Well SPNFamily, the wait is almost over. Hellatus always seems endless and then suddenly it’s about to end and I’m not sure I’m ready! There’s more anticipation for Season 10 than I’ve felt in a while, from both the actors and the fans, and it’s building to a fever pitch right now. Kudos to the CW for giving us a Supernatural retrospective tomorrow night, which is certain to amp up the anticipation even more. It’s a good thing it’s fall break at my university for the next few days, because I’m pretty sure my excitement would have precluded any sort of coherent teaching anyway.
We thought we’d share some thoughts and some favorite moments from the last Supernatural convention in Dallas as we wait for the season to officially kick off. Moments that remind us why we’re still head over heels in love with this Show and immeasurably grateful for this diverse, passionate, sometimes-argumentative-but-tremendously-supportive fandom.
My favorite thing from DallasCon, hands down, was the celebration of Rob Benedict’s birthday. We’ve talked with most of the cast more than once about how they have all become bonded, as much from the experience of hitting the road and doing conventions together as from working together on Supernatural. Some of the actors never even shared the small screen, but they’ve become close friends after spending weekends together and singing karaoke together and travelling the world together to meet the fans. That closeness was evident as Jared, Jensen, Misha, Tahmoh and Richard surprised Rob on the day of his actual birthday.
Jensen came out carrying a gigantic cake which looked like it had all 44 of the appropriate candles flaming on it. The boys’ entrance onstage is always spectacular, as far as I’m concerned, but this time the description was literal. It wasn’t just the cake, though. It was the expression on Jensen’s face – he was practically beaming, clearly so happy to have surprised a good friend. I found myself beaming too.
Jared came out holding a bunch of helium balloons. He looked every bit the beaming joyful friend that Jensen did. And Jared is such a physical guy that he expresses that joy with his entire body. You know the saying “jumped for joy”? That was Jared. He was clearly over the moon about being able to give Rob such a celebration — and Rob, who’s a physical guy himself — responded with an answering joyous leap.
Misha was whistling his own exuberance, as you can see. He came out with the presents, setting them up as Rob blew out the candles on his cake and accepted the balloons. I sort of felt like I was watching the Supernatural cast version of a shower, with Misha in the role of host, as he carefully arranged the gifts and then they all gathered around to watch Rob open them.
The party ‘theme’ was that the gifts were for Rob’s “stroke kit” — a reference to the fact that Rob had a stroke a year ago at the Toronto Con, and is now fully recovered thanks in part to the quick life-saving action of his fellow cast members now gathered onstage. (Rob has also been an inspiration to others who have suffered strokes – read more in our last interview with him here) They joke about it now that Rob is back to 100%, so the theme made sense. Sort of. As soon as Rob started opening the gifts, we all realized that you needed to say it fast to grasp the actual theme…
Vaseline was the first gift. Oh. OH. Jensen, always the diplomat, noted that it was helpful in getting out of tight spots. Jared added, “Or getting into…” with a mischievous smile. Jensen’s reaction was priceless. His head whipped around so fast it looked like he was in danger of whiplash, as he fixed Jared with an incredulous “Did you just say that?” look. Next came tissues, followed by a photo op pic of Matt Cohen straddling a chair sans clothes, which Misha helpfully held up to the camera so we could all share in that rather attractive visual. By this time, Rob was hysterical. Mark Sheppard gave him a Louden Swain CD — signed by Mark Sheppard. Rob’s reaction? Priceless.
I could have watched the boys party all day, to be honest. It was touching that they wanted to make Rob’s day special, and it was also touching that they wanted to share it, in a way, with all of us. The whole thing seemed to evoke that ‘reciprocal relationship’ that we’ve written about in all our books. It felt good, and Rob’s heartfelt thanks afterwards felt genuine. “I had thought I might be a little down being away on my birthday,” he said, “but this is turning out to be one of the best birthdays ever.”
Awwwww. SPN Family, you guys.
Speaking of family, it was also nice to see Gen come out onstage, and to hear the roar of support and encouragement the crowd gave her. The Ackles and Padalecki families seem so close now, literally and figuratively, living and hanging out in Austin on the weekends. So it was nice to see Jensen and Jared welcome Gen onstage — and to hear the fans welcome her too.
Another favorite moment was when Osric Chau crashed Misha’s panel dressed as an Elopus in a tribute to GISHWHES, which was a great experience for Osric this year. (You can read more about his GISHWHES team in our interview with Osric from VanCon). What made this a great moment was Misha’s reaction to Osric’s cosplay. He immediately ducked under the tentacles and wanted to be enveloped in them — and Osric, of course, happily complied. The result was oddly touching, and just another indication of how close this cast is — how much genuine affection and respect they have for each other and how supportive they are of each other’s projects.
Osric’s tribute to GISHWHES was also powerful for many fans, whose lives were also impacted by the experience. It was yet another moment when that reciprocal relationship was evoked by what was happening onstage.
Since Louden Swain, aka Elastic Waste Band, has been gracing the cons as the house band, amazing musical moments have been happening too. The Saturday night cabaret is a highlight of the cons, with Louden Swain playing some of my all-time favorites and many of the actors taking a turn at the mike.
Osric told us how nervous he was the first time he played guitar and sang in front of a crowd of fans, but he seems to be thoroughly enjoying it now — and so are we! Gil McKinney has a beautiful voice and musical training, and he told us that he’s loving having the opportunity to perform, especially with a talented band like Louden Swain (Look for more in our exclusive interview with Gil coming up soon). Richard Speight also was in a band once upon a time, and wowed the crowd with a rendition of “Amy”.
I love hearing them sing, and I love how supportive they all are of one another. They encourage, support, sing back-up, or grab an instrument and play along. Mark played tambourine while Richard sang, and took over as drummer for an emotional rendition of Carry On My Wayward Son that had the entire ballroom singing. Jared jumped up and played rhythm as Jensen sang “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” (and did a stint as back-up dancer too, which was awesome). Even Creation’s Adam Malin took to the keyboards for a few numbers – he has a band too.
Look at how into it they all are!
And of course there were antics. What would a Supernatural convention be without both the actors and the fans having some moments of just letting go and having fun? That’s what it’s all about, after all.
Matt, Richard, Misha and Rob posed for an impromptu advertisement for whatever it is they’re drinking. I don’t even know what it is, but with that group of guys selling it? Hell, sign me up for a case!
I have no idea what Richard and Rob are doing here, but it’s not unusual for someone to end up on the ground at a con — or the stage, to be more accurate. Richard sure looks happy about it, whatever it is.
Misha had his turn to hit the stage too. Here he kneels before Jared, who’s making a rather spectacular entrance once again. Jim looks far too pleased with the whole thing, doesn’t he? Actually Misha looks pretty happy too. Hmmm.
The actors aren’t above a little character bleed either. Here Richard shares his “Creation contract” with Mark, rolling it out aka Crowley’s endless scrolled agreement with Sam and Dean.
Jared rarely stays still during a Q & A. Here he demonstrates his flexibility, much to Jensen’s amusement.
“You wonder how he fits into the car?” Jensen quipped, pointing. Jared just grinned.
Even Creation got into the act, putting up some interesting notices that you have to read aloud to appreciate. Ahem.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make me the happiest at cons. There are way more smiles on people’s faces at cons than I encounter in my everyday life — for some reason, my students don’t spend the entire time I’m lecturing grinning at me. But look around at a convention while someone from the SPN cast is onstage, and you’ll see smiling faces everywhere.
I love to watch people walking out of photo ops, after just saying hello to Misha or Jared or Jensen or whoever. Sometimes people are smiling so wide their faces must ache. Sometimes they’re sobbing, overwhelmed by the experience. I’ve seen people pass out, and people shaking so much they couldn’t walk. Mostly, though, there are smiles. Con weekends often don’t feel much like real life — and that’s part of the appeal.
The actors seem to be in as good moods as the fans much of the time, as evidenced by their grins.
And let’s be honest — part of going to a con is also to see the actors, up close and personal. One of the things we wrote about in Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls was that sense of internalized shame that we sometimes feel about being fans, especially when it comes to doing something as subversive as not watching for the plot.
Bear with us for a few minutes while we indulge in a little flip-flop of the male gaze…
Thanks for indulging the detour into shallow. But really, that’s only a small part of what we love about this Show and this cast. We love the work they do and the amazing Show they bring us. We love their talent and their passion for Supernatural. We love the way they care about the fans and about making the world a better a place. And we love the way they care about each other.
Watching the actors greet each other with exuberant hugs and genuine affection always warms my heart. It would take another post to include all the hug moments (and a much better camera than we have), but here are a few of those from Dallas.
The actors aren’t the only ones having a blast at cons, of course. The fans get a chance to hang out and have fun too. Fridays at a con, you’ll see fans meeting face to face for the first time, hugging and sometimes crying. Relationships formed online can be powerful, especially within the shared community of fandom.
And it’s more than that — the cast and the fans get to have fun together. This is a cast who take the ‘reciprocal relationship’ seriously, and their interaction with fans runs the gamut from hysterical to heartwarming. Actually most of the time it’s both.
The cast indulged a young woman who wanted to ask a guy to a dance. While a friend recorded the invitation, Matt and Rob and Richard put together an impromptu invitation that nobody in their right mind could resist.
Mark repeatedly tried to fix his son up with eligible young fangirls by showing off photos on his phone. (Somewhere Mark’s son is cringing…)
And the fan who asked the last question of the Jared and Jensen panel ended up onstage and adorably flustered by Jared, Jensen, Mark, Rob and Richard all gathered around her. Unfortunately it was my least favorite question (What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done?) — why aren’t we as fans asking “what’s the most awesome thing a fan has ever done?” Luckily the cast doesn’t like answering that question either, so they deflected it in a lovely way and ended the panel on a high note.
That’s the way I’m ending this post of photos too, on a feel good note. Tomorrow night at this time I’ll be kicking everyone who can’t be quiet and attentive out of the living room and getting ready to watch the Supernatural Retrospective, with a big box of tissues at the ready. And Tuesday night, Season 10 will finally be here. I haven’t been this excited for a season premiere in a while, which is pretty spectacular for a show in its tenth season.
Check back here for episode reaction (once I regain my composure). For those of you going to Chicago Con, we’ll have a booth in the vendor’s room – come by and pick up a copy of Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls or Fan Phenomena: Supernatural at a special convention price. Misha and Richard would love to sign the chapters they wrote in Fan Phenomena for you in the autograph line. And of course Jensen, Jared, Misha, Richard, and many more appear in Fangasm, and they’d love to sign that too. If you’re not going to ChiCon, you can get your copy of Fangasm or Fan Phenomena by clicking the links at the top of the page.
Here’s to S10!