An interview with Genevieve Cortese (Ruby), featuring in issue #9 of The Official Supernatural Magazine.
The Official Supernatural Magazine: How did you first get into acting?
Genevieve Cortese: My grandmother introduced me to acting when I was about six years old. She used to take me to the theater, so I have been pretty much doing [this] since the 4th grade. I did a lot of local community plays, and then I went to Tisch [School of the Arts] at NYU [New York University].
What was your first big break?
I got a [part in a] small movie called Mojave pretty much the first month out of college. Right afterward, I was on Wildfire, a TV show on the ABC Family channel. I’ve been working pretty much non-stop since I got out [of school], but it’s been nice. You gained quite the fanbase from Wildfire.
What was that like?
It was great, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It was such an adorable show, and to have people respond to it and follow it from the beginning has been really special for me. It allowed me to grow up on a series, as it was my first television show. Getting the lead on it was a bit crazy, and to have so many people love it as much as I did was a totally unreal experience. I feel really blessed, and it’s nice, too, because [those] fans have followed me over to Supernatural.
Were you well-versed in the world of Supernatural before being cast as Ruby?
I knew a little bit about the show. Honestly, I love it, but half the time, I have to turn away. I was at the gym the other night and caught the first 10 minutes of an episode. I’m running on the treadmill, yelling at the TV, looking away, tripping over myself, and people were staring at me. It was the episode where the guy eats the razor blades in the candy [It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester] and I’m like “Oh, God! Oh, God!” I have a hard time watching it, but I’m aware [of the Supernatural universe]. As for Ruby, I didn’t even know I was going to play her until I pretty much got to Canada. A lot of it I learned from the crew, cast, and writers. Early on, it was advertised your character would be a waitress and possible love interest for Sam over multiple episodes.
What kind of a breakdown of the character did you receive?
The same thing. I thought I was going to be Kristy the waitress. You have to love Eric Kripke, because he keeps you on your toes. On Wildfire, my character had a lot of inner strength and there was stunt work. I feel I’ve proven myself being the lead of a show, but they understood I could handle myself. I had no idea about the grittiness I would have to bring to Ruby. I pretty much got up there and it was “Time to play!” It’s been an amazing experience. One of the big twists in the season four premiere was Ruby’s return.
Was that difficult to keep under wraps?
Absolutely. It’s still hard for me, because the story continues to grow. I can’t tell you how excited I was about episodes nine and ten. I’m so excited about the relationships and the work we put into it. From Ruby’s introduction in Sam’s hotel room, fans were speculating whether they were intimate with each other.
What was your take on that?
In the premiere, I was unsure, because at first I thought I was playing the love interest and then I’m not. Initially I did it a bunch of different ways so that we could maneuver it. It wasn’t really until the second episode that it started making a little more sense. In the back of my mind, I always thought Ruby was in love with Sam. If you watch the third season when Ruby is first introduced, the way Katie [Cassidy] did it was very tough, and she’s hard to get close to. If you watch the two of them together, Ruby’s very similar to Dean. They’re very protective, and I think the whole point of that is to see if Sam can step up to the plate. It’s also to protect herself. Is Ruby ready to get involved in this and see if Sam can accomplish the task she knows he is capable of? This season it’s been very important to bring more of a humanity to it, and I’m sure the fans are going to be upset when they hear that, but she was human and has said that in the last two seasons. As an actress, it’s important to look at what that means, what it’s like to love someone, be hurt, and be happy. At this point, Sam’s proven himself, so whether he fully reciprocates her feelings, I don’t know, but she’s in love with him. It’s also important to know what Ruby has given up to be with him. She can’t be in Heaven or Hell, so she has no one. She can’t even walk around outside by herself. Sam is the only one she has.
Being a demon, could Ruby be seeking redemption?
Yeah, that’s part of it. Obviously, she still has her own hate and rage, but at this point, Ruby’s suppressed a lot. For me, the most important thing we’ve discussed this season is for Ruby to have a calmness and be more fear-driven, as opposed to [being], “I’m gonna kick the crap out of everyone!”-driven.
As a demon, Ruby has every right to be scared of the angels. Have they had much interaction?
[Until I Know What You Did Last Summer], she’s stayed clear and never met one of them. There’s a scene where I basically have to give myself up to the demon Alastair to save the boys. He just tortures the crap out of me and rips me to shreds. It’s like “Okay, I’ll do it!” but if it were an angel, I’d be gone. For Ruby, the thought of losing Sam is way worse than dying herself.
How was it filming those torture scenes with Alastair?
They were unbelievably intense. I’d never experienced that before. Having my arms bound to a metal chair, pretty much naked and completely vulnerable, was pretty scary. On top of it, to have my own knife used against me was horrific. It was incredibly grotesque and frightening. You leave a little bit shaken, but it’s really important for people to see what Ruby’s willing to do to save them. You’re not even sure whether she’s going to make it or not.
For whatever reason, some Supernatural fans really have issues accepting female characters.
As I said, I’d hate anyone who got close to [Sam and Dean], too! I want them all to myself! I was warned about the comments, though. Actually, I had a lot of Wildfire fans who were also Supernatural fans, write to me and say “Oh my gosh! We heard you were on Supernatural. Please don’t worry! They’re not going to like you!” I was really well aware of it, although I’ve never experienced it before. I just have to do my job and keep going.
What’s it been like working alongside Jared and Jensen?
It’s like I was back on Wildfire, where the people were so much fun and we all laughed. It’s really nice and comfortable. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people.
Have you fallen victim to any of their pranks?
We always try and one-up each other. We make fun of each other a lot. They make fun of me by pretending they can’t see me because I’m so short. And anytime Jared takes his shirt off, I pretend I’m throwing up!
Do you have any highlights from the series so far?
My favorite episode is probably I Know What You Did Last Summer, because I really get down and dirty. They really explore Ruby, too. My favorite moment is when I’m in the car with Julie McNiven, who plays Anna. We’re in the back seat with Jared and Jensen in the front. I’m huddled over to one side, because I don’t want to be close to her. It’s an angel and a demon in the back of a car, which is hilarious!
Read the full interview in issue 9 of The Official Supernatural Magazine on newsstands now.
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