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‘Supernatural’ Star Kim Rhodes on Adding Perspective and Saying ‘Yes to Women’

Kim Rhodes is no stranger to popping up to Vancouver, B.C. to do a guest stint on the CW’s long-running demon-hunting drama “Supernatural,” but even though she has been a part of the show since 2010, she says her latest episode, which is a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff entitled “Wayward Sisters,” felt different.

“I make no bones about the fact that every time they contact me to be a part of the show, I’m sure I’m going to be killed off,” Rhodes tells Variety. “But there was a feeling of something new. I could see the crew, as well, be kind of like, ‘Oh we haven’t done this before.’ To watch people who have been on a steady, brilliant, wonderfully moving train change course just a little bit for a couple of weeks was really exciting. It felt like putting on clothes that feel a little better when the other outfit felt a little tight.”

“Wayward Sisters,” which is the 10th episode of the 13th season of “Supernatural,” sees Rhodes’ character of Jody taking in Patience (Clark Backo) after the young psychic comes to her house and tells her of a premonition of death that she had. Jody then must juggle trying to keep everyone safe while still trying to the rift to the alternate world in which Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are trapped, in order to try to bring them home.

Ahead of the backdoor pilot, Rhodes spoke with Variety about putting the women of “Supernatural” front and center in the narrative with “Wayward Sisters,” Jody’s maternal feelings toward the other characters, and doing her own stunts.

“Wayward Sisters” features a lot more characters than is typical of “Supernatural.” In order to keep the stakes high, is it safe to assume not everyone may make it out unscathed?

If “Supernatural” has taught us anything, it’s that everyone will die. It’s just whether or not they’ll stay dead — that’s the real question.

So in creating those stakes in this quote-unquote new world, what was the most important thing for you in making sure things felt real and consistent for the Jody the audience has known this whole time?

For me as an actor, there were two things that were important. One was simply the training. It was important to me that my body be able to mimic skills that Jody has. I don’t want to take the easy way out. I don’t want them to change the fight choreography for me because I’m old and stiff. I don’t want them to assume I’m not capable of something because I’m female. And they didn’t. Their expectations were well beyond what I thought I was capable of. I even pulled the “I’m an old lady” card once, and they were like, “Do it anyway!” There’s a spot where I jump on something and shoot one-handed down, I was like, “I can’t do that!” The stunt choreographer said, “I’ve worked with you long enough, you can. Do it.” There was no more get out of jail free card, and that’s awesome. The bar has been raised for all of us.

The other thing that was really important to me was the relationship with these women. The women that I get to work with are across the board some of the funniest, most talented, generous human beings. I couldn’t believe I got to play with them. It was like mommy setting up a playdate and they’re all your new best friends.

Why do you think Jody keeps bringing all of these women in at this point in the story?

Jody has this really great ability to continue to risk when she knows it’s going to hurt because she knows no one else will. She is the last house on the block. Nobody shows up at her doorstep if they have any other place they could be. So that’s why she leaves that door open. The Winchesters were that for her. When she had given up, she was literally hopeless, and they said, “No, this is how you find hope: you fight.” Sam and Dean taught her that, and that’s what she’s bringing into this new world. When you’ve given up hope, you fight harder.

Do you feel like Jody is trying to replace her husband and son by forging this new family?

I don’t think she ever wanted to fill that void. I think she’s realistic enough, and I, Kim, have had enough experience with loss and grief to know you can only patch the hole. And in doing so, you kind of dishonor who filled it to begin with. You can’t replace a child, and I don’t think Jody wants to. However, her child and her husband taught her how to love, and she can honor their memory by continuing to love.

Claire (Kathryn Newton) has been off hunting on her own, and when Jody calls her back she’s not exactly receptive to being a part of the group at first. How does Jody balance walking the line of mothering someone like Claire versus fighting alongside her as her peer?

Jody does a lot of holding her tongue! I think in the course of the [episode] you see Jody temper that. At the beginning she is very sure that she knows best because she has the experience — she also has the experience of loss and she knows what’s at stake. The others don’t, necessarily, because they haven’t suffered like she has. But at the same time, there is no denying Claire’s capability. And something that happens over the course of the [episode] is Jody is able to release something that all of us as humans deal with, which is the thing you love has to become fully itself, and to do that, you risk losing it. Claire can’t be who she has to be and never risk. And Jody understands and learns to see that. But she’ll go back and forth. If it goes to series, that’s a conflict that’s going to come up a lot. You can’t just suddenly change your mind about that. And it’s fun for me, Kim, to do that because I have a tendency to say, ‘Well, I’m old, and let me tell you — learn from my mistakes before you ever have to make your own!’ But in this job, we are equals on that set, and we bring different perspectives. My perspective is not better just because it’s older. It’s just different. And watching Kathryn Newton, for instance, convey her character, she has things to teach me as an actor. Watching Kat Ramdeen zero in on her focus, she’s got stuff to teach me. Watching Yadi [Guervara-Pip], how a moment will convey itself on screen that looks so simple but be so powerful, I can learn from that. I learn from Clark [Backo] — I learn from Briana [Buckmaster] — so the second I have nothing left to learn from people around me, I best be dead.

Do you feel Jody looks at these girls as a mother figure? This group was called “Wayward Daughters” for so long, even if not officially, that it seemed to imply she was the head of the family.

I think that could be one of the reasons the movement “Wayward Daughters” got switched to “Wayward Sisters.” It could have been a conscious attempt to equalize the characters. Before I was a mother, I would have said yes [but] now that I am a mother, there are people I have maternal instincts about. I feel maternal towards the fandom. But I don’t see myself as their mother. I am only one person’s mother, and that is my daughter. So I think for Jody to see herself as their mother would be incorrect. I think she has maternal instincts, and she struggles with ‘“I guess you’d call them my daughters, there’s nothing else to call them.” But she’s aware that they also are their own people and creating themselves. And that’s one of the points of the spinoff: this is a family that’s creating itself by choice. So they get to learn new identities with each other.

Why do you feel now is the perfect time to have the women of the show be pushed forward in the narrative and get their own series?

It’s obviously very relevant in our society today. It’s also important for me personally to put my own brand of, for lack of a better word, feminism out there. I’m not saying no to men, I’m saying yes to women. We want more. We want more representation. Let’s expand the playing field. Let’s have more pie! We’re not saying we want your slice — more for everyone. This spinoff expands “Supernatural.” It adds perspective that we haven’t seen before.

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

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