There is an Internet meme that’s a collage of actor Mark A. Sheppard in some of his many recurring genre TV roles – as King of Hell Crowley in SUPERNATURAL, as interplanetary fence Badger in FIREFLY, as Romo Lampkin in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, as Tanaka in DOLLHOUSE, as Benedict Valda in WAREHOUSE 13, as insurance investigator Jim Sterling in LEVERAGE, as Canton Everett Delaware III in DOCTOR WHO, to name a few. There is an accompanying caption to the effect of, “If you don’t recognize this man, turn in your geek credentials.”
London-born Sheppard also has feature film credits, including IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, and has directed two films, CAPTAIN NEMO, starring his father, actor Morgan W. Sheppard, and JULES VERNE’S MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. He’s even been in rock bands.
Tonight, Sheppard is present in support of SUPERNATURAL at a party thrown by CBS, the CW and Showtime for the Television Critics Association. This is Sheppard’s fifth season with SUPERNATURAL, now in its ninth year on the CW, currently airing Tuesdays at 9 PM. The series follows the demon-hunting exploits of brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester.
Sheppard’s Crowley started out as a very successful deal-making emissary of Lucifer (embodied by several actors, principally Mark Pellegrino), but he wound up in charge of Hell after the Devil was caged by the Winchesters. In Season 8, Sam and Dean tried to turn Crowley human, but were stopped before the process was completed. Season 9, so far, sees Crowley as the Winchesters’ exasperated prisoner, trying mightily to escape, but also apparently coping with some pesky feelings left over from his almost-human experience.
AX: So you’re here on behalf of SUPERNATURAL …
MARK A. SHEPPARD: Of course.
AX: When you came onto SUPERNATURAL, did you think you were going to be on it for this long?
SHEPPARD: No. [SUPERNATURAL staff writer/producer] Ben Edlund created this wonderful character that I wanted to play, and it’s turned out to be so much fun – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
AX: Is Crowley essentially the same person he’s been since he started, or has he gone through some philosophical changes?
SHEPPARD: Well, I think there’s an issue that we handled in Season 8 with them trying to render him human, and there will definitely be some sort of residual effect from that set of circumstances and that path that we embarked upon. So this season, it’s going to be very interesting to see just how much of that comes through and whether there is a long-term effect for either the good or not good, depending on which perspective you look at it from. But I’m sure Crowley’s not so happy about that.
AX: Is Crowley’s humanity inconveniently popping up, the way Lucifer used to show up in Sam’s mind?
SHEPPARD: You’ll have to see that.
AX: Were you surprised or simply pleased when Crowley was made King of Hell?
SHEPPARD: Oh, that was a lot of hard work to get there. I’m very pleased that I managed to achieve the status that I so rightfully deserve.
AX: As an actor, did you see that plot development coming before it came, or were you just happy when it happened?
SHEPPARD: Quite honestly, I’ve enjoyed every part of this journey. There’s been some fabulous writing, between [SUPERNATURAL creator] Eric Kripke’s seasons and then into [Season 6 and 7 show runner] Sera Gamble’s helm and now into [current show runner] Jeremy Carver, it’s fabulous where the story’s going and what’s happening. I’m loving the ride.
AX: You’ve been on it since Season 5. Were you ever surprised that the series kept getting renewed?
SHEPPARD: No, I don’t think so. Between the fact that the fans are such a big part of the show and that it hasn’t slowed down at all, the fans are just as crazy about the show as they were at the beginning, which is a testament to the writing and the acting, and the bottom line is, are we still interested in the Winchester brothers? I know I am, so I’ve enjoyed this ride because we still care about what happens to those two. That’s what it’s about.
AX: What happened with your film of CAPTAIN NEMO?
SHEPPARD: I shot it, it came out, it was on Syfy – it was the sixth biggest-watched movie on the Syfy Channel, with two-and-a-half-million viewers or something. It was a lot of fun to do. It never came out on DVD, as far as I know. JULES VERNE’S MYSTERIOUS ISLAND [is available through Amazon].
AX: As you do more and more genre projects, and SUPERNATURAL continues, has Comic-Con gotten more and more intense for you?
SHEPPARD: It’s gotten more and more fun. Because primarily I’ve always gone one day with my kids to share that enjoyment with them. You know that. It’s gotten a little harder to walk the floor, let’s put it that way. If I’m not with them, it’s chaos, but with the kids, everybody tends to be really kind and lets me look around and do stuff without going completely crazy.
AX: Do you do panels?
SHEPPARD: Yeah. [In July, the SUPERNATURAL group] did the six-and-a-half-thousand [attendee] panel Sunday at Hall H.
AX: You’ve been an actual rock star. How does the Comic-Con rock star experience compare with that?
SHEPPARD: It’s fabulous. It’s really funny – it’s great. A testament to how smart the fans are is, that they’ll see me out and about and they don’t really want to intrude that much if I’m with my family, which is lovely. Occasionally, it will be like, “Is it possible we could take a picture?” And if we can, we will. What’s lovely is, they know there’s a time to geek out. So when we’re doing the panels, or doing photo signings or we’re doing any of the things that we’re doing, they give all the squee they can, which I love, and they still let me walk the [convention] floor, though, which is the greatest thing.
AX: Have you seen that Internet meme with all the pictures of you in all the different parts, saying, “If you don’t know who this man is, turn in your geek card now”?
SHEPPARD: [laughs] It’s very kind. I really do appreciate the attention that I get for the shows that I’ve been on. You know that I love what I do so much.
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Article: Exclusive interview with SUPERNATURAL star Mark A. Sheppard on Season 9 and more