One of the scenes that really crackled in last week’s Supernatural episode was the intense power-struggle-disguised-as-flirtation scene between Michael and the beautiful but dangerous werewolf Melanie. Although it was a relatively brief scene, Andrea Drepaul managed to bring Melanie to life and make me even care about her a little (despite the fact that she was intent on eating Michael and therefore Dean Winchester!) Okay, maybe I don’t care all that much…
Andrea had shared a few enthusiastic posts about her experience on the show, so I was eager to ask her about her guest role and her take on Melanie the werewolf. But before we go there, in case you’ve forgotten (which is highly unlikely), here’s a brief reminder of the scene. Michael is dressed to the nines, charming as he offers Melanie a glass of wine.
Melanie: Mmmm, very elegant. But then, so are you.
Everyone watching at that moment: (nodding enthusiastically)
They banter, and Michael tells her that Duluth is nothing like his hometown, which is windswept and barren and oh, there are lots of dead bodies lying around.
Melanie, instead of running away like I would have in about two seconds flat, giggles.
Melanie: You’re so funny…what a nice surprise meeting you.
Not what my reaction would have been, but then again, this is Jensen Ackles in a tux.
Their banter takes on a darker tone as it goes on, Michael’s cruel streak coming through as he assures her with a hint of derision that he most certainly does know why she was in that bar alone. They each think they’re playing the other, but Michael has the upper hand – he knows she’s a werewolf, but she has no idea she’s planning to eat an Archangel. Nevertheless, nothing he says discourages her or frightens her – this is one badass werewolf.
Melanie (still seeming delighted) You’re terrible!
Michael: You have no idea…
Melanie shows her (rather substantial) teeth, and Michael picks her up by the throat like she’s nothing and tosses her across the room, coolly ordering her to summon her master.
So much for the power struggle!
I had a few questions for Andrea about her portrayal of the fearless werewolf and her experience on Supernatural.
Lynn: You were able to make Melanie a memorable character even with the short amount of time she had onscreen – it was a well written scene but you also invested her with a great deal of personality. How was the character described when you auditioned for the part?
Andrea: This scene was my audition piece. From the first moment of reading the scene I felt very connected to Melanie. The character description was very limited. I believe they do this to see what the actor will bring in the room. It made no mention she was a werewolf, or monster of any kind. The one thing that stood out for me was they had mentioned she “Seemingly had an ulterior motive.” As I dug a bit deeper, the writer mentions in the screen direction that she was sophisticated, and the location was a high end hotel. I saw right from the the get go she was a very complex woman. This scene was in fact a ruse. A tactic that Melanie was using to get what she really wanted. As a performer, I find leaning into the strength of the character is really what makes her exciting. Also because she loses in the end of the scene, I wanted her to be in control until the end. So in fact the scene becomes a dark twisted power struggle between Michael and Melanie.
Lynn: Yes, that’s exactly what came through in the scene! I loved how sassy and confident Melanie was (even if she was wrong about being the baddest monster in the room). Was your personal take on the character that she was attracted to Michael (even if she planned on eating him…)? I mean, it is Jensen Ackles we’re talking about…in a tux no less…
Andrea: Oh definitely yes! But I feel that her attraction came from feeling his power. In a sadistic type of way. Because Melanie is always in control, always in power, she relishes in a man who can hold the same power as her. Her sass and confidence comes from the fact that she believes she is stronger than humans.
Lynn: That definitely comes through, even when confronted by the likes of Michael. Melanie and Michael’s interactions were very flirtatious. Was that a fun vibe to play or is it challenging to enact that sort of vibe with another actor who you may not know very well?
Andrea: It’s a funny thing when a scene is written in a certain way. Because I would say that it reads flirtatious but I definitely didn’t feel that way when we were shooting. I was more locked into the certainty that I could have some fun and eat him too! Boy oh boy was Melanie wrong! Jensen is an incredible actor — he was very generous in his performance so I felt completely comfortable working with him. There’s definitely a salt of the earth quality he has that allows a performer to feel safe.
Lynn: I’ve heard people say that before. And there was also a dark undercurrent to the whole scene that went against that flirty giggling sort of vibe, as Michael eventually shows his power in a very physical way – and even before that, as he takes on a darker tone saying “Oh I think I know why you were in that bar alone”. It comes off as a sexual comment and a put down, though he really means he knows she’s a werewolf. Melanie is not put off by this and in fact seems to relish Michael’s dark streak – was that your take on it as well? That as a “monster”, she is amused by the dark side of what she thinks is a human?
Andrea: I love that you could see all this. It’s of great satisfaction to me as an artist when the audience really gets what’s going on. It is a very dark and twisted scene. That is my favourite moment in the scene. In Melanie’s mind she was not afraid or put off in any way but more saw it as a challenge, I had made this discovery, that for Melanie, wolfing out was a sexual experience, so I feel what you see there is in fact sexual tension combined with the threat of violence. I’ve always enjoyed playing into the darker grittier side of primal instinct. Melanie is a very sadistic character.
Lynn: Which explains why she’s such a good match for Michael! Their interaction is almost like a dance, right up until the reveal of both of their power. So switching gears to something less dark, I’ve had the pleasure of being on set several times to watch filming and I’m always struck by what a well oiled machine Supernatural is and how well everyone gets along – and how much goofing around they do sometimes! What was your experience on the set like and how does it compare to other sets and cast/crews? Any possible gag reel moments?
Andrea: This set is best described as putting on a pair of old comfy jeans and a t shirt (laughing). The entire cast and crew is very organized, friendly. A real treat to be on. The people are so lovely. Right down to the makeup and hair team (shout out to Kara! who took such good care of my hair) The jokes and gags don’t stop on this set. Lots of foolishness happening – it is hard to figure out how they get everything done! It’s a dream set. No egos. Just people who do their jobs phenomenally well and have fun at the same time. I count myself fortunate to have always worked on great sets. But I do feel this set has set a new standard in my mind. It’s like the golden goose of sets!!!
Lynn: I love that, and I’ve heard that sentiment from many other guest actors too. It really is something special. Any other behind the scenes tidbits you can share? I feel like you and Jensen must have had some jokes about those protruding teeth…
Andrea: THE TEETH!!! My goodness, those teeth! I mean Jensen had a field day. He would start telling jokes just so that I would laugh and my teeth would fall out or I would begin drooling! Yes, lots of drooling ensued!!!! They had a cup on standby so that I could spit them out. I felt like I was wearing dentures!!
Lynn: Oh I really hope some of that ends up on the gag reel! And speaking of those teeth, how long did it take to get them on? And how awkward was it to maneuver with those long werewolf claws on?
Andrea: They actually were loosely put in, so I could just spit them out after a shot. And the claws really only became an issue when I had to go to the restroom – how do you get your pants up or down??? ( laughing)
Lynn: Seriously, I wouldn’t want to find out! This episode was directed by Richard Speight, Jr. I’ve known Richard for over a decade – I remember when he first told me about his aspirations to direct, a long long time ago, so I’m beyond thrilled for his directorial success. What was it like being directed by him in this episode? Can you share any notes he gave you about this scene and portraying Melanie?
Andrea: Richard is amazing! A dream to work with. Right from the moment I met him in the audition we hit it off. He’s a real actor’s director. And it’s because he really understands actors and the characters’ motivation. To be honest, he really didn’t have too many notes for me, we played around with a different choice off the top of the scene. But he really loved the sardonic tone.
Lynn: It definitely worked, so well. What other projects are coming up for you or should we be on the lookout for?
Andrea: There is something coming down the pipeline, but I can’t say what it is. I will keep ya’ll posted. That will happen around end of November.
Lynn: I’ll keep a lookout. Switching topics for a minute, I saw one of your tweets commenting on the importance of talking about being mixed race. I recently wrote a book with the Supernatural actors, Family Don’t End With Blood, in which they share their personal stories of how being on the show and the fandom have impacted them greatly. I’m currently working on another book about women in Supernatural (and the importance of representation from the perspective of fans who identify with characters and from the actors playing those characters) so I’d love to hear more of your thoughts. Hmmm…maybe you want to write a chapter…
Andrea: Ohhh gosh, get me the kleenex box. Where do I begin…. I think to really understand what it means to me to be included and have a place in Television goes all the way back to my childhood. I was bullied and tormented by the kids in my hometown for being and looking different. Racism was very prevalent in my town. So inherently I felt a real strong need and desire to be accepted. The first time I saw a woman on tv that looked like me was a very defining moment in my life. It made me feel like I could do it too, and that I was somehow validated as a human being. That I could have a place to belong. I am mixed race, but also not easily identifiable. For a long time this really haunted me with my career. The whole inclusivity movement has really shifted and now the industry is widening their nets to having ALL races included. If I may speak to this a little more in depth I would want women and little girls to know that every time I work and am cast in a role, part of me is so deeply humbled, grateful and honoured to know that someone can watch me on tv and say “Hey that girl looks like me!” There is no greater joy for me than knowing I get to be part of someone’s journey to feel accepted as they are and that they have a unique place on this planet, that they belong. OKKKK I made it through without crying… YAY!
Lynn: But now I’m emotional too…. Tissues all around! Thank you so much for your thoughtful answers – and welcome to the SPNFamily! And for all your SPNFamily members, you can keep up with Andrea at @AndreaDrepaul.