Samantha Ferris has often been cast in strong female roles in many sci-fi series, including â€œStargate: SG-1,â€ â€œSmallville,â€ â€œThe 4400â€ and â€œBattlestar Galacticaâ€ to name a few. She has also performed in several movies including V, The Evidence, Seven Deadly Sins, and one of my favorites, Along Came a Spider.
Itâ€™s no wonder then that with credentials like these the producers of Supernatural looked to the gifted and multitalented Ferris to portray Ellen Harvelle, the take-no-crap owner of the Roadhouse, a favorite gathering spot for hunters like John, Dean and Sam Winchester.
Ellen Harvelle is one of the most memorable characterâ€™s the series has ever seen and her death scene is thought to be the most heart wrenching ever filmed for the series, and Samanthaâ€™s favorite.
Samantha Ferris was gracious enough to grant me her time to talk about her past as a radio announcer, her insights into the entertainment industry and her character. She also talks a little about Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Jim Beaver, and the show in general. Huge thanks to Ms. Ferris for taking the time from her busy schedule to do this interview.
Before you entered acting, you were a television reporter. Why did you decide to become a reporter and how did you transition from that profession to being an actress.
I actually was a radio announcer first. I came out of first year university totally lost. I didnâ€™t want the academic education yet I really didnâ€™t know what I wanted to do at that time. I think I always knew I would become an actor but I wasnâ€™t ready to take that on yet. So, it was recommended to me to get into the radio broadcasting program at BC Institute of Technology. I thought, wow! Great idea! Cut to a year later and I was working for a local radio station (Vancouver). From there, I spring boarded into the television industry. Youâ€™d be surprised....I have had a number of careers....I was a tree planter, a marketing rep. for Sony Music Canada, a sales person, the weather girl, etc......
I loved the Roadhouse, not only as a great setting but as a meeting place for hunters. How did you feel when it was burnt down? Did you ever hope it would be rebuilt by Ellen at some point and returned to the series again?
They spent a lot of time on the set so I was heartbroken when they burned the Roadhouse down. It was my home....my base....my place of safety. What would happen to my daughter and I without it? It also freaked me out professionally because if they killed off The Roadhouse, we werenâ€™t far behind.
It always felt to me that Ellen and Bobby should have been married, so when you were in season 6, it just seemed natural. Do you feel that Ellen and Bobby as a couple would have been a natural progression of the two characters if Ellen hadnâ€™t died?
That is a tough question to answer. I feel like there was something with John Winchester, so to hook up with Bobby felt like a bit of betrayal. Donâ€™t get me wrong, any woman would be lucky to have that cranky old bastard, but I felt conflicted about it. Ahem, the Beav is also a bit older than me too, right?
How did you feel about Ellen and Joâ€™s deaths? It was very hard on the fans to watch, and I know you have said that the SPN cast and crew became like a family to you. Once you found out Ellen was being killed off, how hard was it for you to accept? How difficult was it to shoot the very last scene and were you happy with the results? Was some of the emotion we saw real from your sadness at leaving the show?
Ellen and Joâ€™s death is probably the single piece of work I am most proud of. Not because I think we did such an amazing job, butbecause of the effect it had on fans. We never thought it would hit people the way it did. I have received really emotional letters and comments about that scene. Moving stuff. I have had mothers and daughters come up to me in tears, saying that the scene moved them to call their family, move home, change their life paths, etc..... all because of that scene. Wow. What a compliment. At the time, we didnâ€™t actually know how it would be received. You guys see it with lighting and music and editing...we shoot it in front on 50 people, with pressure to get it done, hair and makeup fussing around.....you just donâ€™t know how it is going to look until you see it. We wanted to make it authentic. Not just for the fans but also to honor the characters. That was the end (ha! we thought) and we wanted to go out in style. It turns out, we did. It was emotional. Hard. It felt like, basically, you were being broken up with and you are losing the guyâ€™s friends and family, too. I had worked with the cast and crew for a while at that point and to know that it was over was heart wrenching. Especially when Phil (the director) came into my trailer with Alona and gave us each a copy of a film edit they had made for us. It was clips of me and Jo, to the song, â€œSheâ€™s a ladyâ€. I cried then. I held it together until that point then I broke. Takes me a lot, but that was it.
Your first episode was in season two. You then returned in season five. Was there a difference on set when you filmed â€œAbandon All Hopeâ€ than 3 years earlier?
Not really. One of the great things about that show is the consistency. The boys screw around a bit for sure, but they are always prepared and know their lines. That has never changed. The crew is also fantastic. They hadnâ€™t changed much over the time away (which is a huge testament to a show.....the more crew they keep from season to season, the better the show is to work on) so it was like stepping back into a comfy pair of shoes. Ahhhhh. Home.
After â€œAbandon All Hope,â€ did you ever think they would call you back again? And when they did, what was it like to be back for â€œMy Heart Will Go Onâ€ as Bobbyâ€™s wife? That had to be a fun part to play.
I was always told that they would find a way to bring me back. I thought they were kidding. I guess they werenâ€™t. No one ever really dies on the show. I think the fans had a lot do with it. Ellen really hit a chord in a lot of people and the creators couldnâ€™t deny it. They like to bring back characters that gel well with the show. It was really a matter of â€˜howâ€™. As a demon? That would have killed me. But they ended up coming up with a way that no one would have thought. Including me. Whenever I leave the set, Phil always says the same thing.... â€œsee ya next timeâ€.
Can you tell us about the video the crew made for you on â€œSheâ€™s a Ladyâ€? Who was on it and what did they have to say? Was it given to you on your last day on set?
It was a group effort. I believe it was Phil and the other producerâ€™s idea, and they got the post-editing staff on it. They went through a lot of footage to find it. We were really touched. As I said above, that is when I started to cry. Itâ€™s nice and touching to be honored in such a way. Bloody great group of people.
Ellen seems to have such a â€˜motherlyâ€™ relationship with the boys. Do you think the writers would ever bring you back as anything but an ally to the Winchesters?
I hope not. If they brought me back as a demon, I would do it, but I wouldnâ€™t like it. And that would be like them. Just to screw with everyone. I wouldnâ€™t put it past them even now. Yes, my relationship with the boys is special. Both on and off set.
Itâ€™s always fun for fans to hear about behind the scenes antics & tidbits about the J2s that we'd be surprised to learn. Do you have any to share or any special moments for you?
Jared is a jokester, and can let a fart go that could clear a room. That boy needs to check his diet. Something in him is not right. Jared is the more outwardly demonstrative of the two. Jensen is more reserved but no less devious or daring. They are different guys, but equally funny, intelligent, endearing, lovely, and sweet.
You have been in nine â€œSupernaturalâ€ episodes. Of all the episodes, which was (were) your favorite(s) and which the most challenging?
Ellen and Joâ€™s death. On both counts....you have to ask? Although the first episode was a challenge because it was our first episode so it was the first time we all met and got to work together.
The fans are VERY invested in Ellen. As such, many fans are hoping for your character to return in season seven. Can you share any information with us about any future homecoming of Ellen? And is there anything fans can do to facilitate your return on the series?
I know they are and I appreciate it from the bottom of my demon-ass-kicking heart. I have not heard anything about season 7 yet, but even if I had I probably wouldnâ€™t tell you. And you guys would kill me if I did. Come on! You kinda want to know but at the end of the day, you want to be surprised, right? So letâ€™s leave it there. Trust me...you guys know more than I do sometimes.
From posts on your website, you seem to love horses. With your busy schedule, do you manage to find the time to volunteer at any horse rescue facilities and do you still dream of having your own horse rescue facility?
I am now working too much to do the rescue but I have been a volunteer at Circle F Horse Rescue for the last 5 years. I love animals. I am nuts about them. And yes, one day I plan to have a horse rescue of my own. Ever smelled a horseâ€™s neck? Pure gold. I went out for a visit the other day and came home with a cat! This is why I volunteer with horses...I canâ€™t bring them all home.
You have gone back to school recently. What are you studying and how does it affect your acting? Are you looking to change professions?
I am getting my psychology degree, and no, it will not effect my acting career for a loooong while. Two years ago, when things were a bit slow, I decided to go back to school part time. Like two courses a semester.....so it is slow going. I already have my first year from UVIC in the 80s, so I went back as a 2nd year student. I will transfer to the University of BC in September. Iâ€™ve always been enthralled by this area. I like to see how people tick. I will probably get my masters, maybe doctorate....so Iâ€™ll be 90 by the time I get there...but Iâ€™m ok with that. It is all a process. School is my hobby and doesnâ€™t interfere with my career. Not yet, anyway.
You have played so many roles on so many televisions series and movies, including â€œV,â€ â€œThe 4400,â€ â€œThe Evidence,â€ and â€œSeven Deadly Sins,â€ and one of my favorites, â€œAlong Came a Spider.â€ Do you have a favorite role that you like the best?
All my roles have been special in different ways. I was buddies with â€œThe 4400â€ cast....weâ€™d get together for dinners, and pizza, etc.... â€œAlong Came a Spiderâ€ was fun because Monica Potter was a HOOT and we partied a bit. â€œImpactâ€ with David James Elliot and Natasha Henstridge was probably the most fun. We shot in Victoria with a bunch of guys I knew.....we were all staying in the same hotel so we had beers after work, rode scooters on the weekend, and laughed....fun. â€œThe Ranchâ€ is my best work and I have lifelong relationships from it. â€œGraceâ€ was creepy and cool and I have friends that I have kept from that shoot. And I just shot â€œThe Tall Manâ€ in Nelson, B.C. which was great fun and a wonderful challenge. Keep your eyes peeled for it early next year. With Jessica Biel (who is probably the nicest person you will ever meet). Nelson is beautiful. We were staying right on the lake. Loved it. Intense shoot but really loved it. And Supernatural was home for me.
You have a movie, â€œThe Tall Man,â€ in post-production. When will it be released, and can you tell us anything about it?
I just talked to the writer/director forâ€ The Tall Manâ€ and the movie is going to the Sundance film festival in January. Fingers crossed. I havenâ€™t seen the finished product but it was very intense to shoot. VERY INTENSE. Creepy, dark, and a bit messed up. I am interested to see what the movie looks like.
What is in your future? Do you have any new productions starting that you can tell us about?
My future? Who knows? I never like to look too far ahead when it comes to work....let it be a bit of an adventure. I have my fingers in a bunch of pies....I am working in radio, going to school, acting....and part of me wants to piss off to Africa to take care of baby elephants on an animal reserve out there. Or on an orangutan sanctuary. I am of two minds; either chase the acting thing like a bat out of hell......or lose myself taking care of animals in the woods of a far off land. either way, life would be good.
Much thanks to Samantha Ferris for her time and efforts to make this happen. You are one awesome and classy lady!