Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, stars of the CW series Supernatural, spoke with MediaBlvd Magazine about what it’s like to do their own stunts, what scares them in real life, and how they both had the same celebrity crush when they were younger.
Supernatural Stars Flattered By Fan Devotion
By Christina Radish
Jensen Ackles & Jared Padaleck at The CW Network party held at the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif. on January 19, 2007.
Although it’s up against powerhouse shows CSI and Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday nights, the CW series Supernatural still manages to hang onto its loyal fan base, which is a testament to the hard work of the two lead actors, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. To tell the story of brothers Sam (Padalecki) and Dean (Ackles) Winchester, as they battle mysterious and demonic supernatural forces, the two actors work such long hours together that they have become like brothers off set as well.
Ackles and Padalecki spoke with MediaBlvd Magazine about what it’s like to do their own stunts, what scares them in real life, and how they both had the same celebrity crush when they were younger.
MediaBlvd Magazine> How do you feel about how the series has progressed, to this point?
Jensen Ackles> In the beginning, that was something that I thought about quite a bit, as far as where it was going to go and where these characters’ journey lied. It’s really comforting to know that the producers have a really nice plan. At least, I’d like to think they’ve got this nice big road map in their office, and everything is planned out. And, it’s really gone according to plan. That helps us out as actors, playing what we need to, from week to week, and keeping that consistent with where we need to be going. I’m thrilled with the way it’s been going, and I think it’s only going to get better.
Jared Padalecki> In the first season, there’s a learning curve for everybody. The actors are finding the characters, and the writers and creator are finding out what’s working, what’s not working, who’s doing well with the dialogue and who’s doing well with the story. It feels like a well-oiled machine now. I remember sometimes, last season, getting a script or just showing up on the day of filming and thinking, “I feel like I’m starting from the beginning. It feels like it’s day one of the pilot, all of a sudden.” And, it’s definitely not like that this year. That goes with everybody getting more comfortable. I’m so proud of what’s happened so far, in the second season. I think we’re pushing the envelope. I love that (creator/writer/executive producer) Eric Kripke and the rest of the writers aren’t answering questions with more questions, so much as they’re actually getting something done. There’s nothing that frustrates me more, as a fan of television shows, when it feels like they’re toying with you. I’ve been really happy with the second season.
MediaBlvd> You aren’t the highest-rated show in your time slot, but you do have a dedicated following. Does that make it any easier for you?
Jensen> The cool thing about the sci-fi fans, and people who watch that genre of television, is that they’re very dedicated, they’re very avid and they’re super-loyal. Last year, and maybe the year before that, a lot of networks tried to deal with something of the supernatural, and not a lot of things clicked. I feel very lucky to be a part of something that actually did. And, I’m very, very happy to see those audience members latch onto that a little bit. I hope that they tell their friends, who also like that stuff, which can help us out. Thursday nights are deadly. It really kills us. Jared and I truly work our asses off, every day, and every week, for nine months out of the year, and we take a distant backseat to the other shows that are on at the same time.
MediaBlvd> Do you wish the show could air on a different night of the week?
Jensen> It’s television, and it’s part of the business, but to say it’s not frustrating would be a bit of a lie. Just to know that Jared and I are the two series leads, and we work so hard and so diligently, and then to hear about how so and so was vacationing in Tahiti, during the season, or that so and so was in Hawaii, hanging out on the beach on their day off, is frustrating. I get excited about not being in the last scene of the day, much less having two or three days off. It’s really hard to get those ratings every week and be like, “Oh, we did all that work for something that’s so far behind!” But, at the end of the day, those numbers are just numbers, and I’m proud when I go home.
Jared> We’re in the toughest time slot in the history of television. We have the number one and the number two show, on our night, in our hour of television. We’re trying our damnedest, and we have some really devout, loyal fans. We’re still getting a couple million people, every week, watching our show, which is so flattering. I’ve caught an episode of CSI and I’ve caught an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and they’re great shows. No one can deny that. But, to know that people are still tuning into us, is really flattering and helps inspire me to keep on working
MediaBlvd> Is it important to your on screen relationship that you and Jared get along so well in real life?
Jensen> I think it’s incredibly important. I don’t think the show would have succeeded the way that it has, had he and I not bonded the way we did. I can’t imagine working with somebody that I didn’t get along with. In almost 40 episodes, he and I have come at each other one time, and that was just because we were super tired and super strung-out. Immediately following, I went into his trailer, it was squashed, we gave each other a hug and it was done. We’re truly like brothers. I pick on him and he fights back. It’s a very comraderic type of relationship. I’m very proud to know him and I hope he feels the same. I think it’s a very cool aspect of the show that we get along the way we do.
Jared> I think it was pretty effortless. We’re pretty similar. We have similar interests and similar hobbies, and we’re both pretty laid-back guys. We take our work very seriously. We like to work on our characters, like to have a good time and like to keep the mood on the set fun. We just clicked. I’ve definitely worked with my share of people, and I’m sure Jensen has too, where I’ve just been like, “Oh, man, I’m going to work again. I’ve just got to keep my tongue in my mouth and not say anything that’s going to come back to bite me, or just shut my mouth and do my work.” But, we have a great time. We have a fantastic crew, up in Vancouver, and it’s just been pretty organic.
Jensen> I think it’s also just the common love we share for this show. We really look out for each other when we’re working with guest directors or whatnot. We truly want this to be a great program, so when we’re working, if I see something that he’s doing, or he sees something that I’m doing, we’re able to talk to each other and say, “I think we’re missing a beat here.” It’s really neat to have that relationship with your co-star. It’s very rare as well.
MediaBlvd> Does anything freaky or supernatural ever happen to you on the set?
Jared> Not a whole lot. I don’t want to take away any of the magic or anything, but it’s a set. If it comes across supernatural, freaky, weird and creepy, then it’s because the crew and the director have done such a great job of making it look like that. When you’re there, you show up on set and people are eating muffins and oranges, and drinking Starbucks. There are crew guys talking about this, and cast members talking about that, and directors with their little video monitors. It’s a real production, so everything spooky and creepy can be chalked up to them.
MediaBlvd> Do the producers let you know what’s going to be happening with your characters, or are you just as surprised as the audience?
Jared> Eric Kripke and the producers don’t tell Jensen and I a whole lot about our character arcs, or what we’re doing in the next episode. I think they like keeping Jensen and I in the same boat as Sam and Dean. We don’t know what we’re doing next week, we don’t know where we’re going to be next month, and we have no idea what’s going to happen. They keep us living that life, and we act well by default. We really don’t know what’s going on. We’re more than 40 episodes in now, and we’re starting to explore and play around, and I’m really excited about it.
Jensen> They keep a lot from us. But, I can tell you, from what I do know, from what we’ve filmed, we just finished filming a very comedic episode, which I’m in love with just because I love comedy. I think it’s going to be a nice refresher for the series. There’s also a lot of progression, as far as the mythology goes. And, at the same time, we’re not going to lose sight of what we do, day in and day out, and that’s scare the hell out of you. It’s still going to very much be like that. And, Dean definitely took a layer of the onion back this season. He’s been geared into a different direction, and I think it’s really cool for him that he’s not necessarily the hard-assed, closed off son-of-a-bitch that he likes to think he is. He truly cares about his family, he truly cares about his brother, and he’s truly concerned about the future of his brother and what lies ahead for him. I think that that’s really going to unleash a lot of emotional aspects of the character, which I’m really looking forward to playing. As an actor, that’s the stuff we truly live for. Eric Kripke has been doing a fantastic job and he’s been giving me a lot to play with, both dramatic and comedic. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the show, and I feel extremely fortunate to be playing Dean.
MediaBlvd> There’s a lot of dark stuff on the show, but there’s also a lot of funny stuff.
Jensen> It’s a delicate balance between the heavy drama and the comedy, and I think that’s one thing that our show touches on very evenly. Sometimes, we weigh in on one aspect one week, and the next week we’ll weigh in on something else. Personally, I was super attracted to the role of Dean, from the beginning, because he harnesses a little bit of that comedic personality. Just as far as my own personality goes, I love comedy. To be able to integrate that into a character is something that I’m super proud of and super excited about. So, whenever they write these comedic episodes, I really get excited about it.
MediaBlvd> Do you have any guest stars coming up?
Jensen> We just did an episode with Tricia Helfer. She’s got a nice little celebrity spread in Playboy this month, not that I’ve looked. Being a part of Battlestar Galactica for so long, she was very big on that show, and she’s an extreme talent, too. She’s really good. I think the guest stars are going to get increasingly better and better. We’ve had some amazing people on the show, and I think that that’s going to continually be a quest of the show, to keep bringing on people of high quality.
MediaBlvd> Sam and Dean take a lot of road trips on Supernatural. What was the best road trip you’ve ever taken in real life?
Jared> I’ve made the drive from California to Texas quite a bit. One time, I went with my girlfriend and my dogs, and it was just relaxing. We’d stop at some rest stops and play catch with the dogs, and ate way too much food. We’d stop at a gas station and buy enough food for 12 days, and it would be gone in 300 miles. So, the next gas station we’d stop at, we’d be like, “Okay, more chips and jerky.”
MediaBlvd> How have you been able to maintain a long distance relationship?
Jared> It was a tough transition, but two years into it now, it’s easy. She’ll come up and visit on set, and she knows all the crew and everybody loves her. I’m going to be spending some time with her this weekend, since I’m down here, in L.A. So, it’s basically a lot of time spent in airports, and a lot of long distance phone bills.
MediaBlvd> What’s the last thing you’ve done to simply your life?
Jared> I offered to have my best friend come up and stay with me in Vancouver, not really as an assistant, but to watch my dogs and help me out, if I have some phone calls to answer and whatnot. A lot of times, when I have 15 or 16 hour days on the set, I don’t have the chance to run with my dogs for three or four miles. So, instead of waking up two hours early to get them outside, he’ll do it for me. That was probably the best thing I’ve done.
MediaBlvd> What scares you in real life? Are you squeamish about anything?
Jensen> I’ve got to be honest, the things that we deal with on set don’t necessarily creep me out. I don’t know if that’s just being a part of it and having it be tangible, or putting my hands into a bucket of worms and dealing with that, or getting blood shoved down my nose and into my sinuses. That’s just a part of the job. There’s a certain sense of self-relinquishment when the cameras are rolling. They’ll say, “We want you to leap into a set of fixed chairs, and we’re going to give you an elbow pad and a knee pad,” and I’ll say, “That’s going to hurt like hell, but I’ll do it.” And then, all of a sudden, they yell, “Action!,” and I jump as hard as I can and I crack into these chairs, and I’m like, “Yeah, that didn’t hurt!” The next day I can’t walk straight, but it’s pretty cool on the day. It’s like this false sense of security that makes me think, “I’m not going to crash. I’m not going to die. I’m not going to get hurt.” It’s adrenalin. Tom Welling and I were playing golf this past summer, and we were talking about why we like playing golf and why we like acting. We came up with the fact that, whenever someone yells, “Action!,” it’s the same thing as taking a back swing, in that, at that moment in time, you have a chance to be great. You think, “This could be really cool. This could be really good.” I can hit a great shot and nail it right next to the cup, or I can nail my lines and do every moment that I was preparing and hit my mark and hit my light, and do everything that I wanted to do. When I do that for a stunt, there’s that similar high and adrenalin rush. I really enjoy that part of the job.
MediaBlvd> Do you have to train for all that action? And, do you go to the gym more, so that you can be in good shape?
Jensen> To be honest, the little time that Jared and I have off, much of it is spent in the gym, trying to stay somewhat healthy. It’s not even about trying to stay fit. It’s, literally, trying not to get sick. It’s the stamina factor of working 15 hours a day. Occasionally, we work out together, but we live in two different hotels, so he usually works out in the lobby of his hotel, and I work out in the lobby of my hotel. With our schedule, I’m lucky to get in three work-outs a week.
MediaBlvd> What music do you like to work out to?
Jensen> That changes weekly. Everything from classic rock, which is what my character listens to on the show, to country music to rock ‘n’ roll to pop-rock to alternative rock to just straight-up old school country, like Johnny Cash.
Jared> The latest music I work out to is probably Tool. It’s good and hard-core, and it’s enough to get your blood going.
MediaBlvd> What superpower would you want, if you could have one?
Jared> I’d love to be able to anamorph, so that I could morph into any animal, at any point in time. I’d love to be a deep sea creature and go down and see the depths of the ocean. If I was in trouble, I’d love to just turn into a bird and fly out of there. I would just love to escape. I would love the freedom of being an animal.
MediaBlvd> What’s the strangest dream you’ve had lately?
Jared> I had a weird dream, the other day, where I woke up and went, “What the hell was that?” I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I think I was getting chased around my grandmother’s house. I was with Jensen or one of my buddies, or something. I can’t remember exactly what was going on. But, I was getting chased in circles. I don’t know why.
MediaBlvd> At least she wasn’t on fire on the ceiling.
Jared> If I had one of those dreams, it would be time to call it quits. I’d retire. If I dream about someone on fire on the ceiling, it’s time to get out.
MediaBlvd> When does your hiatus begin, and do you have anything lined up yet?
Jensen> I think we start that the first week of April. It’s a little too soon to start locking down a project for hiatus. I’ll probably start looking at stuff in the next month or two. And, I’ll catch up on much-needed sleep. We have a publicity trip to Europe planned for May, but other than that, I plan on catching up with my friends and family.
Jared> Last year, this time of year, I was thinking, “Man, I’m just going to sleep for three months.” But, I ended up seeing my brother graduate med school, my buddy get married, my sister’s 21st birthday, and I traveled the world. This year, I’m actually looking forward to working. In a couple of months, I’ll start reading scripts and auditioning, and hopefully I’ll find something.
MediaBlvd> What shows are you watching on television right now?
Jared> I can’t catch any live shows, so the latest television I’ve been watching is the BBC Office and Arrested Development, and they both have me on the floor, crying from laughter. I haven’t caught a lot of the Steve Carell Office, but I’m enjoying the BBC Office. I can’t imagine liking anything more than that. It’s got to be my favorite comedy of all time. It’s hilarious.
MediaBlvd> Would you like to do a comedy?
Jared> I’d love to. After this show is done, no more serious parts for me. I want to laugh. I don’t want to cry anymore.
MediaBlvd> Did you have a celebrity crush when you were growing up?
Jared> If I did, I don’t remember. Princess Leia was later in life. That was more like high school. I was like, “Damn, get on ya, girl!” But, as a kid, I don’t know. I remember I liked Ashley Judd. I just thought she was so classy, beautiful and talented. I liked older women.
Jensen> When I was young, I used to love Ashley Judd ‘cause she was a southern girl and I was from Texas. Jared stole that from me. I’m older.