“A lot of people mistake success of an actor with celebrity status and that’s not always the case.” – Julian Richings, JaxCon 2017
Posted by Dawn and Jaymee
Additional Photography by Shannon Laree Photography aka @reelnerdy and ToniAnn Licata Photography
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.
Jay: She was so wonderful and agreed immediately to reenact the scene with me where she has Dean gripped by the back of his head. She laughed and said Right on, of course! — P.S She is super pretty and it was way intimidating for me when she slipped back into the Abaddon role.
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.