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Well into its eighth season, the dark drama series SUPERNATURAL has fine-tuned its storytelling and deftly employs its characters in its complex mythology in the fight between Heaven and Hell, and all the creatures in between. At a recent press interview at the WB Mondo International Press Tour, stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles briefly talked about the Winchester brothers’ mindset, the pressures of Hollywood and what they like to watch on DVD.
Are the brothers really tired of kind of being the pawns of heaven at this point? It seems like every time they turn around, they’re just kind of being bashed around.
JARED: I know Sam is for sure.
JENSEN: Yes. To answer question, yes.
JARED: Yes. The short answer is yes, as is made evident by Sam’s kind of willingness to let everything go to hell this season. I think he certainly feels that he’s done his bit for his country or for whatever. He’s like I’ve served my time. I’ve died. I’ve come back. I’ve been Lucifer. I’ve been thrown through the ringer, proverbially and literally, and I’m ready to move on. So I know Sam feels like there are other people out there who can do it. However, now the stakes have been raised such that with great power comes great responsibility. And I think Sam, though he can be reluctant sometimes, I think he, at the end of the day, is one to bite the bullet and do what’s better for everybody.
What do you identify most with about your characters, and what’s the biggest challenge for you?
JENSEN: I think Dean’s constant drive to want to do good and just to be very black and white. And I like that. I like that about him. Challenging‑wise, I’d say just I think, the emotional toll that he has sometimes where he doesn’t think that he is of the value, that he is equal to the people that he surrounds himself. He’ll put other people first before himself. He’s very quick to sacrifice himself, and that’s difficult. I think it’s also a noble trait.
JARED: And I feel like Sam is very pensive and he’s very fastidious when he’s trying to get a task done. And Jared’s like that. I always kind of say ‑‑ I read instruction booklets, I really do — when I get something, I can’t buy something and just go like,”Oh, I’ll figure it out.” I read and reread it and I try and really figure everything out. And I like that Sam kind of takes that approach. And I guess before I started acting, I was going to be an engineer, and maybe that’s what it comes from, just that kind of break everything down to put it all back together, reverse engineering or whatever. However, sometimes I feel like I wish Sam would make a hard decision.
JARED: Yeah, A little more cavalier. Certainly, sometimes, ‑‑ I mean, there’s a term we use, to “man up” — “man up and get the job done.” Right now we see some stuff with he and Amelia where you want Sam to make a stand one way or another. And he ends up making a decision, but I don’t he necessarily makes a stand. And there’s a small difference, and I wish he’d make a stand sometimes.
Have you researched the supernatural in real life?
JENSEN: I’ve been told that the majority of the stuff that we do on the show, the tools of the trade, the wording, spells the hexes, the exorcism, those are all actual things taken from research. So I’m going to go on that and, uh, hope that if I ever do run into something supernatural in real life that I’ve had eight years’ experience to combat it.
JARED: I think if there are monsters and demons and other things haunting the world right now, maybe they turn on television and they’re like, “Ahh, we’ll leave those guys alone.”
JENSEN: “Yeah, those guys are good.”
JARED: “They know what they’re doing. They’re pretty tough, so …”
JENSEN: Yeah. “They might not be a doctor, but they played one on TV.”
JENSEN: You must hear everybody’s supernatural stories, though.
JARED: Every now and again, sometimes. The people will come up and be like, “Oh, my gosh. I saw an episode where this happened and it made me think of this time when I saw this.” And you’re like: “What did you do? Get the salt?” So the fans are pretty funny. The fans of the show are certainly. They’re not casual fans. People, if they know the show, they know the show, which is nice. It’s wonderful to have such a dedicated audience and a loyal following. It’s become part of the show and we’ve made episodes about our fans. So that’s fun, and they certainly share their stories with us.
Jared, how did you make the leap from engineering to acting?
JARED: The summer before college, I auditioned to be a Teen Choice Awards trophy presenter, and I won and I met an agent. I mean, I acted in high school.
JENSEN: Kismet. (Laughter.)
JARED: Kismet, yeah. Luck. Who knows. Something supernatural. But, yeah, I’d always acted in school, but I was like no one makes a living acting; what am I going to do, go to Hollywood? But Hollywood came to me where we get in the middle, and then it’s just been a fun ride ever since.
Now that you are in Hollywood, how do you balance it?
JARED: We both grew up in Texas where people don’t really think you’re going to go off to Hollywood some day. You kind of have to be rooted in something.
JENSEN: It’s not generally in the cards.
JARED: Yeah, it’s not generally in the cards. And I think it’s been nice. It’s been able to, I feel, keep us grounded, because we were raised on certain morals and ethics and kind hard work, a good work ethic where you don’t want to just throw everything away for a shot of fame. And I don’t think he and I ever were after fame. There are certainly things we could do to be more famous. We could go walk red carpets every night and we could go to parties or we could go hobnob with everybody. But we kind of just enjoy storytelling.
JENSEN: That’s not the work, though.
JENSEN: I think he and I both — there’s a work ethic, and I think that’s part of the ingredient to our success, so far, is that he and I understand that there’s work to be done and it needs to be done and it needs to be done professionally.
JARED: Precisely. True.
JENSEN: And we work hard to make that happen, and it’s a job. We understand that this is our profession that that’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we’re talking to you guys. Because this is what we’re passionate about it.
Do you feel a bit of pressure of all showbiz and to be in good shape on red carpets?
JENSEN: I think probably. I think if you’d asked us that in the beginning of the series, we would have said absolutely.
JENSEN: But that was eight years ago and we’ve grown since then. I think now it’s more about staying healthy so that we can endure the long hours on set and so that we can just keep more of a vibrant life. It’s quality of life too that we he and I are always kind of keeping each other in check about. We have to make sure that we need to make sure that we do the work, keep the work ethic, but also have a good quality of life.
JARED: And a lot of times it’s a weird irony to when you get what you really want. I mean, when we were cast as Sam and Dean, a lot of people put a lot of money and a lot of trust in us, that we could make this show and make it happen and work hard and take care of ourselves. And so at first, you’re certainly nervous and you feel like, “Oh, my gosh, I want to work hard.” It can end up biting you in the butt if you work yourself too hard, if you get overworked, if you get overstressed, if you get too concerned about everything else. I remember Peter O’Toole and he said the secret is to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and then forget everything, just to let it all go. You’ve done the work, now trust yourself and let it flow. If you’re playing basketball or football and you just run the play every time, then people are going to figure it out and even if you run the play well, you have to be able to bob and weave and go with the flow. And SUPERNATURAL’S kind of done that. We started out with this where we’re going to make a story every week and it’s going to be about urban myths and legends. But now we have 160‑something episodes and we’re going to have 170‑something by the end of the season. So we can’t just keep on that equation. We had to kind of go a different route. And in my opinion, it’s made the show a lot better. I feel like the stories we’ve been able to tell and the character arcs we’ve been able to tell by going off of that original concept has really benefited everybody.
A lot of your fans have discovered the show getting a whole season at a time up to the beginning, and many more will even long after it’s gone. What’s your take on this new way that people are experiencing shows and your show and whether you guys do it as well with other shows?
JARED: I think it’s wonderful. I have to. That’s the only way it’s possible for me to see a show, and for him as well.
JARED: Because we can’t sit down every Wednesday at 6 o’clock in front of a television, or every Friday at 5 p.m. to watch a show. We have to catch it on DVD.
JENSEN: If we had a normal work schedule, we would.
JENSEN: But we’re starting work at 7 a.m. on Monday and then finishing work — like we finished at 4:30 this morning in a different country.
JARED: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right. I think it’s wonderful. I think accessibility. I mean, the fact that if you have access to the Internet, you can watch the show is outstanding. And for so long, CW couldn’t necessarily be on every single network or every single outlet in the U.S., or certainly not all over the world. But now with that accessibility, more people can see the story that we’re telling and take part.
If you were to do a cross-over, which show would you want it to be with?
JARED: I think it would be fun. Right now, obviously THE VAMPIRE DIARIES or ARROW. I mean, ARROW obviously. He thinks he’s doing right for the city, but the Winchester boys might think opposite. Then obviously, we’ve been hunting our share of vampires. Obviously they couldn’t kill us, and we couldn’t kill them. That would be unfortunate, right? But it would be fun to have a run at it.
Now one can buy DVDs and and watch a whole season. Have either one you done that with any shows?
JENSEN: I’m doing it right now with BOARDWALK EMPIRE.
JARED: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. Because we film up in Canada, I fly home on the weekends to Los Angeles quite frequently. So it gives me something to watch on the plane.
To see more the Winchester brothers’ adventures in SUPERNATURAL, be sure to tune in for all new episodes starting Wednesday, January 16th at 9:00 p.m. on the CW,
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