Interview: Osric Chau
“The SPNFamily is my favourite thing about Supernatural. They are the reason why the show is still going strong, they are the reason why the cast and crew care so much and it’s a real give and take that I haven’t really seen elsewhere”
– , Osric Chau – (Kevin Tran) on the SPNFamily.
Joining the Supernatural Family
Lucy: Why do you think you were picked to play Kevin Tran on Supernatural and what drew you to the role in the first place?
Osric: That’s something I would love to know myself. But let’s look at some things I know for sure. For starters, my Supernatural audition was one I had prepared for more than any other audition up until that point in my career. I had spent $600 delaying a flight so that I could make the Supernatural audition to be in the room with Ben Edlund and Jim Michaels and I was going to go in as prepared as humanly possible. Secondly, I think I was the only guy in there with long hair and so Ben and I had something in common. I’ve never had it that long up until that point, and it wasn’t so much as a choice of style, just that I had been too lazy to go to a barber or salon in a 2 year period since being bald. I didn’t know too much about the show at that time (now I feel like I know too much), but Ben Edlund was directing my first episode and he created “The Tick” which I used to love watching as a kid and so he was one of the guys I really wanted to work with. I believe it was him and Sera Gamble who created Kevin Tran so for that I’ll be ever grateful.
Lucy: Was it difficult to join an established series like Supernatural?
Osric: It was a little difficult at the start because you could tell right away how close everyone was. Being the outsider coming in to a set where everyone is joking around and playing so much, I had a hard time figuring out when they were being serious or when they were just messing with me. That being said, the cast and crew make up my favourite set that I’ve ever worked on, and the kindness and familiarity that I saw even after my first episode really makes it feel like I’m coming home every time I get the opportunity to come back on for another episode.
Lucy: Many people seem almost overwhelmed by the initial welcomes and reactions of the Supernatural fans; what has been your experience of joining the SPNFamily?
Osric: The SPNFamily is my favourite thing about Supernatural. They are the reason why the show is still going strong, they are the reason why the cast and crew care so much and it’s a real give and take that I haven’t really seen elsewhere. As an actor, I’ve always struggled with doing something that I felt made a difference. I think for a lot of other actors it’s the same. Most roles and characters played by any actor are forgotten about and come up on a rare occasion even in our inner circles. But this show and the SPNFamily has really changed that for those that are lucky enough to be a character in this show. You make some of the smallest characters into something more. You’ve changed the lives for many of the actors on this show, myself included, and so to the SPNFamily I am ever grateful to you as well. And so my experiences with the SPNFamily has been overwhelmingly positive. I see so much talent in this fandom that I can’t help but finding myself always trying to encourage people to do more, to collaborate with and to support each other in this fandom.
We need to talk about Kevin
Lucy: What do you think of Kevin’s transition from Advanced Placement Kevin to bad-ass prophet Kevin?
Osric: A Godsend! Not in the Supernatural literal sense.. but you know what I mean. Kevin Tran was on the verge of being the most stereotypical Asian character that I would have ever played. And instead he become the most layered character with the most depth that I ever played. Funny how much can change in one season. I loved the transition from season 7 to season 8. And I’m also very thankful that I had to shave my head for another project I did in the interim because I felt like the haircut and physical transformation really topped it off. I also feel that Kevin, is in a lot of ways the character that best represents the audience and the fandom. Thrust into that situation of course we’d freak out, but then given a year on our own, we wouldn’t just give up and die, we pull together all our knowledge that we’ve accumulated in our lives from school and all our favourite genre shows and games and learn how to kick some demon ass.
Lucy: Which version of Kevin do you relate to the most?
Osric: The paranoid overstressed under slept and malnourished version. Not always but I try to keep myself in a work mode where that’s all I do. It can be incredibly unhealthy, but is it ever productive! Kevin got it right, with so many people’s lives at stake an extra hour of sleep could mean 10 lives. I tend to compare sleep with opportunities in that same way. Just like in Schindler’s List, you don’t want to wish that you could have done more so you just do it.
Lucy: Is there anything that you would like to see happen with/to Kevin’s character in the future?
Osric: I would love for Kevin to transition into a hunter. He started off being constantly kidnapped and then stuck in hiding in different places for so long. If the next step could be out into the world with confidence from himself and his allies that he can make a bigger difference out in the field would be amazing. So that’s the ego of the actor in my talking. For story, Sam and Dean are the hunters, and they’re amazing at it. I don’t think they need that much help in the field for that. They do however have allies for different situations. For Kevin, I would like to see him really explore the MoL bunker and be the expert there. Figure out all the equipment, be the guy that knows every room, all the secrets and knows the library by heart. Being the all knowing Janitor at the MoL bunker would be a cool job.
On the set of Supernatural
Lucy: Have you ever been prone to any of the infamous on set pranks?
Osric: Luckily no. They do like to push my buttons, but thankfully I’m not a primary target. Maybe cause I have had a few opportunities to be the guy holding the water devices. Though every time without fail, Jared has borrowed it and sprayed our A Cam operator (Brad Creasser) in the junk. Brad’s a good sport, I wish every set had a Brad.
Lucy: What was Jared doing to put you off in the last lot of Outtakes?
Osric: He was reaching across from under the table to stroke my leg with his foot and he got my funny bone every time. This is what happens when Jared gets bored. The more lines the writers give him, the more he has to concentrate. The less they give him, the more he sees every object or person as a possible joke and chance to do something stupid. Anyone do that yet? Check the gag reels, I think it would be a good bet that those scenes aren’t so Jared heavy.
Lucy: What is it like filming in the awesome looking Men of Letters bunker set?
Osric: It’s home now. Being that I’m always locked up somewhere, I never go on location anymore, so that place is pretty much home for me. It’s growing now too and the place just envelops you when you’re in it. After awhile it’s easy to forget that you’re on a set because now the doors that used to exit into the sound stage now exit to a hallway or another room. That’s a beautiful monster of a set.
Lucy: Do you think you’ll get to utilize any of your martial arts training on the show?
Osric: Probably not unless they include Kevin in one of the fun episodes that happens in a video game or some alternate reality. As much as I would love to do that in the show, that would really solidify the stereotype. With no hints prior, he just knew Kung Fu. So unless it’s in a dream, probably not.
Jared posted a video of Osric flipping a giant truck tyre – with Jared providing some “helpful” commentary! Lucy: How many times can Jared push the Tyre over?
Osric: Well we can go on for awhile, it’s all in the speed. I need to train up to beat him, but his record is 13 tire flips in a minute. The tire is 435lbs I think. His height really gives him a big advantage but he’s slow to run around and reset. It’s possible, but I need to get back to the shape I was when I was training full time to close the gap.
Supernatural Conventions and Fancy dress
Lucy: You have been to a few of the Supernatural conventions now; do you have a convention moment and/or fan moment that stands out for you the most?
Osric: Well Dallas Con 2013 I kind of went all out and dressed as Princess Bubblegum on a whim. The moment of regret as soon as I adjusted my crown and looked in the mirror for the first time was definitely one that I’ll remember. I’ll probably keep doing stuff like that, makes it more fun and I think it’ll be a good way for me to set these milestones in my head for all the cons if I end up going to a lot of them one day.
“A10, that was when I tried to dress up like a Prophet/Hulk and just pulled random things together for it.”
“Dallas 13, that was when I did Princess Bubblegum and made sure it was much better than the Prophet/Hulk, then I looked into the mirror and realized it was too good..”
Another one was at A10 in Birmingham when I first stepped out onto the stage. Never would I have expected that. Good memories of England, I wish I could have spent more time there with the attendees. Not to mention witnessing so many people meeting for the first time at these cons and becoming best friends, it’s so awesome to be part of that in however small a capacity. Yea, my favourite thing about the cons is definitely seeing so many Supernatural fans meet and connect with each other.
Lucy: If you attend other conventions will you consider doing another competition like the Dallas fan-art contest that you arranged?
Osric: Yes! I was so surprised at how many people participated for the Dallas one. And for the winners of the Dallas contest, we had quite the adventure going to a dinner and then a haunted haunted house which freaked most of us out. I’ll definitely be more organized next time and it’s quite difficult to do since I’m new to the city too, but I think I might try to do another one for Burbank since I spend a lot of time there. Although doing these regional things are quite limiting. Ideally, I would love to do a worldwide contest, and just fly the winner to somewhere where we can hang out and just collaborate to do another project, maybe introducing them to some industry professionals that could help further their career. I want to encourage people to create things, to support the arts, and to support hard working people in general who might not have the resources to pursue a career in something they spent their entire lives loving. That’ll take some more thoughts and resources but it’s something I definitely want to do one day.
Lucy: You seem to enjoy dressing up…a lot! what is your most favorite fancy dress outfit that you have worn and is there anything that you really want to dress up as in future?
Osric: There must be a reason why thousands dress up for Comic Con right? To represent characters that you like from shows that you’re a fan of. It’s all in good fun! I used to go all out for Halloween with making gigantic bulky and impractical costumes made out of papier-mache and cardboard. Started with Spongebob squarepants, in grade 10, then a giant Mario bobble-head, then Kirby. Kirby I had to make twice cause the first one didn’t fit through the door.. didn’t think it through. Second one I needed a minivan to transport. And I went as a power ranger with a few from my martial arts class. First time wearing women’s tights for that. Coach wasn’t happy with that one.
Supernatural watch and other activities
Lucy: How far through the complete Supernatural watch through have you got?
Osric: Oh my.. Still the end of first season. But I will get to it! There’s just so much I want to do and so little time. It’s a goal that I’ve set for myself though, so I will complete it.
Lucy: What kind of activities do you do in your spare time (apart from watching Supernatural)?
Osric: I used to be a huge gamer. Now the only game I play is League of Legends. The bulk of my time currently is used to develop different projects with friends. I’ve done a good amount of short films with my roommate and we believe we have the right people to start to think about doing a first feature length film, but that starts with a good story and a lot of work to do between our regular work.
Lucy: What other projects are you working on, or plan to work on soon?
Osric: As I said earlier, my focus right now has been in script development. I write, collaborate with writers and develop other ideas with people to create as compelling of a script as we can. So once we get a few solid ones, we can start shopping it around and getting them made.
I do a lot of indie projects on the side as well. They’re so much fun and I get to really be hands on and learn a lot. One project that I’m spearheading right now is a live action League of Legends short film. It’s a game I love, through it I stay connected to a lot of my friends, and I also have a lot of friends at Riot Games, who makes LoL. So doing this made a lot of sense, and it’s quite an ambitious project with what we want to do with it, but I have a good team together already with industry professionals all over Canada (SPN included) and the further we go, the more interest we’ve had for people wanting to see it and help us with it so it’s been quite exciting for everyone involved. We’re in preproduction now, designing the practical portions of the costumes. Production is slated for spring of 2014.
Lucy: Have you been star struck recently, and if so by whom?
Osric: I haven’t really ever gotten star struck. I didn’t meet any stars when I was younger, and the first few that I met, the only thing I could think of was how different they were in real life than I thought they would be. Probably just J & J. Those two always impress me despite themselves. They’re able to work the hours they do and still find time for family and everything else. Jensen’s still the cool level headed guy that he probably was in season 1 who gives everyone the time of day to feel welcome. And Jared, as goofy as he is, has an incredible work ethic, and I really admire that in him. So there are days on set where I just wonder, how did they do that?
- A huge thank you to the lovely Osric Chau for answering these questions for the fans!
- Thanks also to his manager Andrew for helping to arrange the interview.
- Thank you to all that helped with the question ideas.
- E-mail Interview conducted 8th October 2013
Dallas Con Fan-art contest winners
- portrait of Kevin by Haley Kline (WingedAvenger)
- beautifully crafted wooden chest by Marley Fraterman
- hilarious animated musical number by Sara M