Interview with Lindsey McKeon
The second in the series of guest star interviews is the lovely and talented Lindsey McKeon who is best known to us as the sensitive but very savvy reaper, Tessa who has appeared in three episodes of the â€œSupernaturalâ€ seriesâ€¦so far. I say â€˜so farâ€™, because Tessa is one of the few characters that is still alive on the seriesâ€¦at least as â€˜aliveâ€™ as a reaper can be.
The two-time Daytime Emmy-nominated actress has had a long career in entertainment. Discovering an affinity for acting at the age of 12, her career took off with an impressive range of roles on both television and films. She is well known for her roles as Marah Lewis on â€œGuiding Lightâ€ and Taylor James on â€œOne Tree Hill,â€ but she has also appeared in other TV shows, including â€œCSI: Miami,â€ â€œHouse, MD,â€ and â€œCold Case,â€ and has been featured in nine movies, two of which were released last year.
We first see Tessa attempting to reap Dean Winchesterâ€™s soul in â€œIn My Time of Dying.â€ Her attempt fails as John Winchester decides his life is less important than his first-born son. But Tessaâ€™s involvement in the brotherâ€™s lives doesnâ€™t stop there. She reappears with the brothers in â€œDeath Takes a Holidayâ€ as a possible casualty in Alastairâ€™s attempt to assist in freeing Lucifer, and again in â€œAppointment in Samarra,â€ this time as Deathâ€™s right-hand reaper where we all learn that there is a reason for death and the fine balance that exists betwixt this world and the next.
Ms. McKeon was kind enough to take time from her acting schedule to tell about her dedicated insight into Tessaâ€™s character, her love for the role, a special memory from the series, her interest in season seven, her transition from a child star to a talented young professional, and her deep passion for acting.
How did you get the role of Tessa? Were auditions held for the role or were you contacted?
I first auditioned for the role of Tessa years ago in LA. For the last two episodes they've called and asked for my availability, explaining that they were interested in writing Tessa into an upcoming script.
Tessa appears to have been inspired from the character, Death, in Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" comic books. Were you aware of this before you accepted the part? Did it influence the way you prepared for the role?
Unfortunately I've never read comic booksâ€¦ Well, that's a lie, I do remember my next door neighbor growing up having a MAD magazine but that's about as far as I got in the comic book world, though all the Marvel hype fascinates me!
During â€œIn My Time of Dying,â€ Tessa has three personas: a young woman, a Reaper, and eventually Azazel. Which was the most difficult to portray?
Probably Azazel because it wasn't meâ€¦
The episode's pivotal scene in which Tessa explains to Dean the difficult choice of either coming with her or remaining trapped in limbo as an angry spirit is one of the most powerful moments of the story. What was it like to prepare for, rehearse and shoot the scene?
I think that's such a poignant lesson for not only Dean but for all humans. We all have choices in our lives, pivotal moments where we can choose freedom and joy over anger, even if life or a situation doesn't go as planned. These choices have a lasting and "eternal" affectâ€¦
With a scene like this, and as an actor, it's my responsibility and joy to delve into the character as deeply as I can.
After your debut back in â€œIn My Time of Dyingâ€, were you surprised to be asked to reprise your role in season four's â€œDeath Takes a Holidayâ€ and last fallâ€™s â€œAppointment at Samarra?â€
I think I'm always pleasantly surprised when I get a call to "come back" as Tessa or anybody else... With this business, you never know if your last job was in fact, your last job. So yes, it's always a blessing!
You've shared most of your scenes on the show with Jensen including a kiss. What is it like working with him?
I love working with Jensen. He's easy to work with, fun and good at his job!
In "Death Takes a Holiday," Tessa seemed to develop a soft spot for Dean and was very gentle and caring towards him. Was that sensitivity something you consciously did yourself or something the script already called for?
I think there's always a sensitivity that Tessa has, it's just whether or not it's appropriate to be used to get her job done. Tessa always has a mission to accomplish, and completing that task -to her- is the most important thing. In â€œDeath Takes a Holidayâ€ she's working with a child, naturally that brings up a softer side.
While Tessa was more sympathetic towards Dean in the first two episodes, she seemed more upset towards him in â€œAppointment in Samarra.â€ Did your approach to the role change when you realized this time, Tessa was to be the right-hand for Death?
No, I don't believe that realizing Tessa was death's right hand woman had anything to do with the approach I took. If in any way it did, it was only to take my "job" even more seriously.
Tessa was a bit more stern with Dean in this episode, like a parent is at times with their child, and she did what she needed to do in order to inspire him. To get him to stop playing around and to take what they were doing seriously. After all, it was Dean who asked for this lesson...
The turning point in that episode was the little girl. Tessa was very composed when Dean decided not to kill the child. Was she upset enough with Dean to want him to fail, or did she feel Dean needed to understand how life and death balanced each other even if it meant his choice would cause him to lose the deal?
In the moment Dean chooses not to take the little girl, Tessa knows he's lost the game. Her job is to teach him, to inspire him, but it is up to Dean to "jump". Eventually he sees what his actions or non-actions caused but it was about the willingness to take the action in the moment, by the time he sees... it is too late.
Tessaâ€™s character has not been killed on the show yet, a fate that has befallen a number of fan favorites. As such, do you know if you'll be returning as Tessa again in season 7?
I am thrilled that Tessa has not been killed off. It's a role I absolutely love playing, and delving into. And of course, I would love to come back in Season 7.
Is there a special memory from SPN that you are willing to share? Which of the three episode did you like the most and which was the most challenging to work on?
â€œAppointment in Samarraâ€ is my favorite episode thus far. What a challenging and fun role... Not one that I get to experience every day!!
During the episode we filmed at a butcher shop in Chinatown. At the time, I was a vegetarian, and when I first walked in the smell was nauseating. We were there all day under hot lights, with cow tongue and intestines, flies, you can imagine the smell. I think by the end of the day the stench even perfumed my hair... Ahh, the perks of the job.
In the series it seems all the other reapers are older, more terrifying men in black suits. Is there a special reason why you are the only female reaper?
I don't know if there's a "special" reason I'm the only female reaper, perhaps because I'm special... Does my dry comedy read over e-mail? ... I'm wondering... (I think it comes over very well. Hehehe)
You started acting when you were twelve. Did you find it difficult to transition from being a child actress to being cast for adult roles?
I do think it's been a bit of a challenge, the transition from child actor into adult. I think what was cute and worked while I was young, as I get older, is no longer necessary. The challenge is to be continually growing and evolving, to not get stuck in any one thing. This challenge also gives me the drive to continue, the excitement that there is always more...
As a child when did you decide to go into acting and what made you continue in that profession as an adult?
I got started in this business because it was fun. At some point, it became a "job" to me, and that's when I knew I had lost something. That's when I knew it was time to find the joy again. Otherwise I would just become bored, unfulfilled, and ungrateful- the beginning of the end. And I knew I couldn't blame acting, I could only blame myself. So... I began studying intensely. I began to use each role to grow me, to learn. And now... I do it for me. Not for an outcome, not to make anyone happy, not for a paycheck, for me. And guess what, I've found the joy, again. :)
And joy is definitely what Lindsey McKeon brings to the down-to-earth character of Tessa. I just hope her days as Tessa the Reaper are not over and that she does return in season seven.
I and all here at The Winchester Family Business wish to send a special thank you to Ms McKeon for taking the time to bless us will her thoughts into her role on â€œSupernatural,â€ and in the process, insights into her wonderful personality. With her outlook to acting she will be long remembered for all her acting rolesâ€¦the most memorable I hope will be Tessa the Reaper.