Collider was in Vancouver recently to attend the red-carpet celebration of Supernatural’s upcoming 300th episode, and cast members took a few moments to talk about what makes the show so special. Warning: there are minor spoilers from the November 29th episode, “Unhuman Nature,” in some of the comments. First up: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (Sam and Dean Winchester).
Collider: In bringing back departed characters by creating the Apocalypse World story arc, does that give you a thrill as an actor to play against different versions of Bobby, your Mom, Charlie, and others?
JARED PADALECKI: One of the things that we can do in Supernatural, one of the reasons that I attribute to it lasting so long, is that we have a relationship with the writers and producers and directors and our fandom that we can do those f*cking crazy things. We can go like, “Hey, we want Mom back, so let’s create an apocalypse world,” and bring her back and play out what would happen. You know, the place with these ironically very real dreams. What would happen if they come back, what would those emotions be like with that experience? And so, for me as an actor, you really get something to sink your teeth into. And I’ve talked to some actors, some friends, who’ve done long shows. I was on a long show before this one and I’ve known actors who did similar shows and I realized I might just stop getting a chance to work out, to flex my muscles, to see if I knew how to act, to do something different. So that certainly has never been the case with Supernatural.
Collider: Is human Jack basically Castiel 2.0?
PADALECKI: I like to tease him that he is. Yeah, he’s funny because he’s over there right now and he’s funny because we tease him and razz him and we’re like, you could be Misha’s kid!
Collider: On the show, you have the scary elements, you have the funny moments, but you also have the stuff that touches your heart, like when Dean teaches Jack to drive in the latest episode. Those are the things you guys do so well because it’s all about the basic human relationships of the characters.
PADALECKI: That’s the irony. The juxtaposition is kind of what makes this show work, in that we’ve tried to base it in very human aspects, right? So, we see the son of Lucifer, the son of a human mother talking with Dean, who is by all intents and purposes, just human and they make sense of it. They make it very real and very personal. So that’s another reason why the show’s been on so long.
Collider: One thing that struck me in the latest episode is Dean teaching Jack to drive, which caused me to start flashing back. It seems like Baby is a touchstone for Dean, as far as him opening up, showing a nurturing side or the soft side of Dean, like when Dean taught Sam how to fix the car and how Dean and his Dad bonded over the car. What’s the relationship there? Is it because Dean is in a safe place with Baby and it allows you to take the wall down a little and show everybody the real Dean?
JENSEN ACKLES: It’s almost if you want to make it a childlike scenario, it would be his blanket. It’s his safety device when things go wrong, and you’ll see actually in the episode that we just shot, things are starting to go wrong for Dean and he gets up says, “I need to go for a drive,” and Sam says, “Well let me get my stuff. I’ll come with you.” “No, I just need me and Baby and a long road.” So, I think that it is a touchstone for Dean. It’s an entity that I think is just a safe place for him. So, when trying to extend a bit of an olive branch to Jack, there’s one indescribable olive branch he can extend and that’s “Let’s go for a drive.”
Collider: 14 seasons. What is it about Supernatural that resonates with the fans and makes the show so special?
ACKLES: I mean, it’s a variety of things. I think it begins with the relationship with the brothers. I think that’s the soul of the show. But I also think it’s this crazy world that they live in: this wild west of angels and demons and fighting this unbelievable fight where they’re against all odds, where no human being should ever stand a chance, yet they somehow find a way to stand a chance. And I think it resonates with audiences because I’ve heard that in a lot in feedback I’ve gotten, not just when I needed an escape so I watch Supernatural but when I was sick, or when I lost my Mother, or when I was going through a tough time, it was the brothers that gave me the strength to keep fighting, and it was their story that inspired me to keep fighting. And I think that resilience, who these two are together is, is one of the things that people really attach themselves to, and I’m proud of that.
Next up is Misha Collins, who plays Sam and Dean’s brother from another mother, the angel Castiel. Here he talks about his relationship with Jack, the spawn of Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) and a human mother.
Collider: Since Jack has lost his powers and is essentially mortal, a lot of his experiences make him appear almost like he’s Castiel 2.0 because he’s going through the same things your character did, like the episode when he’s hunting for the first time ever with Dean. They have very similar comedic beats.
MISHA COLLINS: I think it’s been an opportunity to cast me as the role of a mentor to Jack. I’ve been through this, I can show you the ropes. Cas is literally the only one in the universe who knows what Jack’s going through, the only one who’s in a position to shepherd him through that. So, I think Cas welcomes that responsibility.
Collider: How many trench coats do you think you’ve gone through in your run on the show so far?
COLLINS: 50? Yeah, 50 sounds like a good number.
Batting cleanup is Mark Pellegrino, who plays the deliciously evil Lucifer. He gives his take on that character, as well as his troubled human vessel Nick’s struggles this season.
Collider: Can you walk me through your thought process for the role? You’ve said before that he’s supposed to be the baddest guy on the planet, but what I like about your performance is the impish aspect of Lucifer that’s almost always at the forefront. Is that a writer thing or is that something that you were looking to do for your portrayal of such an iconic character?
MARK PELLEGRINO: I think it’s a writer thing because it was sort of there from the beginning. He had a quiet sort of sly, dry sense of humor and everything. Even the horrible things were understated and that was sort of the humor of Lucifer, which became a little bit more pronounced in the episodes where he became an imaginary character in Sam’s head. So that’s a writing thing that writers put out there and they make the suggestions through the dialogue and I play with it, and I sort of experiment every take and figure out sort of what makes sense and works. So, it’s writing plus trial and error.
Collider: Nick, the human side of your character, is very lost at sea right now. The fact that he’s calling for Lucifer to inhabit his vessel again, is that just desperation or is he an addict that craves being possessed?
PELLEGRINO: I think that’s it. I think you’re onto something right there. I think he discovered in the revenge process that doing bad things actually excites him. It does something different to him than he thought it would and it opens up that remembrance of the time when he had no law, no rules binding him and that was very empowering. So, I think he wants that power again.
And finally, Alexander Calvert weighs in on what Jack is going through, and what the future holds for his character.
Collider: In your character arc, you go from one of the most powerful beings in the universe to someone who’s basically back to an almost child-like state where you have to learn everything about the world around you. Is that a good stretch for you as an actor?
ALEXANDER CALVERT: Yeah, I mean what I like about the show is almost anything is possible, right? So, whatever the writers throw at you, it’s just kind of like what you have to deal with. So, for me to be the most powerful being, to learn that power, and then to lose it is a lot of fun up and down stuff for me.
Collider: At the end of the latest episode Jack collapsed and is in a very bad way. Where does he go from here? Do you have a preview?
CALVERT: Yeah, I’m basically calling it Jack’s first and last joy ride. So, I try to do the things he never got to do and he tries to bang those out in the next episodes.
Supernatural airs Thursdays on the CW.