Of all the beloved recurring characters on “Supernatural,” the natural favorite is probably Crowley’s (Mark Sheppard) witch mother, Rowena (Ruth Connell). She may be the most powerful witch on Earth — but even after 12 seasons, it feels like the show has only scratched the surface in exploring her complex, contradictory character and what makes her tick. That may all be about to change.
We spoke with Connell ahead of Thursday’s (Feb. 9) episode, “Regarding Dean,” about the story — which finds Dean suffering from a mysterious memory loss — and Rowena, once again, coming to the aid of everyone’s favorite brother hunters.
After all this time, it is still tough to nail down Rowena’s true motives — is she a hero or a villain? What’s the deal with Dean’s memory? Can Rowena and Crowley ever find some sort of familial normalcy? According to Connell, these are the gray areas worth exploring — and fans have some intriguing plot points to look forward to.
The last time we saw Rowena, she was helping the boys exercise Lucifer from the President’s body. What’s her role this time around?
I think it’s in a similar vein that, you know, I don’t feel like Rowena gets enough credit for all that she does — between the Winchesters, Castiel and everybody else. So, it may be for her own benefit but she definitely is helping the Winchesters with a problem they are having with Dean’s memory. It’s not Rowena that has done the hex this time, but someone else. It was a lot of fun to film this with the boys, and I’m really looking forward to the fans’ reactions — especially to Jensen’s performance in this episode — because we really get to fool around with the memory loss aspect of the bit.
It sounds like Rowena and Dean get to spend some entertaining time together.
Yeah, this is the first script I’ve done that Meredith [Glynn] had written, and I just loved how it jumped off the page at me. I just loved it, and I love how there was emotional depth and context with these interactions with Dean — but also within herself, and with the family of witches… You get more of Rowena’s backstory. There’s a lot to this episode. Plus, it’s always fun to have to stare into Jensen Ackles’ green-speckled eyes up close.
Well, speaking on Rowena’s backstory — now that Lucifer is on the lam again, are things back to the dysfunctional norm between Rowena and Crowley?
Episode 1213 [“Family Feud“] goes more into Crowley and Rowena — and also Gavin, Crowley’s son, Rowena’s grandson — and you get a bit more of that relationship there. Really, for me, when I read the script, it really took a sharp turn — really made me go, Oh good, this sets things up for a lot more to come! I am excited about this week, and 1213, as well.
Talking about her family is interesting because, after all this time, it feels like we really haven’t gotten much of Rowena’s backstory.
Yeah! And there is so much — she is so old! That’s what’s fun about her. In this episode, you get a bit more of the human element of Rowena, how she came by this family and a little more why she is the way she is — which I am always really happy to play, as an actress.
Rowena has been portrayed as a villain as well as a hero — what is it about Sam and Dean that draws seemingly sinister characters to their aid?
Well, they need me! Let’s be honest, Rowena is one of the most accomplished witches that’s ever been, and I love playing women like that. That’s what is important about Rowena: She’s worked hard, and she’s good at what she does. She can help them, and she has. She gets in her way and I’m sure in helping them, there’ll be some benefit to her.
She’s always, like Crowley, playing two games at the same time, that always adds an extra added benefit for her somewhere down the pipeline. She’s not necessarily doing everything out of the goodness of her heart — and we get to deal with that in this episode. But again, that’s one of the fun things to play around with.
There are always these moral gray areas with villainous characters on ‘Supernatural.’ Just when you think you know who to root for, they throw in a human angle and tip the story on its head.
I think that’s what the fans are going to find really touching about this episode with Jensen. Yes, he’s very funny — I think he had a ball filming it — but there are some touching moments in it, too. That’s why I love “Supernatural.” It’s tongue in cheek, but there are stories in there too that you care about, that have some depth.
You previously mentioned how accomplished a witch Rowena is. If you were able to tap into one of her powers in real life, what would it be?
I’d want to have her unapologetic nature. I don’t think the word “sorry” has ever come out of her mouth. I think I improvised it once, and it just didn’t feel right. So, to live according to your own rules and never apologize — I’d like that power. Unfortunately, I’m very British and end up saying sorry, sorry, excuse me probably, like, 45 times a day…
“Supernatural” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.