Out of all the interviews I did at Comic Con 2011, this one was my favorite. We were fortunate enough to get almost 15 minutes with consulting producer Ben Edlund. I’ve always wanted an extended opportunity to pick the brain of this wildly creative genius and man did he not disappoint. We even got to see in action how his creative process happens when processing ideas and it’s fascinating. I must honestly say, my life if complete now.
I'll give a mild spoiler warning, but Mr. Edlund didn't give away too much. I do think Sera Gamble threatened harm. :)
(Alice) So what’s this role of yours this year? You’re consulting producer now?
I’m consulting producer. I haven’t noticed much of a difference yet. It’s a job title. I asked for that. I’ve been on the show for a long time, I’m going to write probably the same number of scripts, I’m going to direct one, I’m involved in the breaking and stuff. I wanted to start looking in another direction. I just need a little portion of each week to start to think of something else, just for my own satisfaction.
What might be next for Cas and a possible redemption arc?
The first piece for Cas is obviously he’s our new God. His story is about stabilizing his God complex. I can’t really talk too much about it because the cliffhanger is so about Cas and so about where his character is going to go and the ramifications of what he’s done. In a sense I almost feel like the beginning of the season, the first episode of the next season, is almost the 23rd episode of last season. It’s another crescendo thing . So we can’t really talk about it because it’s other big set of shoes dropping. There’s like 8 shoes dropping in that one. I just have to be evasive. Ha!
The world has really narrowed down for Sam and Dean and now Cas is off crazy. Is there any chance that they’ll pick up a bit more help along the way?
Yes, I think so. We need to repopulate so that we can kill more people (laughs). We’ve talked about various possible characters. We always want to have a ground of people for them to relate to. Yeah, new characters will come. They’re going to have a tough year, Sam and Dean, like they always do. We’re really looking at, how have they been operating all these years, what have their tools been, what have their methods been, how can we take those things and make them difficult for them to use and they have to learn new tricks. They have to evolve too. This season is about challenging them as hunters. Previous seasons have often been about challenging them as brothers or as humans or as men. They’re going to have some professional difficulties because the world is going to try and eat them again. Well that happens every season.
(Alice) Speaking of about directing, apparently you want to do it again.
(Alice) I thought “The Man Would Be King” was brilliant. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve seen.
Really? Thank you. That’s neat.
(Alice) What was that experience like for you?
I found it awful, it was terrifying. Really scary. That was the second time I directed. I directed on “Angel” many years before and (I’m like) ‘They all know how to do that’ and I didn’t. I didn’t even know the words. (laughs). But I do know what I want. But it was a scary, scary thing. Our crew is amazing. Usually this happens but it’s really intense with “Supernatural.” Six years of this crew coalescing into this military unit that does really impossible work up in Vancouver. They’re so amazing to work with. There were days where I could hear the ball drop, I would just drop the ball. (makes crashing noise) “I dropped the ball.” “You know what, you didn’t. We know you did but we’re going to say you didn’t. Just keep moving.” They were great. That was the biggest challenge of my year, directing them.
Last Comic Con you teased that fairies would be coming up. Anything you can tease for this year?
I’ll tell you what I want. I don’t that have that one yet that we’ve gone, ‘We’re definitely doing that,’ but I’d like to start one here so that people hear about it and then I go ‘Oh yeah, I started that I think we should do it.’ We’ve got to put them on a spaceship this year (everyone laughs). Is there a way? Remember when Buck Rogers went to the second part of Buck Rogers and they were on The Seeker with the hot guy. Something like that. Is there a way to get them on a spaceship? That’s my question to you.
People have been suggesting a musical episode for years.
Yes, that true. That’s a tough one.
It is. You were kind of into it in “Smile Time.”
I like to write songs. I’ve only written one song for “Supernatural” which was the Ghostfacers theme. I think my voice is still on the track because I went and sang it for Chris on the soundtrack. I feel like Joss Whedon took on one central conceit of ‘How do you do that?’ and he did it great. That’s great, magic makes people sing, you’re trashing the musical universe suddenly and I haven’t yet thought of another replacement for that. By the way, he almost died doing that.
We also talk about the possibility of animation. We have yet to figure out how to work that. It’s possible maybe that there’s the anime people setup we might be able to connect with that somehow. I want to make sure we keep doing bizarre things. The tentpole oddness that makes the show.
Season five was supposed to be the end of the series and now that you guys have continued on is there and end game in mind for what you’re doing now?
There was every chance that season six would be the last season when we started it. There was a built in sense, you run two possible end games. One has a continuance. You just really have to feel it out. We have a general shape of an end but it can float forward and you can put more stuff in front of it. But those things might change too. We had a real plan through Eric up to five. It’s almost a real lesson of life that plans don’t work. You don’t know, you’re still alive. I think that there’s something thematically sound in the fact that this story doesn’t end oddly enough. These guys cannot die, they’ve died so many times, their torment is not terminable. There’s something interesting about that. (For) the end of this season we’re already discussing how we make it dovetail into an actual piece that ends. That’s a good question, I don’t have a full answer. Let’s talk later.
(This is where we have the first awkward moment of silence).
How are you enjoying your con?
It’s good. I always find it very interesting but very strange. This is the weirdest part of it. These multiple tables where I go ‘Oh, I can’t say anything. I’m not allowed to tell you anything. Okay, that’s done.”
In general Hell’s been more of the big bad and last season it was purgatory. I got the impression that this year Heaven would be the big bad.
In a way that’s perfectly valid. One aspect of Heaven is a corrupt God so that’s kind of bad. Heaven as the big bad was actually a big part of season four. The fact that Heaven was corrupt and running both sides of the game in a sense, they were ultimately a kind of corporate big bad that we were playing with. Again, more vision. I promise there will be a big bad to achieve problems.
Will we possibly see Heaven again?
Yes, in fact there are visits to Heaven already planned for us to tell various parts of the story. And I imagine further into the season we’ll probably play more with it. Because basically now we have these difference provinces to play with . We have Heaven, we have Hell, Purgatory we carved out, we have the veil, which is where ghosts live, we have earth itself. Technically we have the fairy dimension, I’m not sure how that wires in fully but I’m working on it. Alternate timelines, we got a lot of territory we’ve got to play with. All of those things we’re going to use all the way through. We’re going to milk it.
Can you talk about Cas’ mindset in the beginning of the season?
Yeah, I think so. His is one of those stories of absolute power and also you know one of those basic pivotal concepts in the bible which is fives, the issue of five. He’s going to have that unfortunate five days. (jokes) He’s on that show over there. He’s so tall. He has to go through all of those pieces. I imagine redemption will be part of it but redemption on “Supernatural” is a difficult tarnished road. So he starts right in the fall of five and then we’ll go from there.
(Me) What do you think about the criticism that Supernatural has gotten a little too depressing?
You know, I think it’s a pretty depressing show (laughs).
(Me, joking) And you’re a pretty depressed person?
I’m melancholy, I’m not depressed. Last season was actually a very dark season. That was a ride that people had to go through. Everyone had murky character shit going on. I think it’s a description of someone’s preference in taste but I think it’s pretty sad sometimes. They’ve had a horrible hard life. I don’t know, I think that “Supernatural” is about catharsis and vicarious torment. You watch them and there’s no happy time. (lighthearted voice) ‘Oh God, you went to Hell, oh you sure feel bad about your brother, I’m sorry too.’ It’s a tough ride. I think this season actually for people that think who felt last season was maybe too depressing, it’s going to be depressing also (laughs) but it’s not noir. Last season was noir and that’s a whole commitment to a certain kind of mirth. Very few noirs are uplifting. That noir date movie that did so well last year (laughs).
(Time for awkward break number two. We were given the signal to wrap up, which meant there would be no more questions, but then the escort left. So Ben was still left at our table. We weren’t going to stop there).
(Me) I’m going to do something for a fan that’s been on my site for a few years now. She has been campaigning for a zombie alligator and knows that you are the guy to do it.
That’s probably true actually. A zombie alligator. I’ll give that thought. (pauses) I think about, no, we’ll do it.
(Me) Where you do come up with a lot the creatures?
I don’t know. Often something comes into my head that seems so dumb that I almost shouldn’t say it and I get myself thinking. I mean, I’m serious about spaceships.
(Me) We’re serious about watching it.
Zombie alligator good because we can do something with taxidermy which we haven’t really touched. So we’ll start with alligator...(we can see the ideas churning in his head)...I’ll take it. There are days I’ll be happy to take whatever so tell your fan thank you.
(Me) Will do.
(There’s still no escort to take him to the next table, so Ben tells us abruptly but humorously “I’m going to go.” We all thank him while laughing and he goes on to share his wild ideas with another group).
Coming up next, Jared Padalecki and Jim Beaver.
Wonderful interview, thank you Alice.
I can't wait to see what he's going to do as a director and what his scripts will be about next season.
And Suze (and myself!) will be very, very happy if the zombie alligator truly appears at some point. I have loved the crazy idea of a zombiegator for so long... ah, that would be just wonderful!
The guys' torment is not terminable? Sniff... As much as I love the drama and the torment of the show, I feel so very sorry sometimes for our heroes, since they always seem to draw the shortest straw.
I do hope that when the show ends (one far, far day ), that they will get a shot at peace. But something tells me that is not going to happen... again: sniff...
As for melancholy... I think that's a very creative state of mind. When I look at world literature, the most beautiful and moving poems/works sprang from melancholy minds. And Edlunds scripts are, for me, beautiful, hilarious, but always moving pieces of poetry.
The man does not only look like a poet, he is one...
This was a joy to read, Alice. I'm so jealous that you had the chance of asking him those questions... Thank you for sharing!
As frequent browser/sometim e poster of TWFB, I am shocked and appalled that I have thus far missed out on this obviously genius inspiration; surely a Eureka moment to rival that of Archimedes (but with less of the debatable rushing-down-th e-street-after- a-bath shenanigans, we presume?)
I would like to sign up immediately to Team Zombie Alligator (TZA). Oh I should check first though: Is it possible to hold simultaneous membership to both the TZA and KSG (The Kumbaya Singing Group?) Please say 'tis so.
Anyway, just though I would take a moment to applaud the creativity of the genius who came up with this idea and Alice for passing it on to Ben, of Edlund fame.
One can only imagine the scene: the Brothers Winchester being chased by a Zombie Alligator, possibly through Bobby's scrapyard. What could be better than that? Unless, of course the alligator had swallowed an alarm clock first and you could hear it ticking before you saw it. Or if was being chased by a Zombie Yorkie. Or both.
Be still my beating heart.
Oh, my, I'd like to see her face should Edlund really weave the Zombiegator into an episode...
And Suze? Thou rocketh.
I think Suze and I will have to have a chat about the royalties from all the t-shirt sells!
And, yes, Suze is a rocking lass!
Thanks for another great interview Alice.