‘Supernatural’: David Haydn-Jones on What’s Ahead for Mr. Ketch and Mary Winchester
First off, despite his posh British accent as Supernatural’s current villain—British Men of Letters Arthur Ketch—David Haydn-Jones is Canadian.
And his accent? “80 percent my English uncle Dave, and 20 percent Roger Moore’s Bond,” Haydn-Jones says.
The actor tells us all about his very bad boy and what’s up for Ketch in his remaining episodes starting on Thursday’s episode, “There’s Something About Mary,” as he tangles with Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith)!
You’re quite convincing as a suave, self-confident sociopath. Who inspired you?
David Haydn-Jones: Originally, [Ketch] was to be a London bruiser in a leather jacket. But then they decided to lean more James Bond. The shorthand was “Monster Bond.”
He enjoys his work torturing and killing so much, is there maybe a bit of Jack the Ripper in him?
That, too. But also, Jack Ketch was an infamous 17th-century English executioner. In the canon, he’s part of Arthur Ketch’s lineage.
That Ketch, history says, was a drunken, incompetent killer.
I love that his great-great-great-great grandfather was a drunk and a really bad executioner. So my Ketch had to make amends for his legacy!
That makes him a a product of both nature and nurture!
Definitely. He was taken in at an early age by the Men of Letters and was probably abused and conditioned and put through trials at their Kendricks Academy. He showed signs of sadism early, so he was trained and programmed into what they needed. They took his natural inclinations and put them on steroids!
While still at school, he was forced to kill a good friend or be killed.
What a horrible place Kendricks was! Interestingly, when I did a special commentary with Adam Fergus [who played Mick Davies] for the DVD set, we learned there was originally going to be a backstory with Ketch, Mick and Toni Bevell [Elizabeth Blackmore] as kids trying to figure things out. That would have given us some clues.
Ketch is a merciless killer, of course, but which of his actions shocked you most?
When I turned to the page where I saw that Sopranos-style way he took Mick out, I was aghast, as much as the audience was. I called Adam immediately, and I said, “Oh, man, they’re going to hate me!” And I said, “You’ve got to take a selfie with me smiling or hugging [laughs] so that I can push back.” I got a tsunami of anger and hurt [from fans] that Friday morning. We all did our job, but people were, “Whoa!”
Did I sense just a tinge of less than his usual glee after he shot his old friend?
I was trying to show just the tiniest of glimmers of him shutting down and going through something in his own head.
Which brings us to Mary Winchester. Ketch and Mary are using each other to kill non-human monsters and for some on-the-road sex, but does Ketch have some real feelings for her?
Early on, she was part of his mission to convert as many American hunters as possible with his “toys” or hunting prowess, and he thought she was the best Winchester hunter. But as they spent time hunting together—and, of course, she’s a beautiful woman—I’ve played it as a deep-seated crush that turns into love. Is it society’s version of a healthy love? No. It’s a little creepy. But this is a broken guy who’s probably fallen in love with an adult woman for the first time.
He had a weird thing with Toni.
There’s a fun scene this week when they talk about the old days, which will give you a hint of what they were about. It’s not what we’d call love. They hate each other now, for sure.
Whatever Ketch’s feeling, the last we saw Mary, she was tied to a chair, and Bevell, who had tortured Sam, has arrived on the scene.
Ketch is conflicted; he knows she must be brought into the fold, but he doesn’t want to see her killed. The Men of Letters is his family—an awful family, but it’s all he has. So to bring Mary into that would be a win/win situation for him.
What’s in store for Mary?
She’s in for some new mental conditioning that Toni developed that she’s testing out on her. It’s not good! So there’s a lot of Mary in tears; in breakdown mode.
Are they trying to get rid of a conscience and decency in Mary?
As Ketch said last week to Mary, “Conscience is a trite idea.” He really believes that the ends justify the means.
The Brit Men of Letters’ honcho Dr. Hess (Gillian Barber) is also back; is she in essence Ketch’s awful substitute mother?
She’s his evil stepmother. Who knows what kind of mental and physical abuse she’s visited on him. She’s the one person in the show, and probably in the universe, that he’s intimidated by, scared by. There’s some fun stuff coming with me and Gillian Barber where you see what their dynamic is. It’s not a healthy one. [Laughs]
Though Ketch would like to save Mary, Hess and Ketch want all the American hunters dead, including her sons. What does Ketch really feel about Sam and Dean? Hatred, jealousy, a sort of respect?
With Dean, particularly, he feels like they’re two sides of one coin. My favorite scene was when Ketch was drinking with Dean. Just mano a mano looking across the table and trying to seduce him with drinks and philosophy. Playing to his nature. Ketch sees a lot of himself in Dean, and Dean probably hates it, but sees a little bit of himself in Ketch. Working with Jensen was so nice; it was a pure acting scene with some really delicious words on the page.
Will there be a big showdown between Ketch and at least one of the brothers this season?
It’s safe to say that there will be a major confrontation!
If Sam and Dean weren’t the stars and eventually have to win, who would the odds favor in a one-on-one fight?
These guys are tough cowboys! Ketch and Dean are sort of physically similar; the same size and height, so that would be a really fair fight. Sam is so tall with such long arms, it’s like trying to fight a Redwood!
Will Ketch make it through the season?
I can’t tell you that!
What’s the most fun about working on Supernatural?
Oh, man. The list is so long. I will say that this is one of the kindest, most collaborative, positive sets I’ve ever been on, and the leadership comes from the top with J squared. The culture is take the work seriously, but not yourself. There’s a lot of laughter along with the investment in the work, and that makes for a special place to be.
Finally, you’re one of the very worst human villains since the show began. Does that make you proud?
Yeah! The woman who does Fangasm told me that I’m tied with Metatron, the evil angel, as the most hated character. They’ve had a lot of bad people over the years; if I can crack the top five, cool! I’ll take a gold star for that.
Supernatural, Thursdays, 8/7c, The CW. Season finale May 18.