Looks like Supernatural's favourite King of Hell is here to stay. British actor Mark Sheppard, 50, who plays the demon Crowley on the American paranormal drama series, has been promoted to a series regular for the show's 10th season.
Having guest-starred and taken on roles in more than 35 television shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Leverage, 24 and Doctor Who since 1992, he has hit a home-run with his character Crowley, who has been appearing since the fifth season of Supernatural.
His promotion is no surprise, for the demon has become a fan favourite over the show's past four seasons, quite unlike the response you would expect audiences to have towards a main villain.
Sharing an on-off antagonistic relationship with the Winchester brothers Sam and Dean (played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles respectively), the erratic and snarky Crowley has left viewers second-guessing his every move as well as rooting for him week after week.
In a telephone interview from Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and two young sons, Sheppard could not be more thrilled about this.
He says: "My profile has definitely increased in Supernatural and it's a wonderful gift. I've been shown nothing but love from this character and I enjoy every minute of it, so thank you to everybody who shows me that love."
The actor relishes the unpredictable and multi- faceted nature of Crowley's bad-boy persona.
He says: "You never know what Crowley is going to do but you always know that he is perhaps one step ahead. He's just as benevolent as he is malevolent, which makes him hard to read - is he on the side of the Winchesters or is he not?
"He's not a traditional bad guy but rather, a fully fledged character which is really fun to play."
Indeed, the season eight finale of Supernatural gave viewers an unprecedented insight into Crowley's capacity to feel human emotions such as penance and the desire to be loved, after human blood was forcibly injected into him by Sam as part of a demon-curing process.
Of the upcoming ninth season which airs here on AXN today, Sheppard promises fans an "interesting journey" that will explore in greater detail who Crowley really is, underneath his seemingly tough facade.
He says: "We're going to be dealing with what is humanity and with the nature of addiction as well. That's the easiest way to put it."
He credits the long-running success of Supernatural to its strong writing, which he says "gets better season after season" and the passionate fanbase surrounding the Winchester brothers.
He adds: "If you didn't care about the boys, you wouldn't be watching. They're the linchpins of the show, they are the basis by which the show runs. They're great actors."
With his appearances in popular science fiction shows such as The X Files, Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13 and Doctor Who, Sheppard is no stranger to playing larger-than-life eccentric characters.
He says: "What makes the sci-fi genre so fascinating is the realm of imagination. It's where the best stories are."
In fact, he is so used to being around "explosions, creepy crawlies and crazy, scary characters" that nothing in Supernatural spooks him anymore.
"I don't think they scare me as much as they fascinate me and that's the fun part of it."
The same wit and devilish charisma that fans love about the demon persona resurfaces when he is asked if he shares any prominent character traits with Crowley.
Sheppard says with a chuckle: "Oh yeah, I spend all my free time running hell and murdering people, that's just what I do."
He adds more seriously: "Hopefully, I don't share similar character traits with Crowley but he's fascinating to play because he doesn't follow rules in the same way that everybody else does."
Supernatural Season 9 premieres today and will be shown on AXN (StarHub TV channel 511) every Tuesday at 9.45pm.