Big Sky: Deadly Trails has recently been on the radar for any Jensen Ackles fan, as he has begun playing Sheriff Beau Arlen, a season regular on the show. I recently was able to chat with Dedee Pfeiffer, an absolute joy of a human being, about her role on Big Sky and her interactions with “Beau-Beau.”
Please tell us about Big Sky and about your character.
Big Sky is based around CJ Box's best-selling novels The Highway, and a couple other ones I believe. David E. Kelly then took those stories and made them into their own show. It’s about a detective agency, and Cassie and Jenny, these two girls -- kinda like a Cagney and Lacey -- the two girls are out there solving crimes in Montana.
Our show is a really special in the sense that we have amazing writers. It takes place in Montana. You have the creepy little dark corners of these rural areas where there are these amazing people but also have these secrets and these dysfunctions and some of 'em are really whacked.
Seriously, some of 'em are really dangerous, but yet you care about them. That's what I love about Big Sky. We do have the straight out villains, but you often really care about our bad guy.
Also, I always like to say that we bring on guest stars, give them amazing roles .. . Come play with us and we'll probably kill you or you kill somebody else or you go to jail or you just go away. But then we bring in a whole bunch of new ones. So it's a great playground for guest stars to come and work their chops cuz you know, get great roles and stuff. Yeah.
So how are you enjoying filming in New Mexico?
Yeah, now we're in New Mexico. It was, the craziest thing -- is we were in New Mexico when we started and we started hearing this rumor. I remember it was Katheryn who plays Jenny was like, “Hey guys, the world might shut down. There's this thing called a pandemic.” And I'm like, “Oh honey, you're just so dramatic.”
And then my friend started texting me saying, “Dee, you better start collecting toilet paper.” I'm like, what is going on? Cause when you sometimes live in your little micro bubble, you don't really [know] what was going on. And sure enough, bam. We had one scene filmed, shut down, everybody flew home.
We were in New Mexico and the whole world shut down. So we had barely started when the world and that shut down. We didn't know if we were gonna come back. We didn't know anything.
And then months and months and months later we resurfaced and they said, “We're coming back but we're going to Canada.” We went, “What?” We were stuck up there behind a two-week quarantine, hardcore Canadian. So we were up there. The idea was to go back and forth, but that never happened because it was still really intense in the United States.
Then the second season we came to New Mexico and it's beautiful as Canada, it's different … Canadians and New Mexican people, they're a little different, but they're all very special and beautiful. I'm always really grateful that they allow us to come in and shoot all around their cities and their counties and stuff. I think it's fascinating how the production can make Vancouver and the first season and then the next two seasons in New Mexico make it look like Montana. And I've never even been in Montana before, but I [think they’re] doing a pretty damn good job.
So what's it been working with Jensen on three different shows?
Jensen is amazing. I adore him just like everybody in the whole world loves him and adores him. I'm just one of the lucky ones to be able to work with him. Jensen is so cute, he is so professional, he's so talented, he's funny and we have a great time. You can tell our friendship offscreen is very much like Denise and Beau-Beau -- [that’s] what I call him -- where we just constantly are joking with each other.. What I learned about him is I can throw something and he throws it right back at me twice as hard and I can throw it back.
Oddly enough, we did Supernatural together and when I saw him on the set -- I can't even remember what I had for breakfast, [I don’t know] what I did on Supernatural a thousand years ago.
So I said, “Was it you? I think I bit somebody's face on that show.” He said, “No, you bit my brother's face and I blew your head off.” I said, “Oh right, right. Yeah, good times. Good times then.” So we were like, Hey, how are you? Nice to see you again. And we immediately just started bantering as if [it hadn’t been] another thousand years, although I have no memory of him blowing my head off. But anyways, I guess he did. And then he Googled it and he said, “Wait a minute, you [were] really an important character in our show.”
I said, “Oh what? I just remember the blood in my mouth and biting some young guys' really cute face thinking I cannot make this sexual or I'm gonna come off looking like a pervert.” And he said, “Our show was a bit perverse.”
So then it was probably about a few weeks later, our fans, his fans and my fans said, “Wait a minute, you guys work together on Cybill …” which was my show back in the day. I did not have any memory of that, nor did he. So I went to work, I said, “Dude, we worked together before Supernatural.” He goes, “What are you talking about?”
“One of your awesome fans reminded me of this.” And I showed him, he goes, “Oh my God, now I remember that was you. I remember doing that. I was just a young buck.”
It was one of his first gigs actually. So I said, “You blew me off in Cybill. You blow my head off in Supernatural. And now we're on Big Sky together so maybe Denise can blow you up because we do that on Big Sky … which probably won't happen. So don't get all excited because there's no way we're doing anything to that character cuz people just love him so much.”
Beau is amazing.
Writers are really writing for us in the sense they see this chemistry. We have a little brother/sister banter. It's super and super fun. I think that the audience are my followers, they tell me they are vicariously living through me when I'm hugging him off camera and I post that on my Instagram, people are like, “Oh, oh I would die to be you cause you're hugging him.” And they said that they love the way I make him smile and the way I make him laugh.
One of my goals every day when I go to work is to make the crew and the cast members that I work with happy. It's not brain surgery and there are far more important things to do. Although I take my job very seriously. I think it's really important to also have joy while working if you can. But he's [Jensen is] an easy target. He is super easy to get to smile and laugh. The minute I go there, I'm like, “Did you miss me?” “Oh honey, I did …”
So what has been your most memorable moment working with Jensen?
When we did this scene where he came in with the dish and he's like, I made him some lasagna or something and the two girls are also in the scene and he said, “Denise, you have to stop cooking for me or I'm gonna have to get a new wardrobe.” And I said, “Oh don't worry, I'll help you shopping to make sure everything fits right.” And I did the cupping of my hands, it's his butt. So I could see him go, didn't see that coming and nor did the girls. And then he said, Oh Denise, you're gonna make me blush. And I improv, “I think I already did Cowboy.”
He started laughing and the girls started going, Denise, I think one of them maybe even said Deedee. Cause they often say Deedee instead Denise cuz it so close he and he like he had to recover and go, No, no, it's ok. Ok. But that was probably my best moment cuz again when I caught him off guard on camera where he broke character and he just started laughing and I was just sitting there in all of Denise's glory going, oh my God, they gave me a character I can mess with. I can play with who can ping pong with me.
My character has not been able to ever show sexuality or flirtation. Cause there's been no characters around her where she could do that with. It's not been one character I could flirt with, which wouldn't look odd or strange. So it's just like the Mother Earth and everything just came together when they cast him and my character lost some weight and she colored her hair a little more red and she's feeling a little good about herself. So then when the Beau-Beau comes in and also when I start calling him Bobo, he was Denisey-poo. They're like, ok you guys stop. We're rewriting scenes from top to bottom where it just becomes the Denise and Beau show where they're like, Okay, we gotta pull it back.
We're like okay, we gotta get back to the murders and the gruesome serial killers and all the amazing crazy serial killers that are psychos we have on the show.
So speaking of that lasagna did Denise finally cook that meat lasagna for Beau or did Cassie find it first and eat it?
A great question. Well, I think that because there's so much shit going on in Big Sky that I don't think it Denise has had time to get to that mezt lasagna. But I think she's looking forward to it. We did improv, which I'm sure got cut. I think where he says, when the guy comes in and scares the shit outta Denise in office and then he goes, “Come here, Denise.” And I go in under his arms and he hugs me, goes, it's okay. Right before he said that, he did say It's okay. Did you make me those soft tacos? [I responded with,” Yes, they're in the back.” So I don't think he got lasagna. But she did make him soft tacos. They're in the back.
Are you part of the #AcklesNation? (AKA, a fan of Jensen’s.)
Oh yeah, totally. What I love about Jensen's fans is they remind me of my fans because most of them are from Supernatural. All of my followers are amazing people. All of my followers that are specifically Jensen fans are even sweeter. I adore them and I love their comments, and I got even more now that he's on Big Sky.
I'll [gotten more followers because of] Jensen, cause he's so great. Like I said, “Dude, I need more followers.” He grabs me and he goes, “Come here Kylie, let's do a selfie with Dedee. She needs more followers.”
He's just, I love good people. You could be an amazing actor, but if you're an asshole, I'm not gonna be a fan. I'm sorry. I just don't leave too much space for the negative for people being part of the problem, not the solution.
What I love about Jensen is he does come on the set, he's well aware of his responsibilities, incredibly professional, but man he, he’s light and he makes all those scenes and the day that he works lighter in everybody's life. And I just love that cause life is so special. So when you have people like that who get it like him, I'm a huge fan. It doesn't hurt that he's nice on the eyes, he's just cute as hell in real life. I just grab his face like a kid and I'm going, Oh you're so cute. And I just, I smash his face a little bit, like I do my cats on my dogs.
Do you have any behind the scenes moment that you can share with us?
I'm always messing around. I'm always joking. Can't tell you half the shit that I say because otherwise HR would probably come down on me cause I'm always cracking jokes that are borderline. Okay, not borderline, they're totally in the gutter. I'm 58 so I come from a generation where you could say shit and HR didn't come in and get up your ass right now.
I make jokes under my breath where people can hear me if they're in ear range. And that's generally Jensen and the girls, I'll put it this way, almost every and all the guys in the camera and anyone who's just close to me, often when I'm making jokes, people look down, start laughing and shake their head and they're like, I can't believe you just said that out loud.
Overall my mind's usually in the gutter and if there's a dirty joke I will be the first to say it.
Do you like the new Big Sky format of weekly cases being worked on with an overall arc?
I do. I like the fact that we have the one big fat story like the Reba story, Reba and Rex and all that because that is in the genre of Big Sky where we have that one that just keeps going. They can't crack that case that's super intense and keeps you on your seat. And then you have the other one that where it's a quick fix. Those who like that or the other, we give you both.
Also, I think it helps keeps the show from being a little less of a runaway show because we have so much going on in our show and there's so many amazing people to watch with our guest stars and the storu lines are amazing that when we get too big, too much, too busy, it's hard to follow.
So what's been your favorite role to date and why?
Ooh, I'm gonna have to say Denise right up there. But it's because I'm now sober … I mean I never drank while working, but it was certainly behind the cameras and stuff. There was always a little part of me that was active in my disease. And when you're an addict, whatever your drug of choice is, it could be alcohol, mass, heroin, love, gambling, there's a lot of addictions. But whatever your addiction is, the problem is when you're active in your disease, you're slowly kind of dying and there's so much energy towards trying to keep that addict alive and hidden. To finally be four plus years sober and be able to be on Big Sky for the first time, truly sober, constantly peeling the onion, getting closer to my authentic self, it is so nice and as scary as it was in the beginning, it's really nice.
And I just love life on a whole different level now than I ever have before. I'm hoping that's shining through Denise. I talk about my sobriety cause I'm recovering out loud in any interview I will hijack and start talking about addiction. Cause I want people to know it's okay to have the conversation. It's okay, we gotta get rid of that social stigma. And the writers have beautifully written it in to Denise where it's just something that she is, but it's not like all in your face, she's just sober. You throw her in a bar, she drinks coffee, everyone else drinks beer. Not a big deal. That's very like me in real life. If I go, I really wanna go crazy, I'll have a Coke But see and this, So for me it's a beautiful time right now. And with mental illness and addiction being so prominent. It's nice to be involved with that in front of the screen and behind. But otherwise I would have to say amaretto and vamp.
Well speaking of your sobriety and such, I aspire to be as strong as you are. You are amazing and I recognize that and that's wonderful to see. It's so nice seeing and an actor or actress be able to be front and speak up about their personal issues. So many celebrities nowadays are all about the shine and the masks that they wear. It's wonderful being able to speak with someone who actually takes off those masks and it's like, you know what? I'm human. I make mistakes.
Thank you. Well cuz you know what it is sweetie. Here's the thing that I also fell into that I kept trying to be something that I thought that they wanted me to be versus who I really was. And every time I tried, I tried to show who I was. I would get good and bad feedback.
There were those who were trying to, for instance, make me into my sister. It's like, what are you doing? Is my name Michelle? No, my name is Dee. There are those who are constantly trying to just recreate what's already been created and then you throw in insecurities and then you throw in addiction and God it gets ugly and messy and noisy.
So I was saying about Jensen, whenever I see anybody and I can spot it, man, if you spot it, you got it. I can spot those who are trying to be part of the solution. And I just love that cuz the light is bigger and stronger than dark? You have to continue to believe in that. Even though the noise is a very noisy, the world's a noisy place right now and there's a lot of dark, there's just as much light. We're just not as loud. But we are powerful in numbers.
What can fans at Big Sky look forward to in this season?
Well now I can't tell you, here's the beauty of me. They don't tell me shit. So I can't really spoil when I'm the last one to know.
I know when I get the script, which is maybe a couple weeks before we film, and then they're gonna change it along the way and then edit it. They change it again. So what can we expect? Well, more of what you've been seeing, which is extremely exciting. We got Reba McIntyre and Rex -- are you kidding me? They are tearing up the screen. They are hottest. Ooh, they are so good. And what I love about their characters and all the characters this year, just even, I'm not sure who's good and bad in this year.
And I love that. Just when I think I figured out, I'd read the next script and go, Oh I didn't see that one coming. I love that. Cause I know the audience is gonna be thrown. So let's just say we got some more surprises, some more curve balls. Cause that's how we do it in Big Sky. And I honestly don't know who's gonna end up living and dying by the end of the season. And I always hope it's not Denise. We'll take anybody out for a rating. I promise you nobody is safe on this show.
Well let's hope they keep Denise and Beau. That would be amazing.
I know. I was like, Jensen, you’re coming back next year. He goes, “Well we gotta talk.” I'm like, Well they're not gonna kill you. You're too cute to kill. I said, “Wait a minute, we actually kill cute people all the time. Everyone's really cute on our show. We have no problem killing cute people.” I'm like dude, you totally have to come back as if I have the say in it.”
I know he's really busy … we could only be so lucky first to get a pickup. Cause here on the edge of our seats, not knowing network's gonna pick us up. I mean it's people assume, oh they're so good or we love the show, they'll pick you up. How often have you been watching a network show that you loved and all of a sudden it's gone. So like I said, girl, nobody's safe.
So first if we can get the pickup, which would be beautiful and I'd be so grateful, then it would be again a double grateful to get him to come back and we don't kill Denise in the process.
Photo: Dedee's Instagram
Amazing interview. Good work. I really enjoyed it especially the part where speaks about issues and dealing with it. You've just tripled my love for Dee Thanks a lot.