Supernatural is currently in its 10th season on The CW, a feat that most shows can never even dream of achieving. And yet, if its fandom is any indication, this particular series shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. In Episode 1014, called “The Executioner’s Song,” Dean (Jensen Ackles), Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Castiel (Misha Collins) must deal with Cain’s (Timothy Omundson) return, and when Crowley (Mark Sheppard) bails on plans with his mother (Ruth Connell) to help the Winchesters, Rowena lets him have it.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Mark Sheppard talked about why Crowley is such a great and fun character to play, what’s it like to have been a part of Supernatural for six seasons now, what’s ahead for Crowley, how Crowley always puts Crowley first, how much he’s enjoying the dynamic between Crowley and his mother, how his character views the Winchester brothers, and what Crowley really thinks of Cain. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
With so many fun things that you’ve gotten to do, over the seasons, what have you most enjoyed about getting to play Crowley, throughout his journey on the show?
MARK SHEPPARD: It’s a great character to play, and it’s a lot of fun to play. Especially after being on the show for six seasons now, the fun, for me, is a testament to the writing. It’s such an amazing group of writers. Over the last six seasons, they’ve all massaged and played and tricked and sewn this great character together, from all the different sums of his parts. There’s a great new angle on Crowley, as we go into each season. There’s always something new to explore, and there’s always something new to play with. I’m very grateful to them for continuing to relish the character the way they do.
This show really has done the impossible. It’s so hard to get past the pilot stage anymore, let alone getting a full season on the air, or ever making it to 100 episodes anymore, and this show has made it 10 seasons. As an actor, what’s it like to know that you still have this show to come back to, at a time when so many shows have trouble finding their audience and aren’t given that chance?
SHEPPARD: It’s a very changing landscape out there. The times have changed, as far as the content delivery systems that we’re not dealing with. I think Supernatural is the last WB show that’s still on the air. It came from The WB and transitioned to The CW. I’ve been with The CW from the start of The CW, and it says a lot for our network and for our studio that they stood by the show and continued to keep the show high on their priorities list. And the biggest deal, of course, is the fans. There are 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds that come up and say, “I watch the show and love the show.” I’m like, “You were two years old when it started. How have you seen the show? When did you start watching it?” And they’ll say, “I started two months ago and binge-watched it.” There are so many people now, newly discovering it. There’s a whole new generation of viewers. We’re seeing it, every day. I’m very grateful to our network and our studio for seeing that and making that as much of an important part as just the straight general ratings are. It takes a village, or more of an army, really.
Without giving anything away, because I know you don’t like to reveal any secrets, what can you say about what’s ahead for Crowley, especially with the return of Cain?
SHEPPARD: What a fantastic chap! Tim [Omundson] is just so wonderfully delicious. He has the sexiest beard on television. He’s such a fabulous actor, and a great character. He’s such a dangerous character, too, to one and all. It’s exciting to see him back. But obviously, the Winchesters are going to need the First Blade, and Crowley is the custodian of the First Blade. And with that, there may be conditions. Who knows? It could be anything. I could be playing it straight. There could be trickery involved. There could be anything going on there. You know that I’m never giving anything away.
Crowley clearly is not a something for nothing kind of guy.
SHEPPARD: Well, yeah. I think Crowley always puts Crowley first, which makes it so much fun to play. Thank you very much, writers who have always got such a great angle. And we’ve got the added fun of Crowley’s mother, which is becoming an interesting thing for Crowley. I’m sure Crowley is aware that something is going on, but he’s maybe not exactly sure as to what. At some point, it’s probably going to be a necessity to sort out how he feels about his situation. It’s quite a big deal for Crowley. His abandonment, as a child, is definitely an issue. We’ll see how he deals with whatever it is that his mother’s agenda is presenting.
Do you think he’s been inherently suspicious of her just being there, or has it taken him some time to get suspicious?
SHEPPARD: She’s a witch. What the hell do you expect?! It doesn’t usually go well with witches. Just look at our canon. It’s not always a good thing. I think there’s a sense that Crowley believes he can handle anything, but you’ll have to see how that plays out. It’s a very interesting dynamic. She’s obviously a very strong force, and there are obviously things that she wants. We just don’t know if that suits Crowley or not.
How much fun is it to play the dynamic between Crowley and Rowena?
SHEPPARD: Ruth Connell is wonderful. I have to call my mother, after every show, and say, “I promise you, I don’t feel that way.”
Obviously, Crowley is a pretty inventive guy when it comes to getting out of a situation, and it seems like he’s inherited some of that from his mother. Will Crowley and Rowena continue to clash more, or will they find some common ground?
SHEPPARD: And there is Season 10 for you. You just asked exactly the question that you should be asking, so we’re doing our job. Will we discover what Rowena is up to? Will her agenda conflict with Crowley? Will Crowley ever be comfortable with the woman who abandoned him? The family dynamic is very interesting. When you consider what has happened to Crowley over the last few seasons, you have to wonder whether he’s been humanized. Is there a softer side to him? I’m not sure whether we’ll find that out or not. Of course, I could be lying about all of this.
Crowley is the King of Hell, but at the same time, we get to see a very human side of him around his mother. Did you spend time thinking about how he might change or be different around family, considering how we all tend to change a bit when we’re around family?
SHEPPARD: I love how you relate to the Crowley family history. I think you need to call your mom after this. It’s just an interesting dynamic to deal with this. In a weird way, it’s an origin concept, which is really fun to play with. I’ve always believed that Crowley always believes that he knows what he’s doing and that he’s always one step ahead. We’ll just have to see how that all plays out.
Crowley and the Winchester brothers have always gone back and forth between being uneasy allies and adversaries, depending on the situation. How would Crowley define their current status, and how does he feel about them, at this point?
SHEPPARD: I think with all relationships with Crowley, it ain’t over until Crowley says it’s over, as far as Crowley is concerned. The bromance with Dean is over when Crowley says so. It’s a very interesting ongoing dynamic. It’s a fun thing to play. There’s obviously a lot of love between them, in a dark, twisted way. I hope that’s what makes it fun to watch.
How would you say Crowley feels about Cain? Is that someone that he’s afraid of, at all?
SHEPPARD: That’s a great question. When John Badham directed the first Cain episode, he was like, “So, you’re afraid of him.” And I said, “I don’t think he’s actually afraid of him.” If you look at the flashbacks in that episode – and spoiler alert for that old episode from last season – you’ll see that Crowley was playing what he was playing, which was the knowledge of what Cain is. He’s got a healthy respect for somebody as dangerous and deadly as Cain. But, is Crowley ever really afraid of anything? There are some things that he appeared to be afraid of, but sometimes that’s turned out to be a lie or a manipulation. Whatever it’s ever been, Crowley has always believed that Crowley knows what Crowley is doing.
Supernatural airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.