Supernatural's beloved Bobby Singer died last Friday, thanks to a bullet in the brain from a shape-shifting Leviathan. Veteran actor Jim Beaver, who played the crotchety mentor to demon hunting brothers Sam and Dean Winchester on The CW series, talked to TV Guide Magazine about Bobby's shocking demise, his last days on the set and his upcoming role on Justified.
TV Guide Magazine: I'm in Bobby Singer mourning. When did you find out Bobby would be killed off?
Jim Beaver: Right after shooting episode 6, I was home in L.A. and got the call that no actor wants to get where the assistant says, "I have both your executive producers on the line." They said, "We've got bad news, but it's not that bad." They told me what they had planned but they also told me the send off episode was going to be pretty amazing for me. In fact, one of the execs said, "If you weren't on The CW, you'd win an Emmy." It was a little bit of déjà vu because I had something extremely similar happen on Deadwood, where an executive producer pulled me aside and said, "We're going to shoot you in the head." I didn't even get shot on a different side of the head. [Laughs] Pretty much the same entrance wound. Any time I go to work from now on, I'll wear a bandage there so we can skip right to the bullet wound.
TV Guide Magazine: Why do you think executive producers Sera Gamble and Eric Kripke decided to kill Bobby?
Beaver: I have exactly the same response to this as I had to Deadwood: I don't like it, but dramatically it's absolutely the right thing to do. In both shows, my character's demise was a catalyst for real dramatic shifts in the show. As a writer myself I know how important it is to provide the audience with that, whether they like it or not. Drama is about conflict and it's about putting obstacles in the path of people you who care about. Although I'll miss it, I can't argue the dramatics of it.
TV Guide Magazine: You're so nice about being killed off. Do you like the way Bobby went out? The 10th episode, December's "Death's Door," the one before we knew he had died, was both moving and action-filled.
Beaver: For a guest actor — which I always was on the show — to get an episode like that is just amazing. But I had two Bobby-centric episodes that were just about the most amazing things I've ever done. I was really happy with what they gave me. When I turned the script's page and I saw that Bobby's last word [to Sam and Dean] was "Idjits," I thought, "Man, this is just perfect." I was really, really impressed with the script and the variety of things we got to do. It was very complex, and a lot of fun to shoot. I was really happy to get to work with Carrie Anne Fleming, who played Bobby's wife, again. The only real downside was that most of my active stuff wasn't with Jared and Jensen. When I was with them I was mostly in a hospital bed, getting my toes twisted by Jared off camera. Which is always what happens when I'm in a hospital bed on that show.
TV Guide Magazine: What are your memories of your last day on set?
Beaver: It was the next to last day because Jared and Jensen were not going to be on the set on the last day. They show called a safety meeting, which they do once or twice a season. The entire cast and crew from the top down to the drivers and production assistants are there. I knew something was up when Jared and Jensen were there — they're never already there before me. Instead of playing this safety video, they played a video tribute to everything I'd done on the show. I was pretty verklempt. It was very touching. I said, "I know now what they're going to play at my funeral." It was a lovely moment. Coming to the end of the show, knowing I'd be saying goodbye to these cast and crew I love like family plus the pretty emotional stuff we were shooting that day. I might have gotten something in my eye.
TV Guide Magazine: How were Jared and Jensen?
Beaver: They were terrific. They stayed around after they were off work to for this. I'm crazy about them. Considering there's a little bit of an age difference between us, I didn't expect such a connection, but I feel so terribly good about them and about having the chance to work with them these seven seasons. They've been extraordinarily gracious to me even when I didn't necessarily deserve it. They're terrific actors too.
TV Guide Magazine: Will you still watch?
Beaver: No, I'm not on it anymore. [Laughs] I guess so. I got to find out who drank that beer after Bobby died.
TV Guide Magazine: So will we eventually see Ghost Bobby?
Beaver: I don't know! The flip side of having that little video tribute is it's sort of added a note of finality to it.
TV Guide Magazine: You have some very fervent fans. What's their reaction to Bobby's death?
Beaver: I knew that it was going to be a bit of a hurricane through the fan base. What I wasn't really expecting was the reaction I got personally after this past week's episode. I had figured that everyone realized, in episode 10, that when you flatline, you flatline. Apparently, it wasn't until episode 11 when Sam and Dean were shown weeks later and Bobby was clearly dead that it sank in with a lot of fans. I got a lot of response from people. A lot more than expected.
TV Guide Magazine: Are they sad, angry, appreciative?
Beaver: A mix of all that. It's kind of flattering that a few people said "I'm not watching the show anymore." I'm the one who doesn't get the paycheck and I haven't given up hope, so they certainly shouldn't. People seem to be treating it like they lost somebody in the family. That's incredibly touching.
TV Guide Magazine: So what's with your return to Justified?
Beaver: The timing couldn't have been better. I did an episode of Justified last season that they had hoped to extend, but their schedule conflicted with Supernatural. They called recently and said they had a really nice arc for the same character, Shelby, who was the security man at the mine that Boyd Crowder [Walton Goggins] was trying to rob. He's a character who's a bit beaten down in life. After the robbery Shelby was fired and Boyd presents him with a radically different employment opportunity. [Laughs] I show up in episode 7, and I could be on a lot of the rest of the season.
TV Guide Magazine: You do know that working on Justified often ends up with a bullet in the head?
Beaver: These days I take that for granted.
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