Supernatural’s upcoming 300th episode isn’t only bringing John Winchester back. It will also see the return of Kurt Fuller’s Zachariah, the high-ranking angel that Dean killed in the show’s 100th episode. And during EW’s exclusive set visit for episode 300, we were able to sit down with Fuller and talk about returning to the character exactly 200 episodes after his death.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did your return come about?
KURT FULLER: Long ago I played a lot of bad guys because my first job, Ghostbusters II, was a bad guy, so that’s the way it goes. I was told I was going to read for [Supernatural], and it was a good guy. He seemed like a very nice guy. He was an angel, he was friendly, and he only turned really, really bad on the third episode, when it just turned so south. I was quite upset about it. Then, I’m at home and it’s two years later, and I get a “Dear Kurt” letter from [show creator] Eric Kripke: “Dear Kurt, I want to tell you how great you are in the show.” And I’m thinking they’re gonna make me a regular. I’m going to finally get on the Supernatural gravy train which has been running down the track. “Unfortunately, we need a big event for our hundredth episode, so we’re going to kill you.” Okay? All right.
And then I go, “Yeah, you’re going to kill me, but nobody ever really dies on Supernatural.” And they said, “Well, no, you’re getting killed with an angel blade and your wings burn.” I said, “Well, what does that mean?” “If your wings burn, you don’t come back. You’re dead-dead. And the knife goes up through your mouth into your brain.” I go, “Okay, I’m dead-dead. I get it.” I wasn’t expecting anything. I’ve gone on with my life, everything’s been fine, the kids are good, my wife seems happy. I get a call out of the blue: “They want to know if you would go and do Supernatural for the 300th episode.” I go, “300th episode?” And I said, “Sure I’d do it, are you kidding me? Yeah, absolutely.” So they wrote it, and here I am, happy to do it.
What is it about this character that makes you want to return and do it again?
Zachariah is really funny. He thinks he’s hilarious, he thinks he’s charming. He knows he’s smarter than everybody else, and he knows that if people would believe him, he’s right. He can fix everything. But he doesn’t have to be mean, he doesn’t want to. He really wants to just have people laugh with him and go, “You know what? You’re right, I’ll do that. Okay, let’s go have a drink.” But it usually ends up with a lot of blood and a lot of death.
Did you have to do anything to remind yourself of what you did 200 episodes ago? Did you watch old episodes?
I didn’t have very much time because I was working on something else. But I did go back and look at the shows that I did and reminded myself of what I was like and what was going on then. But the show, it has really changed. They’re not doing the same thing every week. It’s really very compelling. I was so struck by the sense of loss in [the 300th] episode. [Sam and Dean], they’re just out there in the ocean, nobody else is around, and it’s just them, and they’ve gotta swim, they’ve gotta stay afloat. I think that’s the most compelling thing about the show.
In terms of what fans can expect from your return, do you feel like it’s pretty classic Zachariah?
It is. It is classic Zachariah. He hasn’t changed or grown, or had any experiences. It is fun, and he’s still clever and up to his old tricks.
What is the fan reaction like for you, for a character like Zachariah?
Well, when I was doing it, a lot of people would call me, “Oh, Zachariah, you glorious bastard,” which I thought was a great description. And then there was the element that loved to hate me, and then there was the element that hated me and hated to hate me and didn’t want me around. When I got killed killed, some people were like, “Oh, man, don’t kill a good bad guy.” But I always knew that was gonna happen, because you don’t do the things I do and live in these shows, there’s a moral code. You’re not gonna hang around being that bad.
As someone who’s worked on many shows, what do you feel like it is about Supernatural that is special or that keeps people engaged?
First of all, if you look at just Jared [Padalecki] and Jensen [Ackles], they truly are brothers. They are brothers in life. It is their relationship in the show, which is informed by their relationship not on the show. It’s their chemistry and their shared experience that is really compelling. One truly cares about them and feels for them. Like I said, [Sam and Dean’s] lives, they’re tragic. There’s a tragedy there along with everything else. Along with them being the heroes, there’s a real sadness underlying it. I don’t think shows should be afraid of that, and I love that this show is not afraid of that. People can handle it. I think it’s that duality of the hero and the two sad guys, basically, who don’t have their dad and don’t have a normal life that makes it so you can’t not watch it.
For more on Supernatural, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy one — or all four — of our collector’s covers featuring Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Jared Padalecki, and the Winchester family (also available for purchase at Barnes & Noble). Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.