For their second return visit to PaleyFest, SUPERNATURAL set out to charm and entertain their fans. As if appearing in person before thousands of their most fervent fans was not enough, SUPERNATURAL began its presentation with a highlight reel, an extended clip from their recent episode “The French Mistake,” and a sneak preview of their upcoming episode “Frontierland” (where the Winchesters go back in time to retrieve the Colt). It only amped up the excitement as thunderous applause and appreciate hollers were heard as each of the panelists then took the stage. Appearing for this spectacular event were: creator/executive producer Eric Kripke, executive producer Sera Gamble, writer/director Ben Edlund and cast members Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jim Beaver.
Unable to resist inquiring about the genesis of “The French Mistake,” moderator Maureen Ryan of AOL’s TVsquad asked what inspired the supernaturally-inclined show to tackle an episode where the actors portrayed themselves in an episode mingled with angels, demons and a whole lot of mixed-up universe mythology and fun.
Creator/producer Eric Kripke explained that “The French Mistake” had actually started out as an episode portraying a movie within a movie, but the more they bounced the idea around, it kind of exploded into this big “wink and a nod” to the fans who seem to never get enough of what goes on behind the scenes. Thus, they thought it would be hysterical to have Jared and Jensen portray their characters Sam and Dean, then finding themselves having to play “Jared” and “Jensen” in an alternate reality. The twist within a twist really appealed to them. Even writer Ben Edlund gleefully described it as a “nightmare of a thought” but that was exactly what drew him to it. In an unexpected and generous offer, Jared and Jensen were even invited for the first time in the writer’s room to sound-out how they would feel about playing themselves on screen.
Jensen candidly admitted that upon hearing the pitch, he was like, “‘You want to do what?!’” He explained, “That was pretty out there, even for us.” Despite his intrigue with the idea, Jensen was initially reluctant to portray himself as he felt, “I’m not that interesting.” Jared was also somewhat startled by the ideas as he reacted in a rather expletive manner at first. Misha Collins was also concerned about how he would be portrayed, and revealed, “I begged them to make my character a total douche-bag. . . . [but] they said ‘no’ — but I tried to douche-bag it up a little bit.” Jensen then laughingly admitted when he saw Misha’s portrayal of “Misha” in the episode, “[He] made me laugh out loud — which is just weird,” for Misha’s attempt to over-emphasize and create a caricature of himself was so outrageous.
Another small wrinkle that arose once the actors were on-board with the zany episode was the studios’ reluctance. Eric revealed, “They didn’t think we were allowed to depict behind-the-scenes at CW.” But because they had already begun production, they seemed to get away with it. Yet even as they continued through with filming, “Every day, someone [in production] asked, ‘If this doesn’t work out, can we recover?” for they were concerned that pulling back the curtain of how the show was made would be revealing all their tricks and the fans would not want to continue watching the show. Yet Eric’s response was, “The show is in its 6th season. The network pretty much lets us do what we want. We may as well take advantage, because we may never get the chance again.” So despite the uncertainties, they ended up going for it anyway, and if the fans’ reactions are any gauge, they ate it up. As Eric noted, “We thought we could pull this off because we are aware of how interested the fans are in the behind the scenes. There seemed to be an appetite for what goes on behind the scenes.” Though it must have been some relief to see how much the fans enjoyed it!
Eric also expressed how pleased he was with how his death scene was portrayed in that episode. He even sent an official script note to the writers, which read, “Thank you so much for letting me die in such a manly way — and oh by the way, great episode.” With so many people concerned how they were being portrayed and how the fans would react to an episode that pokes fun at the show being created week after week, in the end, Ben Edlund’s episode clearly scored a home-run.
When asked if SUPERNATURAL ever seemed to go too far, whether it be to be too dark in its mythology or too light in its humorous tone, Jensen humorously quipped, “I don’t think there are lines!” Though he did note that in “Changing Channels,” he thought the line had been crossed with the ski boots and the ball-buster game.
Another funny line that is not allowed to be crossed is the umbrella-line. Apparently due to the frequent rain in Vancouver where the series films, rain is a constant and problematic issue. But from the get-go, Eric was firm on his “no umbrellas” edict. He felt it was wrong to have these two tough demon-hunters walking around with umbrellas, no matter how much rain they were stuck in. Though he did cave on allowing Sam to switch from tennis shoes to boots. So boots are manly enough, but umbrellas are not. The same thing with bungee cords. When a fan asked why didn’t Sam and Dean attach bungees to their weapons because they are frequently getting shot out of their hands, Eric explained that like umbrellas, bungee cords are just not cool enough for their show.
Turning to the challenges of directing versus acting and writing, both Jensen and Ben shared how much they enjoyed their directing debuts. Jensen shared that he would in fact love the opportunity to direct again. He admitted, “It’s more of a good kind of challenge, I found myself enjoying it.” Recalling what it was like directing “Weekend at Bobby’s,” Jensen said, “Out of the eight days we filmed, five of them I was just directing, which was great because the times that I did have to act in the scene and direct at the same time were a bit difficult, because I was in a completely different mindset . . . I didn’t realize how different a mindset it was until I was in it. I know now, so given the opportunity again I’ll adjust accordingly, but I think [the writers] may have given me a little reprieve on that just so I could focus.” He also revealed as far as future opportunities, “We’ve actually discussed it for next season,” but joked, “As long as he’s not in it” (pointing to his co-star Jared Padalecki).
Chiming-in, Misha also noted that, unlike most directors who come and go as frequently as the show’s guest stars, it was beneficial to him that both Jensen and Ben actually knew the overall story arc of the show and the characters, which allowed them to give advice on his performance in a way that others cannot. Jared agreed, recalling that, unlike some directors who just tell him where to stand, Ben actually walked him through the scene with directions like “you can pause here and think about how Sam’s feeling.” He had to reassure Ben that it was okay to just point and tell him where to stand!
As for Ben’s directorial debut, it is upcoming in Episode 20 entitled “The Man Who Would be King,” he is tremendously excited about it and cannot wait to see it finalized. He described it as being a very emotional episode that will “bring to fruition some serious friendships.” He also noted that, “I think this show is extremely courageous.” Then realizing that he may be giving something away, said with an apologetic air that he should probably stop talking.
Jumping right into the fray and getting the spotlight off Ben, Jim Beaver was more than candid that he was not thrilled about the Bobby Singer/Crowley kiss. In fact, he humorously added, “42 years in this business and on my tombstone it’s going to say, “He kissed Crowley’.” But he also noted that the show has been extraordinarily good to him, despite the detours of having his character both in and out of a wheelchair and the infamous kiss. Jim explained how he found out that Bobby was going to be wheelchair bound as, “I showed up one season and they said, ‘sit down,’ and then the next season, they said ‘stand up’ — and I’m a pretty good actor, so I did!” Also sharing a bit of insight about how Jim got cast on the show, Eric revealed that the character Missouri Moseley had to be replaced when the actress Loretta Devine got cast in a movie, so in a scramble, Bob Singer recommended Jim Beaver and they created a grizzled, older male hunting buddy of John Winchester just for Jim. To this day, Jim is extremely grateful that Loretta’s career took a detour so that he could portray Bobby Singer on SUPERNATURAL.
When it was noted that everyone in Bobby’s life seems to get killed off, including the now demised Rufus who bit the dust in “And Then There Were None,” Jim laughingly noted, “On SUPERNATURAL, everybody dies — except for the writers,” and producer Sera Gamble chimed-in to humorously add, “We like to kill people.” That seems to be the fate of the characters in the SUPERNATURAL universe, everyone dies and no one gets to stick around for very long. In the world they inhabit, it is all about good versus evil and the demons they face are horrifically evil. It is impossible that everyone would survive in the face of such odds. Plus, it keeps the stakes real.
Sera also shared how the fact that Sam went to Hell and back, coming back without his soul this season was like “ripping the Band-Aid off” and it provided for a tremendous amount of storyline this season. The one year where Sam lived without a soul and Dean immersed himself in family life, trying to live a normal life, that reuniting them after such a dramatic departure and time apart gave the show “a lot of slingshot” with where to go this season. The emotional resonance and ripple-effect just keeps propelling the story throughout the sixth season.
As for Jared, he revealed that he kind of misses “Soulless Sam.” He said, “I’m happy to be back, but I do miss the little guy.” After five seasons playing Sam with a tortured soul, he liked the change of pace of portraying the darker-side and more disturbed aspects that Soulless Sam provided. As for Jensen, he is relieved that Soulless Sam is gone. From his perspective, after five seasons playing off Jared as tortured-Sam, he had a hard time grasping how to react and what the relationship between the characters was supposed to portray. He was totally out of his comfort-zone. So the return to the character he is used to playing opposite has been an immense relief for him. As a bit of a teaser, Sera mentioned that we may not have seen the last of Soulless Sam.
Clearly not a fan of dramatic changes of character, Jensen voiced his appreciation for Misha’s consistency in portraying Castiel. While Misha may complain that he is exhausted and may have perhaps done himself some permanent damage by opting to use such a deep, gravelly voice in portraying Castiel, both Jared and Jensen have found it reassuring and appreciate his dedication. Talking about Castiel’s unusually deep vocal pitch, Misha said, “It has been brutal on my voice — I may be running into medical problems!” Describing Misha’s first day on the set of SUPERNATURAL, Jensen recalled how he told Jared initially, “Look, there’s the strange guy . . .” and now when they first heard the Castiel voice, he had wondered, “What is he doing?! Did he audition?” But Misha had thought he needed a deeper octave for the role because Castiel’s voice was supposed to have the strength to blow out windows. Being dedicated to the character, Misha went with the deeper voice and now that the character arc has expanded has been stuck with it ever since. But as Jensen and Jared noted, that kind of consistency has made it a much easier work experience for them.
Ben also happily confirmed that his episode “The Man Who Would Be King,” is Castiel-centric and will introduce an angel, Rachel, who acts as Castiel’s lieutenant in the looming war in Heaven. Ben described it as an “emotional key-up.” Misha also cautiously admitted, “That storyline’s definitely getting tied up and played out and hashed out.” To which Eric revealed, “There are so many mythology balls up in the air . . in the end, in order to tie up all the loose threads . . we’re going to deal head-on with the story of what happens when those memories come flooding loose. . . we try to do it with some elegance.”
With the final episode of the season having just been turned in late last week and shooting schedule to commence this week, SUPERNATURAL is racing towards its season finale – and with no final word on whether it will be returning for a 7th season next Fall. Should this season’s finale end up being a series finale, it will end with a cliff-hanger and a bang. However, given the show’s success this season and consistently good ratings, everyone is hopeful that a 7th season will be ordered and it will allow them the luxury of not only exploring a bit more of the Winchester world.
But no matter how much longer the SUPERNATURAL tale continues, it has been an amazing journey, for the fans, cast and crew alike.
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to The TV Addict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower). Tiffany also writes as a columnist for NiceGirlsTV.