Rowena MacLeod is one of the few villains on Supernatural to not only last more than a season, but to grow and change as a character. It’s not exactly easy for a witch born in the 17th Century to show that much development, but as portrayed by Scottish actress Ruth Connell, Rowena is able to pull it off. Now the witch is a strong ally in Team Free Will’s fight against The End, but its been quite a journey to get to this point.
We talked with Connell about her experiences on the show as well as what wardrobe item she’d like Warner Brothers to send her. Listen up, Warner Brothers!
DEN OF GEEK: What is it like for you to be Rowena this long, to see her character grow from just a villain to a more rounded character? She has so many more layers to her. What has that process been like for you?
RUTH CONNELL: It’s been amazing. It really has been amazing. And nothing I could have seen – nothing I really could have foreseen over a five year stretch so far. It will be six by the time it’s all aired and everything. I’m getting a lot of reminders on social media saying “oh five years ago you posted this” with a picture from my first episode. And actually this episode was written by Bob Berens. Bob wrote my audition sides. So it’s amazing really. So much of the original sassiness of the character and strength and survival mode of Rowena still exist but also we’ve seen her vulnerability and her loss and now you know she has this redemption arc. Which is not to say she lost keeping an eye out for herself and another reason for doing things… not to say she isn’t self serving but she has this added depth of wanting to contribute.
We’re in Season 15 now and we’ve got this end of the world complication going on and even Rowena seems surprised by the whole thing — how do you surprise someone as old as Rowena?
Exactly. And I think that’s one of the reasons she hangs out with the Winchesters. When you’ve been alive for such a long time you’ve been there, seen it, done it all, there are very few people who can play you at your own game or on your level. Or give you a forum to have intrigue and excitement and jeopardy. And actually the things she finds stimulating enough to be bothered with so there’s a bit of her who can’t stay away from the fire. She actually thrives on it a bit. I think tonights’ episode we see Rowena can still surprise herself. That’s one of the biggest revelations to Rowena in this last year or so, actually caring about her son, actually trying to do something about it and actually trying to help the Winchesters even with her M.O. So I think there’s lots of scope for surprises.
I know you probably don’t know the whole season yet, but how much Rowena can we expect this season?
Ahhh. It’s a hard question! Truthfully I think the writers have a good idea…but honestly from what I’ve been told, no season has quite ended the way they initially anticipated. It does remain to be seen. I think that’s the most evasive, truthful answer I can give.
Are they keeping things really secretive even from you and the other cast members? Are script pages given out last minute, anything like that?
We have a real strong sense of protecting it. I’ve kind of gone out of my way to protect it. Honestly I think it is good to have surprises. Supernatural does manage to do that, it does have a few more tricks up its sleeve.
You’ve been on the show for 5 seasons now, What’s it like working with the crew? I always hear the best things.
So many of the crew have been there from the beginning. It is such a family. Like from your driver — you spend hours and hours in the car. Emma gets me out of the car, sometimes she’s got a little coffee machine in her cabin, she makes me a little coffee from her cabin. I’m in the works — Rowena’s in the works in hair and makeup for a long time. There’s so many steps in the process and you become close with all the people who are there, wrapping a microphone around your leg everyday.
You spend more time with the people in the crew than anyone else really. Brad Creasser — he’s on camera. I still look to him. [He complimented me on ] one of the scenes tonight in the episode after we shot it. Robin Stooschnov [assistant property master] to Alison Hunter [script supervisor]. I’m gonna really miss the crew and the filming of the show so much. It’ll be bizarre to think I’m never gonna go back there. I just hope there’s other things I book in Vancouver so I can get back up there and see everyone.
What cast and crew have said before is that the whole final season feels bittersweet.
It is and for me personally it also feels I’ve had such a good run. Someone else said today it was half a decade of my life. It changed my life. My life will never be the same again, and there’s very few jobs that do that for such a lot of people. I think so many people in the cast and crew are able to say that about the show. It’s something that, when we’re doing the reunion tour in 2030 or whatever year we’ll still have this bond.
Okay, so a couple fun question: If you put something in a spell or hex bag to protect yourself, what would it be?
I’d pull a hair from Jensen’s head and one from Jared’s — just a hair, more just to see them say “ouch!”
If you could keep one wardrobe item or prop, what would it be?
I have never kept a single thing. Maybe a pair of tights I accidentally took home. There’s so many things I’d like to keep. There are a pair of kitten heels that i wore — you know the Christmas episode? The one with Mark Sheppard and Mark Pellegrino. Fluffy little provocateur kitten heels. They don’t fit anyone else. I think Warner Brothers should give them to me.
I’ve heard multiple people say your makeup is spot on. Whenever someone sees Rowena, it’s not “she’s evil” it’s “she’s fabulous.”
And thank you for mentioning makeup and hair and wardrobe. They don’t have a lot of women to glamorize on the show so– it’s such a team effort to create Rowena. I thank them for doing such a great job. They go above and beyond. I don’t get treated like a guest star showing up for the day. Rowena is treated with a lot of care and I’m so fortunate.
Any upcoming projects you’re excited about? Anything you’ve worked on that you’d like to mention?
One of my best, best friends Georgia Dolenz has something we shot together — it’s out in film festivals right now called Open House (2019). She created from it scratch from a character she developed.
I have a film called Hara Kiri (2006)– it’s on Amazon Prime — that I’m really proud of. My friend Henry Alberto is an upcoming director. I always want to give Hara Kiri a shoutout.
And also For the Love of George (2018) on [Amazon Prime] by my friend Nadia Jordan. Very female led movie about one woman’s obsession with George Clooney.
I have a new agent in London with IAG. They’re a very exciting company with lots of diversity. I’m very excited with what they’ve come up with. It goes against the grain. You get told that “women of a whatever age blah blah blah” – but I feel excited about the future and hopefully Supernatural has given me a great launchpad for what’s going to come next.