VANCOUVER, BC. It's time to bring out the big guns.
Last month, I was on a “Supernatural” 200th episode red carpet in Vancouver.
So far this week, I've posted the majority of the interviews.
But now, with Tuesday (November 11) night's 200th episode just hours away, it's time to post my interviews with Sam & Dean Winchester themselves.
Because of all of their photo responsibilities and their various commitments at the party, I got Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki at the very end of the red carpet time and Jared in particular was only able to spare a couple minutes. But they're still fun, if brief, interviews. They're also the only interviews with Ackles and Padalecki that you're likely to read in which both FOX's “Still Life” and The CW's “Young MacGyver” pilot are mentioned.
And, at the very list, you'll find my red carpet pictures of the two stars accompanying the interviews after the break…
HitFix: So a couple years ago, The CW moves the show to Fridays and everybody's like, “OK. Well, that's pretty much it for 'Supernatural.'”
Jensen Ackles: Yup! “Oh yeah. There's the news.”
HitFix: What did you think at the time and would you have believed me if I'd told you that this many years later you guys would be getting your biggest audiences in years, etc etc.
Jensen Ackles: Nope. I thought the same that everybody else thought. I thought, “Oh. Well.” But at the same time, there was a quiet confidence that I had in our fans. I was like, “You know what? Move us wherever you want. Watch what happens.” I didn't want to be that smug about it and I didn't want to be that confident about it, because I'm sure it would have bit me in the ass had I been that confident, but there was a part of me that was like, “You know what? Try us. We may be small and we may be under-the-radar and we may not be the biggest hit. We may not be 'Breaking Bad' or 'Lost' or one of these shows that are giant successes, but we're still on and there's a reason we're still on and it's because these fans care about the show.” I had a feeling that they cared about us on Wednesday night, they're gonna care about us on Friday nights.
HitFix: How big was the part of you that felt that way and how big was the part of you that thought, “OK. Guess I've gotta do pilot season again”?
Jensen Ackles: I'd say 50-50. Yeah, but I kept the “confident” 50 quiet, because I would much rather assume the worst and be surprised than assume the best and be disappointed.
HitFix: I was looking at your credits and I couldn't remember exactly what year FOX picked up “Still Life,” but that was a show that was ordered to series and shot episodes and all that, but never aired and because it never aired, you were able to do this. Etc. Do you ever think of the alt-reality in which you weren't able to do “Supernatural” because you already have a different show that's going along on a different network?
Jensen Ackles: Ummmm… Wow. No, I've never thought of that.
HitFix: It's sorta a sci-fi question.
Jensen Ackles: It really is! Yeah. I hadn't thought about that. That's the thing, because if I start getting into the game of, “Well, if I wasn't on the show, what other opportunities…” “Could I be one of the superheroes in the Marvel thing? Could I be doing a different TV show? Could I be the lead on that show?” I'm working. I'm doing a character that I actually really enjoy still after nine seasons. I'm happy. I love the people I work with. The show is still interesting to me. The character is still fun to play. Yeah, it may not be the biggest show on television, but maybe I'm on the biggest show on television and I don't get along with the actors, I don't like my character, the writers don't really write for me? I'd rather be where I'm at.
HitFix: They're also letting you direct here as well. From your times directing, which of your co-stars have you come to respect or admire more? Whose process are you more intrigued by now having been on the other side of the camera?
Jensen Ackles: Mark's really interesting to me because he's pliable in a way that doesn't really effect anything that he does, which is unique because, just for myself, if a director comes up with a suggestion, then I'll go, “OK. Alright. Let me do that. I'm gonna come at it from a different angle, but I will do that.” Whereas Mark's like, “Yeah. Put me in a clown outfit. I'll still give you just as good a performance.” So that's pretty interesting to me. No matter what I can tell him or what I could do with him, he still knocks it out of the park and I'm like, “That's telling. That's telling of a really good actor.”
HitFix: Do you feel like you've become more pliable as an actor since you started directing? Or, I guess, have you become less pliable?
Jensen Ackles: It might be less pliable. I might be more opinionated! I don't know. You might have to ask one of the other directors that.
HitFix: Do you have a different enjoyment of the process having been behind the camera?
Jensen Ackles: Yes. I will say that I have a much greater understanding, which has made me have a much greater appreciation for the totality of what goes into creating the show.
HitFix: “Supernatural” has, for a number of years, been able to make fun of and say negative things about some of those early episodes, whether it's “Bugs” or “Wendigo” or whatever.
Jensen Ackles: Yeah, we're not afraid to poke fun at ourselves at all.
HitFix: But what did you think when you were in the middle of making those episodes? Did you think, “Oh, this is going to be a funny story for seven years from now, assuming we get there”?
Jensen Ackles: No, I don't think we ever take ourselves out of it while we're in it. While we're in it, we're like, “Listen. The only way this is gonna have any chance of working is if we commit 100 percent. So Jared and I come in and we commit. It's like, “This may be the sh**iest dialogue we've ever read in 200 episodes, but dammit I'm committing to it and I'm gonna do the best I can, because maybe it turns out to be a sleeper it. Maybe it turns out to be a fan favorite. Who knows?” Can we then turn around and look back and be like, “Yeah, it didn't even help. Yeah, committing to it that much still didn't help it. Oh well. At least I gave it my all.” So we're still gonna go out and swing for the fences no matter how ridiculous or crazy or bad or good or whatever it is.
HitFix: Was there an episode that you can look back and point to as being, “OK, so this is what the potential of the show is, realized.”
Jensen Ackles: Oh gosh. Yeah, there's a lot of those fan favorites…
HitFix: But for you! In fact, give me something that you don't think is necessarily a fan favorite, but where you can look back and wish more people would talk about it as a touchstone episode…
Jensen Ackles: I would say that it's less of an episode and more of the short-lived storyline of Benny, of Dean and Benny and the Purgatory stuff. To me that was some of my favorite stuff in “Supernatural.” I wish there had been more of it, the three of us, Benny and Dean and Cas in Purgatory hunting and fighting and the raw element of what that was I thought really came across in my mind as riveting. Just the way it was shot, the fact that we were caked in mud and dried blood and stuff, there was an element of that that I thought was really unique and cool and I liked it a lot and I thought they did a really good job of portraying that world.
HitFix: So a few years back, “Supernatural” off to Friday. And everybody goes “OK” and starts writing the obituaries.
Jared Padalecki: That's right. The plot has been dug.
HitFix: What was your thought at that time? What was your mindset?
Jared Padalecki: You know what? Honest to God? My mindset was the exact same as it has been every other year. I can't control whether or not the ratings succeed or the advertisers give money or the network likes us. I can just work my f***ing ass off to try and make Sam Winchester the most realistic character, the most human character, the most sympathetic character that I can and be as honest to the script that these writers and producers spend so much time on. That sounds like a line, but I mean it. Whether we're on Fridays or Tuesdays or eight days a week, my job begins and ends with the script.
If I concern myself with ratings too much… Obviously I'm happy to hear that we're doing well and this and that, but if my happiness ebbed and flowed with the vagaries of the Nielsen ratings, then I'd be drinking Bourbon and doing interviews.
HitFix: What kind of odds would you have given me, though, at the time that you would have gotten to this night?
Jared Padalecki: Oh f***. A thousand-to-one? Or one-to-one thousand? Whatever. A couple years ago, Season 8, Jensen and I had lunch with [WBTV Head] Peter Roth and he kind of tongue-and-cheek mentioned that we'd be his third 200 episode show. At the time, we weren't gonna make 200 in Season 8 or Season 9, but Season 10 and we hadn't been picked up up for Season 9, much less f***ing Season 10. So we kinda looked at each other like, “Uhhh…” So, even still, I was like, “Oh, he's being nice and showing that he loves us and his support,” but I still didn't think that then. So we're just grateful. But, once again, it's one of those situations where my experience of “Supernatural” lives and dies with the script and with my character. Maybe this is safety mechanism, my defense mechanism, my “hot water burn baby” kinda situation, but I am able to focus on just what makes my character a character that somebody would give a s*** about.
HitFix: Think back to the beginning for me. You were a young actor The WB wanted to get in a show. You'd just done the “MacGyver” pilot [he's amused that I mention that] and “Gilmore Girls,” etc. What made this stand out for you? Did you think at the time this was going to be the thing that was going to stick?
Jared Padalecki: Yes, I did think that. But to me, my definition of stick was “Go three seasons.” I didn't, in my wildest f***ing dreams think like, “Oh, I hope this goes 10 seasons.” That was like, “I hope I win a billion dollars tomorrow.” So I did think this show would be a success. I did, in my wildest dreams, think this would go five seasons, let alone six. But what stuck out for me was the journey of these characters. I've always had a love and a passion for the reluctant hero. Luke Skywalker is the best analogy or metaphor I can think of. And Dean Winchester's Han Solo. So that character, the Harry Potter or the Luke Skywalker, that “Why me? I don't want it. But I'm gonna man up and f***ing do what I've gotta do for the greater good.”
And I came from a very tight family relationship. My mother and father are still married. I love my sister. My brother was the best man at my wedding. We're a very close family, so what fascinated me was this idea of people who have not been as blessed as Jared has been with a family situation that's less than ideal and I wanted to delve into that side of life and of socio-economic standing and of who these characters were. I certainly didn't think it'd go 100 episodes, much less 200. I'd have bet my life that it wouldn't go 200. I'd be dead. But beyond that, I'm just grateful. I was really happy to just play Sam Winchester for a pilot. It was like, “This is f***ing cool.” I'd done three or four pilots at the time. None had gone anywhere and this was super-special. I'd worked with David Nutter before and I knew he was a ringer. Eric Kripke, I knew some of his work and I thought he was cool and smart and McG I'd met testing for the “Superman” movie and I was like, “These are cool people. We'll have fun. Sweet.” And we had fun.
The 200th episode of “Supernatural” airs on Tuesday, November 11 at 9 p.m. on The CW.