‘Supernatural’ Star Jim Beaver on the ‘Deadly Serious’ Apocalypse-World Version of Bobby

Supernatural -- "Good Intentions" -- Image Number: SN1314a_0070b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester, Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer and Alexander Calvert as Jack -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved
CW/Dean Buscher

Bobby Singer is back — back again.

Supernatural” revealed that Bobby (Jim Beaver) was still alive in the apocalypse world at the end of the 12th season of the CW series. He was a gruffer, more militant version of the man the audience knew as a surrogate uncle to Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki), but he had the same “kick it in the a–” attitude that has been key to hunting.

“He’s sort of the leader of a bunch of refugees in this alternate world and a protector for them,” Beaver tells Variety.

And as Season 13 is soon to reveal, the apocalypse-world Bobby may still have a soft spot for Winchesters.

In the 14th episode of the season, titled “Good Intentions,” Bobby ends up an ally to Mary (Samantha Smith) and Jack (Alexander Calvert).

Ahead of Beaver’s return to “Supernatural,” he talks with Variety about the differences between the versions of the character, what it was like to return to the show in this new way — and what it was like being on set but not acting opposite his usual scene partners Ackles and Padalecki.

What do you think is important to know about this version of Bobby going into “Good Intentions”?

We get a hint of what his feelings were for the Mary who existed in his world that may be a little different from Bobby in the regular world because Bobby in the regular world didn’t know Mary. That’s interesting. It’s just sort of hinted at. And then we see a pretty strong reaction to Jack.

Jack does seem like the kind of being apocalypse-world Bobby would just kill, no questions asked. How much internal conflict do we see him go through to decide to help them?

Let’s just say that his first reaction is very close to what you just described. But even Bobby is capable of having his eyes opened, so I would say that things take a turn after they meet. Bobby’s first impulses don’t rule the day.

How is his help towards Mary and Jack different from how we’ve seen him help the Winchesters in the past?

First of all, it’s grudgingly. While Bobby, regardless of which world he’s in, is cautious to the point of suspicious, he’s maybe a little more suspicious in this situation. It takes a lot of convincing.

How important is it for you as an actor to come back to the show in this new way, rather than to constantly resurrect the regular version of Bobby and risk diluting the impact of his death?

I get a lot of communication from people who are seeing this show for the first time. Because the nature of how we are able to see television programs has changed so much since “Supernatural” has been on, it’s very easy to start from the beginning, audiences are constantly having the impact of Bobby’s death — or any other powerful moment on the show. That’s never going to be lost because somebody’s always going to be starting the show and working their way through it. So with that in mind, and the fact that I really, really, really, really love playing the character, I think it’s perfectly in tune to the nature of the show that Bobby return in any nature that they want to bring him back. Obviously if this were “Homeland” or “House of Cards” or “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” it would be not only ridiculous but impossible to keep bringing the character back. As a dramatist myself, I’m very aware of the value of the impact of the character’s death, but as far as I’m concerned, that ship has sailed with “Supernatural” because Bobby died in Season 7 and here we are six seasons later, and he’s been in every single one of them.

Is there freedom, though, in a new version where you’re not beholden to playing him the same way you have for 12 prior seasons?

Maybe I’m just not as optimistic or open-minded as I should be, but I tend to look at playing this Bobby as being filled with restrictions that I didn’t have as Bobby in the more familiar universe. But I’ve only played him in two episodes now, and only briefly in one of those, so it’s a little hard to say how it would feel in the long run. My own personal wish is to somehow have Bobby reunited with the boys and go on like before in some fashion, but how realistic that is, I don’t know. The biggest difference right now is really that I don’t get to work with Jared and Jensen, so just from an actor’s point of view, that’s a downside. But I do get to work with the crew, and I had a lovely, wonderful time working with Sam Smith, who I never really had a scene with before.

Where do these restrictions on this new Bobby come from?

This Bobby, for one thing — at least so far — isn’t as fun as real-world Bobby. And it’s because he doesn’t have Sam and Dean to bounce off of [and] he doesn’t have Rufus to bounce off of. So far, he’s a deadly serious man in a deadly serious world with very little room for lightheartedness or banter. Those were qualities I really enjoyed with Bobby — not that I don’t enjoy playing the tough heart — but one of the joys was always the banter with the boys. Without the relationship, and of course without having been there in the same universe, it’s a different piece of the character.

Do you think this Bobby would want to go to the other world, now that he knows it’s out there?

He says in this upcoming episode that he feels a large responsibility to the people there. This is just selfish Jim [but] I’d be delighted if they found a workaround for that. Frankly, I think anybody who exists in this horrible alternate universe would welcome the opportunity to be transported to one a little less bleak. But he does feel like he’s one of the few people where he lives who knows how to do what he does.

He’s the Dean and Sam of that world.

I think so. A combination of their strengths, all wrapped up in one incredibly handsome older man! So far in this world we haven’t seen anybody else who has taken on saving it as his task.

“Supernatural” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.