SUPERNATURAL is now in its fifteenth and final season on Thursday nights on The CW. In every episode of the series, created by Eric Kripke, Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as his older brother Dean Winchester have battled monsters, ghosts, demons, angels, eventually Lucifer and lately even God, aka Chuck (played by Rob Benedict).
At the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, The CW holds a Q&A panel for SUPERNATURAL with Padalecki and Ackles, along with Misha Collins, who joined the show as angelic ally Castiel in Season 4, Alexander Calvert who came on at the end of Season 12 as Lucifer’s half-human son Jack, plus executive producer/director Robert Singer and executive producers/writers Andrew Dabb, Eugenie Ross-Leming, and Brad Buckner.
Later that evening, The CW throws a party for its actors, creative personnel and the TCA. Assignment X catches up briefly there with Padalecki for some one-on-one conversation. This interview combines that discussion with his comments on the Q&A panel.
The CW’s executive vice-president of communications Paul Hewitt introduces the SUPERNATURAL panel by saying, “Calling this a phenomenon would be an understatement. The impact that this show has had on this network, on TV, on the millions of fans from all different generations, is immeasurable. It’s an impact that will likely outlast us all. We can now tell you, after fifteen seasons, this is actually more than just a TV show. It’s really like a three-hundred-and-twenty-seven-hour movie.”
In filming the fifteenth season, knowing SUPERNATURAL is ending, has any one thing caught up the actors more than another? “Well, it’s tough when you put it that way,” Padalecki replies. For me, it’s wonderful, to quote Paul Hewitt’s amazing joke, to continue this three-hundred-and-twenty-seven-hour movie, as opposed to it being very disparate. I don’t write the show, but I feel like one of the blessings has been that we’ve known that we’re carrying on, so we don’t have to create a false ending every season. We can continue advancing the story. So that’s been a blessing for me.” He turns to the rest of his colleagues. “I don’t know where you all sit.”
Padalecki says not only did he not expect SUPERNATURAL would end the way it will at the conclusion of fifteen seasons (probably only Chuck knew that), but in fact, “In all fairness, in Season 1, I thought the show would end when we closed the trunk and said, ‘We have work to do,’ because it’s such a bizarre thing to be able to be a TV show that films a full pilot, not just a pilot presentation, and then gets to have that air and then gets to have more episodes purchased and bought and paid for. One of the wonderful things about my experience with the show was that I was sort of in the same position that Sam was. I didn’t know how it was going to end. I guess I wondered, but I never asked the question. I just got up and kept my feet moving. So, for me, I didn’t know the show was going to end. We still technically haven’t filmed the end of the show, so to some degree, we don’t know how the show is going to end. But I’m grateful to be here after fifteen years.”
When it’s observed that SUPERNATURAL has probably been blessed with the greatest prop masters on planet Earth, Padalecki quickly responds, “You can cut ‘probably.’ We have been blessed with the greatest prop masters.”
So what props would Padalecki like to take with him from the set? Since everything belongs to Warner Brothers, Padalecki says for the record, “Memories. A house full of memories.” But if he could take something? “I want the bunker. I just feel comfortable there. I read books there.” Pressed a little more, he acknowledges, “So there is a possibility, I am not guaranteeing this, that there may be a few things in my house that might have already been on SUPERNATURAL.”
Then Ackles says that Padalecki got something he wanted, and Padalecki finally admits to perhaps having taken “the honker,” i.e., the steering wheel cap from the first Impala. “Yeah, that did go missing that day. I can’t confirm nor deny where it went, but it did go missing. Plead the Fifth. But there are silly things. When the Bobby Singer [played by Jim Beaver] character’s house burned down, there was a bookend that went missing before the set burned down. I don’t know where it went. Again, I can’t confirm nor deny.”
Has Padalecki been affected by the world’s reaction to SUPERNATURAL over the years, especially its devoted fan base? “Honestly, I’m trying to figure out if it’s a willful or just a blissful ignorance about the outside impressions it’s made on people, on charitable donations, or whatever. We keep our feet moving and do the job. And for many, many years, for fourteen going on fifteen, I was lucky enough to just commit to Sam. I trust implicitly our writers, our producers, our directors, and I was able to put one foot in front of the other, and I think it’s not going to be until I look in the rearview mirror at SUPERNATURAL as a whole that I’ll really be able to speak on it. In the meantime, it’s humbling, and I feel like I said this at Comic-Con – my cup runneth over. I’m a pretty lucky dude. So I feel like when it’s in the past, I’ll hope to try and grasp fifteen years of my life. But in the meantime, I’m just really thrilled with what this show stands for. What we do on the page and in front of the camera has helped a lot of people who maybe needed it, myself included.”
Over the years, two episodes of SUPERNATURAL, Season 9’s “Bloodlines” and Season 13’s “Wayward Sisters,” served as backdoor pilots for spinoffs. After neither was picked up, The CW’s president Mark Pedowitz said that it’s possible that a show set in the SUPERNATURAL universe simply may not be able to work without Sam and Dean. Does Padalecki think that’s why the spinoffs didn’t work? Would he have liked to see a spinoff, or does it feel good in any way that no one can play in the sandbox without him?
“Stay out of my sandbox, these are my grains of sand,” Padalecki jokes. “I hesitate to accept the idea that the spinoffs didn’t work. They worked great, and I’m proud of those episodes. I am proud to have been part of those episodes. I’m paid to do my job. I don’t pay people, so this is well above my pay grade. But I imagine they just didn’t work for the network at the time. But they were great episodes. We do see a lot of spinoffs [of other shows] on our network and other networks. And there is something very humbling about the idea that the show keeps going and to think, ‘Hey, they still want us to be a part of it.’ I hope we see more of the SUPERNATURAL universe. This sounds funny, because it sounds like I’m just asking for time off, which I kind of am, but I always love scenes without me in them, because I feel like I’ve fleshed out the SUPERNATURAL universe, and I’m sure …”
Ackles interrupts, teasing him. “You had the audience. You broke it.”
Padelecki gives him a patient-sibling look and continues, “One of the funny things is that, when I watch a SUPERNATURAL episode, and Jensen and I are not in the scene, I feel like it’s fleshing out the universe for me. So I don’t know. I feel it would be an interesting spinoff to see one of these guys.” He indicates Calvert and Collins.
It should be noted that, since the time of this interview, The CW has contracted Padalecki to executive-produce and star in a reboot of the ‘90s action series WALKER, TEXAS RANGER. Discussing what he’d like to do next, Padalecki says that he’d like to spend more time with his wife, actress Genevieve Padalecki (formerly Cortese) and their three young children. “I was introduced to her Season 4 of SUPERNATURAL [she played the demon Ruby], so I really haven’t had a lot of time with her and my sons and my daughter. I’m not a person who relaxes by nature. When I have time off, I run a marathon. I don’t really just wake up and relax. Also, I’ve realized the hard way, this past summer, Genevieve had some meeting, and I had to watch three kids for a couple hours, and so I realized how much more difficult raising three children is than working.”
Speaking of children, has Padalecki learned anything from fifteen years of playing a brother that will be useful in dealing with the sibling relationships of his own kids? He laughs. “You never win. I think one of the things I learned from SUPERNATURAL is, it never works out perfectly, it just works out as best as possible, hopefully. So don’t let perfect be the enemy of great. Do the best you can and move forward.”
Sam Winchester has been through all sorts of things over the years. Does Padalecki have a favorite phase of the character, when he’s been happy, sad, angry, possessed …? “Soulless. Soulless Sam is my favorite. Game, set, match, done and done. I just loved playing soulless.”
SUPERNATURAL is, at the time of this writing, as successful as it has ever been. Pedowitz has said that, if it were up to the network, the show would remain on the air. But the decision was left to Padalecki and Ackles. What made them feel that this was a good time to stop? Were there concerns about how much more the story could unspool?
“No,” Padalecki replies. “I think I know where you’re going. There were no concerns about the story unspooling, or whether the writers could carry on for fifteen, thirty, forty-five, sixty more years. [Ackles] and I were two actors who were in a really interesting situation, where at first, you’re just begging for an audition. And now, they’re literally saying to you, “Hey, we’re done when you’re done.” You’re like, “What? I just wore makeup for a living. How am I supposed to – what?” So [Ackles] and I had several conversations for many, many years about the show ending, because for a long time, we thought, the show might end, and how are we going to make peace with that? And so I feel I came to a situation where you don’t want to be the last person at a party, even if it’s the best party on the planet. You don’t want to be the guy or gal walking around going, “Hey, where did everybody go?” The show is going so strong right now. It’s going so well right now that the story is strong, the actors are talented, the directors, writers, we’re such a well-oiled machine. We thought it would be almost poetic to end what SUPERNATURAL is all about, to almost have to say goodbye too soon. So I feel like that’s where I stand and what we talked about.”
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Article: Interview with Jared Padalecki on the last season of SUPERNATURAL