thought Human!Gabriel would be, the answer was porn star.
Dawn: I would like to point out how professional I am being in the face of having to write that.
Jay: You are as incorrigible as your angel.
Dawn: That is the nicest thing you have ever said to me.
When asked how they would like their characters to return to the show, Rob won the day:
“For me, it would be if someone were praying, if Sam and Dean were praying, and I walk around the corner eating a bowl of cereal, in my boxer shorts.”
Dawn: ATTN SPN Writers: We need this like breathing. Get on it.
Jay: Could we at least get, like, a what happened on the God/Darkness family vacation?
The rest of the panel was a mishmash of laughing and impressions and self-deprecating humor, including all three of them basically saying if they went back in time to their 16-year-old selves to tell them what the future was like, those R2M teens would be say, to quote Rich, “Get away from me, me!” They are ridiculous creatures, and they know it, and they love every second of their good fortune.
We don’t take any of this for granted. Every minute of these cons, signing autographs, taking pictures, it’s… We feel like we are unworthy of this…We consider it an honor and a blessing to be able to have this experience. – Rob Benedict
A storm overcame the room when Mark Pellegrino stepped out. He didn’t waste any time connecting with the audience by telling his harrowing tale of what it took him to get to Jacksonville. Between missing a part of the plane, possibly not having enough fuel and flying directly into a storm, we don’t envy his troubles with travel. Good news is they made it and everything was ok. Mark confessed multiple times how much he loves coming to the conventions and meeting all the different parts of the fandom. We are pretty confidant that one truly scary flight isn’t going to keep him from continuing to meet us all.
Jumping into fan questions, Mark is hit with a long-standing fan favorite right off the bat–what does he think happened between Lucifer, Michael, Adam, and Sam in the cage. The question had the crowd screaming and Mark did not let them down:
“I can’t answer that question anymore. Because when I’ve answered it in the past I’ve gotten in trouble, now I like trouble… but um… I answered that question in San Francisco and for the next twelve hours I was beaten senseless by people on social media…. Fuck it… I’m not one to back down when the punches are flying.”
Mark had the crowd hanging on his every word, what happened next, we are sure you can find his panel on YouTube. What we are going to do is spend the next few moments thinking about when he said:
“I think they just had a perennial game of strip poker.”
Mark owned the stage, strolling around with the kind of swagger you would expect from the actor who played Lucifer. When asked about his favorite scene he couldn’t pick one:
“The show is my favorite show to work on…. I love working with everyone one on it, you know I really liked tormenting Sam and Jared was a good sport about it too, and those were fun, because they were playful. I liked when my character killed everyone in that town… the women, the children, and my character was sort of upset about it. It was really fun, working with everyone there.”
Mark spoke highly of the show, the cast and the crew, and said that he has a standing deal with his agent that if Supernatural ever calls, he must do the show, no matter what other project he is currently working on. Even if there is a conflict, he doesn’t care because he just loves working on the show.
It’s a theme we heard in a lot of the other panels: how the actors, though they have worked on other long-standing projects, became so close on Supernatural that it is so much more than a job to them. The idea of family is clearly important to all of them, and it informs the roles they play. For Mark, it was the basis for how he believes Lucifer to be and how he brings his own special connection to the character:
“It’s sort of the actor’s job to wrap themselves around the part and bring their own unique take to a character…. From my point of view as an actor the way I make it my own is to identify with the human part of the story. We can’t understand what it’s like to be an angel but we can understand what it’s like to be a son, or a brother, or a lover. We can;t understand the celestial struggle between Lucifer and God but we can understand a son scorned by his father… being upset about that, wanting revenge. That’s the way I make it my own by understanding it as a family struggle.”
To Mark, the entire point of the show is family, loyalty, love, and going to extremes to protect the people you love. (We couldn’t agree more.) He explained it in his very personal style by flipping the bird and saying how nice it is to have heroes [like Sam and Dean] who say “fuck it” to anything or anyone who wants to do harm to their brother. Be it God, or whomever, they never back down when it comes to protecting their family and their values.
“I love that the boys will go like this [gives the finger] to everything if it means hurting their brother….We need heroes like that nowadays, I think. People who are willing to stand up and say, nah, No.”
We almost missed the next question from the level of applause. We do need heroes like Sam and Dean and all of the many profound characters given to the fandom by the creative minds behind Supernatural. We think Mark’s outlook on Sam and Dean has a lot to do with his own outlook on Lucifer:
“My own personal take on Lucifer as the Original Rebel, since i am a rebel myself, I find it an honor to be associated with a being that went like this to authority. To. Unquestioned. Authority.”
Mark pointed out that while Lucifer gets a bad rap and has become psychologically twisted thanks to his time on the outskirts of society, his rebellion started with a very good premise–the sacred No, or the question Why.
Jay: I’d like that on a shirt please, maybe with a halo and little devil horns poking through. Maybe with like bat wings fading into angel wings on the back. Yeah, Dawn get that printed for me. I’ll be Original Rebel and you can be Crowley is Our King.
Dawn: Why do you get to be a rebel and I get to be a supplicant? Imma flip you the bird.
Mark encouraged everyone to always ask why we are being compelled to do something, to always reserve the power to say no to the things we don’t want or don’t like, and to always have the power to give the finger to those in a position of oppression or authority.
Jay: I think for myself and the grand majority of the fans at the convention, this spoke volumes to us. With the current political climate and on that day especially [the day of the Women’s March] messages of resistance, of unity, of never fearing your own power to question the wrongs you see in the world carried a lot of weight. Messages like those from Mark and so many other actors resounded among the community, they resonated and the fandom took notice. You could almost hear the spines of the women and men in the audience stiffening, preparing for the battle ahead. It was a very powerful moment.
Dawn: Mark is like the aging punk rocker of the cast, a little older now but no less ready to question authority. The fact that he is exceptionally well-read and knowledgeable–something more than one cast member commented on–makes his a serious force to be reckoned with. His panel really increased my respect for him. It made me like him more. It changed my mind about things. That’s a hell of a speaker.
Mark’s message about questioning authority wasn’t the only rebellious advice he gave out during his panel. When a fan asked how they could show their support for Supernatural without looking like a Satan worshiper, it seemed that, by the murmurs in the audience this was a concern many of the fans have faced at one point or another. Mark’s response was the perfect summary of his panel:
“I would say this… I think about this sometimes when I’m singing a song enthusiastically in my car and I come to a red light and all of a sudden I go [he cowers] and I think… why? It’s my fucking life, I’m experiencing joy right now, why am I letting my sense that somebody might think I’m absurd, crush my joy. Who. Cares. What. They. Think! It’s your joy, embrace it. Embrace it.”
He continued to empower the audience by saying:
“Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, find that joy, and if you find that here [in the Supernatural fandom], there is nothing to be ashamed of in finding your joy.”
Mark was the perfect combination of edgy and kind. He was sweet and courteous to every fan and he had the entire audience securely in the palm of his hand. It’s absolutely clear how much of his personality shines through his portrayal of Lucifer.
Of course, we couldn’t let Mark leave without finding out what it’s like to work on the set of Supernatural:
“I love working with those guys, they are … some of the nicest, smartest people I’ve ever worked with, so for me I just miss being on a set where they’ve been working together for over a decade and everything is like clockwork. There’s no separation really between cast and crew, we all work together and like each other. We joke with each other and have fun with each other, it’s nice to go to work and have fun. I miss that.”
When Mark had to turn away from the audience, or when the whole crowd went aww, because we totally didn’t cry. We just, you know, got choked up, by Lucifer. Lucifer choked us. And it was great.
No matter how many questions Mark answered one thing was abundantly clear, he wants us to stand together, to unite, to support one another, and most importantly to never stop fighting.
Saturday Night Special- SNS
The Saturday Night Special has become one of the fan favorite events of the Supernatural convention circuit. It’s the only place you can attend a convention and go to a concert all in the same place. Louden Swain–lovingly known as the “house band” of Supernatural conventions–has been performing with Rob Benedict as front man since 1997. And make no mistake–this band is not just fan service. Rob may be a little “aw, shucks” from time to time, but put a guitar in his hands and this guy is legit, yo. He is a rock star.
JaxCon’s concert was a special one–it was a benefit for Misha Collins’ charity, Random Acts. In a joint effort between Creation Stands and Random Acts, and the concert was livestreamed for all those who couldn’t attend. The goal was to raise as much money as we could, we strove for $60,000 in donations between both the livestream and actual audience. Matt Cohen even offered up the shit from his back shirt to one lucky fan if we could break through the evening’s goal.
There were a number of other prizes up for grabs for those who donated with different awards for the livestream viewers and the audience. It was a monumental night; in just a few hours, we were able to raise over $64,000.
Dawn: When other fandoms wonder why our cast members call us unstoppable, that’s why. Damn, we’re good.
Jay: As embarrassing as this is to admit, this was my first experience with Louden Swain. I had heard of them in the past but I had never really had an interest in seeking them out. What a mistake on my part. This concert blew me away. The way Rob put his heart, soul, and every ounce of emotion into each song, it reached me all the way in the back row.
Jay: When the band played She Waits it was unlike any experience I’ve had at the con so far. You could feel the fandom’s hearts beating as one, every person in tune with one another, and in turn connected to the band on stage. It was magic… it was……….Supernatural.
Dawn: I have been to a lot of shows. A lot. Over mumblemumble years. This was an exceptional concert. I need them to tour properly. I will bring everyone. LEGIT rock stars, kids. Legit.
It was clear throughout the entire con the theme was unity, acceptance, and doing for others. All of the actors got involved in some way or another. Mark Sheppard played drums. Richard Speight Jr. sang and played bass. Jason Manns brought his singular, soulful voice for more than a few songs, Jim Beaver and Mark Pellegrino wandered through the audience with baskets, collecting cash donations and stopping for selfies.
Everybody gave their all to ensure the night was a success for both the fans and for Random Acts. And we cannot think of anyone who could be more proud–or of whom we are more proud–than Misha Collins, who not only offered his own special tier of donation rewards but kept the energy high while the donations flooded in from all directions.
Jay: It’s moments like these, where I am proud to be part of this community. We are strong, we are good, and we make change happen.
Dawn: Fandom can save the world. Bet on it.