Susan Sullivan might be psychic.
Several years ago she predicted that Castle, in which she played the always entertaining Martha Rodgers, would last eight seasons.
Turns out she was right, but even she couldn’t have predicted the circumstances that ended the beloved series.
In my chat with Susan, she shared about her current role in Steel Magnolias, the end of Castle, and why she uses Twitter to share her unsolicited advice…
I was able to see your play, Steel Magnolias, a couple of weeks ago and it was lovely.
Oh, good, good. It’s what we in the business call a crowd pleaser. People tend to enjoy it, have a good time, so it’s very pleasant to be a part of that circle between the actors and the audience.
What attracted you to taking the role of Clairee in Steel Magnolias?
Well, I was really attracted by Marsha Mason as the director who I knew, but had not worked with as a director. And I liked the idea of working with Jessica Walter, so it was for more the crowd, and I knew Bobby Harling, the writer from years ago. It just all seemed like one of those synchronistic moments in time and in your life. It wasn’t even so much the part but when i read the play I thought, Oh, I like this character. I know I can do her. So it was a pretty simple choice.
I know that you spend lots of time in NY and lots of time in LA, what do you think of New Hope, Pennsylvania?
Well, it’s a change of pace. It’s very charming. This little place that I’m staying in... is like a little English village. It’s encapsulated. I’m in this tiny cottage where I’ve already hit my head 32 times on the slanted ceilings. It’s very delightful. It’s a complete change. You know, I’m in a very modern house in L.A. I’m in an apartment with a view of the East River in New York. So this is like a little, cozy, Hobbit house and it’s very much in keeping with the feel of New Hope which is quite charming.
You might be psychic because you called it. You said that Castle would last 8 seasons and you were right.
I know. I know. I actually thought, Gee, I’m going to be wrong, it’s going to go nine. You know, it’s interesting because Falcon Crest ended up going nine seasons and the last season was just a disaster. You know, they swept my character out and it was really kind of the same dynamic as Stana. They wanted the money. They wanted to take what they were paying me and put it into another character, maybe create a new feel for the show which just ended up not working. I think, perhaps, this is a blessing in disguise, in terms of I certainly think they thought the show could go on. I think it could. I think he’s (Nathan Fillion) so good he certainly could do a show alone, but I think it would have been such a disappointment to the fans, who already called the show Caskett, as you know.
Castle was unique in that the fans were so upset about the fact that they were changing, basically, the concept of the show moving forward, that they lobbied for the show to be canceled.
I don't know how big that campaign was because I just have my little Twitter feed. I don’t have that many followers and my Unsolicited Advice, which I enjoy doing and will continue now even though Castle is over, so I didn’t know how big that campaign was. Was it of some note?
It seemed to take off online and there were fans who were sending ABC coffee sleeves with messages written on them about Saving Caskett, even if that meant canceling the show to do it. Fans are usually lobbying to save their show and in this case, they were asking to save their favorite couple even if the only way to do it was to cancel the show.
Well it was interesting and I think that’s an indication of the investment fans had in that relationship and on some level when I saw the, clearly, sort of tacked on ending of them with three kids and going on into the sunset, it was more satisfying for people who were invested in the show. Perhaps it’s just as it should be in this best of all possible worlds.
What about Castle will you miss the most?
Oh, I’ll miss my family, you know, my family of friends. I took a picture of the loft where we did so many scenes and all of those things. All of the things you miss when you go from one house, or when your children leave the nest, or when you leave the planet.
I saw and interview with Nathan Fillion and he said the one thing he’d hoped to take from the loft set was a picture of the two of you. Do you know if he got it?
Aww. I’m sure he did. I hope he did. I know the picture that he’s referring to. Well, that’s very sweet. We had a lovely relationship and I had a lovely relationship with Molly (Quinn) and will continue, I hope. It’s hard, you know, to continue these relationships when everybody gets into a whole new fold of work. I’m with all of these women up here and we’re like a new little family. But we don’t live all that far from one another so hopefully we’ll be able to stay in touch and I’ll have him up to dinner and we’ll hang out, as the kids say.
Did you have a favorite episode or memory from your time on Castle?
You know that my character kind of popped in and out so I can’t say that I had a favorite episode although the episode in which we were sort of kidnapped in the bank, I don’t remember what the name of it was, (Castle Season 4 Episode 7, "Cops and Robbers") but that was the episode where I had a very bad car crash going home at night. So I remember that one. I remember that one pretty well.
Not only did I have a car crash that totaled my car but I crashed into one of the Castle crew, so talk about all in the family. So that’s an outstanding memory, unfortunately. I haven’t been able to drive on the freeway since, which is not a good thing in LA, I’ll tell you. So it’s been good practice for me driving on these winding, narrow roads of New Hope. I got lost the first day, and I passed the theater which is actually not that difficult to do and I got on this road and i could not get off of it. There was just no place to turn around.
But this has been good for me, I have to drive here.
Do you have any new projects planned?
I do not. I do not. There’s possibilities for things. I’d like to try to expand the aperture of my own personal life and do different things, not necessarily as an actor, just as a person. Because you’re sort of tied down when you’re in a series, even though I just popped in and out.
I found that I never made plans because I never knew when I was going to be called into work. Now I’m hoping that I will create a more interesting life. It takes a little energy.
It’s been a whole year since you ventured into the world of social media with Twitter. What do you think of this new way to interact with your fans?
Well, I hope they like it because I don’t interact that much. I put out my thoughts and I sort of ask people to come on my journeys and partake of my observations and my thoughts on what makes life interesting and effective in these little positive, unsolicited advice tweets. It’s something that I’ve always done in my life, given unsolicited advice and Christine, I will tell you that I think, quite often that when the person is standing in front of me that they don’t particularly want my unsolicited advice.
So now I have this wonderful little forum where I can just give it because it’s just really sort of, in some ways a gift to myself because it centers me and allows me to see what I am thinking about and then share that. So it’s been wonderful. I’m enjoy doing it. I don’t think I’ve missed a day since I started and so I plan to continue.
And we worked it into the show. I mean I pitched it to the writers and I said, What do you think? Couldn’t she write a book? So they used in a sort of very unfulfilled way, but there it was and I enjoyed that.
Your Twitter followers love your unsolicited advice and Martha Rogders put her advice into a book. Have you ever thought of writing a book yourself?
No not really. There are enough books out there I think. I like doing it this way and it works for me because I find all of these little photographs that are so interesting to me and they sort of prick my unconscious and out comes something for that day.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.