I speak very openly about my life, my trials and tribulations, and to be able to help someone through something hard is gratifying and humbling.
Samantha Ferris is from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She played Ellen Harvelle in 9 episodes of Supernatural and had one of the most heart-wrenching death scenes of the entire show.
Samantha has been kind enough to answer some fan questions gathered for her by SpnUK.
Q.What were your initial thoughts about the Supernatural fandom after joining the show as Ellen?
Samantha: It was pretty overwhelming. I had done many shows before SPN but never had I seen a fandom in all its beauty. Wow. Big connections in this fandom. With each other and the characters. Very humbling. Also a bit disconcerting… fans DID NOT like Jo and Ellen at first. I saw the love and the hate very quickly after we started. Lol. It turned to love pretty fast. For Ellen anyway…. for Jo it took a bit longer.
Q.What about the cast and crew of the show? what was it like working on the set of Supernatural?
Samantha: Wonderful. Again, I have worked on many shows but never saw a crew that was that tight…and with the actors as well as each other. They say that the sign of a good show is the return on the crew every year….not much turnover. Same crew year to year. I have never seen a crew stay as in tact as that one.
Q. Do you have any memorable or funny moments working with Jared, Jensen, Jim or Misha that you can share with us?
Samantha: Of course. All different….Misha and Julie McNiven on a drunken tear at DragonCon……Jim has always felt like family…every time I see him. One of those people you don’t need to have a ton of words with, just comfortable silence. Both Jared and Jensen moments were on set. I had different episodes where I had more involvement with each. Jared and I connected on a episode where I was on the phone a lot. We laughed and told dirty jokes. Talked about our lives. Early in my years on SPN. I forget the episode that Jensen and I connected on, but we raced those stupid mini motorcycles around the lot and he showed me video of the love of his life. Whom he married a year or two later.
Q. A lot of the cast become friends after being on the show, usually from attending conventions, even if they have never been in a scene together. Has this been your experience?
Samantha: There is a lot of love with this cast, but you keep in touch with some more than others. Life is busy…it keeps you apart and you lose touch a bit because you are all doing your thing. I keep in touch with Misha a bit via email. I hook up with Jim Michaels (producer) for drinks here and there. Chad Lindberg is my BESTEST BUDDY. I adore him. We try to hook up on line a couple times a year. If you asked me who my best connections are with previous cast, I would have to say Chad is in the top 3. Love that man. I am also very good pals with DJ Qualls, but we were never on an episode together.
Sandy asked if you would attend a UK convention if invited?
Samantha: Hell yes! I have done 2 cons in England. Both fantastic. Would be there in a heartbeat. That’s my heritage, right? Both parents are British. My brother and I are first generation Canadian. All the family are over the pond.
Sarah asked: Please tell us a little about your feelings about fan conventions. We really appreciate your statements over the years about not wanting to take advantage of fans, it can definitely feel like that sometimes.
Samantha: Conventions are near and dear to me. To most actors, I would think. I would HOPE. This is an opportunity to touch base with the people who love and connect with what you do. It’s lovely. I’ve had people cry, shake, scream, go silent, pass out…..because they loved the character I created and got to meet me in person. There are few things more fulfilling than that. That I got to touch their lives so deeply. It’s intense and an intimate connection. Very personal and moving for me. The thing that I don’t like about it is that it is sometimes marred by the greed of companies who try to take advantage of this connection. See below….
Erika would like to know your reasons for disliking Creation cons. She’s only heard about it, not the reasons.
Samantha: In my opinion, that is one company who is greedy, takes advantage of its attendees and doesn’t treat its guests all that well either, but don’t get me started on that. I get that it takes money to put conventions together and run them….but these [Creation] boys who shall remain nameless, are shameless in what they ask of fans financially. I think they take advantage of them. The prices are insane, but they know they’ve got fans over a barrel because fans are loyal and will spend all their money to meet the characters they love. [Another Guest] and I sat on plane home from a convention a number of years ago and did the math on what the convention made for the guys who put it together. It felt criminal and creepy. And the organizers try to find any way possible to charge for an event. Breakfast, cocktail parties, etc…. Which is cool if the attendees are fulfilled by the event, but to charge a ridiculous amount of money for a chance to have someone sit at your table for 3 minutes should not cost the amount it does. It feels unfair. Like extortion. The one thing I like about their conventions (and all conventions) is that it creates lifelong friendships between the attendees. People who stay in touch and connect over a common passion even if they live on other sides of the globe from each other. It’s heartwarming.
Mattie asked: How excited are you for WISHCon with Kim Rhodes?
Samantha: EXCITED! I love conventions, I’ve never been to Ohio, and I’ve NEVER MET KIM RHODES?!? Come on…how has that happened that we’ve never met? Totally looking forward to it. All gal convention? Very empowering for women everywhere…fans or not. Sad that it hasn’t happened before now, but hats off to the WISHCon gals for putting that shindig together.
Roxxy asked if you know how important your character is to the fans of this show? How much we see you as the boys’ other Mom?
Samantha: Yes, I do. It took me a while to see, but after a lot of feedback from fans, cast, and producers, the vibe we got was “thank you for coming”. I didn’t know much about the show before I came on (2nd episode of season 2), but once I saw what was what, and heard what people had to say, I realized that a maternal role was a privilege and not a right on that show. They painfully needed some female energy on the show and I was grateful to offer it….if even for a little while. 🙂
Claudine asked: What’s your “head canon” for where Ellen is at now? Are she, Jo and Ash running a great big Roadhouse in Heaven for all our beloved deceased characters? Serving spirits for spirits?
Samantha: I never want to create a story for anyone because the great thing about Sci-fi and ‘other-world’ shows is that you get to create your own story, ya know? Do you read a book and see the scene in your head, even though it’s a book? Me, too. The imagination lets you create whatever you want and no one can take that away from you. So I don’t want create an image for anyone as to where these kids are at….. I only hope that we find out by the end of the series.
Nicole asked: What type of preparations did you do in order to have Ellen look like she knew how to handle a gun? Were you already proficient or did you have some lessons?
Samantha: Ha. Ask Jared and Jensen about that. They had a good laugh. I can be fierce as hell with a gun on set, but I’m not exactly Annie Oakley, right? The scene before the big ending for me and Jo, we had to shoot a bunch of Hellhounds in the street. I kept having issues with my gun…..and when it wouldn’t fire, I was pointing it everywhere, looking down the barrel…. (which you NEVER do on set). So everyone was ducking, then I was ducking saying, “WHAT??? WHAT??…”, but turns out they were all ducking because I was pointing my gun every which way. Not a proud gun-toting moment for Ellen Harvelle. A funny one, just not an ass-kicking one.
Rebel wanted to tell you that Ellen and Jo’s death were the most heroic, moving scene EVER! and was wondering how hard was it to do that scene?
Samantha: Quite easy, actually. Some actors are really good with the emotional scenes. I am one of them. Call it therapy, I don’t know. Getting into some heavy emotion and crying is cathartic. Feels good. Easy to do. The only challenge for me was to not run out of tears too fast, because that can happen. It was a very long scene and they shot Jo’s scene first (meaning I was not on camera). So I’m crying my eyes out for Alona’s shots and Phil (director) keeps saying, “Sam, save some of the waterworks for your coverage….”. I couldn’t help it. It was emotional for me. We had been told at the beginning of the shoot that we were getting killed off and this would be the end of our run on SPN. That would make anyone cry, right?
Rachel asked if you have been keeping up with the show? And if you have what would Ellen’s advice be for Sam and Dean in their current trials and tribulations?
Samantha: It’s hard to watch the progression of the show. Heartbreaking. Like a loss. I don’t watch it much….but I’m sure the boys will be just fine.
Claudine asked: Which of the nine episodes that you were in was your favorite to film?
Samantha: The death scene was very powerful. Our first scene was also pretty fun. Ash falling off a pool table? Holding a gun to Sam’s head? FUN.
Advice and other projects
Kelli asked: Do you feel like you’re sort of a mother to the fandom? Giving us life advice and just generally being real about everything?
Samantha: Yes. Absolutely. I have had many people come up to me after our death and say that it was very emotional for them. I have had a couple of women say that that scene in particular changed their relationships with their families. Girls and mothers say that watching that scene made them re-connect with their families again after much time apart. Fix relations with their mothers and their daughters. That is powerful stuff. It has made me cry more than once. Part of my drive for doing what I do (not just the acting) is to make a difference in the lives of others. I speak very openly about my life, my trials and tribulations, and to be able to help someone through something hard is gratifying and humbling. Sharing feelings, and to let people know that they are not alone is emotional stuff in life. It’s important to me.
Q. You have recently started producing some great YouTube videos titled “So here’s the thing.” What was your initial idea/goal for these videos? Have you been pleased with the feedback?
Samantha: Ha. I share a lot. I think it’s important. I believe that connecting and sharing stuff about life is empowering and that we need to do it more. I do that with my youtube channel. I throw stuff out there that people don’t tend to talk about because it’s uncomfortable. I am not the least bit uncomfortable talking about being fired, or being single….or missing a front tooth. When we share stuff that is scary or unspoken, we connect with each other. We don’t feel so alone. We know that someone else feels it too, so we feel less disconnected. I am willing to say what most people won’t. If what I say on it makes someone else say, “Jeez, I feel like that, too…” and takes away the sting of it, then I have done what I set out to do. And I do it with a sense of humour. Which I think is also important. Life is painful….but if we can laugh about it, then it makes it easier, no?
Sandy asked: What are you working on now?
Samantha: I am about to head over to Victoria (Vancouver Island) to shoot another episode of Gourmet Detective. A series of Hallmark Movies. This is the 3rd movie of the series. Fun. I play the Captain of the precinct that the lead works in (Brooke Burns). I also do a bit of voice work and some radio. I am doing some fill in on a local radio station in Vancouver.
Quickfire Questions from Shannon:
Q. What was the last picture you took on your phone?
Samantha: I looked at my phone the other day and it said the time was 1:11. My buddy Ken said that was a good omen. So I took a picture of it. I also took a picture of a jigsaw puzzle that I am working on to send to my mother. I ADORE jigsaw puzzles. They are meditative. If you can’t meditate, get into jigsaw puzzles. They have the same outcome on your psyche. No joke. Try one. Like therapy.
Q. What have you always wanted and did you ever get it?
Samantha: Get my hands on Sam Rockwell (actor). I love him. Nope, haven’t got it yet. Not giving up hope.
Q. What’s the best lie you ever told to get out of work?
Samantha: That I was stuck on an island in a storm and couldn’t get to work in time. Not a total lie. Was boating with a boyfriend and we hit rough seas. We made it as far as Bowen Island (off Vancouver), and said “screw it”. Our nerves were frazzled and we needed a drink. So I phoned work and said that we were stuck on high seas and wouldn’t make it in.
Q. If you could have anyone locked in a room so that you can torment them for a whole day who would you choose and how would you torment them?
Samantha: Not sure that is my MO. I would never really want to torment someone. I believe in karma. But when I read stories about people who torture animals for fun…. I would not like to see what I could do if left alone with these people. It would be ugly and I would not be proud of my actions. Anyone who could hurt those who are vulnerable: animals, kids, and old people. I would not like to see what I would do given time alone with them. ’nuff said…..
Q. If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else who would you want to be and what would you want to do?
Samantha: I think we’d all like to change places with someone for fun for a day….but to change lives with someone wouldn’t feel right to me. At the risk of sounding airy-fairy, I think we all came here into the body we are in for a reason. We all came here to learn something and if we traded bodies, then we wouldn’t be living an authentic life, right? Wouldn’t be learning what we are hear to learn. As painful as it may be sometimes…..BUT….for a day?…… Maybe Angelina Jolie…. to feel what it feels like to have 6 kids (I have none…and am happy about that, BTW) and be married to Brad Pitt. To see what a normal day feels like as one of the most powerful people in the media would be interesting. Toast and coffee with Brad? That would be interesting, no?
- Thanks to Samantha for taking the time to answer the fan questions.
- Thanks to Russ for coordinating the questions and answers.
- Thank you to all the fans that submitted questions for Samantha.
- Thank you to Rachel, Lisa and Stef for proof reading.
- Interview conducted via e-mail Feb 21, 2016 by Lucy Schneider.
- Opinions expressed in the interview are not that of the Interviewer.
YouTube: Sam Ferris