While watching Osric Chau during his panel at Creation Entertainment’s Salute To Supernatural in Burbank, something became abundantly clear: he loves his fans. A lot. Chau strode onto the stage barefoot, dressed as Rapunzel (a la Tangled), complete with long blonde braid. The audience, who adore him as Kevin Tran on Supernatural, went bananas. Chau adjusted his braid, sighed, and said with a sheepish grin, “Every convention, I ask myself, am I really going to do this? And then I always do.” There, in a nutshell, is the relationship between Osric Chau and the loving, loyal, and, okay, somewhat obsessive Supernatural fandom. Theirs is clearly a two-way love affair. They’d do anything for each other.
Osric Chau had only ever watched one episode of Supernatural (Season Seven’s “Party On, Garth) before he auditioned for the part of Kevin Tran. As an actor based in Vancouver, where Supernatural films, Chau was naturally aware of the show, if not of the devotion of its hugely loyal fan base and the fierce support they give to those associated with the program. In fact, Chau initially turned down the role of Kevin Tran, an Asian high school student whose main focus was successfully passing the Advanced Placement exam, because he thought the part might be too stereotypical. Luckily for us, though, he didn’t, and Kevin Tran, AP student and erstwhile prophet of the Lord/translator of angel tablets, became a deeply beloved character in the Supernaturalverse.
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Which is why it felt like being viciously stabbed in the heart by an angel blade when Kevin was killed in last week’s episode.
Sweatpants & Coffee had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Osric Chau in Burbank, and ask what he would like to see happen in his character’s future. Chau’s answer was both canny and telling, in retrospect. “As much as I would like to see Kevin have a stronger story arc, unless they really set it up for the end of the season, I just feel like it would come out of nowhere,” he said. Though Chau admitted that ordinarily he would want his character to appear more prominently on screen, “At the end of the day, this is a collaboration. We’re trying to make a good TV show. It would be selfish to think that Kevin would be front and center of everything. Honestly, he’s in a great position right now – he’s not front and center which is probably why he’s survived this long.” Excuse us while we consider the mid-season finale and pause for collective sobbing.
Chau, and thus Kevin Tran, was not one of Supernatural’s leads. He played a recurring character that appeared in a handful of episodes. The thing is, with shows like Supernatural that have such a devoted fanbase, there are no insignificant characters. The fans, who consider themselves a family, form emotional attachments. What has that been like for Chau? “It really feels like winning the lottery!” he said, with a smile. “I mean, what did I do to deserve all this? It’s crazy! I just don’t know that this would have happened with any other show – me getting so involved with the fans. It’s just been the nicest surprise. It’s an amazing community that I’m proud to be a part of.” Clearly, he considers himself more than just an actor who played a part – he sees himself as part of the family, too. Did we mention that he opened his panel by running through the audience with cupcakes for anyone whose birthday happened to be that day? CUPCAKES.
Chau was asked at the convention what he thought Kevin was doing when he wasn’t on screen. In response, he gave the fans another unexpected surprise–here’s a post Chau wrote on his official Facebook page:
Pardon us while we swoon a little. How insanely awesome is that? The man writes backstory fanfic for his character! If that doesn’t cement him as a hardcore SPN fanboy, nothing will.
Naturally, since he considers himself a member of the Supernatural family, Chau worries about his brothers and sisters. He posted comforting tweets after the Supernatural writers basically ripped out our still beating hearts and danced the lambada on top of them:
It’s no wonder that the fans of Supernatural love him not only for his work on the show, but for his dedication to them. And no matter what, this is not the last we’ve seen of Osric Chau. Supernatural has a following. And those fans take that word literally, following the actors and crew to their next projects.
A self-admitted workaholic, Chau always has several projects brewing. In fact, he’s said that he actually feels lazy when he is “only” working as an actor – not to imply that the work isn’t challenging. One of Chau’s passions is filmmaking, and he enjoys doing 48 hour film festivals in which participants are given a mere two days to script, cast, shoot, and produce a finished product. He coordinates everything on these projects, from writing the script and assisting with set design to thinking about costumes and catering and editing. Chau is no stranger to sleepless nights and long hours – something that served him well while he shot scenes as a strung-out and overtaxed Kevin Tran. A character he, just like us, loved and will undoubtedly miss.
What’s next for Chau? He is currently working on a live action short film based on the game League Of Legends. He hopes to pitch it to Riot Games, the maker of LoL, for funding and distribution, but a Kickstarter campaign for the project is also a possibility. He continues to write and produce. Hopefully, if we’re lucky, he will continue to participate in Supernatural conventions, entertaining the fandom in ever new ballgowns and outrageous costumes. And is all hope lost for our favorite wunderkind tablet translator? If there’s one thing that Supernatural fans know, on their show anyway, dead doesn’t necessarily mean dead, and there is always a chance that Kevin Tran will somehow ride with the Winchesters once more. No matter whom he portrays, or where his career takes him, there is one thing we at Sweatpants & Coffee know for sure: the fans, who have evolved from loving the character of Kevin Tran to loving the wonderful human being that is Osric Chau, will surely be there to watch. And in true reciprocal fashion, he’ll be watching them, too. As he said on his official Twitter account, “…I’m not going anywhere. The Winchesters may have lost a member, but I’m gonna be a full fledged member of the SPNFamily. Make room.”