These two Brits are a pair of fan favorites, and not just in the “Supernatural” community, but in the science fiction world in general.It was wonderful to see them at Creation Entertainment’s “BurCon“!
I would like to credit my friend AmyinSydney for providing the images in my “BurCon” report. I had trouble with my camera over the weekend and she really helped bring sweet pictures for you to enjoy here. Please visit her at her cool blog sweetondean.blogspot.com. Thank you AmyinSydney!
I remember seeing Sebastian Roché (who played hedonistic angel Balthazar on “Supernatural“) for the first time back in 1996 as the villain in the short-lived Fox series “Roar” (which also starred Vera Farmiga and a very young Heath Ledger).
He was also seen in the NBC miniseries “Merlin” (the one with Sam Neill, not the current incarnation from the BBC); most recently he was Mikael (father of the wicked Klaus) on the CW network’s hit show “The Vampire Diaries“, and is currently filming an episode of “Grimm”.
Mark Sheppard is one of the hardest-working actors in show business, having racked up fourteen “Supernatural” episodes so far as the duplicitous King of Hell, Crowley; he has also been seen as Badger on Joss Whedon’s cult outer space western “Firefly” (and as Tanaka on Whedon’s “Dollhouse“), Romo Lampkin on “Battlestar Galactica“, Jim Sterling on “Leverage“, Valda on “Warehouse 13“, and most recently in “Mysterious Island” on Syfy. My personal favorite of Mark is his role as Canton Delaware on “Doctor Who“.
Roché wasted no time, beginning things before he and Sheppard were even introduced. He was soon attempting to direct the different areas of the crowd in competitive singing. “I love the power,” he said. Sheppard said that if he really wanted to get the audience screaming, he should say things like “Jensen Ackles“, to which a fan replied, “Mark Sheppard!”
The crowd squealed in delight. Roché then tried to top him by first saying his own name in a falsetto voice, followed by his standard impression of Dean (“Son of a bitch!”), ending with a purposeful mangling of a costar’s name as “Jared Padalechki“. And then the parade of fan questions began. I will present the highlights.
Roché plays characters that have a habit of getting killed, so what was his favorite death? “I really liked my death in ‘Fringe’…I know it was not as obvious as a spike up my ass…” (referring to how Castiel stabbed Balthazar in the back with an extremely pointy angel blade in “Supernatural”). “It wasn’t up my ass,” he immediately clarified, “though Misha wanted very much to…because, you know, he’s sort of…” and then made a waving motion with his hand. “Don’t tell anyone.”
“Lawsuit…” Sheppard declared. “Lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit…”
(I was not surprised by any of this. When I was in Haiti with Misha Collins last June, he told some of us that Roché delights in blue humor. Quite frankly, I would have been disappointed if he had kept everything on a PG or even a PG-13 level.)
What was Sheppard’s favorite set experience, besides “Supernatural”? The answer came easily : “‘Doctor Who’”.
Since Sheppard worked with director/writer Steven Moffat while filming “Doctor Who”, would he like to show up in season three of “Sherlock” (the brilliant BBC drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, also run by Moffat)? The crowd thought this was a splendid idea, since the fandom at large has created an internet meme known as “SuperWhoLock”, in which the characters and plot lines of “Supernatural”, “Doctor Who”, and “Sherlock” intertwine. (Go search for it on Tumblr. You will not be disappointed.) Of course, Sheppard was open to the idea.
Roché said he would like to appear on “Downton Abbey”, a declaration that was welcomed by the crowd. “I’ll be the new butler…”
Other than “Downton Abbey”, what other shows would they like to be on? Roché and Sheppard began to devise a buddy cop show on the spot, where two officers from Scotland Yard arrive in Hollywood and, as Roché put it, “Hilarity ensues.” They also agreed they would like to do a sitcom. “Because I think I’m funny,” said Roché, and then declared in a high voice, “Deep down, I just want to sing…” Sheppard recognized the quote from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, and the two spent the next minute doing spot-on dialogue from the classic comedy.
What is your favorite board game to play? “Naked Twister,” Sheppard replied without missing a beat, and the laugh that erupted from my throat was nearly inhuman. I have to confess my friend Kaz and I have an ongoing joke about “Supernatural” stars playing Naked Twister. (I may have already said too much…)
Believe it or not, this somehow sequed into a discussion as to whether Crowley is actually a demon or not; even though he is Hell’s current king, speculation has arisen as to whether he might be something else entirely. Sheppard pointed out that his character’s eyes have never flashed to any of the standard demon eye colors (solid black, red, yellow, or rolled over white). “Have my eyes ever flashed?” he asked, and the audience chorused “Noooo…!”
“Something is flashing me…” Roché countered.
Why were Balthazar’s wings not visible when he died? A rather important bit of “Supernatural” mythology is that, when an angel is killed, their shadowy black wings are splayed out on the ground. When Castiel killed Balthazar in “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, so such splay-age occurred. “I had very well-hidden ones,” Roché declared mischievously, “they’re naughty wings… They’re special naughty with extra barbecue sauce.” He likes the theories that say the missed wings sighting means his character is not really dead. The crowd agreed.
At one point, when Roché said something with a purposeful innuendo, he admonished the audience, “Your minds are in the gutter!”
Sheppard was also complimented on the American accent that he did in “Doctor Who”, and the fan pointed out that several British actors have a tendency to make their American accents rather nasal. She then asked, When Sheppard began acting, was he specifically interested in becoming a character actor? He said it just sort of happened. He pointed out that American shows tend to cast super-good-looking men in their lead roles, but the ongoing theme at the BBC is to choose the best actors, who are attractive but are not necessarily traditional hunks. (See : above. Re : Cumberbatch.)
“I see myself as [a character actor], too,” added Roché. “I’m very proud of it…I think it’s the backbone of every show, you need to have us…we get the best lines.” Sheppard said that it is never fun to go to an audition where one has to sit in a room full of people, each one trying to decide who happens to be the prettiest. “It’s not as much fun as trying to figure out who’s the most dangerous, or the most evil.”
It was a travesty that Balthazar and Crowley were never on screen together… Sheppard implied that the two characters might have had some sex scenes, and the fan replied that although she had read that particular fan fiction, that was not quite the direction in which she was headed. She wanted to know, What kind of adventures would they have? Sheppard suggested that a possible season eight would be a great time to slap the two characters together.
They both said they enjoyed the episode “My Heart Will Go On” (in which Balthazar went back in time to stop the sinking of the Titanic), which Roché celebrated by doing a purposefully terrible Celine Dion impression. “What, you don’t like my singing?”
If there were to be a musical episode of “Supernatural” (a la the tuneful episode of “Buffy” entitled “Once More With Feeling”), what would the two characters sing? (Personal note : I have heard rumblings that some fans want a musical episode – I personally think it is a terrible idea…but then again, I said the same thing about aforementioned musical “Buffy” episode as well…) Roché leapt to his feet and started writing his solo on the spot. “HEY! I’m Balthazar, I’m Balthazar…I like to shoot arrows out my ass…and snort cocaine off someone else…” He recalled a line in which Balthazar boasted that he had drunk champagne out of someone’s navel. “I wish I’d shot that scene!” he lamented.
Balthazar and Crowley are very fun characters…I screamed when Castiel killed you – “I screamed, too!” Roché broke in. They mused that some characters are like cockroaches, they just cannot be killed. “Oh, wait! That’s my nickname : CockRoché!…What?” he demanded as the audience reacted.
Did they have any input into their characters? “We actually write all the dialogue for Jensen and Jared,” Sheppard answered.
“If we wrote,” Roché added, “we’d be in every episode, darling. We’d be Jensen and Jared. We’d be like, Son of a bitch!…” The fan said she felt that their roles had been made for them to play. Roché told us that he had actually auditioned for Sheppard’s role and had done a terrible job.
“Or, conversely, I was so good,” Sheppard countered.
“Balthzar fits me to a tee,” Roché said. “Cuz I walked in with my jeans and my boots and my v-neck, and the costume girl’s like, ‘That’s it!’”
“…As soon as they ran out of money spending it all on my really cool suits,” Sheppard laughed.
“I prefer mine,” Roché answered, “and my tight jeans.” After a few audience members cat-called, Sheppard added, “They prefer your tight jeans, apparently.”
Going back to Crowley’s eyes…if Crowley is not a demon, what creature does Sheppard think he might be? Sheppard had no solid answer, but Roché giggled, “He’s a creepy Crowley!… CrockRoché and Creepy Crowley, oh, that’s brilliant!” When Sheppard was pressed for more hypotheses on what Crowley is, Roché broke in with, “I think he is short-sighted…he squints a lot.”
After observing their general silliness, the fan added, “I think you’ve been hanging out with Misha [Collins] way too long…”
If your “Supernatural” characters had a spin-off, what would it be called? “Balty and Crowley!” answered Roché, and when Sheppard balked, he corrected himself, “All right, Crowley and Balty…” Sheppard’s idea is simply, “Oh, Crowley!”
“That sounds like a sitcom from the 70s!” Roché laughed.
“Will you be my butler?”
“I’m nobody’s butler, mate!”
It was then that the two actors noticed that there was a girl of about ten years old waiting in the question line, and they felt a bit remorseful for their continuous salty language. “None of those words you heard actually mean anything,” Sheppard assured her. “They’re just…names, they’re names!”
Balthazar and Crowley play both sides of the fence… “Yeth we do!” said Roché in a fey voice.
“Now, what fence are we talking about?” asked Roché. “Picket fence…?”
Sheppard elaborated on the fun of playing such a shady character. “I think moral ambiguity is so much more fun…it’s not like Crowley’s gay…he just likes making everybody uncomfortable…I’ve been the victim of great writing.”
The next fan at the microphone was the ten-year-old girl mentioned above, and the men apologized once again. “You’ve just grown five years today,” Roché chuckled, “or maybe twenty.” When she told them exactly how young she was, Roché offered apologies once more.
“Sebastian,” answered Sheppard, “I have a twelve-year-old and a six-year-old. They taught me those words… The thing that’s great about kids that understand cursing, and they kind of have to, but they don’t curse, which is kind of really amazing.”
“I don’t have any children that I know of,” said Roché, at which point Sheppard tried to imply that the girl might be his.
“Where were you ten years ago?” Sheppard demanded, and Roché bolted from the stage in a feigned flusterment. When he returned, the girl asked her question : What were your favorite episodes? Roché enjoyed “My Heart Will Go On”; Sheppard stated he liked the Crowley episodes “where I’m helping…where you think I’m helping.” Furthermore, he talked about how he was disappointed about not being included in the sixth season meta episode “The French Mistake”, but realized that the writers couldn’t include everyone.
What was your favorite stunt in your career? It took them a few seconds to work out what she was saying; once Sheppard understood, he turned to Roché and repeated, “Which cunning stunt –”
“I beg your pardon!” Roché blustered with a grin. “It could be a really good anagram…’cunning stunt’…” A titter went through the crowd. “‘He’s a stunning…!’”
Sheppard then went on to praise the stunt performers of the industry. “They have to work hard to make sure they don’t kill us.” He spoke about an episode where he had to go flying through a wall, and there were six stuntmen there to make sure he remained unhurt. “I like doing horse stunts,” Roché said, and talked about how he got to do a jousting scene while playing Gawain in “Merlin”.
At that point, the main house lights flipped on, signaling that the end of the panel was drawing near. “I can see everyone!” Roché exclaimed. “…And it’s all girls! Where are the guys?”
“Sebastian, you’ve died and gone to heaven,” answered Sheppard. Roché then encouraged the handful of male fans in the room to stand up, and the women applauded the action.
The last question came… What was it like working on “Grimm”? Roché was in the middle of filming his episode of the NBC series and reported he would have to fly back to the set the following day. His character is a “mysterious, sort-of German assassin, and I can’t say more…it’s a really well-written character, and I’m enjoying myself very much.”
At that point, sadly, the panel ended. The feeling of looking down at the time on my phone and realizing that an hour had already gone by was one that I would experience several more times that day, and the next. I wish I could report that it got easier, but it did not. In fact, it only got worse!
Next Up : The Fantastic Four! Richard Speight, Jr., Matt Cohen, Rob Benedict, and Rick Worthy
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