Everyone who reads this blog or our books on Supernatural knows how much we enjoy chatting with the cast and crew of the Show, hearing their behind-the-scenes insights and being privy to their thoughts and feelings about the Show and the fans. We’ve interviewed Eric Kripke, Sera Gamble, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Osric Chau, Richard Speight, Rob Benedict, Kim Rhodes, Jim Beaver, Matt Cohen, Chad Lindberg, Gil McKinney, Serge Ladouceur….the list goes on and on. They’ve contributed fascinating insights to our books and we’re immensely grateful. But today’s interview is special – it’s our very first prop interview. Sure, we wrote an article in Supernatural Magazine about the amazing props department and got to chat with propmaster Chris Cooper and see the Colt and John Winchester’s journal and even the blow-up doll hanging in the props closet (see Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls for photographic evidence). But this week we were privileged to talk with one of the prop stars of the Show – the iconic Green Cooler of Winchester Feels.
And guess what? Like everyone else we’ve interviewed, GC was absolutely delightful. And professional in every way. Supernatural is a collaboration, as we all know. And GC fits right in.
Of course we all saw The Green Cooler featured prominently in last week’s episode, sitting between Sam and Dean as they clinked their beers and took a vacation by the lake. We couldn’t wait to ask GC about the filming of that episode (and what it was like to be between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki…)
Fangasm: You had a pivotal scene in the last Supernatural episode. What was it like to film that scene in between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki? Is it distracting acting opposite actors who look like them?
TheGreenCooler: Pivotal! My hinges know all about a strong pivot, so I’ll agree with you there. The roadside chats are always my favorite pieces of work to do on the show. And I was thrilled to find out that, after such a long time since any of those brotherly moments, I’d be coming back to join Sam and Dean in the very first scene we see them in with the aftermath of Dean’s humanity being returned. It really only seemed right. And I think a lot of people will agree, it was needed.
What’s it like to film….? Jared and Jensen are incredibly giving actors, even to props. I couldn’t ask for a better gig. Our prop master, Christopher Cooper, treats us wonderfully.
As for handsome looks, ‘Pala and I….and of course our many, many stunt doubles, aren’t slouches in the looks department, but looking at the boys is a bit… dizzying. Kim Rhodes and Lauren Tom have verified this. Even as a trained professional, you just find yourself forgetting what you’re supposed to do in your scenes. “Gosh, Jared and Jensen look particularly dreamy today, was I supposed to sit there silently and gloomily? Or sit there silently and triumphantly?” It’s sometimes a blessing that in scenes with them, I can’t see past anybody’s kneecaps. Getting to look right in their eyes is like going to see a hypnotist.
Your presence in that scene has been interpreted by fans as symbolic of a restored brotherly bond between the Winchesters. What acting choices did you make to portray that bond so powerfully?
Restored brotherly bond, eh…? I’d agree. It means they’re working at it, putting the time in, which is something that’s needed to happen for a while. I wouldn’t necessarily say that everything is fully resolved yet, but after such a long time at odds, it feels realistic that they have some things to hash out. The acting choices I made for this particular scene… I asked to not be completely full with fresh ice, to help me really find the headspace that they’d been out there for a while, enjoying each other’s company. I pretended I was wearing sunglasses too. And I tried to draw on what they were putting into the scene. Season nine saw them both checked out a bit from the relationship. Now they’re both showing up. I tried to really help convey that sense of presence, by also trying to be really THERE as a Cooler, while of course — not upstaging each of them. That space between them wasn’t incredibly uncomfortable space anymore, it was filled with things they’d been missing (beer and me and each other), and filled with things they’ve carried with them since they were kids (beer and me and each other) — I was the physical representation of that.
Most Supernatural fans know you from your recurring role on that Show. What other shows have you appeared on, and how do those sets compare to Supernatural?
I’m glad most Supernatural fans know me from this role and not any of the others. There are certain things actors and props should just be allowed to forget. So please don’t ask me about my time on Murder She Wrote. That old lady had everyone fooled, I’ll tell you that much. The sets are really no comparison. On Supernatural, you might not be the most important actor or prop that week. The story might not have anything to do with you. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to get the “Most Important Object In the Universe” treatment. That ship only sails but once, my friend. But you’re still given the privilege of working with this wonderful group of people. And you learn mighty quickly in this business, especially as a prop, sometimes you’re there to facilitate the greatness of others. You’re there to help them shine. How is that a bad thing? That should be something all co-stars want to write on their resume, “Exceptionally Good At Helping Others To Shine.” (Except the Blue Plastic Coolers, they can burn in a fiery landfill before I’ll ever help them shine. Igloo savages.)
Was it difficult breaking into show business, considering that you don’t have the stereotypical ‘matinee idol’ looks? Do you consider yourself a ‘character actor’?
I don’t?!?!? Nobody told me this! ……..Just kidding. Breaking into show business when you’re a prop is really right place, right time. When you’re from a certain era, it also involves your prop master having a sense of nostalgia. I have the ability to rust. I embrace my age, unlike too many coolers I see entering the business today. If my chrome gets a little worn, if my paint gets a little chipped.. it’s telling a story. These kids made of all plastic need to ask themselves, “What kind of story do you want to tell?”
Are your parents proud of your acting career, or did they want you to go into a different profession? if so, what?
My parents are very proud of me, my mother in particular. Growing up was a bit tumultuous at times, because my father was a Coleman Grill. So you might say things would get a bit heated between all of us. When I was young, my parents split up for quite a few years, but today they’re back together and still trying to make it work. (THERE IS NOTHING TO THE UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMORS THAT I WAS REALLY FATHERED BY A VINTAGE “THERMOS” COOLER. AND I WILL NOT DISCUSS THAT. JUST BECAUSE I AM A CELEBRATED PROP DOES NOT MEAN MY LIFE IS AN OPEN BOOK TO THE PUBLIC. …Unless of course you are a prop who is an open book. Then it sucks to be you.)
So many coolers grow up thinking they want to be on TV, but it’s not on a network drama, it’s for the NFL. Overpaid football players dumping Gatorade on each other. That’s the dream. To be the sports drink cooler. I’m glad I can give the young coolers out there something else to shoot for.
Can you talk about the physical demands of a scene like this week’s? What is it like to have Jensen Ackles’ hands inside you and is it difficult to remain…. unemotional… at those times?
The physical demands get rough if we’re shooting a really emotional scene. There have been truly heartbreaking Roadside Chats. Dean confessing what he did in Hell, Sam and Dean having their final beer in “Swan Song”…. I’m an emotional object. And those scenes make me want to just condense everywhere, which you’re not really supposed to do, ESPECIALLY if it’s not your coverage. The moment isn’t about you, and if your face is covered in water and catching the light when you shouldn’t… It’s a real problem. But my co-stars are just too damn good at their jobs! A scene like this week isn’t nearly as bad. I gotta just stay put, convey my silent monologue of Brotherly Love, and try not to wiggle my hinges at all.
I’ve had the pleasure of both of these two great men putting their hands inside me. It has never been a bad experience. I’ve also had the opportunity to support Jensen’s butt. Also not a bad experience. It IS hard to remain unemotional being at buttcheek level on those “sulfur for breakfast” days, however. Of if they decide they want to store farts to unleash upon an unsuspecting Misha.
In all the scenes you’ve had on Supernatural, what is your favorite and why?
The end of Fresh Blood. Dean sitting back with a beer while teaching Sam how to fix the Impala. Why? It has everything. It has Brotherly Love that makes your heart nearly explode, I get to provide a supporting role to buttcheeks, the music is great, AND it’s got my lady love in the shot showing off some tasteful nudity under her hood. What’s not to love about that scene?
Have the boys ever pranked you? If so, can you tell us about it?
See gas related incidents above. Also… there have been times I’m wondered if before they put their feet on me, if they choose their stinkiest, grossest shoes as a joke, to see if I’ll break. I’ve come pretty damn close! Or they’ll get all handsy and start playing with my drainage spot when they know I have to keep perfectly still for a shot.
What’s next for the Green Cooler on Supernatural? Any spoilers?
Nice try, ladies, but you’ll get no spoilers from me!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your loyal fans?
Here is what I’d like to share — and is my main reason for being as active on twitter as I am (and I beat Old Man Ackles to twitter, so hahahahahaha!) — FIND YOUR JOY. Find the fun moments that fandom gives you and try and focus on those. Hold onto those good moments more tightly than anything else. Embrace them and SMILE. Embrace your friends and roll around in the gratitude that you’ve managed to connect with people all around the world over a TV show. Be generous with your face and SMILE. I had a lot of fun contributing to #LonelyJensen. Find your #LonelyJensen. Find something during your day that you can do and add to the happiness around you. I think we can get lost in drama sometimes, lost in disappointment, lost in our own real life struggles. Being lost happens and is nothing to be ashamed of, but sometimes we have to allow ourselves to be found too.
Some of the Green Cooler’s #LonelyJensen contributions:
And one final thing: I’m working right now to try and raise some money to donate to Child’s Play, a charity which gets toys & games to children in hospitals. The hospitals themselves have wishlists. There are two Green Cooler shirts: teespring.com/greencooler & teespring.com/greencoolershirt. (I can lower the goal once on that first shirt to make sure it prints). I’ll also be auctioning off some of my #LonelyJensen prints, provided they come out okay when they’re enlarged.
All proceeds are going to go to Child’s Play. If you don’t want a t-shirt, if you’d rather just help out directly, go to childsplaycharity.org/donate, Click on the Map to find a hospital near you and find their Amazon Wishlist. Thank you.
Thank YOU, GC. We look forward to seeing you in more episodes of Supernatural, hopefully right where you belong between the Winchester brothers. Maybe next time they visit the lake, they’ll take their shirts off…
Hey, we can dream…
Stay tuned for more from ChiCon, and interviews with Lauren Tom and Curtis Armstrong! And if you’re going to BurCon, come see us in the vendor’s room and pick up a copy of Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls or Fan Phenomena: Supernatural (with chapters written by Misha, Richard and Serge) at a special sale price! We’ll be happy to sign them for you too. And if you bring them through the autograph line, Jensen, Jared, Misha and everyone else who appears in the books will love signing them for you too!
(Note: This article is, of course, a parody. No academics were hurt in the making of this interview.)
And for more from all our illustrious interviewees,
check out Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls and
Fan Phenomena: Supernatural at the links at the top
of the page
You can follow The Green Cooler on Twitter at @TheGreenCooler.