We recently had the honor of asking Richard Speight, Jr some questions about his new movie, ‘Three Blind Saints,’ which premieres December 13, 2011. We also threw in a couple of questions about Supernatural.
Richard Speight, Jr is a Supernatural fan favorite. His first appearance was as the Trickster in the second season episode, ‘Tall Tales.’ In the fifth season episode ‘Changing Channels,’ his character was revealed to be the arch-angel Gabriel. Even though Gabriel met his demise at the hands of his brother Lucifer in the episode ‘Hammer of the Gods,’ fans are still hoping that he will be brought back to the show.
Richard is now starring as Sam in the upcoming film, ‘Three Blind Saints.’
“Sam is a man with a plan, but lack of follow through turns his ideas into silly schemes. So when Sam’s latest scheme blows up, he and his cohorts, Jamal and Frankie, have to find new jobs. A series of mishaps lands them in jail in the small suburb of Rocky Road, and the three decide to fake “find” God to avoid more time behind bars.
The three are sentenced into the care of Rusty Pickens, a prominent member of Rocky Road, who sets them up as the leaders of the Rocky Road Community Church. Although it seems like an easy job, the gig gets thorny as the three get to know real people with real problems, and Sam, Jamal and Frankie realize they have nothing real to offer.
As they continue to bungle through their duties, the trio uncover a greedy plot to steal money from the church and eventually destroy it. Sam, Jamal and Frankie must decide whether to rescue the church and the people — no matter the consequences.
Three Blind Saints is the first feature film by Attaboy Media Productions.”
WinchesterBros: How did you get involved with Three Blind Saints? Did you audition, or did they reach out to you?
Richard Speight, Jr: My agent called and said, “You’ve got an offer to play the lead in a romantic comedy shooting in Lees Summit, Missouri. Interested?” And I said, “Lees Summit?! Where do I sign?!” (Turns out, Lees Summit is a FANTASTIC little town just outside Kansas City, birthplace of the best barbeque in the world). It was later explained that director John Eschenbaum is a fan of “Supernatural,” and his wife Heather is a HUGE fan of “Supernatural.” If you think about it, it makes sense. “Three Blind Saints” is a spiritually themed movie, I played the Archangel Gabriel… a perfect fit!
WB: From the trailer there seems to be a great deal of humor and physicality involved, how scripted was it or was there an opportunity to ad lib?
RSJR: Yeah, there was some ad-libbing going on, but we tried to map everything out the night before and during blocking rehearsals. We definitely went off script, especially Elijah Rock and myself, but we made sure we knew what we were changing or adding before John called “Action!” Time is of the essence when making movies, especially movies without big Hollywood budgets. You don’t have the luxury of blowing takes by trying something completely new. We tried to do all our screwing up and experimenting before they roll camera. It didn’t always work that way, but we tried.
WB: How do you feel about the religious aspects in Three Blind Saints and the way religion and church are portrayed in the movie?
RSJR: This movie definitely has a strong spiritual element, but at its core, it’s a romantic comedy. This is an upbeat, family friendly movie for everyone. I liken it to “Bruce Almighty.” You don’t have to be a churchgoer to enjoy that movie and appreciate its message. It’s interesting. I get this question a lot – about how I feel being in a “religious” film. Yet when I played a rapist in a Showtime series, no one batted an eye. I grew up going to church with my family, so God and religion aren’t scary subjects to me. In truth, you’d be hard pressed to listen to a political discussion, watch a pro football game, or tune in to an awards show without hearing God mentioned. Yet it says a lot about our society and what it expects from its entertainment that a film that openly acknowledges a higher power raises more eyebrows than one filled with sexuality and ultra-violence. I’m proud of a lot of the projects I’ve worked on, but this is the first one I’ve done in probably a decade that I can show my kids. I think that’s pretty cool.
WB: What would you say is the main evolution your character goes through in the movie?
RSJR: Sam is a likeable guy, but he has spent his whole life charming and conning his way into getting what he wants. It takes meeting someone special (“Tiffany” – played by Audrey Matos) in the middle of one of his cons to make him realize that he’s selling himself – and others around him – short. That’s when he gets blindsided by the spiritual elements of the film, forcing him to take a good, hard look at himself and what drives him. But Sam’s transition isn’t from ‘bad’ to ‘good,’ but rather from ‘fake’ to ‘real.’ From “What tricks can I pull to get what I want?” to “How can I prove I’ve changed, that I’m the real deal?”
WB: This sounds like a redemption story told with humor about your character, how did you go about relating to/playing ‘Sam?’
RSJR: Once I take on a role, I dismiss the themes being presented in the script and focus solely on my guy. Relating to the character isn’t important because this isn’t the “Richard Speight” story. This is Sam’s story. Steve Gray mapped out Sam’s journey in the script, and my job was to execute that journey as honestly as possible. That said, Sam does have a humorous approach to life. I’m a little like that myself. I tend to find the funny in the oddest of places. That’s just how my head works. Drove my grade school teachers nuts.
WB: Amidst the redemption storyline there seems to also be a love story revolving around your character, how was it to play what appears to be the romantic lead?
RSJR: Well, it helped that Audrey was truly, deeply, and dare I say, awkwardly attracted to me throughout the entire shoot. Seriously, it was great. She and I had a very similar approach to the process. We took our storyline very seriously and did our best to be sure the seeds were planted correctly throughout the movie to justify our characters’ eventual connection. I admire her work ethic. She was a joy to act with and a delight to be around.
WB: It seems like the movie is really using social networking, fans, etc. to get the word out, was it always one of the goals to promote the movie this way in the day to day filming?
RSJR: That’s all the master plan of the director (John Eschenbaum), E-Boom (Elizabeth McKinley Tuttle), and T-Biscuit (Torrie Weedman). They were all over that from day one. I never knew what the heck was going on. Still don’t.
WB: The movie was shot in only 18 days, were there any particular struggle with shooting a film on such a tight schedule?
RSJR: No struggle at all beyond the usual production pitfalls. Filmmaking, especially on a lower budget and a short schedule, is a team sport, and we had an AMAZING team. As I mentioned, the other actors were great. But more importantly, the folks making the machine run were dynamite. As the driving force behind the whole project, Steve Gray was a fearless team leader. Our director John Eschenbaum was unflappable amid all the madness. Brad Wilson, our Executive producer, may be the nicest man alive. Producer Allan Hagan worked miracles. We had an amazing DP in Tal Lazar, and a wondrous soundman in Dean Andre. Plus we had countless volunteers who worked as long and as hard as the paid crew. Volunteers! Who volunteers to take on thankless, endless work on a film set?! No one! That was the craziest part of the whole shoot – and maybe the coolest. They were all so dang nice, too.
WB: This movie looks like so much fun and we would love to see it. How will the film be distributed? Will there be a nation wide release?
RSJR: Excellent question. We’ll all just have to wait and see. In the world of indie films, you just never know. But you can be sure that John Eschenbaum will Tweet and post it when we have that answer. As will I.
WB: What would you say to your Supernatural fans to entice them to watch this movie?
RSJR: “Three Blind Saints” is fun, plain and simple. It is a romantic comedy with spiritual themes – only unlike on “Supernatural,” the spirits aren’t evil. I can’t promise any monsters or violence or demon blood drinking because there isn’t any. But I can promise a funny, light-hearted ride filled with some great characters. If that doesn’t entice them, maybe this’ll sweeten the pot: in one scene, I dress in drag. There, now are you fired up?
WB: Speaking of Supernatural, your karaoke parties have become a HUGE tradition at the Supernatural conventions, and now you and Matt Cohen are doing them with a 60s theme. How did that get started?
RSJR: Matt loves to drop acid at those events, and the swinging 60’s format, with all the colors and tassels and shiny things, really enhances his trip. Matt and I got tired of hosting standard issue, boring karaoke parties at the conventions, so, with Creation’s (eventual) blessing, we kicked the door down on the whole thing and turned it into a party – the party to go to at any Supernatural Convention. The zany outfits just amp it all up. Plus Matt loves wearing tight pants. If you’ve never been to a Dick & Matt Karaoke Experience, change that in 2012. You’ll be glad you did.
WB: Your character, Trickster/Gabriel, is a big fan favorite. Any word on if he is coming back, and if you could write his return, what would you write?
RSJR: I have no idea if he’ll return. And as far as how he should return, I’ll leave that to the brighter brains of the “Supernatural” writing staff. I just hope they come up with something. I’d love to come back. My snap is getting rusty.
You can follow Richard Speight, Jr on twitter with @dicksp8jr.
The world premiere of the feature film “Three Blind Saints” will be December 13 at the AMC Mainstreet Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. Tickets to the premiere can be purchased at http://threeblindsaints.eventbright.com.