Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles on ‘Supernatural’ Season 10 and Their Fans

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles Supernatural Interview
Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles in ‘Supernatural’ (Photo © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

The CW’s Supernatural is showing no signs of slowing down as it heads into its 10th season. This upcoming season finds Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles returning as Sam and Dean Winchester, with more demons to slay and angels to deal with. And speaking of angels, Castiel (Misha Collins) will also be back although he won’t be in great shape. “Castiel is very much in the picture at the beginning of season 10,” explained Supernatural‘s executive producer Jeremy Carver during the 2014 summer Television Critics Association press event. “We come back with him very much where we left off with his grace is fading and he is in danger of dying, if he doesn’t figure out a way to deal with it.”

Carver also revealed a bit more about the upcoming season, without giving away any spoilers. “We will be seeing some new characters that I could tease a little bit. I mean, we’ll be seeing demons and angels and ghosts and werewolves. We’ll be seeing, of course, a side of Dean that we’ve never seen, which is Demon Dean, and we’ll be staying with Demon Dean for more than one episode,” offered Carver. “I think we’ll probably be seeing a different type of Demon Dean than you might expect, which is something we’re all pretty excited about. And in terms of other characters coming in, I can’t spoil too much, but while Sam is on the hunt for his brother, there is another rather mysterious character who is on the same hunt and causes all kinds of complications for the boys.”

Joining Carver at the TCAs, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles also answered a few questions about Sam and Dean’s journey thus far.

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki Supernatural Interview

What has the physical toll been on you over 10 years of doing this?

Jensen Ackles: “We always knew it was going to be a physical show from the get-go. You know, I think that it was one of the things that attracted both Jared and I to the roles was the amount of physicality, the spectrum that it runs. You’ve got the comedy. You’ve got the drama. You’ve got the action. You’ve got the thrill. As far as the toll, you know, we’ve kind of grown up on the show a bit. So it’s kind of forced us to stay active, stay in shape, and stay able to do what we do, and we still love it. I mean, he and I try to do as much of the physical stuff as possible. It kind of pisses our stunt guys off a bit because they just sit on the sidelines and watch. But we really enjoy it. They enjoy being a part of it as well. And we’re still able to do it.”

Jared Padalecki: “We’re still able to do it. It has become more difficult, and we’re, by no means, senior citizens right now. I mean, I’m 32, and Jensen’s 48 or something like that, but the bumps and bruises aren’t quite as easy as they were when I was 22, but it’s fine. Like you said, it’s one of the things that really drew both of us to the show. It’s not just the range of physicality, but the range of emotions and spirituality and whatnot that we get to kind of be a part of.”

What has been the toughest stunt or a most demanding episode thus far?

Jared Padalecki: “I think the scariest stunt for me was season 5 when we jumped through the stained glass window. It probably wasn’t the most difficult, but it was just getting past the mind four-letter-word of jumping through a stained glass window and trusting that the…”

Jensen Ackles: “An opaque window.”

Jared Padalecki:   “…pad was [there]. It was an opaque window. It was translucent, I suppose, but you certainly couldn’t see through it. And it was just high enough to reach free fall, and I’ve never bungee jumped or skydived. So that was a new sensation to me, and having to kind of run and jump through a plate glass or fake plate glass window and then reach for free fall for that second where you’re weightless, I know that freaked me out. There was definitely a change of wardrobe after take one.

Beyond that, it’s been a lot of fun. You know what? Season 1, we had an episode where Dean and Sam fought, and we spent several days and several weekends coming in and training for that scene and choreographing that scene. It was a 12 or 14 hour shoot day of a lot of stunts. You very quickly realize that your dreams of becoming a professional athlete when you were a kid would have never come true. So it’s a good thing you wear makeup for a living. That’s what I’ve realized.”

Jensen Ackles: “There was a fight scene just this past season in an episode directed by John Badham that he really wanted to explore the range of physicality that this fight could have, could take, and I don’t know why I agreed to be like, ‘You know what, yeah, let’s really make a meal out of this,’ because then that required me basically during every break that I had for the week leading up to it, I was in a trailer, our gym trailer, with mats and stuff working out fighting sequences and movements and stuff. The fight ended up taking about nine hours to shoot over and over and over, and I didn’t have a stunt double for any of it. My stunt double was actually the guy I was fighting, and that was just a request on my part. I was like, ‘Listen, I want to be able to do everything that we’re going to do, and I want to make it as real as possible,’ and, of course, John loved that. I was pretty beat-up after that day, but there’s a gratification to that too. I hung my hat on that at the end of the day, and I was like, ‘I earned these bruises and cuts, so thank you.'”

Do you see an end to the series?

Jared Padalecki: “I don’t know how to put this properly – the short answer is no. If the show quality diminishes, which I have no doubt that it will not in [executive producer Jeremy Carver’s] capable hands, but if the show ever reaches a spot where we get a phone call from Jeremy or whoever like, ‘You know what guys, at this point in time we’ve kind of said what we feel needs to be said and can be said’… I truly do deeply care about this show and about Sam Winchester. I mean, I’m 32 years old tomorrow and I’ve spent nine years of my life with him, so I don’t want him to be broken down and beaten down into something that I end up not respecting. I respect this character and I respect this show, and I respect our writers and my fellow actors and actresses. So I think we know the show enough and our characters enough to, if there’s an end coming, I think we’ll all see it. We won’t have to push it to the ‘I Love L.A.’ levels.

But for me, I’ve been able to do a lot during the show. I’ve got some kids now and a wife, and I love my personal life very, very much. When it’s time to hang up the Sam Winchester hat, then I’ll welcome that chapter.”

You aren’t looking to end it anytime in the foreseeable future?

Jensen Ackles: “I think we’re all on the same page. We still get excited about it, and I think that hasn’t tarnished in 10 years. I remember getting the last script of season 9, the season finale, and I got all giddy about it. I was excited to see what happens in season 10. I think that as long as there’s that fulfillment, that enjoyment, that excitement, then yeah, we will keep going. And as long as people are hanging in there with us and are still entertained, then we love telling the stories of both of these guys.”

The show’s been on so long now that it seems like a rite of passage for 15, 16, and 17 year old teenage girls to get into the show. What do you think about that phenomena and has it surprised you?

Jared Padalecki: “What’s been remarkable to me is I will meet people, fully functioning adults, whether they’re 15, 16 year old girls, boys, who are talking about driving, getting a driver’s license and going to homecoming, prom, and they will say, ‘I started watching Supernatural when I was six years old.’ I go, ‘What? What do you mean?’ So it’s been remarkable. 

Actually, Jensen and I have the good fortune and take the opportunity to regularly go see our fans face-to-face, both sort of locally,  nationally, domestically and sort of internationally, and we to Europe. We go to Italy. We meet dozens upon dozens of teen-somethings and early 20-somethings who have been watching the show since they were in school, and now they’re college graduates or they’re getting driver’s licenses or they’re having kids of their own, as we have. It’s remarkable. It’s a great feeling and it’s such an honor to be a part of it, and it has been fun.

Jensen and I look at each other now and again, and we’re like, ‘Man, are people going to keep watching the show? Are they going to stick with us?’ And we realize that not only are the people who have been with us from the beginning continuing to watch, but we’re gaining a whole new, to borrow your words, rite of passage for 15 and 16 year olds, girls and boys, which is awesome because it’s not the classic coming-of-age story, but it is about struggling with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, which helps out a lot of teen-somethings who feel like high school is the worst or this person is the worst. This is, obviously, a very different world but it’s nice to be able to be there for a teenager where we’ve all been teenagers, and you feel like the world is against you, and these boys literally have the world against them, but they keep fighting. I think it’s a great message. It’s been an interesting crazy dynamic and a real honor to be a part of a show that continues to garner new viewers. So that’s where I stand.”

Jensen Ackles: “On that same note, just when you think we are able to identify our fans, I’ll have a 75-year-old TSA gentleman checking my passport look at me and go, ‘Love your show, man. Seen every episode since season 1 with my granddaughter.’ It takes me off guard. So it’s really kind of inspiring for us to not only meet our fans face-to-face, see kind of the wide range of demographic that that covers, but also now with the birth of Netflix and the internet and all of our seasons are now available, and I’m now hearing more and more of, like you said, the teenage viewing parties. They’ll have sleepovers and knock-out whole seasons of Supernatural. I think it’s that on-demand culture that is happening right now, and we just happen to have nearly 200 episodes on demand. So it gives them something to watch, I suppose.”

What have you learned from each other through the years? And what do you think about the fan fiction?

Jensen Ackles: “Judging the fan [fiction], we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. Rightly so. I want to keep kind of the idea that I have in my head – and also that they are giving me – of what my character is, who he is, where he’s going, where he’s been. I want to keep that kind of unsoiled, so to speak. 

But, listen. If the fans are latching onto these characters and coming up with their own creativity and stuff like that, yeah. If this inspires a conversation or inspires people to get creative and to do that kind of stuff, fantastic. It’s art, at the end of the day. We’re making a TV show and it’s for entertainment, and people can draw from it what they will. 

That being said, to touch on the first part of your question, yes. We have spent probably more time with each other than any other human on the planet in the past over the past 10 years.”

Jared Padalecki: “Any other reasonable human on the planet.”

Jensen Ackles: “Any other reasonable human on the planet. Yeah. If he wasn’t here, I would probably elaborate a little bit more. I’ve learned a lot from him. He is a brother on and off screen, and we’ll forever have a friendship that is a lot different than most, because it’s really truly unique because of what we’ve gone through together, and it’s been quite an amazing ride. I’m just glad we’re still trekking along.”

Jared Padalecki: “I second that. Thanks, Ackles. I second that and I feel the same way, and I feel like – this sounds like a copout – but I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to try and put into words what I’ve learned from Jensen, with Jensen. We literally have more than grown up together. We went from single 20-somethings to fathers, husbands, and it’s hard to kind of quantify with a few short sentences exactly what all that encompasses.

As far as the fan fiction, also, myself as an actor, I steer clear of it just simply because the stuff that I read about Sam Winchester, it’s pretty sacred to me and it’s a relationship between Jeremy, the writers and myself and Sam. That’s sacred to me. They’re not doing me a disservice by writing something else. But if I were to listen to a Led Zeppelin song and say, ‘Hey, Robert, Jimmy, I wrote a song a la Led Zeppelin. You guys want to play it?,’ I wouldn’t expect them to go, like, ‘Yeah.’

I hope that one day maybe they would listen to it, and I fully do intend to. There’s no way I will be able to read all of it, but I would love to read fan fiction one day. I mean, there’s probably certain types of fan fiction I would be more interested in than others…but I love that it inspires thought.

Not to sound so presumptuous as to say we’re artists, but that’s the point of art and music, and if I met Thom Yorke, I wouldn’t say, ‘Hey, buddy, ‘OK Computer’ reminds me of high school. You wrote it about me being in high school, right?’ I would imagine he would be, like, ‘No. I wrote it as something else. I’m glad it affected you in such a way so as to inspire you for many decades and that you refer back to it and that you even picked up a guitar and saw the chord that I played and did something yourself, but they’re separate,’ and we get to enjoy from other people, and I do intend someday to someday when this is in my rearview mirror, I would love to go back and be a fan of it, because I am a fan of it. I’m immersed in it. I can’t wait someday to look back and say, ‘Cool. This inspires a human being to sit down, and over the period of God knows how long…,’ we’ve seen paintings of ourselves and of our kids and drawings. It’s amazing. It’s motivating. It’s inspiring. It’s flattering. And one of these days, I’ll get around to reading it. But for right now, what I read from Jeremy and the other writers’ typewriters, […]the words that come out of their typewriters and the way I interpret it is all that matters to my performance right now.”

You’ve been working in Vancouver for 10 years. Have you ever wished that the show would be moved back to Los Angeles? What is it about Vancouver that makes it a different show? Would it have been a different show if it had been filmed anywhere else?

Jensen Ackles: “I think that Vancouver really lends itself to just the style of show that we are. We get roughly nine months out of the year that are overcast or gloomy…not gloomy…overcast and have the blues and the darks, and I think that really plays into the majority of the show that we try to produce. And it also lends itself to a lot more night in the wintertime. Right now it’s a little tough because we get a lot more day. When the days start getting shorter, they get really short in Vancouver, and we get a lot more night, and we shoot a lot of exterior, so it’s nice to have those extra hours of darkness to play with.”

Jared Padalecki: “When it’s a show about hunting vampires or demons or something, it’s much scarier and more thrilling for the audience for us to hunt them in the gloom and the doom than if we were walking down the beach with a bunch of palm trees and we’re like, ‘Do you see anything scary?’ We could be riding the little pedibikes going, like, ‘Do you see anything, Dean?’ Getting suntans and stuff. I don’t think that’s the genre of the show.

I mean, X-Files shot there and it does a great service to shows of this genre being able to film such long nights. There is something that puts an audience member out of their proverbial comfort zone, wonderfully, when they’re watching a show and someone’s outside and it’s raining and they don’t know where the bad guy is or the bad demon is. It’s much more frightening and much easier to sort of delve yourself into than the opposite.”

Jensen Ackles: “And the cool temperature there affords us to wear coats throughout the season, which then affords us to hide all of our weapons in them. I think if we were shooting in, say, Atlanta, we would be a sweaty mess for about half a season. There are a lot of pros to shooting in Vancouver. And on a side note, it’s a wonderful town filled with wonderful people. We’ve made lifelong friends with a lot of our crew there, so it is most certainly a home away from home at this point.”

Jared Padalecki: “Personally, I do miss home constantly. I miss my wife and kids I live in Austin right now and I feel a kindred connection with that town, and I love it. But I do believe that in an alternative universe if Supernatural was not filmed in Vancouver, if it was filmed in L.A., I don’t think we would still be going today. I think we’ve been able to remain out of the scene, out of the craziness that is Hollywood, and I think that’s kept us focused. Not to say better tunnel vision and gotten our work done, but it’s afforded us the opportunity to sort of have tunnel vision and get our work done and focus on the show. Not focus on, ‘Hey, can I get out of here because there’s a party at Hugh’s?’ Or, ‘Hey, there’s a premiere that I want to go to,’ and you stay up all night and burn the candle at both ends, and then you show up and it’s a downward spiral.

When I’m going to Vancouver, when I’m on the way to Vancouver, I’m there to do something. It’s a great city. It’s a wonderful city. There are wonderful people, wonderful food. But I’m there to tell a story, and I think if I was filming in the city where I lived [there would be] too many distractions.”

Back in season five there was the episode where Sam and Dean discovered Chuck Shurley was writing their lives. What were your thoughts about doing that episode and realizing that someone was controlling your characters’ strings?

Jared Padalecki: “I loved it. I think to start off, the episode you refer to is where we find out that the character, the Chuck Shurley character, is the writer who is kind of writing our story, and he’s sort of God. And it’s a funny sort of parallel, and one of the things we’ve been able to do in Supernatural, one of the many things we’ve been able to do with Supernatural is kind of tease ourselves and make fun of ourselves.”

Jensen Ackles: “And break the fourth wall.”

Jared Padalecki: “Break the fourth wall successfully without jumping the shark, which is a testament to our fans, truthfully, because they’ve stuck with us and humored us all along the way. I loved it. I thought it was great. And the idea of the writer was God, I thought it was funny and I thought it was a nice story to tell. What other TV show or movie gets to do that amongst the other many multitude of things we get to do? I, as well, love the episode and that whole storyline.”

– By Fred Topel