I was scanning twitter for reports of the Supernatural Convention a while back and came across the brand new twitter of actor, Kim Rhodes. Kim plays Sheriff Jody Mills on “Supernatural” and I was intrigued. The buzz on twitter was that Kim was a great addition to the convention guest list and she was as funny as she was charming.
Turns out, those tweeters were right.
I hit the follow button and became Kim’s first follower on twitter. She was quick to thank me for that and as she tried to figure out twitter I watched her follower count grow steadily. I have a feeling, that once people have met Kim, they don’t forget her.
Sheriff Mills is a great character on “Supernatural”. I have to admit, I went to this interview hoping that I would find Kim to be as approachable as the character she plays. I interviewed a woman who is charming, hilarious, honest, blunt, warm and one of the most animated people I’ve met in a very long time.
AM: I wanted to ask you about being a female character on a show where female characters get either blown away or the fans hate them.
KIM: That’s so funny! I can’t wait for my death because I know it’s inevitable…
AM: everyone dies on supernatural
KIM: well, one of the crew joked – “that’s how you know we like you, if we kill you because then you know you’re gonna come back.” So yeah, it’s nice – on a regular show if you die you can pretty much kiss your paycheck goodbye. Here, it doesn’t really mean anything other than a little blip in your character’s road.
AM: So why do you think people like your character?
KIM: You know, I think the most primal reason is because I’m not attached to Sam or Dean. I am no competition. I also think that there’s no guile to the character. I mean, she’s really, in kind of a way – a female, the flip side of the Bobby Singer coin. She’s just straight forward and honest and doing her job to the best of her ability and there isn’t any subterfuge. I think a lot of women crave seeing a genuinely strong, not a fake “I’m gonna go kick somebody in the face ‘cause I can” strength. Just genuine, I’m- doin’-my-job and I’m gonna get through and I’m a fuckin’ survivor.
And I have a gun.
AM: And you know how to use it – which you do. I saw on IMDB that you’re trained in hand to hand…
KIM: …hand to hand, quarterstaff, rapier and dagger.
AM: What’s up with that?
KIM: It was grad school. They made me. I went to Temple and part of the Masters training program is stage combat so we all had to, at least, take our certification test. And God Love ‘em, even though I dropped my quarterstaff in the middle of it, I guess since I didn’t actually get hit in the face picking it up. I passed.
AM: That training must be unusual. That’s not something that everybody does, is it?
KIM: It’s a stage thing; I come from a stage background.
AM: I saw you’d done a lot of Shakespeare…
KIM: And that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. And unfortunately, ya can’t make any money doing that. That’s kind of a Shakespeare thing. If you’re gonna play Joan of Arc you’ve gotta know how to hold a broadsword.
And, so much of what’s done through editing and effects in television and film you can’t fake on stage. You’ve gotta know how to make it look like you hit the person in the face or you reacted. Somebody doesn’t get to sneak a pad in when you’re on stage so you need to know how to fall and how to take it. So… that’s actually come in handy a few times.
Actually, I did a lot of “finding major muscle groups and make sure they take the brunt” filming (Supernatural this week.)
AM: I saw Kenneth Branagh do Henry V live…
KIM: OOohh I played Lady Elise in Wisconsin. Yes! 78 year old nun! Very, very, very fun. That’s the other thing you can get away with on stage. On stage you can play, ‘cause, especially in a rep company. I was playing Viola, and Kate Hardcastle and then they said “You’ve gotta be in a 3rd play”. So they threw me in this time little supporting role in Henry which was awesome.
I said I’d like to play it like this, since the only parts of my body that were showing was (was my face) and my hands on stage you can do enough make-up and move your body in such a way that you can sell being an austere 78 year old nun.
AM: Would you still go that theater route if you could?
KIM: If I could. If it would pay the bills, absolutely I would. A few years ago, before I did the Disney channel, I was in Ashland at the Shakespeare festival and I got to do “Midsummer (Night’s Dream)”. Yeah, I would do that forever if I could.
AM: So do you have other upcoming projects?
KIM: “Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure”, shot in Winnipeg in February and March, but it’s coming out in, I think, November. And, Bob Picardo is in it. Munro Chambers who does a show called Degrassi – he plays my son. And Curtis Armstrong – I hesitate to say this and God, if he sees this I hope it’s not an insult but “Booger” from “Revenge of the Nerds”. But, you know, people go “oh my God, he’s brilliant! He’s everywhere! I love him.”
And Kyle Massey from “Cory In The House” and “Dancing with The Stars”- yeah, it was a great group.
AM: So there’s nothing you can say about filming “Supernatural” is there? Other than what we know from the picture Guy Bee posted letting us in on the location.
KIM: You know the interesting thing is – this is the third time I’ve been there. There are probably things that the Executive Producers could tell you, or that Jared and Jensen could tell you that Jim could tell you. But I am so tenuous and so terrified of pissing anybody off so I’m like “oh no no no, I’m not taking pics of anything and if I do I’m going to grossly modify them.” I am not going to risk that.
So I can tell you I don’t fire a gun in this episode.
AM: Excellent. Belly dancing?
KIM: You know what? I still have a couple days left on this show, I will pitch it! There may be the need.
AM: You’re back as Sheriff Mills right?
KIM: I’m still me and I’m still in interaction with Bobby.
AM: Which is an interesting relationship, because like you said – you have a lot in common but you’re on opposite sides of the legal fence which is an interesting push and pull.
KIM: Well, in the last episode… I just showed up to do a favor for him that would get me in a shitload of trouble but I did it anyway. Jensen was directing that episode and I am shameless so I was taking moments to kind of play a curious attraction. I was playing this – because otherwise why would you do something that’s gonna completely tank the only thing you have left in life. ‘Cause your family is gone, your son died twice – that sucks – and the second time because he ate your husband’s intestines. The only thing you have left is your career.
And so – in order to do something that’ll torpedo everything you have left it’s gotta be more than “ahhh ok what the heck, you’re a nice guy.” So I was playing this reluctant attraction but in the edit, they cut all the moments we had.
Jensen even said “I like what you’re doing. You have this moment here where you’ve got this sweet vulnerable little smile and then this asshole line comes out of your mouth” but in the edit they shaved it all. But, quite frankly, I’m not the point of the story.
But, Jim was like, I don’t care let’s just keep playin’ it. That’s one of the amazing things about the regulars on this show. For me to come in and be like “I have an idea and it kind of involves your character…” There’s only been one other time in my life I can think of when the person in question was like “great idea” let’s play.
AM: We keep hearing that the Supernatural cast and grew are great … are they really that great? Is it that comfortable a set?
KIM: Well, now yesterday, there were no regulars on the set. And, just the crew itself is supportive and fun and funny and I think it’s also respectful of the people and the material.
Guy (Bee, Director) and I were talking about this. So many people could be rolling their eyes and winking at the camera but there’s such an honest love and commitment to the story-telling that it also affects the crew and the work energy and the work ethic.
And then, on top of it, you have – it goes from the top down. Jared and Jensen. My very first scene every with them was the burning of everyone I knew on a funeral pyre like, “Hey welcome to set”. And they were kinda dinkin’ around and ridin’ their motorcycles and throwing footballs and I was like “I’m screwed, ‘cause I’m on my own.” I’d just worked with two precocious boys for three years and five minutes before it came time to shoot my coverage they both – it was like they took off their gloves and just went boom. And Jared actually looked at me and went, “What do you need?” They were there for my coverage…
AM: They don’t have to be there?
KIM: They don’t even have to show up. And not only were they there they were giving full performance level interaction. They were so – I think that-
We had a brief interlude at this point in the interview because there was a ball game on the big screen TV and a brawl has busted out. Kim claimed excitedly that the Phillies were evil and, therefore, she had to watch the ruckus before continuing.
KIM: (Jared and Jensen) are just good generous guys. That’s what you hope for.
AM: I wondered too – it’s a pretty dedicated fan base.
KIM: This is the first time in my life, and I’ve shot in front of a Live studio. It was always kind of them and us. Theatre is all “us”. Audience and onstage we’re creating this moment. This was the first time I saw a TV fan base as we are all “us”. There are different roles within that “us” but it’s really perfected and honored the art of the audience being integral to the art.
Nobody is a brilliant actor in their shower. They might think they are but communication is a two way process and it’s really hard to remember that when you never come in contact with your audience. And it’s really easy for an actor to start thinking it really is all about them, when in fact, we are the servants. We are the most primal, base, really it’s all about you? Let’s see how well you do without electricity. Yeah – all about you – “oh! You’re naked ‘cause wardrobe didn’t show today!!” Not all about you.
And Again, not all about you – tree fallin’ in a forest and there’s nobody there to listen your voice is pointless. So this is a really great symbiotic relationship and communal creation of a show. So I think that’s also why my guess, is why it’s such a passionate fan base. Because people understand that they’re being honored as part of the process and not just passive observers.
AM: I used to like Star Trek but we didn’t want to interview everyone on the show – we just wanted to interview Captain Kirk… and I think it was Jared at a convention this summer who said he consider this a supernatural family. The fans, the actors, the guest stars, the cast, the crew – everything.
KIM: Colin, Gabe, Matt and Richard who were at the NJ con were the guys that kind of crossed over that were my introduction to (fandom). Gabe was the one who got me on twitter. He was like “c’mon, join!” I was terrified and he was like “that’s because you need to jump in! Play!”
I kept expecting fans to be like “we’ve been cheated! It’s just you! You suck!” Seriously, I still was like – “You know who I am, right? Do you think I’m someone else? I’m really confused as to why you like me.” But it is! It’s a very committed interaction! It’s awesome.
AM: I’ve spoken to people to people online and I know you’re right about your character. She’s popular because she’s been through the ringer and she’s still standing at the other end.
KIM: Okay, so I think I’m flattering myself and my character to say this so I’m prefacing by saying I attempt humility. I think she’s relatable. There aren’t a lot of characters on this show – where the audience can go “there I am.” Not all of us are demons, or succubae. Quite frankly I’m not at the age where I can look at a 22 year old hottie patottie and go “oh yeah she completely represents my demographic!” Not so much. Yeah.
And also, being good-hearted. That’s something we all kind of relate to.
There are some really interesting female characters on there. Girls! Girls! Yay Girls!!
AM: And you have a lot of “Another World” fans!
KIM: I was Grant’s last wife. I did not kill him although some people think I did. I did shoot him, but I didn’t hit anything vital. The character was a pyromaniac, a voodoo priestess, a cat burglar. And then, I did a series for AMC that nobody saw so the next thing that I did of some public awareness was being the mother of two Disney kids. And people who knew me from “Another World” were like “don’t let her near children!! For God’s sake keep her away from kids!!”
I think I’ve come full circle where I’m back with guns again!
AM: Well, you’re on the right side of the law now…
KIM: Maybe… Maybe I’ll go crazy. I don’t know! Something evil could get hold of me. You’ll have to wait and see.
AM: So many of the soaps are gone now.
KIM: We were the first one to come under the axe. We were the vanguard of “soaps are dying”. NBC didn’t own us, Procter and Gamble owned us and NBC wanted to own their soaps. They had “Days of our World” and “Sunset Beach”.
But… again full circle.
So, NBC soap on the east coast. We shot in New York. The other two soaps, “Sunset Beach” and “Days of our Lives” shot on the west coast. But occasionally we’d all have to do NBC functions. And we’d all get together. A grad school friend of mine was on Sunset Beach, Jason George, but we’d still get together with the west coast sensibilities of the “Days Of Our Lives” cast. There were a few really gentle, nice people but for the most part they took themselves a little seriously.
Except for one beautiful kid, who was really fuckin’ good. ‘Cause we’d have (Days of Our Lives) on in the make-up room all the time and he was gorgeous and intense but so sweet at functions, kinda quiet, kept to himself. And I still mean to tell Jensen that I remember him from “Days of Our Lives” and that kid has been solid and brilliant and good as a human being from the time he was a baby puppy! We would all stop what we were doing… he was a baby but so beautiful and too good for the show. Stood out a little like, a violin in a rock band.
AM: That is really intense work, right?
KIM: The soaps are crazy ‘cause they’re shooting an hour show in a day. They move like lightening. They don’t cut for anything. At one point I finished a scene I was doing and I was like “but I knocked the lamp over” and they were like “it’s okay – it works.” I mean, I won’t cut myself but you just kinda keep going.
You also don’t get any rehearsal time. You basically start digging into your bag of tricks. It becomes really result oriented because you don’t have time to do anything else. My record was 42 pages in one day.
There were no cue cards. Joan Rivers got cue cards. I’m sorry Joan if you’re gonna now shoot me for something you did 15 years ago. If you ever find out I said that about you and you’re insulted I will apologize personally. Yeah, she got cue cards but nobody else did.
AM: Maybe you should be in movies like – a big film adaptation of Shakespeare?
KIM: I would go in for anything Russell T. Davies wrote. My heart broke a little bit when I never got to go in for “Torchwood”. He weaves a good story.
AM: So you’d do any of the BBC shows then?
KIM: Oh yeah. Oh My God! “Primeval”.
AM: So! Favorite movies!!!
KIM: And like everyone else I say “The Princess Bride.”
AM: Guy didn’t say “The Princess Bride”.
KIM: Really? So “The Princess Bride” and every single mixed tape I had from 1985 to 1990 had Blue Monday on it by New Order. That’s why I assume every mixed tape in the world has that. Just like I assume everyone in the world loves “The Princess Bride.”
I think my favorite underestimated favorite is “Gross Pointe Blank”. John Cusack and Minnie Driver. It’s a hit man who goes home for his High school reunion … he wants to quite but he’s in the middle of a job and everyone’s trying to kill him. He’s just trying to win his High School sweet heart back. It is so funny, it really is smart.
My favorite old movie is “Harvey”. Jimmy Stewart. Harvey is a six foot tall talking rabbit that only Jimmy Stewart can see. They all think he’s crazy. But Harvey is real!!! But you spend the whole movie thinking maybe he’s not real. Beautiful. A beautiful love story.
AM: So if you could do any movie tomorrow?
KIM: Are you familiar with “My Favorite Wife” – Gary grant and Irene dune. She is ship-wrecked, he thinks she’s dead. He’s going to get married again and she’s made it back. My husband wants to do that with me and Adam Sandler.
AM: I think you’d be a good combination.
KIM: My husband Travis had that idea… and I was like “wait a minute – that’s really smart.” That saucy confidence that the women of those films had that we don’t see a lot of anymore.
AM: Is it hard leaving your daughter?
KIM: The first time I had to leave her she was 3 months old. It was tough. But this is the first time it’s hard in a different way. But this time she’s started to like me and “then” I had to leave. “No go to Canada. I go with you.”
I talked to her yesterday and she wanted to come get me from the airport.
I’m pleased to say that by the time you’re reading this Kim will be finished up and heading back to her family.
Here’s to hoping we get Kim Rhodes back to Vancouver for a few more “Supernatural” episodes.