Returning for its sixth season, the dark CW drama Supernatural follows Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), who took on the Devil himself and survived the apocalypse, in last season’s emotional finale. Now, the brothers are separated, as Dean has retired from hunting, believing that Sam is stuck in Hell. However, Sam has escaped and the two reunite to fight the rising tide of creatures and demon-spawn, but quickly realize that neither are who they used to be, their relationship has changed and nothing is what it seems.
During an interview to promote the return of the popular series, co-stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki talked about how the tone of the show will be very similar to how things were in Season 1, the ways in which their characters would be different now and that they think fans will enjoy getting back to the basics of what they loved about the show, in the first place. Jensen also shared what it was like to make his directorial debut this season. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: Will the tone of this season have a similar feel to Season 1?
Jared: Yes, so far. We never know what’s going to get into the writers’ heads, which is brilliant and amazing, but right now, we are very much back to Season 1. This season, I’m more like the original Dean, and this season’s Dean is more like the original Sam. We’re not just nixing the whole religion idea. We know that there are angels, arc-angels and demons, but now religion is a part of our lives, almost like a normal person, as opposed to being fundamentalist and waking up and going, “What’s the next religious thing to do?” It’s there and we can’t deny it, and we can use it to our advantage and make everything work for each other.
This year, we’re fighting the big baddies. In Season 1, we would fight a shape shifter, but now we’re finding out where shape shifters came from and fighting the Alpha. That’s really exciting. We can’t just go back and re-tell the same stories, but we can tell new stories and get back to the show that Jensen and I signed onto and we’re really excited to play. We’re not going to forget everything that’s happened in the last five years, but that will now be a part of the story, as opposed to the whole story. Honestly, where can you go after Lucifer jumps into a cage in Hell?
Jensen, what do you think about the new tone for this season?
Jensen: I like it. Last season, there was some definite finality to a five-year story arc. Season 1 is still my favorite season because of the formula. I like the monster-of-the-week thing. I like the simpleness of that story and the way it was. So, the fact that we’re pressing reset on the whole show is refreshing for me. We’ve had five years with these guys, so we’ve had all of that history, and now we’re getting back to square one and widdling it back down to its simplest form, and I just like that formula better.
What do fans have to look forward to now?
Jensen: I would definitely say getting back to the basics of what we all fell in love with, in the beginning. To perpetuate that story into more seasons would have just been dragging a story along. I’m very proud to be a part of a show that stuck to their guns and was like, “You know what? We’ve got five years of this story, and then we’ll go from there.” I would say in Season 3 or 4, they started really looking at where they were going to take it. Eric [Kripke] is an amazing writer and was like, “I’m not going to stretch this out and string the fans along. I’m going to do what I wanted to do, and then we will go from there.” So, they started coming up with ideas, and Sera [Gamble] really got involved. I’m excited, as the fans are, to see what lays ahead, as far as the show. For me, this is the most anticipated season since Season 2 because it’s like, “Okay, now what?”
Jared, what is Sam now?
Jared: I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me, but as far as I know, Sam is Sam. Sam is a different type of Sam, that we’ve seen glimpses of, but that his conscience, sense of guilt and shame and responsibility, and his emotional side, has prohibited him from being. He’s shoot first, ask questions later. He’s like, “Sure, it sucks that this person who’s possessed is the mother of three, but we have to take care of the possession first, and if she’s lost, I’m sorry. What can you do? We can’t just leave her, otherwise she’ll kill them too.” He’s very reasoning and tactical, and his reasoning makes mathematical sense. He’s not heartless, by any means, but he accepts collateral damage now. Whereas Sam of yester-year was like, “Let’s try to do the right thing, where nobody gets hurt and there’s no collateral damage,” now Sam is like, “You know what? We can’t solve everything. Let’s just try to fix the biggest problem and figure out the repercussions later.”
How will what happened last season affect him this season?
Jared: I think Sam is in a tough spot because it’s not that Sam has bad intentions, but both in starting the apocalypse and in being possessed by Lucifer, he has learned that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the old adage says. Sam has tried this good intentions route for 100-something episodes and been burned and burned. Now he’s like, “What kind of idiot expects different results from the same actions? That’s the definition of insanity. I’m going to start doing something different and maybe solve problems that way.”
This is not even an angry Sam this year. We’ve seen angry Sam. This is just very reasoning Sam. It’s not, “I’m angry and you’re going to die,” or “I’m angry and you’re going to get hurt.” It’s like, “You’re bad, so you’re going to die. I’m sorry if you leave anybody in the wake.” I don’t want to say it’s a wiser Sam, but it’s a different Sam. It’s a Sam that’s been to Hell and now is back. It’s a Sam that’s been to Heaven and is back. It’s a Sam that’s died and been possessed and seen possessions, and he’s like, “Listen, I don’t want to talk about it. Why would I want to talk about it? I’m out. I can breathe fresh air, I can be with my brother, I can drive a car and have a beer. Why would I want to talk about Hell?” It’s just beyond his reasoning. Sam’s like, “I’m fine. I’m out. I’m happy about it. Now, I just want to do the right thing.” It’s a weird zen. It’s not a Buddhist, non-violent zen. It’s like, “I’m better, so let’s go kill bad things.” It’s a weird dichotomy and juxtaposition.
How has that been to play?
Jared: Oh, it’s great. In the premiere episode, we find out that Sam is back and that he has been back for awhile. At first, Dean is doing the chick route. He’s like, “Why didn’t you let me know? It was so hard for a year. I was drinking, I was crying, I was in pain, I was reading every book and looking everywhere I could to try to fix it and find out what happened to you and make things better.” And, Sam is like, “You promised me you wouldn’t. You shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry you were hurt, but I made you promise and you broke your promise.” Dean is taken aback because he’s like, “Sam is heartless.”
Usually, Sam would be like, “I’m so sorry Dean. Let’s talk about it. Let’s go for a drive.” And now, Sam is like, “Listen, I’m sorry it was tough, but you promised me you wouldn’t dwell on it. You promised me you’d go live with this woman and this kid and try to live a normal life.” Once again, Sam has been doing what he thought was for the better for Dean. Sam has been out for awhile, but Dean has a woman that he loves who loves him back, and a kid that he loves who loves him back, so why would he go, “Hey, I’m back. Let’s hit the road.” To Sam, it’s heartless not leaving him in the dark. He doesn’t want to say, “Hey, by the way, this life that you’re living right now isn’t going to last forever.” Sam wanted Dean to be able to live in blissful oblivion, so it’s a bit of a strain because Dean feels like he’s been lied to, just by omission. Sam hasn’t been lying, but he hasn’t exactly been telling the truth. They have some things to work out.
Jensen, what was it like to direct an episode this season? Were you nervous about doing that?
Jensen: No. I’d say that if I went onto a set that I hadn’t been on, every day for the past five years, I would have been nervous. If I was surrounded by a bunch of unfamiliar faces, then I would have been like, “Oh, my gosh, I hope I don’t mess this up.” But, that crew is like family to me.
The producers, the writers and everybody surrounding the show gave me their full support, so the confidence that everybody had in me, gave me confidence in what I was doing. Whether or not it worked, I had no idea, but at least I was confident. Bob Singer called me, after I was done shooting, and he had seen the dailies and said, “I haven’t seen anything cut together yet, but I will say that you are a very confident director. You can take that as a compliment.”
Why did you choose that particular episode to direct?
Jensen: I didn’t. They basically said, “We’re going to give you an episode to direct next season,” and I was like, “Let me know when to show up.” It was nice because they did make an effort to write me out of it, which gave me the opportunity to just be a director on set. I think I only acted in three days of the eight, so for five of those days, I just showed up in my street clothes, threw the headset on and called, “Action!,” which was great.
Was it weird to direct yourself?
Jensen: As an actor, I look at scenes much differently than I would look at them as a director, and I never realized that until it actually happened. For example, there was one scene where Dean has a phone call with Bobby, and there were some definite levels of emotion there, talking about Sam and what’s going on, so it was a fairly dramatic phone call. As an actor, I was reading it, and it was about a page long with a lot of levels to play and a lot going on in the scene. As a director, I was like, “I can shoot this in one shot.” So, I shot it and did the scene and then, when I was done, I was still in that actor frame of mine. I was like, “Wait, there’s got to be more shots here. The scene is bigger than one shot.” But, as a director, it wasn’t. I could cover it all. So, I was battling with myself. I was directing myself, which was easy because I didn’t have to convince an actor to do something.
SUPERNATURAL returns for Season 6 on The CW on September 24th