Kings of Con at SDCC: An Interview with Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr.
Rob and Rich, God ‘n Gabe, the Kings of Con. Regardless of how you refer to them, Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr. are not only amazing actors, but good friends. Known to most for their roles as Chuck Shurley aka God and the archangel Gabriel (respectively) on Supernatural, they dropped into SDCC for more than just the sun (and to buy me an iced coffee).
Bandit: Alright, so I know you guys are here for Thrilling Adventure Hour. So, I know how you got involved in Thrilling Adventure Hour, Tim Omundson said he brought you in.
Rich: That’s right, that’s right. But it was actually at a Comic Con two years ago, three years ago. Rob and I were training down and I got a call from Tim saying I’m supposed to do this thing but now I can’t come down there, we’ve coordinated with these guys, so, fill in for me. I said sure, having no idea what Thrilling Adventure Hour was and then realizing that it was live-stage reading and I was in over my head with some very funny people. But after that I was hooked and fell in love with the guys in the show and you know after that saying thank you, thank you, please take me back! So I was Rob’s Omundson.
Rob: Yeah, exactly. I was begging you guys to get me in.
Rich: Yeah, that’s right. You were […] And with good reason […] Incredibly funny guys and girls doing super-heightened, really intelligent funny stuff. And they just finished their 10 year residency […]
Bandit: Yeah, 10 year run at Largo.
Rich: Yeah, it’s a hell of an accomplishment.
Bandit: So, have you listened to a lot of Thrilling Adventure Hour?
Rob: Yeah, and I know a lot of people who’ve been in it over the years.
Bandit: What’s your favorite?
Rich: Mine is Sparks Nevada. I love Mark Evan Jackson doing Sparks Nevada. It’s by far my favorite.
Rob: We’re big Mark Evan Jackson fans.
Rich: But I love P.F. Tompkins and Paget doing their […]
Bandit: Beyond Belief.
Rich: The Beyond Belief, the drunk prohibition era couple. They’re super funny so they’re also great. Both of those, when I sit backstage or listen to the podcast, I laugh out loud. They’re super clever.
Bandit: My favorite is actually the one-shot, The Algonquin Four. Where they have Dorothy Parker doing The Thing and they have four people from the Algonquin Four being The Fantastic Four. That’s where the Dorothy Parker smash comes from. From that one […]
Rich: I don’t know that. I’m not a part of that, but that’s a good one. That’s clever. That’s what I’m talking about […] It’s just heightened. Everybody is on their toes and well-read to follow their jokes. I brought some family members who were visiting L.A to one of the shows and they said ‘we love it!’[…] Because people are laughing at inside jokes. Did anyone bring my hat? […] You know it’s not really, unless you now the history of the show, funny. […] It helps us be in the inside loop, but even then you have stay sharp.
Bandit: So, also you guys are doing Kings of Con. Where did that come from?
Rob: Yeah, for starters let’s just say that’s really why we’re down here. I mean The Thrilling Adventure Hour, we’re lucky to be in their panel and thrilled to be a part of it […] But we’re part of Kings of Con and doing some interviews and meetings of that.
Rob: You know, we’ve been doing these Supernatural conventions for so long. Like seven years now and we sort of amass all these great stories, real life things happening to us behind the scenes. And we kept saying we should make this into a show. Finally we were like ‘yeah, we’re making it into a show’. So, we wrote and shot a 10 minute teaser and after that we decided to the crowd funding thing. You know, to help raise money for the show and help spread the word in the fandom […] Yeah now it’s a reality.
Bandit: Did you expect that kind of reaction from the fandom because it went […] to nearly $300,000?
Rob: Yeah, yeah and it was $100,000 in the first two days? It was making me nervous.
Rich: Yeah, it was incredible. We hit our initial goal in 48 hours. Which was very quick, very quick.
Rob: It was amazing, you know what I mean? Because they’ve done some pretty remarkable things in terms of just gathering together and keeping a show together.
Rich: And the People’s Choice Rewards!
Rob: Rich and I, you know, weren’t the biggest characters in the show.
Bandit: Come on, if you got more than one episode. You got five or six?
Rich: I’m like five, you’re like eight. He loves to lord that over me. How you gone and got eight episodes?
Rob: Come on, Gabriel is like the fourth biggest character on the show.
Rich: Right behind you!
Rob: So, we came over the other day and their daughter came with them, she’s like fourteen, a big fan of the show. And I’m like ‘You liked it?’ and she said ‘Yeah! He’s a Gabriel fan’ […] Anyway, so, yeah they don’t surprise us anymore in terms of that but what I was going to say was sure from a […]
Rich: Let me tell you that we didn’t go into this lightly. We had an initial plan to do crowd funding and then we decided to do crowd funding, then we had to dive into it very quickly and put it together quickly […] We wanted to put it together right […] I’m not exaggerating but it was like around the clock we were working to get it done and always in the background I’m going, ‘This is going to be a colossal bomb. A giant mistake’ […] So, we were definitely nervous. We didn’t take anything for granted and we also never leaned on the fandom in that regard. We never said, ‘Hey, we have a thing, back our play’. It was a relief and a real pleasure to have such an enthusiastic response. And it continues to be there. We continue to get support. Support that was so great. It came in the form of balloters but also in the form of Tumblr chats and retweets, and people talking about it, keeping the conversation going. That’s what gives a show a brand. You know Rob and I can go make the funniest pieces we can ever make but if nobody watches and pass them along it is kind of pointless. So, the support that we are getting in terms of people who are ready to fan the flames or the spark we can come up with […] That’s been really encouraging as well.
Bandit: So, I take it you’re big fans of the SPN family then?
Rich: No, not a fan. I don’t like them. They’re not good people. No, they are awesome. We love them and they are fantastic.
Rob: Like he said, we don’t take any of this lightly and we do sixteen conventions a year and that’s just in North America. So, you know, Rich and I, more than a lot of people in the actor world are immersed in the family. Outside of the show. We’re in there because of all these conventions and so […]
Rich: Rob and I were talking about it today that there’s a lot of people, to a certain extent there’s a big gap between actor and fan. Hi everybody we’re Rob, we’re Rich, and they are thrilled and we’re the actors they came to see, and there’s another level of people who’ve seen us […] How we take our coffee […] Because we’ve been doing this so long they’re so immersed in it and we’re so immersed in it […] Rob and I looked at each other and our friendship and professional relationship is born out of conventions as well and we didn’t know each other before. So, we’ve kind of grown up in this world together and so many years of doing a show and laughing about the things that happened, and getting on an airplane and laughing about the things that happened in the last show and things that are gonna happen. So, like we amass a bunch of stories and go you know, we’re actors and filmmakers going to these cons, we need to merge these two worlds. It’s a great experience, hilarious, unique. My other actor friends don’t know anything about what we are doing. If you don’t know the world you don’t know about it all and we’re two guys immersed in it. Two guys who did not know it, and would not know it, were not for Supernatural […] We need to bring in our other skills and sort of tell this story. Now, Rob and I still want to make stories that we want to make […] We are not trying to realize the Rob and Rich story and our journey. We’re having fun with the format. We have heightened versions of ourselves, the things that we do, act and say in ways that we obviously don’t. However, a lot of our stories have at least one foot based in a situation or moment or an event or a person that we encountered during the process.
Bandit: I saw the scene with you in the driveway. Actually a friend of mine from the UK asked if the DVD is going to international so, she can still watch it?
Rich: I feel like, that’s an excellent question, and I’m sure that whatever format it is released in […] Just a digital download, she’s able to watch it.
Rob: We’ll make sure the digital download is available internationally.
Rich: Because I had question […] Are we going to do beta or just VHS? You know, I’m old school.
Bandit: No, no, no, laserdisc!
Rich: We’re going to do LD?
Bandit: It has to be a two-disk set.
Rob: The soundtrack will be out on 8track.
Bandit: How about minidisc?
Rich: Ha! […] I’m like what are we going to do with this?
Bandit: So, you turned up in Season 9 again. How was it coming back?
Rich: It was awesome. It was really fun. I will say that both Rob and I have returned in strange instances. I found myself surprisingly nervous. I think because I had been away from it so long and yet not gone from it at all. In terms of it was a constant conversation in my life for conventions […] Both personally and professionally […] And to go back and do that character again, suddenly I realized the microscope under which the character will be examined from a fan perspective. I felt an unusual amount of pressure at least for the first day. After the first day I came back and a couple of crew people I’m friends with were like, ‘Why were you weird yesterday? What was going on with you’ and I was like, ‘I was nervous. Give me a break. I haven’t done the bit in five years, you know?’ It was a little off-putting but it was awesome. A real thrill to do it again and I hope to do it again.
Bandit: Nice cameo in that mockumentary by the way.
Rich: Oh! Thank you! I did that before I knew I was going to do an episode. That was just Misha and Collins saying, ‘Hey! come look at this jerk’ in my mockumentary.
Bandit: A couple of people have slipped so far that they’re coming back for Season 11.
Rich: I would never slip, I’m not a slipper […] Who slipped?
Bandit: I’ll tell ya, if you really want to know.
Rich: No, that’s spoiler.
Bandit: I hate spoilers […] And then you came back in “Fan Fiction” which, pretty much every single person I know, including me, screamed.
Rob: That was really fun. I really wasn’t nervous because it was really one line so, I didn’t had to do much like delving into the, you know? But I was super fun to go back and see everybody again. It was kind of magical. It was really cool. I had the same experience when I was watching; I was like, ‘Oh! Who is it going to be?’
Rich: Your episode was written by Robbie Thomson, right?
Rich: So was mine. So, it was like Robbie had a […]
Bandit: Robbie is here today […] And Curtis is here as well.
Rich: It’s always like what’s going on? I saw Curtis and you’re like really?
Bandit: I have to Louden Swain? Are you guys going to play outside of conventions?
Rob: Yeah, when we have time. We actually have a game coming up in Los Angeles on the 18th of July at Molly Malone’s. We’re going to keep continuing to do streaming shows which seem to be the best way to get out to people who don’t get to see us at conventions. People can watch us streaming. In-between the conventions we’re going to try and do as many as we can. The local ones are easier to do obviously. We’re going to be in Dallas for a convention and stay an extra two days and […] But you know now, as it is at conventions, anyone can come to the Saturday night thing that we do and that’s proving to be a blockbuster show […] We’ve turned it into a real Louden Swain show. It’s not just singing a whole bunch of covers.
Rich: I always think that it is maybe on us that we make sure we promote it […] I don’t think that cons is doing the band any injustice […] It is a concert but just happens to be under the banner of Supernatural. And I love that […] I think if somebody doesn’t know and they know the band is playing they might think of it as a novelty act […] It is fantastic. We all hang out backstage, including me, even if we aren’t supposed to be there […] It’s the best night on the convention trail so, you’ve gotta go and help the show. And it’s an open concert. Anyone can come and go to see the show […] We want to make sure word get out there and give people opportunity to see it because it’s amazing.
Rob: The people’s reaction after the show, people are just really blown away. They’re like it’s the best live show I’ve ever seen. They feel like it’s a real rock concert because it is, you know? But yes, we’re going to do other gigs as well.
Bandit: So, did you did Sidekick, the show […] So, you guys doing anything else besides Kings of Con? Anything else coming up?
Rob: I got a recurring role on Masters of Sex and I’ll be shooting that. So, that’s the new thing I’m working on. You know, really Kings of Con is taking all of our time before our convention season kind of starts again.
Rich: Which is by the way in three weeks […] Kings of Con has been our full time gig from fulfilling perks and directing a lot. I was just directing a Pepsi commercial in North Carolina before we came here. So, we’re plenty busy with getting the show we want to do off the ground.
Bandit: How were those perks by the way?
Rob: They’re a lot of work to fulfill.
Rich: Rob is sockless. He has no more socks.
Rob: I signed away all my socks and we took 1200 selfies […] t-shirts are being delivered […] It’s fun. It’s very fun. And we have beers to plan.
Rich: That’s going to be more of the fun perks.
Bandit: If I had the money I would buy the beer one or would’ve booked you for a wedding eventually if I ever got married.
Rich: I want somebody to do that because I love going to weddings […] We just want to go screw it, let’s do it for free […] How great it will be that we get to officiate a wedding and Louden Swain’s the band […]
Bandit: You can probably do some sort of this on Twitter?
Rob: I’m sure someone’s getting married.
Bandit: You can do your own Season 2 of Kings of Con: Wedding Crashers.
Rob: Yeah, the Wedding Crashers, get on that.
Rob: So, hopefully we’ll be shooting our show this Fall. We’re writing it right now. It’s most fun thing we’re doing right now is writing that show […] I wonder how many Supernatural/Masters of Sex crossover fans there are?
Rich: Super Sex.
Rob: Masters of Natural or Master Natural.
Rich: Super Sex. I thought I landed on it?
Rich: That could also star Jared and Jensen. They’re tigers on the set. That’s how you get the job.
Bandit: Sleep your way through.
Rich: You have to.
Bandit: Can you give me any tidbits on the con that you are writing?
Rob: Well, I can tell you the one thing we’ve been sort of telling people is that it is all based on our real life story that we enjoy writing and telling about is the time in New Jersey and we both got put on the 9th floor. He was room 911 and I was in 913 and I tried to call his room and I accidentally called 911 and freak out […] And the cops really came in real life and we had to talk them down and tell them I wasn’t kidnapping him. But of course in the episode I get taken to jail because the cops have a vengeance for me because, also a true story, on stage earlier in the episode I kind of throw under the bus. I say, someone asked in real life, what gets us in characters and we say costumes. When you put the costume on you start to feel the character […] You put on a holster and cop outfit you kind of start to walk like them and I start walking and Rich says apologies to the first responders out there. And that really happened in real life but in the show they have it in for me because they’ve seen the video of me saying that. So, craziness ensues.
Bandit: Not bad, not bad.
Rob: So, we don’t have go far for these stories.
Bandit: It’s really nice, the way you guys interact with the fans […] I know they appreciate it and as a fan I appreciate it and thank you in general for being awesome.
Rob: Thank you so much that’s a really nice thing to say.
Rich: Thank you.
Bandit: You are. Like […] I’ve met a lot of actors, like I said, I grew up around them and not all of them […] And I appreciate it and I think SPN family promotes that kind of happiness.
Rob: We really do enjoy it. We really get much out of it as the fans do and we love meeting them. It’s great. It’s a shared relationship. It’s not what we assume other conventions are like.
Rob: Honestly it comes down from Jensen and Jared, that’s the way they are and it filters down for us and I think how we behave. If they were like, ‘Don’t touch me’ I think it filters down […] We hear that goes down in other conventions. We hear you can’t touch people in pictures. Jensen and Jared are like, ‘What are you doing? Bring it in!’ you know? […] Richard and I being there […] And God knows what, doing whatever they want with our bodies. We’re up for whatever. We know they are paying a lot of money to be there and we don’t take it lightly and it’s been fun. It’s been a great experience for us.
Bandit: Anything else you guys want to say?
Rob: Thank you to anyone who supported the show and I assure everyone we are working around the clock to make it happen.
Rich: And by the way, supporting the show […] It’s a multi-layered […] The fans support Supernatural so intently and then in turn support conventions, we wouldn’t have a backbone to make a show that we are […] We are beneficiaries of the passion of this crowd at many levels. And we are excited about giving back some entertainment to the people.
Rob: Well said. Well said […] Let me take a sip of that.
Rich: Stop it!
Having to run off to a Nerdist interview, I forgot to ask them about their Tough Mudder experience earlier this year, as well as if they had seen “God and Gabe”, the comic by Consulting Cannibal. Regardless, it was nice of them to sit down with me. Rob and Rich also turned up the next day to moderate the Supernatural panel in Hall H, which was memorable for many reasons, including the hamster cameo (which put everyone in stitches), and the awkward moment with THE QUESTION. Ultimately, Rob and Rich are talents in their own right, and are deserving of all the love they get within the SPN Family and beyond.
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