This can be read as a companion piece to the story "Scripted". You don't have to have read the other to be able to read this one.
One of the first things you do when you are developing a character to play on television, you decide on the character's quirks, their likes, their dislikes, the little tells that make up an individual's personality. Sometimes it comes from the actor, sometimes it comes from the script. Once in a while it just happens and you don't even realize it is. You just get asked one day from an intelligent and observant interviewer "What made you decide to do _ with your character?" and the mic gets shoved in your face and you make up something or if you are really brave you simply shrug your shoulders give your most endearing smile and say "It just happened."
And there are the times that a director will step into his role and try to do things that are against who you have made your character to be. I'm not talking about your character not wearing a jacket in a scene, I'm talking about the big stuff, that defines who he is, stuff like how he would react in a certain situation, how much emotion the character would emote, you know, big stuff. And usually, actors, if they are like me, and not the biggest star on the block, will concede to the director because they don't want to be labeled as difficult to work with, because truly that can be the kiss of death for an actor like me.
And, in the years I have been acting, I never had a moment where I felt so protective of a character that I would risk my reputation, risk not getting jobs because director's heard that I had a chip on my shoulder, or that I thought I knew better than anyone else. But I was close to Dean Winchester, I met Dean Winchester, I went on a hunt with him and Sam. I was called Pretty Boy for over a week and there were things that were innately Dean Winchester that I was going to make sure were true to the man, I was prepared from the moment I stepped inside the studio that I would fight for certain things, even if that gave me a reputation around Hollywood as a prima donna.
Scripts came, directors came, and they both went, and little things were tweaked. I lowered my voice when action was called, I asked the hair stylist to not put so much gel on my hair because it didn't look like something Dean would do, and I asked to pop all of the collars on my jackets, but nothing major needed done, nothing major needed fought for, until we were almost done with the first season, and we were doing a script that was away from the book series, completely, and written by a guy that liked to put me and my co star in compromising and strange situations just to get a laugh. He had a whole scene written in the episode I received the night before that had Sam yelling at Dean for leaving his crap all over the room, how he was a disgusting pig and that he needed to grow up.
That scene rankled me, and I couldn't figure out why. I thought about it all night, and then the next morning, as I was pulling on my running shoes, it hit me, Dean wasn't messy. Nothing about Dean Winchester was messy. When I went into their room, before they were completely dressed and ready, Dean's shoes were lined up perfectly next to the bed, his bag was packed and next to the door in militaristic fashion. Everything about the man was arrow straight, and clean to the point of neat freakish. Sam, on the other hand, was a disaster in the making. I watched him search for his shoes, and then search for a shirt. He was the one that was a mess. Not Dean. And on my way to work, while I was running lines with my co star it hit me, Dean would be insulted. The joke would be at his expense, and he didn't need anymore jokes at his expense, the universe had played enough on him for a lifetime. I don't know if Dean watches the show or not, but I promised him that I would give a performance that would be worthy, that would be as accurate as I could make it, and would make him proud, and this wouldn't. This would embarrass him. He would pretend it wouldn't, brush it off, and when Sam made a comment would probably say "whatever dude" and walk out of the room.
I don't want Dean to ever have to do that because of something I could fix.
I got to my trailer and dialed the script writer. "Dude!" I was greeted. I held in the sigh that was on my lips.
"Hey Marcus. I have a question about the script."
"The one we are shooting."
"Which one is that?" Sometimes I forget that they are like six scripts ahead of us.
"17. The one about ghost in the coffee shop."
"OH! That one. That one is funny dude!"
"It is. Very much so. I just have a small problem with a scene."
"Which one?" Suddenly the voice became serious and business like. While there were moments I wondered why he became a script writer instead of a beach bum, there were these moments that reminded me that I was talking to an intelligent, creative man, who, despite appearances to the contrary, knew what the hell he was doing.
"The one in the motel room with Sam yelling at Dean about being a slob."
"What's the issue."
"Dean isn't a slob."
"What does it matter?"
"It just does."
"Aaron, do you just not want to be the piggish brother?"
That was an insult. "Come on Marcus. You've made me roll around in mud, you've covered me in slime, you've covered me with blood, you've made me look like an ass, and when have I ever complained about not looking good?"
There was a silence on the other end. "Explain your reasoning."
"Think about it. Dean has grown up under the strict military training of his father, so it would make sense that he would put his shoes next to the bed, have his things ready to go at a moment's notice, and have it so there isn't any trace left behind that could identify him."
"You make a good point."
"And furthermore, it should be Sam who is the disorganized one. He hasn't been living under Dad's orders for four years, he would have gone all civilian, and that would be the argument. The argument would be about Dad, and having a life, and being independent, not about Dean being a slob."
"That could be some seriously meaty stuff."
"I agree." Aaron said.
"You'll have new pages by the end of the day."
"Awesome, and Marcus, thanks."
"Hey, you know your character, I have to respect that." The call disconnected and Aaron smiled.
"You have no idea how well I know my character."