Supernatural’s Jim Beaver recently spoke to MediaBlvd Magazine about juggling two television shows, as well as about his memoir, Life’s That Way.
By Christina Radish
Actor Jim Beaver, better known to Supernatural fans as the much-beloved Bobby Singer, can also currently be seen as Sheriff Charlie Mills on the murder mystery thriller Harper’s Island. As if starring in two television series isn’t enough, the 58-year-old from Wyoming has also written a memoir, called Life’s That Way (www.lifesthatway.com).
Jim Beaver recently spoke to MediaBlvd Magazine for this exclusive interview about juggling two television shows, and how everyone should take the time in life to find the blessings and gifts, in even the toughest times.
MediaBlvd Magazine> What made you decide to juggle working on two TV shows, with both Supernatural and Harper’s Island?
Jim Beaver> They asked me to, and I’m a glutton for work. I love working. I feel a very strong commitment to Supernatural and, at the same time, I only do six or seven episodes a season, so that requires me to take other work as well, in order to keep a roof over my little girl’s head. So, there wasn’t much question about taking another job, when it came along. I’m just glad that it was such a fun job, and such an interesting show. I could be happy doing just Supernatural, but I take what comes along. It’s so hard for me to turn down work. I’d do a pet food commercial, if somebody asked me to, just ‘cause I like to work.
MediaBlvd> Now that you’ve been on Supernatural for awhile, what do you enjoy most about working on that show, and what are the biggest challenges?
Jim> What I like most is just going to work with the guys. Of course, I mean Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, but also the rest of the cast and the crew. It’s such a fun place to work. All shows, in my experience, are relatively fun to work on, and I’ve been really lucky with the crews that I’ve worked with, but this one is very special, probably because I’ve been involved with this show, longer than any other show I’ve ever been involved with. There’s just an enormous camaraderie and feeling of family love, with everybody on the set, so I love going to work ‘cause I love hanging out with these people. As far as challenges, it’s not that terribly different from any other show, except when we get into the special effects stuff, and that can sometimes be kind of tedious. And then, of course, when they want me to wrestle Jared to the ground or something, that’s tough. I need help ‘cause, despite my youthful appearance, I’m not 25 anymore. I get a kick out of the number of times that Bobby is supposed to restrain one of those guys ‘cause I couldn’t restrain them, in real life, with a truck.
MediaBlvd> Will the fans get to see you in the remaining episodes?
Jim> Oh, yeah. I’m in the rest of the episodes, this season. I have an abrupt departure in the final one, but I’m very much present in all three.
MediaBlvd> Is it difficult to work on shows, like Supernatural and Harper’s Island, that revolve around you having to be so secretive? Does it make it harder for you to develop your characters on each show?
Jim> They’re very different. Secrecy is just a casual, natural by-product on Supernatural, whereas secrecy on Harper’s Island was very much the primary factor. I had a secret clearance when I was in the Marines, and I signed more confidentiality agreements on Harper’s Island than I ever did, in the Marines. It was an interesting process, on that show, simply because the producers and the network didn’t even want me to let people know where I was, geographically, at any time, because they were afraid that would give a clue as to whether or not I was still alive on the show. Supernatural doesn’t have that kind of ongoing, day-to-day secrecy. There’s things we don’t tell. We don’t give away the season finale, or big reveals, but I don’t feel like I’m walking around with black helicopters hovering over the horizon, waiting to shoot me, if I say the wrong thing. As far as the work, when we’re actually doing it, I don’t think anybody thinks too terribly much about the secrecy. It’s just that day’s job. It’s when you get home. In my case, when I come back to L.A. from Vancouver, I sometimes catch myself, having to watch what I say.
MediaBlvd> Is there anything that you haven’t gotten to do yet, as an actor, that you’re still hoping to do?
Jim> Love scenes. No, seriously, I love the work I do. I just really love it. I don’t have particular things that I really hunger for, that I haven’t had a chance to do. There’s an awful lot of things that I have done that I’d love to do again. Anytime you want to put me on a horse, that’s great with me. There’s not much chance of that, on Supernatural or Harper’s Island. I’m very happy where I am. I’m very happy with how things are going, career wise. Sure, if somebody wants to make me Julia Roberts’ leading man in a movie, I’ll do it.
MediaBlvd> Why did you decide to put yourself out there and write a memoir about the things that you went through with your family, and what do you hope people will get out of reading it?
Jim> At first, I was reaching out for help. These were emails that I sent out to family and friends, when I first learned that my wife had cancer, and they were both cries for help and they were letting people know what was going on with us. But, I’ve always been very comfortable being open with who I am and what’s going on with me. In the aftermath, it had such a positive and strong effect on so many people, with the original emails that I sent out, that I got a lot of encouragement to turn it into a book. After you’ve had 4,000 people, around the world, reading your emails every night, it’s not that big a shift to say, “Well, let’s put it between hardcovers and let some more people read it.” I hope that what people take from it is not just a sad story, but that there are enormous blessings and enormous gifts to be found, even in the hardest of times. That’s what I found to be true. And, I hope that people learn a little bit about just how good their fellow man is because I certainly found that to be true. I hope that I’m able to convince some people of that. In our society, we’re pretty much taught to keep our troubles to ourselves, and I found that there were great riches to be had by sharing mine, and not in a poor me sort of way, but in a way that says, “Hey, we’re all in this together and all of this stuff happens to all of us, eventually.” So, it was a very moving experience for me to share it, and I’m hoping that I can pass on some of that feeling.
MediaBlvd> What do you think it is about you that allows you to be so honest and truthful, both in your life and in the characters you play? How do you think you’ve managed not to focus on anger or self-pity, considering everything you’ve had to go through?
Jim> I think most of that is probably something I can lay at the feet of my upbringing. My father was an incredibly good and open-heartened man, and he did his best to pass that onto me. His willingness, in his daily life, to show vulnerability, as well as strength, really rubbed off on me. So, I’ve always enjoyed opening myself up and being vulnerable to people, but not in an, “Oh, hey, look at me,” way, and that bleeds over into my acting. I can’t help it ‘cause that’s who I am.