The Supernatural convention in Dallas is always special – for one thing, this year it included a pig named Icarus who stole everyone’s hearts, including Jared, Jensen and Misha. Also, it’s in the state the boys call home, and that means Jared and Jensen are more laid back than usual. Just as the guest actors and crew have said many times, it’s the guys at the top who set the tone for the rest of the set, and it’s the same with a convention. If Jared and Jensen are relaxed and having fun being with family – both their actual families and their SPNFamily — it seems to make everyone else at the con relaxed too. And they were definitely having fun – look at those smiles!
Jared’s parents and Jensen’s parents, grandmother Dorothy, and brother and sister-in-law all came to join in the fun. We had the pleasure of chatting briefly with Donna and Alan Ackles, who somehow always remember that we write books on their son’s show, and the privilege of being introduced to Dorothy as she attended her first con. A newbie! She seemed to be having a lot of fun watching Jared and Jensen ham it up with the fans in photo ops and listening to Jensen do his meet and greet. Both the boys’ families seem very proud of their sons – and rightly so!
Here are a few tidbits from Jensen’s meet and greet – as always, not a transcript and not verbatim quotes, just Lynn’s more-or-less okay memory. This isn’t the entire meet and greet, but it’s some of what we remember, and a few of the things that made it special for us.
One of the great questions (fandom, you rock for your great questions!) was about Dean being a “pop culture nerd”. The fan asking the question wondered if pop culture was sometimes an escape for Dean from his indisputably difficult life. Fandom can sometimes be a healthy escape, whether it’s sci fi television, vampire novels, films, or football. Is Dean’s escape ‘Dr. Sexy, M.D.’?
Jensen laughed and said he didn’t think Dean was necessarily a fan of vampire novels or whatever (pick your pleasure…), but that he and Sam probably have a lot of down time between working cases, so they’re stuck in crummy motel rooms and Dean watches a lot of tv.
Jensen: (deadpan) Meanwhile, Sam’s probably reading War and Peace.
Sometimes Dean is also a mouthpiece for the writers’ nerdom. (Okay, and we admit we kinda loved hearing Jensen use the word ‘nerdom’. It was seriously adorable). Dean is a better character for expressing that than Sam, and Jensen finds it pretty funny.
Fans: (enthusiastically) We agree!
There were a lot of questions about the impact of Dean and Sam being Men of Letters and having a ‘home’ in the bunker. It’s been one of the biggest, most sweeping developments in the SPN universe in recent years, and fandom has been doing a bang-up job (as always) dissecting the implications of such a change. Apparently the cast and crew and writers have been doing the same, which is one of the things we love most about this Show. The ‘nerdom’ cuts across all parts of the ‘family’.
Jensen talked about how finding out he’s a legacy has changed Dean, who has always been something of a lone wolf. He relies on his brother, but that relationship is also a protective one. The Men of Letters has given Dean a renewed sense of purpose, one that impacts his identity, and a sense of belonging.
Random note: Every time Jensen couldn’t find the exact word for something he wanted to say, he’d exclaim, “Sorry, babybrain.” Oh yes, we remember those days.
There was a poignant moment when a fan asked if it was harder or easier for Jensen to let go of Dean after filming, now that he’s carried Dean with him for so long.
Jensen: Jared and I used to have to think about something else to get emotional, but now we’re so in tune with these characters. I know what Dean would feel if he lost his brother, or if he’s scrambling to save his brother’s life, so when we feel those emotions now we’re not even breaking character.
And that right there is why the acting on this Show almost never feels like acting. Dean is feeling as Dean, Sam is feeling as Sam – and it shows. No wonder we have to watch Show with an entire box of tissues nearby.
Jensen said that while he uses a lot of his own experience and his emotions with Dean, he can focus on the aspects that are not like Dean and separate himself more easily from the character when he’s on hiatus.
Jensen: At least I think I can. Then sometimes Danneel will say ‘Stop using your Dean voice!’
He paused after answering this question and wondered aloud what it would be like when the Show ends and he doesn’t go back to being Dean….to putting on the boots and driving the Impala.
For a few moments, we were all caught up in thought, wondering what it would be like for all of us when hiatus won’t end and we won’t have this Show to go back to. A few people in the room might have been a little emotional. Lynn might have been one of them.
Someone lightened the mood by pointing out that perhaps Jensen will bring one of the Impalas home with him, and he brightened immediately. Somehow we think that’s a very good possibility. You can’t separate ‘Dean’ and his baby.
Let’s lighten the mood even more with another picture of that seriously adorable pig, along with three seriously adorable Supernatural boys, shall we?
Lynn’s question was also about the Men of Letters.
Lynn: Someone – Bob Singer or Jeremy Carver, I think – commented that the bunker was a home for Dean, but a workplace for Sam. That was an interesting comment that has caused a lot of discussion in fandom. Do you think Dean and Sam feel differently about the bunker?
Jensen said that part of the difference is just that Dean and Sam have different personalities. He does think Dean considers it a home, and that he’s wanted a home – a place to decorate, to display his guns, a comfortable bed. For Sam, it’s more like the place where you have a store on the bottom and live in the apartment on top, which I guess means it’s a little of both.
Lynn: I think my psychologist explanation is that Sam’s life was disrupted so early that he doesn’t even remember having a home, but Dean was four when Mary died, and he’s always longed for the home he was old enough to remember.
Jensen: (throwing his hands up) You answered your own question! And you went to school for that, so let’s just go with your answer.
Everyone else: *throws up hands along with Jensen*
There was some discussion of how much input the actors have into the dialogue or the finished product that we see on our tv screens. Jensen said that sometimes even when the writing is great, what you see on paper doesn’t sound like actual conversation when spoken, so sometimes he changes things to be ‘more Dean-like’. Sometimes a scene as blocked doesn’t work in a location either – last week there was a new director who was trying hard to shoot a scene with Jensen and Misha as written that was logistically impossible, and they were rapidly losing daylight. Jensen was able to suggest a minor change that made it quicker and easier to shoot.
Fan: That’s your director experience showing.
Jensen: We’re all on the same team with this show.
He won’t be directing this year, but hopes to next year – if there is a next year!
Directing is something that Jensen he admits he puts a lot of pressure on himself, so he tends to be over-prepared. He looked up to the amazing director Kim Manners. Kim always told Jensen that he would direct one day, and promised that he’d be right there with him when he did. Jensen still feels that Kim is looking over his shoulder, so he wants to do it right. He compared it to cramming for a test, wanting to have the shot list completed before filming starts.
The hardest part of directing, he says, is casting. As an actor who’s gone through the stresses of the audition process himself, when you’re doing your best in front of an often tired and disinterested group of people, Jensen says he finds it heartbreaking when an actor is auditioning and the nerves take over.
Jensen also talked a little about the Impala’s new engine, which now actually sounds like an Impala. Apparently they used to dub in the engine sound of a 427 Shelby Mustang (we don’t know what that is, but he clearly does, and we’re betting a lot of fans do too). Jensen said he used to be embarrassed when fans would come to watch filming and he’d be driving the Impala and it wouldn’t sound anything like an Impala would.
We love how much the cast and crew really cares what the fans think, and want their experience of the show to be authentic and rewarding in every way. It shows, doesn’t it?
He also admitted to enjoying ‘punching it and doing 360s.’
Fans: are not surprised
Someone asked if after Supernatural is over (oh no, are we back to thinking about that?? Where are my tissues??), he might work with his dad again.
Alan Ackles (from the back of the room) I don’t know, he’s so difficult to work with…
Fans and rest of Ackles Family: LOL
It always seems like the allotted half hour is over in the blink of an eye, which we suppose says something good about how much fun we’re having. Jensen said his goodbyes with the heartfelt appreciation he and Jared always express any time they get to interact with fans.
Stay tuned for lots more from DallasCon, which will probably always be known as the con where Misha surprised Jensen and Jared onstage with a pig. More on that soon, with additional photographic evidence, as well as tidbits from Jared’s meet and greet and some in-depth conversations with two of our favorite people, Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr.
If you’re enjoying our live tweets and con coverage, you might enjoy our new book too – “Fangasm” takes you along on our wild and crazy roadtrip through Supernatural fandom over the past six years, from conventions to behind the scenes on the SPN set. Shipping now from Amazon!