Photography by Mandi Lea
As you may know, Richard is spending his birthday away from home this year, in Austin directing Walker.
To let him know we’re thinking of him, FanWorld invited fans to write a few lines about the moments from Rich’s career that mean to most to them.
So, with a big thanks to all who contributed, and a bigger thank you to the man himself for the work he’s shared with us over the years, we bring you –
“Rich Pickin’s - The Very Best of Richard Speight Jr.”
When I first came up with the idea for this piece, I was pretty sure I would be writing about ‘Band of Brothers’. If you know me even a little, you are probably well aware of how my life was forever changed by a young soldier in a pair of black shorts and a spaghetti sauce stained T-shirt. That series and its cast will forever be dear to my heart.
But I’ve written a lot about Skip over the years, and with the 20th anniversary of the show coming up, I’m likely to write more. So I sat down and thought, really thought, about the characters, stories and projects that have resonated the most with me, and about the moments as a fan when I’ve been the proudest.
In the end, I couldn’t narrow it down to one.
Acting and Directing
While Skip is the first role I think of when anyone asks me about Richard, I think his most impressive performance as an actor is probably as Gabriel in Supernatural, particularly in season 13 of the show. Others have written more on that beloved character here, so suffice to say I consider the arc from Devil’s Bargain to ‘Unfinished Business’ Rich’s best work, with one particular scene in that latter episode still uncomfortably raw even after a (frankly embarrassing) number of views.
The shift from the cocksure playboy angel of old to this brittle, bitter Gabriel shatters my heart every single time. And it’s all the more impressive that Richard hits every emotional beat in this scene *while* directing the episode too. Overachiever.
‘Unfinished Business’ is without doubt, my favourite episode in the show’s entire 15 year run. For me, too, its apocalypse world scenes are some of the most poetic visuals on the show.
Oh and by the way, as much as I love that archangel, I remain resolutely #TeamLoki. What can I say, I can’t resist a handsome man in a suit.
The first time someone posted video of Rich playing guitar and singing at a convention, I was struck by how much fun he was having (once he forgot himself a little) and just how much I liked the tone of his voice. I recall, too, how self-deprecating he was about his own ability, uttering an almost apologetic “I’m not a musician” as he took off his guitar. Only he *was* a musician. We, the fans, all knew it. We just had a little while to wait for his thinking to catch up to ours.
In terms of pure happiness, there isn’t anything in Richard’s career that has given me more than him releasing an album. My favourite part of cons has always been watching Rich on stage with Louden Swain, just looking completely in his element on the bass. To see him step up to front his own band has given me so much joy. It helps, too, that our musical tastes intersect in so many areas (see ‘Under the Covers with Dick Jr.’ for more).
Dick Jr and the Volunteers
Close watchers of RSJFanWorld will have noticed me tweet the link for Richard’s The Decameron 2020 entry a few times now. A fascinating lockdown project, it brings storytellers from around the world together to share tales themed around the isolation of the pandemic. Rich’s powerful contribution is close to the top of my all-time Dick picks. For 15 minutes, Rich relates a diary of everyday pandemic life (Ed Park’s “The Fourth Tense”) direct to camera. It’s utterly riveting.
And while we’re on the subject of the Covid times, I feel like I can’t write a piece on my favourite Rich moments without acknowledging the constant source of comfort and support Rich has been for me in the past 18 months.
While we’re wading in the shallow end, there is no other scene in Richard’s entire career that makes me come over all blushing fangirl quite like Sam’s introduction to Tiffany in the 2011 movie ‘3 Blind Saints’. I believe I once described it as “sexual Semtex” - Everything about Sam in that scene is irresistible - the way his eyes follow her around the room; the moment where she turns around and he’s *right* there; the look on his face when he says “Kissing…babies”. For a chaste little movie partly funded by a church, that scene is *smoking* hot.
Oh, and I will *never* get over Heather holding out so long to kiss that smart-mouthed cutie in Dave’s Blind Date.
From the weekly diversion of And My Guest Is Richard Speight/Kings of Con: The Podcast (the closest thing we’ve had to an R2 panel in lockdown), to taking time out from Speight’s School of the Blond to answer questions for my interviews.
From the entertainment recs, random questions, creative inspiration and pep talks he’s given my friends and I via Cameo, to his patience with my numerous technical issues (and my vocal, jealous dog) during online cons.
Finally, his appreciation of FanWorld has given me something to be proud of in a time where the achievements by which I would usually measure my worth have been in short supply.
There are two musical moments on my Dick Picks list, one of which is obviously The Roxy album launch show in November 2019, which was just a magical night of music and faves and friends. I was so ridiculously proud of Rich, and so stinking happy I got to be there cheering him on.
My second musical pick is more personal to me. Any time I got to speak with Rich in lockdown, the conversation would invariably turn to the second Dick Jr. album, and in particular to Rich’s own song-writing. So when I asked if he’d consider recording a song for the first anniversary of ‘The Dance and How to Do It’, to have Rich not only say “yes”, but ask whether it should be one of his new, self-penned songs? It was huge.
‘When the Devil Drives’ remains the only original we’ve heard from the upcoming second album, and getting Rich to play it for us may well be my finest moment in fandom. Whatever else is on the record, it feels good that an *utter* stomper of a song, with a lyric that frankly made me blush, will forever have the tiniest connection to me.
So thank you Rich, for all of it.
And happy, happy birthday x
Photography by Jess
Music has always been my biggest enjoyment in life and I know what you're thinking, not art, Beth? But in every and any form music has always been there for me in the times where I've needed it most, always allowing me to carve out my own space when the world has become too loud. My favourite moment of Richard's career is the release of 'The Dance and How to do it'. As a valley Welsh girl, country music has always been the one genre that has never managed to reach me but through Richard it finally has and I wouldn't have it any other way. Not only has it opened up my eyes to country music but it has given me new friends and new places to visit. I am forever indebted to Richard for bringing me this joy in life and I wish him the very best on his birthday.
What I remember is his control of a room of fans is immaculate - his hosting keeps spirits up and joy flowing through the room despite the occasional sad song being sung and the occasional nervous singers on the stage. His regular exhortions to the crowd to be kind to one another were always heartfelt and moving, and obviously sincere.
Photography by Mandi Lea
One of my favorite roles for Rich was Sheriff Gary in the Amazon pilot “Skyward” (that unfortunately did not get picked up ). I loved seeing him play a father who was sometimes fun and silly, sometimes overprotective, and always caring and “trying”. It was a short-lived role, but very heartwarming.
Changing Channels is my favourite episode of Supernatural… Actually of all TV land. It's utterly, gloriously absurd and at the same time so beautifully nuanced. It's everything I'd come to love about the Trickster, but it's also so much more. It's the big reveal at the end: the slipping of the mask, the sadness, the vulnerability hidden beneath. I've seen the episode countless times and it packs an emotional gut punch every single time. The Trickster was a Supernatural favourite of mine from the get go, but Gabriel became my favourite of all time
Amanda & The Alien
Every role Rich plays has meaning to me, but his presence on Supernatural is what led me to my best friend, and for that, I will always be grateful. However, as small a role as it was, I highly adore going back and watching Amanda & The Alien just so I can get my barisa/hispter Dickster. ;)
Driven really captivated me from the moment I saw it. It's beautifully shot and the story is engaging, but more than anything it's the characters and their humorous and often heartfelt interactions that really hold my attention and keep me coming back for more. Maybe there's something about Roger's awkwardness that I relate to a little too much! Whatever the case, Driven and Roger have helped me smile through some trying times and will always mean a lot to me. Thank you.
For me, even though I am a Gabe Girl, Richard's biggest impact on SPN was as a director. Everyone of his episodes was a joy and also a technical masterpiece, each had a different but specific Dick Vibe, if you will! Also, kudos for him (and of course the whole crew) for making this cold English woman absolutely sob my heart out through Just My Imagination.
The immediate thing that comes to mind is Despair. The quadruple threat of Rich, Bobo, Misha and Jensen - if anyone had given less than their all it wouldn't have worked and the direction of that scene is the magic that brings all the elements together. It was perfection.
I always look forward to the TV episodes he directs, because I know there will be at least one moment that jumps out, and stays with me, whether it's making Sam Winchester look like a small boy talking to his childhood friend, the gorgeous film noir-esque* lighting on Linda driving at night (from Lucifer 5x15), or in the same episode, Maze's reflection in the motorbike mirror, perfectly capturing her effortless cool.
*except in colour
And of course that shot of Castiel in 'Despair', the goo of the Empty resembling his wings from 'Lazarus Rising’... Only someone with a deep appreciation of the show, the character, and the fans, would come up with it.
That appreciation is deeply appreciated.
also that… he’s just so bloody funny, dammit. Hosting Comicon panels with a flipping hand puppet, or bantering with Louden Swain, he regularly makes me cry laughing. I mean, comedy elbows, ffs!
I really miss the comedy genius of Rules and Regulations, but it speaks to the innate decency of the guy, the way he could turn that into a heartfelt plea for kindness after the tragedy of Orlando.
Thinking of Rules & Regs, I love that whenever I see something filmed on a phone in portrait mode, I tut, and think of Rich… and that makes me smile!
Realise I haven't mentioned acting! I don't have specific moments leaping into my brain. Only that he brings the same integrity and commitment to everything he does.
Oh, there is... The image of Gabriel in that dirty jail cell, and the trauma and humiliation he portrayed in those scenes, contrasted with the usual hubris and mischief, yet all utterly believable wrapped up in one character.
And most importantly, that people born between the 3rd and the 6th of September are simply superior people.
The actual moment I became a lifelong Rich fan was at my first con, VanCon 2014. It was on Saturday morning, when Rich was late to the day’s introduction, but finally burst out onstage looking like something the cat dragged in, wearing a hotel bathrobe and sunglasses with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Sure, I loved him as Gabriel, but I’d gone to the con mostly for J2M, as a lot of people do. But that moment - I thought ‘now THIS guy, THAT sense of ridiculous humor, he is my people.’ I went in thinking I was there mostly for J2M, and came out as a huge R2M and Swain fan.
I have really loved watching Rich move into directing more – I don’t think I’ve seen any episode of any show he’s directed without at least one moment of ‘wow, that shot is GORGEOUS’. I loved the scene in the recent episode of ‘Walker’ where Augie and Stella are having a conversation lying on their backs on the floor head to head in sort of an L shape. It reminded me a little of the shot he’s talked about a lot in Supernatural’s ‘Just my Imagination’ where Sam and Sully have a conversation while hanging their heads upside down over the sides of their beds. Visually striking, but also totally true to how kids (or teenagers) would talk to each other. He’s got such a great eye for telling the story with the choice of shot as well as the script.
I had the chance to chat with Richard thanks to an online event and I told him how much I loved his directing job which is still the case. But most of all, his friendship with Rob Benedict accompanies me to go to work every week as I listen to The Kings of Con: the podcast and it makes me in an incredible good mood. So I'd like to tell him thank you for being so nice with me as he has been the first actor/director I had the chance to chat with. So thank you Richard for all the great job as director in SPN, Lucifer, Walker and Kung-fu, I can't wait to see your great work again. Happy birthday from your French stalker
What can I say about Director Dick on his birthday? First wishing you the best and brightest birthday yet. What can I say about what I love about Rich and his directing style? It’s detail. He knows what his characters would do and wouldn’t do. Being an actor as well he is attuned to listening to his actor’s insight on the character and can draw the best performance from them. My favorite episode to date that he’s helmed has to be “Despair”.
And on a completely separate note: I love when his sons come on the KOC podcast with a question or query. His total dad mode and love for the boys are so endearing.
Band of Brothers
Richard Speight Jr has played many impactful roles over the span of his career, and his work behind the camera is stellar as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few brief conversations with him at a few fan conventions, and he has always impressed me as singularly passionate and knowledgable about the history and craft of film-making. This dedication shines through in all of his work, but most meaningful to me is his portrayal of Warren “Skip” Muck in Band of Brothers. It is such a nuanced and touching performance, with the pain and fear of war layered with Skip’s bravery, sass, and heart. For his moving portrayal, and for all of the work he has done to honor Skip Muck since, I can only say: “Currahee!”
I'm sure I will forever be in awe of all the work and care and pure passion that Rich and the others put into making North Beach. Even for being over 20 years old, it still has an impact on not just me, but everyone I've ever shown it to. My appreciation went to a whole other level after seeing the locations and listening to the soundtrack while walking the streets and seeing that he really understood the vibes of the city. Love, care, and passion goes into every ounce of Rich's work, but I feel like North Beach is soul-bearing, and I'm so honored and grateful that he chose to share a large part of himself with us at such a young age.
Jericho holds a special place in my heart because it was my introduction to Richard. I can still remember searching the internet to find out who the guy in the trunk was, writing down a list of film and television credits, and searching my local Blockbuster high and low for titles. It’s a show that I’ve come to love even more over time, and also a show that did not get the respect that it deserved in its initial run. We didn’t see enough of Deputy Bill in the show, but it was enough for me to recognize, and get excited, when I saw a certain name appear in the opening of a Supernatural episode a little later.
We knew he could act, and we knew he could direct, but Unfinished Business put up a test that he passed with flying colors. It remains one of my favorite hours of television, and it’s the proudest that I’ve ever been of a human that I didn’t actually know. From details as small as a custom made sucker box, to perfectly executed fight scenes. The lighting, the angles, the acting. It was spectacularly done.
Attending the album release for The Dance, and How To Do It initially started as a joke.
“Lets see what happens when I put in a time off request for the week of Black Friday,” knowing I wouldn’t get the time off, but thinking it might be fun to see my bosses face when he saw it. A random bit of luck made the days off a reality. I grow a little more grateful that I got the experience with each passing day. My mother became ill just after I arrived home, and passed away a year and a half later, and Covid came and cancelled all other hopes for cons, concerts, or anything else of a similar nature. The trip to LA was the shortest that I’ve ever made, and made one of the biggest impacts on my life. Seeing Rich with his band, playing his music remains one of my favorite moments. And because of that night, and that man, I also found my family while standing on the sidewalk of the Roxy.
Richard’s presence on Cameo has been my sanity more often than not over the last year. Whether it’s been celebrating a birthday, the loss of a job, the gaining of a new job, or just a random question, he’s never disappointed. The amount of joy he’s brought to my life, a few minutes at a time, has been a lifeline.
Happy birthday, Richard, I hope your day full of as much joy as you have given to others!
This is likely going to turn into an essay, because it’s impossible for me to pick a *favorite* when it comes to Rich, though I’m going to attempt to narrow it down.
How is it possible to pick a favorite moment from Rich’s career? Well, I thought about it long and hard and I have come to the conclusion that I just can't pick. Rich's amazing career can't be boiled down to my one favorite thing. There is no character, song, show that I could place as better than the rest.
Pete, I would die for you. I will go to my grave knowing that James is still alive and waiting to be rescued on some deserted isle. Roger, you dummy (affectionate), you're doing your best and I support you. I could listen to Rich talk about Skip all day and just love it. And let’s not forget Gabriel, my favorite archangel. Gabriel has influenced me to be a better artist and writer and I couldn't be more appreciative. All the characters Rich plays has something that you just can't forget, even when he's playing a villain.
And Richard as a director is something to behold. It is masterful. Unfinished Business is still my favorite episode of Supernatural. Every episode he directed on that show is better than the last and, frankly, on another tier of excellence for SPN.
And his music? Dick Jr. And the Volunteers made a country fan out of me.
Richard is my comfort person, I suppose. I know that there are a few convention photo ops that I can turn to when I need a pick me up. I can't wait until its safe enough to meet him again in person. I'm sure I'll be a crying mess, but that just means that I couldn't be happier.
Happy birthday Richard! Thank you for all that you create in this world and being the kindness that inspires us to be better
Photography by Erika
There are so many choices when it comes to favorite Richard Speight Jr characters/scenes/moments. To pick one seems unfair to the rest!
Today I’m going with a “live musical performance” from Nashcon17. I think it was Saturday and Rob and Rich were on stage doing their thing. For whatever reason Richard decided to “play a glass” and was tapping on it if it were a musical instrument and he and Rob were having a back and forth (I forget what Rob had…shaker sounds right though). Well, suddenly the glass SHATTERED! There was a collective gasp and then relief nobody was injured. Richard of course with his southern charm in the comfort of his hometown, let it go in a “TADA! Thank you goodnight!” way that was completely Richard Speight Jr. It was such a unique moment that I played homage in a photo op layer that day!
When I first saw Richard act it was on Freddy's Nightmares. That was one of my favorite shows on at that time. Back in them days there was no IMDB to look up who played what role. The next time I noticed him was years later when I was watching Supernatural. He played the Trickster. I soon had to know who he was. And found out yeah he played Oliver in Freddy's Nightmares. He inspired me to write fanfiction. I got to meet him in 2016 at NJcon . He was really nice. I wish him a happy birthday. He has inspired me in so many ways. All my fanfictions were written because he was my muse.