Ask any Supernatural fan about the most chilling moment in the show and one of the greatest entrances in TV history, and they will point to Death’s introduction. The one minute 22-second long slow-motion tracking shot is hair raising and put into perspective the gravity of the brothers' situation.
The fifth season of Supernatural was supposed to be the end of the show, well, according to Erik Kripke anyway. The lead up to the fifth season was about the apocalypse and four horsemen of death coming to the surface to wreak havoc.
After introducing two horsemen, we finally go to see Death in the flesh for the first time in the final episode of the fifth season. And the introduction is the stuff of Supernatural legend now. The white Cadillac, his cane, rings, and the nonchalant way he kills a rude person who nudges Death in the street, everything about the character was epic in that introduction.
But the air of mystery and fear was also heightened by actor Julian Richings’ presence on screen. He was a thin man with striking facial features that lends towards the seriousness of the character. Now, imagine someone else playing the character; it’s like asking anyone other than Bryan Cranston playing the role of Walter White.
Julian Richings Auditioned For Another Role in Supernatural – He was not Selected
Julian Richings and his character Death are fan favorites. We cannot see anyone other than the actor playing the monumental character. But it almost happened as Julian initially auditioned for another role in the show.
The actor said he made a tape of himself and sent it to Vancouver. The character he auditioned for Pestilence, one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Even then, he was not selected to play the role because, after nine-ten months, nothing came back from Vancouver.
Well, initially, the writers had not totally fleshed out the character of Death, which is why they were only looking for Pestilence (The role went to Matt Frewer, by the way). But when the time came to cast the role of Death, they had the perfect person who had already sent an audition tape about a year ago.
Julian said in an EW interview, “I had no idea. I’d already auditioned probably about nine months, 10 months previously, and the only sides that were available were sides for the character of Pestilence, and they were just some flat sides. I put myself on tape, sent it to Vancouver, heard nothing, and so I thought, ‘Well, that’s passed.’”
But news came from his agent that the actor was wanted in Vancouver to shoot some episodes for the beloved show. The actor was surprised to hear that he got the role of Death instead of Pestilence, which he auditioned for in the first place.
Julian Richings said Shooting the Introduction Scene was an “Eye-opener”
Death and Dean shared an interesting scene in the finale episode of Supernatural Season 5.
Image Source: Google
The Death actor was not familiar with the show and when he arrived in Vancouver, working in the show was a little different. Julian said, diving straight into the now-famous opening scene was an “eye-opener” and something that gave an idea into what he was really getting into.
He said driving the Cadillac was a painstaking ordeal as it was a vintage vehicle. Then there was the opening itself where every aspect of his look was shot and reshot to tie together the slow-motion opening shot.
While the shooting process was hard, the actor said he did enjoy the nature of the character. We all remember the brush-off as the rude man dies behind him. Julian said that scene was fun to play with, and also, the calm no-nonsense demeanor he held during the scene with Dean was also fun.
Death was one of the strongest characters in Supernatural, and the way Julian held the character up said it all. There was no need for him to show off who he was to Dean as he was already ample scared. So, the deep dish Pizza scene played into the identity of Death.
The death of Death was, let’s say, weak, but the introduction, with the wind blowing, O Death (cover) by Jen Titus playing, is still one of the most epic introductory scenes in the history of TV.
Quotes in this article are extrapolated from Entertainment Weekly's interview with actor Julian Richings.