It's been a big season for English actor Mark Sheppard on the CW's Supernatural, as his character, Crowley, continues his efforts to take out Abaddon so he can get back his King of Hell title. Crowley has become a useful enemy for Sam and Dean Winchester this season, and Sheppard admits he loves playing the charming, and quite devilish, rogue.
“The writers write Crowley so well. It's so much fun to do, so I think it endures,” said Sheppard in an exclusive interview with Blastr. “Over the years, I think the stories are getting better. I think the writing is fantastic, and I think the fans are a huge part of that. I mean, look at Supernatural. We're in season nine and moving forward into season 10, and I think the stories are getting better. The show is more popular. It's just been a fantastic year.”
Sheppard, a character actor with a rich and long resume, has appeared in everything from The X-Files to Doctor Who to Battlestar Galatica. But his role on Supernatural has lasted the longest.
“Crowley's been a very interesting evolution. I mean, he went from being what is apparently a crossroads demon to running Hell and then to having difficulties running Hell and then ultimately to be in exile. He's trying to regain his position. It's just a fantastic arc to play. I haven't had as much time, I must say, with the other characters, to do that. While I've had a lot of fun on a lot of other shows, the stories have tended to be of less duration. So Crowley, I've done, what, 30 episodes or so by now? It's over five seasons. It's a long time. It's a lovely journey to take,” said Sheppard.
Crowley was created by executive producer/writer Ben Edlund, and the character ended up being key to creator Eric Kripke's vision of how he planned the series would end after five seasons. But both Crowley and the series itself have evolved beyond what anyone could have imagined.
Supernatural is now in its ninth season, and has been renewed for a 10th. And whether or not Crowley survives the season, don't put it past him to pop up in season 10. He has been killed before and managed by overcome death by Castiel.
“I'm still not 100 percent certain what Crowley is ... Crowley could be certainly more than the sum of his parts, I would hope. I think we're sort of uncovering more of Crowley as we go along. Especially in season nine,” said Sheppard.
When Crowley first appeared in season five, he “just became this strange character that they hadn't had before. A sort of benevolent/malevolent being who looks after himself, primarily. I mean, his main motivation is obviously towards himself, but he can be very, very useful to the boys. So it's been an interesting journey in that way. I think the fans like him because the writers like him,” he said.
The journey has led to some interesting developments, including a road trip with Dean and another episode involved a demon hooker, silk pajamas and an intervention.
“It was nice to have a slightly different track for Crowley to follow. That situation obviously isn't over yet,” said Sheppard. “There's unfinished business between myself and Dean,” he said.
That unfinished business involves the Mark of Cain, the First Blade and, most importantly, taking out Abaddon. With season nine ending next week, expect plenty of action and dramatic developments for Crowley, Sam and Dean.
Supernatural's storyline has been “so attractive. It's the fact that 'fantasy' stories or genre stories themselves are always so much bigger and always so much richer to play than everyday procedural stuff. Some of the villains and the foreign nationals I've played in regular TV series have been interesting and fun to play, but the stuff I've managed to do in sci-fi has always stretched the boundaries a bit, which has always made it more interesting for me,” he said.
“I was a fan of Doctor Who before I was on Doctor Who. I watched Doctor Who as a kid. I can remember watching Lost in Space. There's so many things ... I liked the original Star Trek. I love watching the evolution of sci-fi and fantasy. I was always so enamored by Ridley's visions of especially Los Angeles, as I live here, in Blade Runner, and his visions of the future in Alien. What it is to be human, or more human than human. I love that stuff. I always did. I always thought that those were some of the greatest films ever made. And then piggyback with that, you've got so many great fantasy and genre movies alongside that that don't necessarily have to be pure sci-fi. You look at something like Battlestar Galactica, which I was lucky enough to be in. I find it's more akin to The West Wing than it is to, say, Star Trek. It has a political standpoint,” said Sheppard.
Genre television has taken on a whole new life, said the actor. “I think with the advent of cable and with the advent of the fans who are now writing and making shows, that's what's so extraordinary. The geeks really have inherited the Earth, if you think about it. The kids that were writing sci-fi stories at school are now writing sci-fi stories for television and for film and for graphic novels. There's so much more out there with the proliferation of the Internet and the delivery systems. There's now a better way of reaching your audience than there used to be when we only had three channels and everything had to fit a certain format,” he said.
“What better job is there in the world than the telling of stories? It's the most amazing thing. It's something that I did before I did it for a job and something that I love so much, and I hope I get to continue to do it. As far as Supernatural is concerned, I don't think we're done yet. I think there's more stories to tell. That's what makes it so much fun.”
Sheppard credits Supernatural's “incredible fanbase” with the show's longevity. “Not only an incredible fanbase, but an incredibly intelligent fanbase. That is it. That's what it's about. The people that are loyal to the show are loyal to the canon and loyal to the boys and loyal to the story. They're just fantastic. It's a great world to be in ... I think the cynicism has gone away from a lot of what it is that we're doing, as far as making great sci-fi and fantasy television. It now has to be done with a lot more heart and a lot more love. If you do that, I think the fans come, and I think the fans stay.”
Here's a preview of tonight's episode, "King of the Damned":
What do you think about Crowley on Supernatural?