Leanne Lapp first caught our “iZombie” eye as Gilda in the undead CW dramedy and now she’s returning to the network, guesting on tonight’s noir-inspired episode of “Supernatural.” Portraying a procurer of rare items who appears to know the whereabouts of one that is of particular value to the Winchester brothers, the Vancouver native is set to further complicate the already-complicated lives of everyone’s favorite demon-hunter siblings, sending them on a wild goose chase that is sure to get wilder than most.
We recently sat down with Lapp to discuss why she was excited about working on the series, getting to go full femme fatal, and the reason “Supernatural” has been so successful at capturing lightning in a bottle for 13 seasons.
TrunkSpace: You’re guesting on this week’s episode of “Supernatural,” a series we have covered in great length here. One of the things that we have heard over and over again from everybody who has appeared on the show is that it’s one of the most welcoming sets that they’ve ever stepped foot on. Was that your experience as well?
Lapp: Yeah, it was an amazing set to work on. They’ve been running for 13 years now, so the entire cast and crew know each other so well and are so comfortable with one another, they almost know what the other is thinking. So it’s such a smooth set to work on and that really makes things great when you’re just coming on as a guest star and you’re kind of the new kid in school. It makes things really easy and enjoyable.
TrunkSpace: And as you mentioned, 13 seasons, that’s such a rarity in this day and age where everything is getting more streamlined in terms of not only seasons, but episode counts as well.
Lapp: Yeah, that seems to be the trend. I feel like people are really enjoying television in the sort of mini series format these days, which I love as well, but I think the fans of the show just kind of pulled it through. The “Supernatural” fans are so, so supportive and that is the reason the show has aired for so long and has kept everybody employed.
TrunkSpace: It certainly seems, as far as the fandom is concerned, that for somebody guesting on the series, this is a universe where every character matters.
Lapp: I don’t know that I’ve worked on a show yet with such an amazing group of fans. It’s been amazing.
TrunkSpace: The fandom hasn’t seen your episode yet, but when the ending credits roll later tonight, will they accept Margaret or are they going to lash out against her?
Lapp: Well, she’s a really interesting character. The episode is a really interesting episode. When I first got the audition sides, I had so many questions, which of course, nobody would answer for me because it’s all kept under wraps. (Laughter) But the scene just seemed so different from anything that I had seen on the show or knew the show to be centered around and so, I was like, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on here?” The episode really is a very, very fun episode. It’s kind of, a little bit, stylistically different. You can see in the promo just with my character and a couple of other characters, it’s almost kind of like a film noir-esque episode, so I think that will be a fun one for people to watch.
TrunkSpace: That’s a dynamic that the show has always done well, sort of combining the elements of drama and comedy and mashing them together.
Lapp: Definitely. I don’t know if my character was necessarily the funny one, but there were definitely moments that were meant to be quite serious where I had a hard time keeping a straight face while we were filming because the other actors were just cracking up. But I got through it. (Laughter)
TrunkSpace: We’re sure you can’t say too much for fear of stepping into spoiler alert zone, but what can you tell us about Margaret and how she makes her presence known in this universe?
Lapp: Well, what I can say, I guess what’s already been released to some extent, is Sam and Dean are looking for a specific item the entire episode, and it’s something that they wouldn’t be able to find in a store. They’re not able to obtain it traditionally. They kind of have to seek out some pretty dark characters to get a hold of it and Margaret is somebody that they meet in this sort of black market community and she sends them on a bit of a wild goose chase for it.
TrunkSpace: Characters on the show tend to return, either to become allies of the Winchester brothers or to make their lives more difficult. That seems to be another element that the fandom really enjoys because it helps build out the world and add layers. Perhaps we could see Margaret again?
Lapp: You never know. That’s definitely kind of the vibe that the cast and the crew certainly have, and I’m not even necessarily speaking about my own character. I have so many friends and colleagues in Vancouver who have worked on the show over the past 13 years and the vibe of every crew member is like, “Well, we’ll just see you back here in a couple months or a couple years or a decade.” They just all sort of assume that you’ll be coming back because now, especially with that show, they’ve been running for so long, that I have friends that have played two different roles on the show. The vibe is definitely we’ll see you again soon.
TrunkSpace: So for you personally, what did you enjoy most about Margaret and getting to play her?
Lapp: So many things. I guess I can narrow it down to three things. One, I wanted to work on the show. It’s been running in Vancouver for so long and filmed a lot in the neighborhood that I grew up in as a child, so I grew up seeing their trailers and such, dispersed around my neighborhood. Two, as you can tell probably from watching the trailer for the episode, Margaret is sort of this femme fatal character who’s kind of trapped, maybe not literally, but her style and her vibe is very much of the ‘40s. I did that for so long on “iZombie” playing Gilda and I was excited to revisit that because I collect a lot of vintage clothing and stuff just in my own life. And probably the biggest thing is I really, really, really wanted to work with Amanda Tapping, who directed this episode. I had heard so many amazing things about her and I had met her in a couple audition rooms and she comes from a world of… she’s an actor as well who is now directing and she was just the most lovely person to work with, even in the confines of an audition room where you work with each other for five minutes and then you may never see them again. She was so wonderful and I just knew shooting an episode with her would be a great experience so, I really wanted to work with Amanda as well.
TrunkSpace: Is an actor’s relationship with a director on a series different than with film? Do the dynamics change from medium to medium?
Lapp: In some cases. When you’re working on film, generally – hopefully – you have a little bit more time. Everything in television, the pace, everything goes so quickly. When I first started acting, I was working on some independent films and just small things and stuff like that where they had the location for as long as they needed it, or it was really about the director feeling happy about what they had gotten. And of course that’s the case working on television as well, but everything works on a much, much faster pace. The great thing about working with Amanda was, because working in television has to happen really quickly, and television is predominately what I work on these days, I’m used to maybe getting two takes. Maybe only one, maybe two, maybe three if I’m really lucky, and Amanda was the first director that looked at me and was like, “Do you just want to do that again?” And I was like, “Yes, I would love that!” She worked on “Stargate” for 10 years. She just knows that feeling of, “Gosh, I really wish I had another chance at that.” So that was really great. She really is an actor’s director.
TrunkSpace: You mention the speed of shooting a television series, but we know that you’ve also done a number of Hallmark Channel films, which as we understand it, can move even quicker, right?
Lapp: Yes, they shoot I think 10 of those at a time in Vancouver and they shoot on a three week schedule, sometimes less, and a lot of times you’re working with a skeleton crew, so half the crew is shooting one thing and half the crew is shooting another. But those sets, those movies, that’s another thing that has a really, really huge, supportive fan base that love Hallmark movies.
TrunkSpace: Absolutely. The Hallmarkies rival the fandoms of a number of genre shows, which tend to draw a more passionate viewership.
Lapp: Yeah, I was so surprised when I first started working on them. I guess I was just kind of ignorant to it because I hadn’t seen many of them until I actually started auditioning and working in Vancouver but, Hallmark fans are extremely supportive. I think the nature of a Hallmark film is, with some exceptions, as long as you’re having a good time shooting it, as long as it’s an enjoyable schedule to work on, it’s going to show and the audience is going to enjoy it. All of those films are just really feel-good movies that you come out of with a warm feeling in your heart, so I think as long as the set and the work experience reflects that, it shows.
TrunkSpace: And that kind of goes full circle back to “Supernatural,” because that is also what has made that series work so well for so long. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and fans can sit and chuckle their way through an episode, even when the stakes are high.
Lapp: Yeah, that’s so true. And, you know, that reflects as well on to Jared (Padalecki) and Jensen (Ackles). The show is huge and they’ve had such successful careers. You meet all types of people working as an actor when you come on different shows. Jared and Jensen are super humble, so relaxed and casual, and not stressed out about anything. There’s really this vibe on the show of which, doesn’t exist on every set. A lot of sets this isn’t the case, but there really is a vibe on the show of, “We’re not doing open heart surgery, we’re not saving lives, we’re making a TV show and it should be fun and enjoyable.” From other shows that I’ve worked on, I think when your lead, or in this case your two leads, project that attitude, it really stems from them and then it trickles down to all of the crew and the entire rest of the cast as this is the appropriate way to behave and act on a set. I think obviously the show has a lot of amazing things going for it, but I think those two guys really had a hand to play in making it the enjoyable experience that it is for every actor that guests on the show.
“Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.
Featured image by: Kyla Hemmelgarn