Things you already knew about Jim Beaver:
– He has a long career working in Hollywood and has turned in stand-out performances on great shows like “Deadwood” and “Supernatural”.
– He has a beard.
Things you didn’t know about Jim Beaver:
– He’s a biographer and one of the foremost authorities on the life and death of tragic Hollywood figure George Reeves.
– His wife of twenty years died of lung cancer in 2004 and he wrote a book about dealing with her illness and death called “Life’s That Way” which is set to be published next year.
I had the honor of talking to this writing and acting veteran last week and hopefully you’ll find it as illuminating as I did.
What has surprised you about how your character, Bobby Singer, has developed over the course of the show?
Jim Beaver: Well, people have really come to like him. I wasn’t expecting that at all. He was a fun character from the beginning but I had no notion whatsoever that the fans would take to him in any sense at all. The fans have really seemed to embrace him and that really surprised me.
Is there any particular reason that surprised you?
Beaver: Well I’ve been doing this a long and just because I am who I am, I’ve played a number of characters who are at least vaguely similar to Bobby and no one’s paid any particular attention before. But I wasn’t fully aware of what “Supernatural” fans were like and how seriously and devotedly they take the show. And while I’ve played characters with vague similarities before, I’ve never played one for this long and I think the chance for me to play Bobby a number of times, it gives the audience a chance to get used to him and it has a strong effect. I’m still surprised but the more I play him, the less surprised I get because the writers have made him a fixture. Now that I’ve done sixteen or seventeen episodes so far, it made more sense for the audience to embrace him now as opposed to in the beginning.
Without giving too much away, can you tell us what we can expect to see from Bobby this season?
Beaver: Well, same old wardrobe. I’d love to be the one in the tuxedo one time but I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. In the very best sense of the phrase, I think Bobby is going to be more of the same. I don’t mean that in the dull and repetitive sense. I think it means that Bobby is going to be steadfast. I think the character is a rock for the brothers to rely on. I don’t think that’s going to change but we just finished episode six and that’s as far as I know for what’s coming in the future. So Bobby could turn into a circus clown in the next episode but they haven’t told me anything about it yet.
I was a big fan of “Deadwood” and I was wondering, looking back, what were your thoughts on that show?
Beaver: “Deadwood” was a magical experience. It was an absolute culmination of everything I’ve ever wanted to do as an actor as an artist and I was enormously proud to have been involved with it. I’ve done a bunch of jobs since “Deadwood” went off the air but it’s always been a very high bar that those other shows have to live up to. I’m real proud of it. I’m very happy and very proud to be involved with “Supernatural”. They’re very different shows with very different intentions so I can’t compare them in that way but I know that my life is much, much richer for having been a part of “Deadwood”.
I heard that you had recently written a book about the passing of your wife and I was wondering how the book came about.
Beaver: Well, in 2003, my wife Cecily was diagnosed with lung cancer and I spent 14 to 15 hours on the phone the first day we knew with friends and family, letting them know what was happening. And the phone never stopped ringing and I thought there was too much going on in my life to constantly be on the phone and telling people what was going on. So I started writing e-mails, at first just telling people what was happening on a day-to-day basis. As the weeks progressed, it started becoming a journal of the experience and people started passing those e-mails on to other people and those people passed it on to other people and within a month or so, I had several thousand people around the world reading these things. It shocked me. But I kept the journal up for a full year and then got a lot of encouragement to take it and turn it into a book. A lot of people felt like it would be helpful or in some way enlightening for other people on similar journeys. That’s how a bunch of e-mails turned into a book. It’s called “Life’s That Way”.
I also read that you have a long history not only as an actor but as a writer and that you’re working on a biography of George Reeves. Are you still working on that?
Beaver: I’m still working on it. Thanks to people like [“Supernatural” creator and executive producer] Eric Kripke I don’t have as much time to work on it, but yeah, I’ve been working on it for many years. It’s sort of an albatross around my neck in the sense that I would love to finish it and get it out there to all the people that told me they’d love to read it over the years, but it’s slowed the past few years because of a real roller-coaster ride for me, both personally and professionally and it’s very difficult to devote the time. But I don’t give up on it. It will be done eventually.
What is it about Reeves life that fascinates you?
Beaver: I think it was Oscar Wilde who said, “There are two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it,” I’m just fascinated by the story of a man who got almost precisely what he wanted and then ended up in some fashion destroying his life. It just seemed like a very dramatic circumstance. And as an actor, I feel like I have kind of a specialized viewpoint on the experience such as his.
Is it more difficult to find time to write these days?
Beaver: It’s strange. When you’re not the lead on a series, you work intermittently, even if you’re in every episode. This week is a very typical week where I work a couple days and I have a couple of days off. And so if I were a much more disciplined writer, I would take those days to go home and write and I do to a certain extent, but I guess every writer would like to have every day off.
“Supernatural” airs Thursday nights at 9/8c on The CW.