Interview with Julie McNiven
We're only one week into â€œSupernatural'sâ€ long four month summer hiatus and many Super-fans are already feeling separation anxiety. To hopefully alleviate some of this tension, I will be doing a series of interviews with some of the most talented and beautiful guest stars that have graced our series during the last six years.
We all know the â€œSupernaturalâ€ fandom is the best and most vocal around. Thatâ€™s a given. But how many realize the guest stars are as taken with the series as the fandom is invested with the Winchesters?
When I decided to try for interviews for the summer hellatus, I never expected the response I received. So many recurring actors and actresses were willing to participate. I was surprised â€¦and a little panicky at first. But thanks to the help of other staff writers, Alice Jester, our Editor-in-Chief, and the unending patience and support of Ardeospina, we have a lovely and hopefully entertaining series you all will enjoy.
The first in this series is the lovely, talented and angelic creature, Julie McNiven, who played Anna Milton the rouge but very human angel on â€œSupernaturalâ€. Ms. McNiven was sweet enough to take time from her busy schedule to answer some questions about her time on â€œSupernaturalâ€, her roles on â€œFringeâ€, Mad Menâ€ and â€œStargate Universeâ€, a little about whatâ€™s in her future, and a very special interest of her own she wants to share.
In your time on â€œSupernatural,â€ you were able to work with some amazing guest stars, as well as the main cast, of course. What was your overall experience like? Are there any particular moments that stand out for you?
Supernatural was a gift. I only did 6 episodes but my role went through a pretty big arch, giving me the chance to really develop the character. Working with Jensen, Jared and Misha was always fun. I would literally laugh all day long. I think the highlight of that job was the hand to hand combat I did with Amy Gumenick in my last episode. I loved having fight rehearsals and learning different sequences. It was very exciting!
How did you hear about the role of Anna Milton? Did you know the character was going to be an angel? If so, did that change your approach to the interview?
I got the audition through my agent and originally she was only in the first two episodes, ascending back to heaven at the end. I knew at the callback that she was an angel, but it didn't really change my approach. Whether she was a human, angel, demon or vampire, I try to put the labels aside and just look at her given circumstances.
Iâ€™m sure you are asked this a lot, but what was it like to play a romance scene with Jensen Ackles?
That is definitely the most common question! Everyone is always so curious if [it] was as romantic as it looks and I don't want to lie, so I have to break the news that, unless you find it romantic to be half naked on top of someone you met a week ago, with about 20 crew guys watching and the director literally talking you through the scene, ('touch his shoulder, now gaze into his eyes' etc) itâ€™s more awkward than anything else. But Jensen was very protective during that scene, always making sure that I was covered right after 'cut,' and encouraging me to speak up if I felt unsure about anything.
You played basically three different versions of Anna: human Anna, ally angel Anna, and antagonist Anna. Which did you find the hardest to play and why?
I think Antagonist Anna was more challenging because she was not a one toned evil bitch. She once cared very deeply towards Castiel, and the boys, but knows that she has to kill Sam to save the world. With this kind of obstacle, it gives me a lot to play with.
The series and the CW have attempted to target mainly young women viewers for the show, but no question the series is very appealing to male viewers, as well. Did that affect how you played Anna?
No, I didn't really think about that at all.
Tell us about Misha Collins. Is he as much fun on set as he is off? What was your most difficult scene to play with him? He was a very intense angel at that time.
Misha is joy to work with. He is endlessly witty and can make me laugh with a look, yet he is very down to business when it's time to shoot.
When you read the script for â€œThe Song Remains the Sameâ€ and saw what Annaâ€™s destiny would be, what went through your mind? Was that a disappointment for you or did you feel it was an appropriate ending for her storyline?
I knew I would die again, but crumbling me to ash? Come on, that's a little harsh! When I read that I was pretty sure that would really be the end of Anna. I was definitely sad to die again but the end product looked pretty cool.
You have acted so many roles in your career and appeared on many TV shows besides â€œSupernatural,â€ including â€œMad Men,â€ â€œFringe,â€ and more recently â€œStargate Universe.â€ Which was your favorite role and which did you find to be the most demanding?
I have to say my favorite was the role of Mona Foster in "Fringe." She has only one scene but I absolutely loved her! I wish she could have more of a life there on the other side. I found it challenging to play Hildy because she didn't have a lot to say and when she did have a scene I wanted her to be a full fledged character and not just a secretary who popped in every once in a while.
How different was it to work on a show like "Supernatural," compared with something like "Mad Men"? Is it harder or easier to find the character in a fantastical story, as compared with one more grounded in reality or history?
Even though Anna had Angel powers and Hildy was just a secretary in the 60's, both roles were treated with reality. In the end, Anna was trying to do the right thing by killing Sam and preventing the apocalypse, and Hildy, was finally seeing a deeper side of Pete, and yearly realizing that she shouldn't drink at office parties.
Your character on "Mad Men," Hildy, reminds me of Anna in some ways, most especially because she sees right through the men around her and doesnâ€™t put up with their nonsense. Did you purposefully play them so similarly or was that just a coincidence in how the characters were written?
That was just a coincidence but I loved how Hildy had a sassy mouth and wasn't afraid to use it.
You guest starred on an episode of â€œFringeâ€ this year as Mona Foster, the â€œbug girl.â€ Are there any plans on making your character a regular now that the series has been renewed?
I wish she would come back, but I doubt it. The last episode jumped about a decade or so and I have not heard any talk of her returning....but maybe she's somewhere on 'this side' too!
You also recently appeared as Ginn on â€œStargate Universe.â€ What did you like best about that role? How do you feel about the cancelation of the series?
I wasn't shocked by the cancellation because networks use the archaic Nielsen rating to determine the life of a show and SGU was not getting the ratings it needed. I was more disappointed because the show had really picked up steam and had it been given another season I think the viewers would've jumped aboard. The role of Ginn was fun because she was the girl who could be giddy as hell exploring her love for Eli, but she could also take charge and shoot a man whose threatening the good guys.
Why did you get into acting? What do you like best about it and what donâ€™t you like?
I have always enjoyed diving into a character, exploring the ins and outs, the good, the bad..I find it endlessly fascinating.
What is in the future for Julie McNiven? Any TV shows, plays or movies we will see you in?
Well, I'm currently auditioning for projects and will tweet and post as soon I have news to share. In June I'll be shooting a series called "Book Club: a Web Series for Bibliophiles" that we are currently raising money for. I play a girl named Aubrey who is the leader of a rival book club in town and will do anything to destroy â€œBooks Have Me Hookedâ€ club. You can view a trailer and donate here if you can: www.indiegogo.com/bookclub.
Julie has a special message for her fans regarding a unique interest of hers and Amy Gumenick (young Mary).
â€œWhile shooting "The Song Remains the Same" Amy Gumenick and I became great friends and see each other often. In the beginning of May we did a Flashmob for Claire Wineland, an incredibly inspirational 14 year old who is fighting Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for a lung transplant. You can view the story FOX LA did on her and the event here:
She has started a foundation to help spread awareness and assistance to other families dealing with cystic fibrosis. You can view and donate here: www.clairesplacefoundation.org. There is something magnetic about her....you love her before you even meet her. :)â€œ
Me and everyone here at The Winchester Family Business would like to give a big thank you to Julie McNiven for taking time to answer some questions. You can follow Julie on her Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-McNiven-Official-facebook-fanpage/119828344718520 and on Twitter: @juliemcniven