Theo Devaney on his ‘Supernatural’ father Crowley and Gavin MacLeod

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Photo: Natalya Chagrin

Theo Devaney on his 'Supernatural' father Crowley and Gavin MacLeod 2017 images

Theo Devaney first appeared on Supernatural in Season 9, as Gavin MacLeod, Crowley’s son. It’s easy to see why Theo was cast as Gavin – not only does he have the lovely accent, his acting in “King of the Damned” showcased Gavin perfectly – someone who was transported to our current time, completely bewildered by the world he was in.

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You first appeared in Supernatural as Crowley’s son – Gavin MacLeod – back in 2014. Tell us about your experience then, as compared to your most recent experience.

I suppose the first time it was still quite new to me; the whole world was new to me. I had only really watched a couple of seasons of Supernatural just to understand the show when I did it the first time. And then obviously in the intervening years, between 2014 and to the end of 2016 – so 2-1/2 years – I’ve done fan conventions, gotten to know the fans, connected with so many people on Twitter, watched a lot more of the show, became more familiar with the mythology of the different characters and things like that. I suppose it just becomes a part of your life, I think, if you’ve played a role that people enjoy — you end up becoming sort of quite close with people, talking about it and getting used to conversations around certain things. I mean as an actor, obviously, unless you’re doing the show for a whole season or something and you’re a regular, you’re working on a lot of other things in the interim, but nothing I’ve ever done comes close to having the kind of fan support and engagement that Supernatural has, which is a massive privilege, you know, to have that.

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In terms of how I approached it this time, I suppose the first episode I did, Gavin is a fish out of water and everything is brand new to him. So there’s a lot of broad kind of horror, shock, surprise, bafflement – so I kind of engaged in a very theatrical way, with that, and brought a quite heightened theatrical performance style. He has to be utterly blown away by everything that’s happening, which in a way kind of refreshes for the audience some of the experience he’s having … a lot of the audience from Supernatural have seen this kind of possession, torture and time travelling and demons fighting each other before, it becomes something that people understand and get used to some degree. Whereas for Gavin, it’s brand new and it’s completely bizarre, and I wanted to communicate that.

In the recent episode, Gavin’s been in the modern world for a couple of years and I think is a bit more seasoned. I wanted there to be – based on what’s happening to him – to justify the choice that he makes to return to his own time, even though he knows he’s facing death. A certain amount of resignation, there’s a certain sadness, I think, because he’s spent the last couple of years and he still doesn’t feel like he belongs. I think knowing that in another time, without the intervention of supernatural powers, he’d have been dead. He’d just have been dead. That natural process, I think, he feels has been somehow changed and I don’t think it sits right with him. I think he’s someone who believes in destiny to some degree and I sort of wanted a calmer, more reflective, more still and kind of mournful energy for the character, which I think justifies his position, his decision in the second episode.

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What have you enjoyed the most about filming for Supernatural? (Both then and now.)

I think it’s probably just the relationships that you make with the other members of the cast. Obviously, being an actor, a lot of what filming really is, is mostly to do with connecting with other characters. So your character, how you express your character and how it bounces off other characters. But, there’s another element to that, that is also really enjoyable. Just being on these big sets where there’s these wonderful crew members and technicians and artists of different kinds, who are all working together to make the magic happen. I love working as part of a team, I love everybody committing their energy to the same endeavor, and something being created that is greater than the sum of the parts.

When I was younger, I was in my teens and I was looking forward to becoming an actor when I was older, the dream was to be part of a theater company. You show up in a new town, you and your team, your family, I suppose, of artists. You make a piece of work, touch people, hopefully move people, or you interest people, somehow entertain them, and then you leave and you do it again. You’re bringing this magic with you and everybody commits themselves 100 percent to making the show as good as it can be – greater than the sum of its individual parts. Partly, I think, for me it helps me to be better, when other people give me feedback, support me and criticize me in a constructive way as well.

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I think by being open to a big team, you’re able to give more than if you were just working on your own in isolation. On a set like Supernatural, the family, the team, is so established because they’ve been there for 10, well initially when I went there before it was eight, nine years, now it’s been 12 years that they’ve been together and many of the crew members are still the same. So everyone knows their roles within the family and also there’s this unspoken connection between a lot of people. Stuff gets done efficiently, but then you still have the director, someone who’s not there all the time, they are there for one or two episodes maybe. P.J. Pesce was the director of this one and he directed me, bizarrely by coincidence, in the one 2-1/2 years ago – or perhaps it wasn’t coincidence. We had good rapport, he’s very supportive, a very intelligent and talented, warm man. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the wonderful thing is working with a big team, on a big project, where everyone is so familiar with each other, and so warm with each other. That’s the real gift of it.

Last but not least, but of course, a major part of this was working with Ruthie. I worked real closely with Mark in the first episode I was in, and now with Ruthie — we’d become friends prior to my return to the show anyway — she’s just a lovely person, a great human being and a brilliant actor so it was lovely for us to have a bit of time together on set and in front of camera, which will always be special.

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Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories to share?

Probably nothing as very interesting as some people who spend longer on the show, but some of the behind the scenes stories … I don’t know, I mean probably the fun thing is enjoying watching people getting made up and getting their hair done – because I think that’s all magic. For some reason, Supernatural tried to make me look as kind of geeky and kind of silly as possible, I think, because Gavin is an incredibly sort of sweet and vulnerable character. He’s sort of like this little lamb … I had some laughs when I saw my double breasted royal blue woolen jacket that I got to wear in this one, where you couldn’t have made the character look more harmless and sort of sweet if you tried. He actually looks like Paddington Bear in the second episode which I found quite amusing. And it sort of helps me to understand how the showrunners and the writers intend the character to be portrayed. I can take a message from that and say, okay, so Gavin hasn’t spent the last two years becoming edgy – or getting drawn into anything even vaguely sort of criminal or sinister. He’s clearly still an innocent, and has been protected as such, one way or another, probably by Crowley. So I was able to play him with this sense of insecurity, which is obviously borne out of the narrative in the second episode.

The obvious stuff is Jared and Jensen kind of bouncing off of each other and winding each other up – and winding other people up. I was pretty lucky, normally they target people with pranks but I was – I don’t know what it was about me that made them kind of, you know, be gentle with me – probably because the character, Gavin, is such a gentle character anyway. They just felt like it would be like punching a puppy in the face so they just didn’t.

Although, actually, come to think of it – you can ignore what I just said. There was some banter about European actors and how we all take ages over our lines, which is absolutely justified because we did the seated scene, just before Gavin, before they do the ceremony to send Gavin back with Fiona. We sat in this little room before Crowley enters. We have this long scene, it’s a chatty scene, a couple of minutes … I was still getting to grips with the lines to be honest, trying to work my way through them, because you don’t get to rehearse much on TV, the way you would with theater. I tend to use the first rehearsals we do on set, and the blocking rehearsals, to really find the nuances of the scene, which means I do them slowly, so I can figure out what’s happening, and then I speed it up for the performance.

I did it particularly slowly, because I had just come back from a few hours on break, and the director comes in and goes okay, we’re going to need to speed this up a bit guys. The boys are just like, yeah, we please, Jesus! We all got into this conversation, this sort of bantery conversation, because obviously in this scene were me, Ruthie and Mark – all of us British actors – Jared was very funny, saying, I’m … a … European … actor! … and … I’m … going … … … to take … my … time! Which is totally fair, because I think European/British actors are a bit more indulgent than Americans. We like to add a bit of theatrical zest to what we do, which means we labor it a little bit. So that was quite funny, we had a good laugh. I was almost crying actually, because I’m very aware of the fact that I can take my time with things. If I don’t have someone behind me, you know, sticking a dagger in my back …

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Photo: Natalya Chagrin

Any current projects you’re working on?

I’m working on a few things. Last year, 2016, was a good year in terms of doing variety. I did a couple of commercials, I did some indie films, and some sort of quirky projects. This year, so far, January was quiet. Right now I’m filming a feature that’s going to be on Netflix at the end of the year. We’re in Romania right now. I’ve got a small part in a feature, a British gangster feature that’s coming out, I know the producers so I’m doing a day or two on that next month, which will be a fun little scene, a cameo, in the British gangster feature. I’m waiting to hear back from a few other projects, so yeah, we’ll have to wait and see. I can’t say much about what I’m doing at the moment, but if you keep an eye on social media toward the end of this year, then the film will be released on Netflix, so I’ll be sure to make sure that everybody knows about that when it’s available.

Further to that, I’m also producing, I did my short film, Run, for the past few years, with a lot of support from members of the SPN family who are lovely. That’s still in film festivals, but I’m actually planning to try my hand at directing so I have two short films, both dramas, that I’m looking forward to directing this year. That will be an enjoyable challenge, having done some writing, producing, and obviously acting, now I’m looking forward to seeing if I have anything to offer as a director. So that’s going to be a lot of fun. Two very contrasting projects, one is a fairly dramatic psychological piece of work and the other is about, it’s kind of a teenage coming of age story.