I had the opportunity to chat with Mark Sheppard, the ubiquitous actor, as part of the press event during this past weekend’s WonderCon. Although he was attending in conjunction with his upcoming appearance on Doctor Who, I tried my best to divert his attention to Supernatural. Of course, this was no easy task considering that Mark prefers to keep a shroud of mystery surrounding all his appearances. After all, this is the man who insists that his name not be used in the opening credits for fear that viewers reading it will then know in advance that his character will be making an appearance! Getting a straight answer from Mark is almost as challenging as getting a straight answer out of Misha Collins, who appears as the angel Castiel on Supernatural and entertains followers with a hilarious Twitter account (@MishaCollins). Unfortunately due to time constraints, we had less than five minutes to present questions to this personable, funny, and engaging actor.
Mark is the type of actor that you just know you’ve seen before, but he manages to bring a unique interpretation to the multitude of characters he has portrayed. Fans of sci-fi have no doubt seen Mark in Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13, Dollhouse, Firefly, and X-Files. And he will now be adding Doctor Who to his impressive resume. But he has also had appearances on Leverage, Chuck, 24, CSI, and Medium to name a few. As if acting weren’t enough to keep him busy, he was directing and acting in Mysterious Island, based on the Jules Verne classic and currently in post-production, where he had an opportunity to work with his father, actor William Morgan Sheppard.
The brief discussion began by acknowledging Mark’s great work in so many different shows, but his teasing was at hand early on, indicating that getting some scoop was going to be next to impossible.
PRESS: We’ve seen you in Battlestar Galactica and literally 11 different shows. And Supernatural was amazing …
MARK: I was in that too?
PRESS: Rumor has it you will be coming back.
MARK: I am?!
With so many sci-fi and genres shows under his belt, Mark was asked to identify which fans were the most enthusiastic, craziest or nuttiest. “We’re all fans,” he responded. “That’s the thing. Don’t ever forget that this is television, for us, by us.” He went on to say, “We love what we do. And that’s the reason for the enthusiasm from the fans. But when you have people (asking) ‘what do you think they’d like?’, it doesn’t work that way. What works is the heart, the passion, the love for these shows. All of those shows mentioned have one thing in common: they’re great shows! Great writing is great writing, be it Sopranos, The Wire, Battlestar… any of these things. I think it’s fascinating that the genre changes. Sherlock for example resonates so much with that genre’s fans because it’s great writing. Fantasy is wonderful to watch. And as long as the heart and passion are there, (fans) will follow it.”
Mark was asked to compare some of the writing between shows such as Warehouse 13, which was a tough thing to do in such limited time. “We’re lucky that we’re finally getting television made for us, by us. That’s what it’s about, and that’s the change in the genre.” He went on to remark that in its infancy ComicCon was getting 15,000 attendees, which slowly doubled, and at that time everyone was thinking it couldn’t get any bigger. Now the number is around 150,000. That type of passion is reflective of the support that genres shows are now receiving.
I asked Mark about his most recent project, Mysterious Island, to compare directing versus acting, and how it was to work with his dad, who is playing an older version of Mark’s younger character (in both Mysterious Island and Doctor Who). “I love working with my dad. We also just did an NCIS together about a year ago; ‘Broken Bird’ was the episode.”
He then teased a little about his appearance in the premiere of Doctor Who, ‘The Impossible Astronaut.’ “I play an American. Not the first time.” But when asked to provide specifics about the role and his dad playing an older version of him, the only thing he would say was “It’s amazing! It is so good, the baddies are SO scary! We shot in America, we brought WHO to America, so that we could bring Who to America. It’s about time. It was a guilty secret for us for so long and now hopefully the door is open and everyone will get to see how great the show is.”
The next question focused on any teases that could be offered about Leverage. “You can’t get rid of Sterling. [Co-creator] John [Rogers] wrote Sterling to be there, it’s just that sometimes you need to take a break. You can’t get rid of Crowley. Can’t get rid of any of them!” Mark stated confidently. “If they go to a Season 7 of Supernatural, I would guess that they would bring Crowley back.”
I asked him to provide a few specifics, a few more spoilers to which Mark retorted teasingly, “I just said something about it. Is that not good enough for ya? The great thing about spoilers is that they’re useless.” Another reporter tried yet again to get him to spill any secrets in addition to the eight episodes that he has already appeared in.
PRESS: Mark, are you going to be on any further episodes of Supernatural this season?
MARK: If they get a Season 7, I would pretty much guess that they would want to bring me back. The fans have been barraging them! Keep doing it! (chuckles)
PRESS: Your appearance/return has already been spoiled.
MARK: They did? Where?
PRESS: It’s out there on the internet!
MARK: No, no. They put something up on IMDB and then took it down. I didn’t do it. They keep saying that just because they saw me on the same flight in Vancouver. But if you want me back, keep barraging them!”
Was that the truth? Misdirection? Oh, Mark, you sneaky devil!! And with such a mystifying will-he-or-won’t-he tease that leaves the mystery as unsolved as we first began, Mark was whisked away.