It’s All About the Fans: Jensen Ackles at VanCon

Credit: Karen Cooke Photography

Jensen Ackles started his semi-private Q & A with a question for the gathered fans – “Has anyone embarrassed themselves yet at the con?” He seemed certain that Misha must have accomplished at least a bit of embarrassment (we wonder why….)

Fans: Well, there was Russ Hamilton and a certain stripper pole…..

Jensen: (deadpans) Going to a coffee shop with Russ could be embarrassing.

The group then launched into some questions of their own. A fan asked Jensen if his third time directing an episode of Supernatural had been more or less difficult?

Jensen: This time, there were lots of scenes with Dean, so I’m on camera more, which is a bit of a challenge. When I’m just acting, I can clear my mind and really not worry about anything, which leaves me very open to the nuances of a scene. You need to be able to be in the moment with the other person, be open to the scene unfolding between you and the other actor. Sometimes guest actors memorize their lines for days, and they know them so well, but then the other actor says or does something different, and you need to be able to actually react to that, you have to be open to that, so it can’t be overly rehearsed. Otherwise you’re just reciting lines. Kim Manners used to say that scenes are about the nuances, the subtext, what makes the scene unique.

Jensen paused at that point and laughed.

Jensen: Sorry that was sort of long on explanation!

Fans: (silently and rather sarcastically) Right, terrible hardship, not interesting at all…..

A fan asked about Season 9 and 10 being a done deal, everyone in the room grinning happily at the prospect.

Jensen: Not officially, we still have to get picked up, but it looks good – it helps that the new head of the network is really behind the show.

Fans: (are still grinning and nodding)

Jensen: But we still have to get picked up — you guys still need to keep watching!

Fans: (with perhaps a little sarcasm) Oh no!

The next question was from a person who said she was new to the fandom, attending her very first con.

Jensen: And you’re still here?? Most people would have jumped ship by now!

The intrepid newbie fan bravely remained, luckily, and wondered how Jensen thought the Show would eventually end.

Fans: End? What? *lalalalalala we can’t hear you*

Jensen: We’ve said before, I think they’d go out in a blaze of glory, like Butch and Sundance. Give each other a wink and then there’s a freeze frame, so you never really are sure about what happens. And then if there’s a movie, you can pick up there, and if there’s not…

Fans: (silently) Ohhhhh, a movie….okay, we’re listening again.

Another fan asked about Jensen being a musician, like so many of his friends.

Jensen: I don’t consider myself a musician, I’m a lover of music. It relaxes me — when I come home I can sort of strum the day away.

Fans: What about how you’ve played with Steve Carlson?

Jensen: (laughing) Steve is such a talented musician, that he can rope me in.

Fans (are grateful to Steve Carlson)

Another fan asked if he had a pet project that he’d like to do.

Jensen: There are a couple of stories I’d love to tell from the acting side, that I’d like to develop – and I don’t really know what that entails, but I know people who do, so I’d enlist their help. Oh, and I wouldn’t let myself direct it!

Fan (protesting) But you could, you’re a seasoned vet.

Jensen: (wryly) Well, I’m seasoned….

Fans: lol

We asked Jensen about one of the new books we’ve been signed to write on Supernatural – more on that good news soon.

Lynn: There’s a new series of books called Fan Phenomena, and there are volumes on some of the most popular shows, films, and actors of all time. And Supernatural is one of them – the only currently running and relatively new show to be included, so we’re really excited. Why do you think Supernatural is such a fan phenomenon?
Jensen seemed as excited as we are – he wanted to know what other fan phenomena properties were on the list, and raised his eyebrows in appreciation at being in such good company. Then he got thoughtful about the reasons Supernatural is on that list, and deserves to be.

Jensen: Really, I think it’s because of the fans. It’s you guys. There was a core group of you who latched onto this little show and took your passion to the internet and discovered there a whole social universe around the show, and that sustained the passion. It’s a great show, but a lot of it is the fans. You’ve gotten us the People’s Choice awards and the TV Guide cover.

Fans: (are beaming)

Jensen: And I think what it is about this show, it’s about the relationship between the two guys. Eric Kripke told us long ago, we can have ghosts and monsters and whatever, but this show hinges on the two of you, it’s about you two guys. And it’s about their complicated relationship, these are two guys who shouldn’t even get along, who are so different. You know, it’s like a good story is either about two ordinary guys in extraordinary circumstances, or two extraordinary guys in ordinary circumstances. And this is the first, two ordinary guys who are put into extraordinary circumstances. And I think people really related to that.

Fans: Definitely.

Jensen: (laughing) Good thing Jared and I got along!

Lynn: I think you and Jared can take some of the credit too, for making Sam and Dean so believable.

Right, fandom?

Another fan asked Jensen if he had ever had any weird stuff on his resume, like Misha Collins apparently had when he was just starting out.

Jensen: I’m sure I did at one time. Though I don’t think “acting on camera” is on most actors’ resumes…

Shhhh, don’t tell Misha!

A fan asked Jensen what he was best at, and the actor shared his view of himself and what he’s good at.

Jensen: I’ve done a lot of things, I always played a lot of sports, but I never really exceed at anything.

Fans: (are protesting that self assessment)

Jensen: I was never the best, never the tallest – (‘That was Jared’, he interjects with a laugh) – but I was always on the first string team. I’m good at a lot of things, but not the best. I’m a good actor, but not the best out there.

Fan: Yes you are – well, okay, maybe there’s one better.

Jensen: (deadpans) Not on our show!

Another fan asked how difficult it is doing a show where there are only two main characters.

Jensen: It’s not so different really, because even with a lot more cast on a show, you develop an on-camera relationship usually between two or maybe three people, so it’s not that different. Just a heavier workload. The writers want to keep it about the brothers.

Another fan asked an interesting question. What advice (if any) Jensen had gotten from fandom?

Jensen: (ponders) I’d have to think about that to come up with something specific, but I’ve learned a lot of things.

Fan: Like how crazy we are?

Jensen: (laughs) No, in all honesty, like I said, the collective has brought such a powerful impact to the show. It’s great to know that what you’re doing is going to translate to you guys. The awareness of that is a great motivating factor in a time of need. Being able to see your faces at these cons is so great for us — we know who we are doing this for. We see what it does for people. When we’re tired and it’s raining for 6 months and we’re shooting all night, we think “we’re gonna have something to tell them!”

Fans: (are grateful)

Another fan asked how Jensen and Jared memorized so much dialogue.

Jensen: Jared and I can read through our lines twice and we’ll have it down, two pages of dialogue. It’s like a muscle, the more you work it. And we know the characters so well and the writers do too, so it flows, there’s a certain cadence to these scenes. We run it in the makeup trailer when we’re getting ready, and then we do the run-through, and now I’ve got the spatial associations too. The scene takes shape then, the lines take shape within the movements, which also helps the continuity editor, so when you cut and then pick up again, nobody’s arm is in the wrong position.

Fan: Is it a challenge to play a character for eight seasons?

Jensen: The challenge is keeping it fresh. The writers, we’re lucky, are still passionate about the show and the characters, so it’s keeping the passion alive. In my opinion, the show is really good, so it hasn’t been that hard. I am playing Dean a little differently this season –

Fans: (interrupting to gasp) WHAT??

Jensen: (laughing) Not that differently! Not a completely different guy, he’s still the same guy, but he has a bit of an edge to him. I’m sure you guys will probably pick out when I don’t do that well.

The lone male fan in the group asked the next question.

Fan: So what’s your next challenge?

Jensen: Jeeez, is that not enough? Whaddya want from me? Song and dance, shine shoes? What??

(He helpfully acts out a little song and dance)

Fans: lol

Jensen: So far actually I’m pretty satisfied. I guess photography would be.

At this point, he pulls out his iPhone with a burst of boyish enthusiasm.

Jensen: Here, I can show you guys – I leave my nice camera at home and just use my iPhone.

(Shows every person in the room the photo he took of the front of the Impala – a gorgeous black and white close-up).

Fans: Ooooooh.

Jensen: (proudly) I put some antique on it. I just got down (he crouches on the floor to demonstrate) and shot it real close. I tried abstract painting for a while, but I’m not good at painting or drawing or whatever.

Fans: Well, you’re good at this!

And pretty damn good at playing Dean Winchester too!

Stay tuned for more from VanCon from Richard Speight, Matt Cohen and Misha Collins. We had a blast!

53 thoughts on “It’s All About the Fans: Jensen Ackles at VanCon

  • Thanks as always! Great report! Jensen is always so thoughtful with his answers it’s a pleasure to read. I wish there’d be more direct Dean spoilers though.

  • Thanks so much for this. I always love reading your recaps of the Jensen M&G’s. I love the thought that goes into his answers and appreciate the intellect behind the processes. It’s easy to see why those he directs, including guest stars, always praise his skills as a director. He really is able to see beyond himself in a scene, to see the big picture and why it works, or doesn’t. He seems ever curious and eager to learn. I think Jensen would succeed at anything he chose to do. Thanks again for a wonderful recap.

  • Thank you SO much for your wonderful report, especially for those of us who couldn’t be there. Always glad to see interesting questions from the fans and I appreciate how thoughtful and detailed Jensen is in his responses. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Jensen’s interviews about the show and characters are always the best. That man really knows SPN.

  • Thanks so much! I’ve never been to a con before (hopefully someday!!) but your reports make me feel like I was there. I am sure it must be hard for the actors to find that balance between having personal lives and having them private and then still wanting and needing to engage the fans as part of the success of their show. These guys do a great job!

  • What a chore, to have to go and report on these sessions. How you must suffer for us!

    I would have loved to see a song and dance routine from Jensen. Please tell him from me that he is totally underrating himself as a musician. I got into the fandom because of his singing voice and his musicianship, and am DYING for the day that he embraces that at last. His talent is undeniable!

    • It’s true, Sue. You cannot imagine how much we suffered for this report. lol. And hey, it seems Steve Carlson is on a campaign to convince Jensen of his musical talent too. Go Steve!

  • “Kim Manners used to say that scenes are about the nuances, the subtext, what makes the scene unique.

    Jensen paused at that point and laughed.”

    I can see this so clearly in my mind’s eye-such is the gift of Mr. Ackles and your reports of his M&Gs! This right here is the biggest reason that I love his acting so much; and how like Jensen to credit the late, great KM yet again. So much love for both of these men…

    I haven’t been as excited about an upcoming season of Supernatural since after the S4 finale when we thought Dean had a separate and all of his own role in the myth-arc, too. *Fingers crossed* that they will allow him to keep that role in this one.

    Thanks for again sharing your semi-private time with the lovely and always sexy Jensen Ackles-always a great read.

  • What a great recap of what must have been a very interesting M&G. I agree that Jensen is a very talented actor, director and musician. And seems to be a great friend, also. I’m new to Supernatural-just got introduced to the show this year-by my 15 year old granddaughter. Have not attended a convention yet-but hope to make the Dallas 2013. I loved all the tweets from VanCon-reading about the fun everyone was having.

    • VanCon was amazing — SPN cons usually are. Hope you make it to Dallas in 2013 — and welcome to the best fandom ever!

    • That’s a lovely compliment, thank you. I think most of us have the same internal dialogue running through our heads 🙂

  • Thank you guys, as always, for bringing Jensen’s meet and greet to those of us who couldn’t be there. Your style of reporting really brings the conversations to life 🙂 And congratulations on the Fan Phenomena project – really looking forward to reading that!

    As always, your reports of Jensen at these meet and greets, just reinforces why I love him 🙂 His honesty and openness, including sharing his photography is really inspiring. I particularly loved Jensen’s comment about how when they are slogging through night-shoots in the rain that they think of the fans and it helps motivate them.

    I think it is really cool how, in a way, we fans go through the mirror image of Jensen and Jared’s experience. In that we fans have challenges, rainy days and difficult times in our own lives, but often it is the thought of being able to watch Supernatural that helps us through the tough times. A perfect symbiosis.

    And, hopefully, for 3 more seasons. Yay! Plus I am really excited to hear how he is playing Dean this season. Cannot wait for Season 8! 😀

    • Thank you! We’re SO excited about Fan Phenomena, and will have more news about that book soon. I loved knowing that Jensen and Jared think of the fans when they need an extra bit of motivation – it makes the relationship a truly reciprocal one 🙂

  • Jensen is such a lovely human being, inside and out. Makes me proud to call myself a fan of his. Thanks for all these amazing write-ups and congrats on the books.

  • Jensen is such a class-act so it’s not difficult to see why he has so many fans. He is multi-dimensional and people can relate to him which contributes to the success of the show. Jared is a great complement to Jensen in the show so he deserves his rightful share of the credit for the popularity of this show as well. I have viewed tv for more than a few decades and I can say without a doubt that no program has touched me the way that Supernatural has. I am so happy it may continue to 10 seasons. Long live Supernatural!

  • Thanks for this. Its funny their are many male fans who love the show, like me. But their are always to much fangirls at the conventions its like ure domain. We stay back and appreciate the internet.

    • We were noting at VanCon that there are definitely a few more male fans coming to the cons now — we hung out with three of them quite a bit. (Okay, that includes one who’s married to one of us, but still….) I’m sure it can be intimidating, but I think you’d find a warm welcome if you did venture into the mostly-fangirl space 🙂

  • Oh, I forgot to add how happy I was to hear him say that he’s playing Dean with an “edge” this season. I cannot wait to see more of DangerousDean-my favorite flavor of Dean-on my screen in S8! Thanks again.

  • I really love that despite how loud, obnoxious, attention-grabbing, and disingenuous Jared seems, Jensen always finds the time to say nice things about him. I’m positive that it must be a stretch to compliment someone like Jared but Jensen realizes that it’s the professional thing to do so he just grits his teeth and soldiers on. But then, after the courteousness is over with, we get the real Jensen. Not one on-stage Jensen who has to battle his co-star for a chance to speak. But the real Jensen. He isn’t aloof or otherworldly. He doesn’t hold himself higher than anyone. And that? That is why he is literally perfect. And I, for one, an ecstatic that this blog has a very clear bias toward him. That is so unusual in this fandom. Everyone wants to toss credit around where credit is not due (ie Jared, Jim). This blog is, in one word, amazing. Thank you so very much.

    Excited to hear Misha’s report. Now THAT is who should costar with Jensen Ackles on “Supernatural.”

    • Clearly, you are an extremely horrible judge of character. Because Jared is none of the things you listed. Without bias, I think anyone would say that. Funny. Jared Padalecki incites, for some dumb reason, so much hatred and animosity from this fandom. It’s borderline pathetic. Especially considering the very people you seek to elevate with your degradation of Jared (Jensen, Misha, et al) appear to be in total love with the guy. Also, if comments are moderated, and if that means the authors of this blog approve them, then the fact that they would allow such a blatant and unfounded attack on Jared Padalecki to grace this page is utterly disgusting.

      • Comments to this blog are only moderated to filter spam and other patently objectionable material and do not necessarily reflect our own views. We do not feel that it is our place to approve, disapprove or otherwise censor others’ views. (We have been the object of criticism ourselves from time to time, and those comments have stood as well, tempting as it might be to hit “delete”.)

        It is our hope that this can be a space for thoughtful conversation among fans, with enough room for differing viewpoints.

        Kathy and Lynn

      • I’m an excellent judge of character. You’re playing in the wrong field, here, little girl. Simply because you and others are unable to understand what literal crap Jared Padalecki is in both his profession (have you even seen his attempts at acting) and personality doesn’t mean Jensen’s fans are horrible judges of character. If you’d take a second from your fan delusions, you’d be able to see that the interactions between Jensen and Jared are not genuine. They’re as staged and put-on as the show itself is. You’ll notice Jensen’s facade slip every now and then. This convention has produced a plethora of videos and pictures to prove it. Seriously. Just take any random video. You’ll see Jensen laughing and playing around and contributing to that camaraderie, sure. But then you see him look away and you’ll see the slight eye roll. Or the thin-lipped annoyance when Jared speaks over him or interrupts him. Or the slight shift in posture indicating he’s becoming internally agitated by Jared and his antics. Jensen’s a damn good actor. And Jared is as obnoxious as his fans are ignorant and loves nothing more than to make certain the spotlight is always on him. Jensen’s going to slip every now and then. He isn’t shy or reserved. He’s forced into silence by Jared’s larger-than-life mouth and annoyingly exuberant personality. Any idiot can see that. Well, perhaps most idiots can. Jared’s fans don’t seem to be able to.

        It’s worse with Misha. Have you ever seen Jared and Misha together?

        Jared should have cut his losses (there’s a lot of ’em) and left the show in season 4 when the ENTIRE fandom turned against him. He was booed at conventions. But the lure of Jensen’s spotlight was too difficult for him to give up. Pathetic. He is pathetic. And needs to go away.

    • I have a take on how people may misinterpret Jared. First off, Jared and Jensen are different personalities that complement each other. Jared is naturally exuberant and will nervously chatter on during conventions or interviews. Jensen is naturally reserved and has deferred to Jared when he feels uncomfortable or does not know how to answer a question. This was more evident during the early conventions. Lately, Jensen has come out of his shell and is more outspoken. I think Jared has helped in this respect. Their public show of friendship is such that cannot be faked. They are close friends and I don’t think this would happen if they were resentful or jealous of one another. When Jensen is alone he tends to revert to his reserved manner. In my humble opinion both Jensen and Jared are sweetie pies.

    • Actually what we are, as we’ve confessed before, are Dean!girls — and thus often end up at the meet-and-greet of the guy who plays the character we’re besotted with (okay, that might be Lynn copping to besotted, but whatever….) But we’ve interviewed and chatted with both Jensen and Jared over the last six years, and honestly, they are both wonderful human beings and their friendship is heartwarming and genuine. We feel incredibly lucky to have fallen for a Show with such amazing cast and crew, with literally no exceptions. In both our current book and in the upcoming Fangasm, they talk about their friendship and their complementary personalities, which should shed a little light on the way they interact onstage as well — we’ll bring you some snippets here in the coming months. Along with more con tidbits, of course.

      • If you’re both Dean!girls then how can you objectively write about Jared and Sam in a positive light when you clearly have a bias toward Jensen and Dean? Seems a little contradictory when you’ll be charged with accurately representing both guys and their respective characters. If you favor one, what stops you wrong writing about one more or in a more approving light than the other?

    • It’s not usually my habit to reply on posts in fandom, especially the ones where there is negativity being spewed, but I’m honestly curious. You have every right to dislike Jared and have an opinion on his acting. (Personally, I am a fan of both men.) What I find confusing is your apparent disrespect for Jensen. You paint him as a man willing to actively deceive people to assist in keeping a man he (by your account) despises employed and popular. You mention a façade, but this means Jensen would keep up this façade during all the social functions they say they attend together- ie each other’s weddings, birthdays, and fun times out. This shines an incredibly uncomplimentary light on Jensen as a man desperate to keep up a lie for reasons I (because I’m an idiot?) don’t understand. You say that Jared overruns Jensen, which means you believe Jensen does not have the capability or willingness to stand up for himself.

      Like I said, I understand and support your right to dislike one, or love another above all…but you do so in a way that I find it shocking you would still want to be a fan of Jensen’s. You present him as a weak man willing to sacrifice his own personal happiness in order to continue working with someone he hates. I really want to know, why would you be a fan of his? And I mean of the man, looking beyond the obvious answer of his excellent acting.

      All that aside, I hope you can find a smoother road than the bitter one you travel. It must be exhausting to expend so much effort expressing this level of negativity.

  • That is thing that can be hard with the SPN fandom is the nastiness. I hope conventions are not like that. I have been Team Jensen from S1 Ep 1 however for me it’s the show and it would not be what it is without the chemistry from the very beginning between Jensen and Jared.

    • Whenever there’s passion, there’s passionate disagreement – but we agree with you about the chemistry making the Show special. Quite passionately, in fact 🙂

  • I don’t understand the vehemence with which “K” disagrees with other posters. It’s not necessary to talk down to others or called them “idiots”. Unless she (I’m assuming) knows Jensen and Jared personally, she does not have a corner on the truth of their relationship. So, she is stating her opinion like everyone else which may or may not be true. I like to believe that my interpretion is accurate but I admit I could be wrong. This does make me an idiot for believing that Jensen and Jared are both quality human beings. It is simply my opinion and belief. So unless she can produce some indisputable evidence that she is correct about her negative views then she should refrain from insulting others and making herself look bad.

    • Agreed, Pamela. None of us knows the ‘truth’ about either of the boys – we’ve spent some time with them and interviewed them, but wouldn’t presume to ‘know’ them. Our interactions with all the SPN gang — cast, crew, showrunners, etc — have all been so positive, though, that we can’t help but think they’re a pretty special group of people. Just like most of our fandom 🙂

      • Yes, that is what I believe also. I got side tracked and forgot to thank you for your awesome article. I also am a Dean/Jensen girl so I appreciate it anytime you can quote Jensen.

  • Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    My opinion is that “K” is an ‘excellent judge of character’ in the same way that Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rainman was an ‘excellent driver.’

    Arguing, is of course, futile, but logically how can it be that are there still so very many (misguided, according to K) Jared/Sam fans if the “ENTIRE” fandom turned against him in Season 4?

    The ‘entire’ fandom never does anything. Projecting your personal preference onto ‘the fandom’ is folly at best.

    Thank you as always for the great write-up of Jensen’s M&G.

    I’m curious to know what other TV shows besides Supernatural made the cut for the book?

    • Arguing is usually futile, you’re right, so we’re leaving that thread alone. The Fan Phenomena series includes Star Trek, Buffy, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, X Files, James Bond, and Lord of the Rings – as well as phenomena like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and Batman and Superman. We’re SO excited to have SPN included in such illustrious company! And we were thrilled that Jensen and Jared were excited too 🙂

      • Wow — that IS pretty rarified company for our Little Show That Could. That’s really cool. No wonder the Boys are excited. With all the TV shows that come & go and all the hard work that Jared & Jensen and the rest of the cast & crew put into the show, it must be very gratifying to have it recognized. For better or worse – something like Supernatural that inspires such passion in people is a rare (and awesome) thing.

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