This past weekend’s Supernatural convention in San Francisco was special for a few reasons. First, it kicked off the 2015 convention tour; second, it was the first con since we got the amazing news of an early Season 11 pickup. It was also my birthday. It’s wonderful to be home and celebrating with the family, but I can’t think of a more joyous way to celebrate than being immersed in the SPNFamily. I caught up with some of my favorite fellow SPN fangirls over drinks and dinners and room service ice cream indulgences, and birthday hugs from the SPN actors almost made me forget how old I am.
Jensen: “27, right?”
Right. Oh, wait.
Actually I’ve been around long enough to be thoroughly impressed by both the talent this cast has, and by how much they care about their fans and the show. It has apparently become a well-known ‘thing’ in the industry, that Supernatural has a reciprocal relationship with its fans that is unique. I’ve said it before, but I don’t know how we got so lucky. I’m just glad that this is the show I fell for.
Random highlights of the con: Osric Chau being wheeled out on a luggage cart dressed as Ariel, and Gil McKinney’s reaction. Osric handed Gil a jacket and voila, he’s a prince! Also I have to say Osric made a breathtakingly gorgeous mermaid.
Misha took his meet and greet attendees to a hot tub and sat on a cupcake, which has to be a highlight even though I unfortunately wasn’t there – but just hearing Misha describe it was a highlight! Especially dressed like he was. Shallow, I know, but that jacket was awesome. In fact, that entire ensemble was awesome. See?
I enjoyed Misha acting out the surreptitious butt grabs that sometimes happen in photo ops, and was touched by his admission that when he’s feeling down, he gets out the GISHWHES photos and is like, ‘this is awesome’. Because it totally is.
Mark Sheppard, as snarky as he is, is often the one who makes me tear up when he gets serious. I love what he said about fandom and supporting one another – it’s about lending a hand, not making a fist. Also I learned that at fifteen, Mark played with Nico from the Velvet Underground (he corrected me when I mistakenly live tweeted ‘and’ the Velvet Underground, but holy hell, Nico? At 15? I’m damn impressed).
Mark Pellegrino was paired with Sebastian Roche, which meant we got a lot of Sebastian being his irrepressible self and Mark watching. For anyone wondering, yes, Sebastian can still shake it like nobody’s business. I continued my tradition of begging Mark Pellegrino to do a Rocky Horror Picture Show number again at the next karaoke. Fingers crossed.
Curtis Armstrong had some of the best lines of the weekend, including “Oh, I know what shipping is, of course. [beat] My dad was in the Navy.” Having just watched the new episode, I’m having trouble reconciling the sweet and adorable guy we’ve interviewed and chatted with and Metatron, who makes my skin crawl. That’s what you call brilliant acting I guess.
Felicia Day talked passionately about being creative and self expression, and how important both are, in fandom and in life – themes that run through ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ and ‘Fandom At The Crossroads’ too. She was also candid about her own struggles with anxiety and dealing with people who are assholes on the internet.
Tahmoh Penikett closed out the con, thoughtful as always. And handsome. He got a big fan reaction when he wondered aloud if Gadreel is really gone for good. After all, this is Supernatural…
Richard, Matt and Rob have a dynamic when all three are onstage that always leaves my sides hurting from laughter. I have no clue how Richard stays so upbeat all weekend, never flagging as convention host and always ready with a zinging one-liner, even on Sunday afternoon when most of us are just short of comatose.
Here Rob does his imitation of Jared, at Matt’s request.
Richard: Is it me, or does Jared’s penis look like my face?
And what would a Supernatural con be without Rob Benedict and Louden Swain? I vaguely remember when we didn’t have a house band for the cons, but it’s hard to imagine what it was like now that we’re treated to incredible music all weekend. They keep the energy level up all weekend long.
Saturday nights used to be a ‘dessert party’ back in the day, but now it’s a musical extravaganza – is there some kind of rule that says that anyone cast on Supernatural has to be able to sing too? So many amazing performances.
Gil McKinney blew us away with his voice once again – pretty sure he’s gonna take NY by storm!
Osric sings Radiohead’s Creep with so much emotion that it’s clear he can relate, and I love that he wore his Castiel cosplay dress to the Saturday Night Special.
Most talented cast ever!
Jensen sang too – and teased that he’d be willing to sing on the show to save them some money. Yes, please!
Jared and Jensen were in even better moods than they customarily are – and they’re usually in pretty damn good moods! They teased and hugged and cracked each other up and answered fans’ questions with their usual good humor and wit.
Jensen did a strip tease and Jared showed his appreciation. With five dollar bills.
The time that they’re onstage flew by in a way that always leaves me wanting to protest, and somewhat suspicious about the accuracy of Creation’s clocks. No, not really. But do I always want more? Absolutely.
I was lucky enough to go to Jared and Jensen’s meet and greets. The rule is that you can’t share too much about the M&G’s, but some tidbits are okay, so here are some highlights. From memory, so not verbatim.
Jared’s was first – and can I just say that Jared was also looking like he stepped out of a fashion spread? He confessed to asking for help from a store employee. Whoever that guy was? Somebody thank him for me. Seriously, good job, whoever you are. (We had a chance to chat with Jared and Jensen a bit later in the day, and complimented Jared on his awesome scarf. Jensen: “You know who picked that out, right?” Right.)
Jared did note that his socks and belt weren’t from that outing – they’re Sam’s.
Someone asked about the Padalecki and Ackles joint family vacation in Aspen, and Jared told a hilarious story about skiing with Jensen on a terrain slope that they probably should have steered clear of – but, as Jared put it, poking fun at himself, they tend to “think they’re tougher than they are”. Jensen took the lead and jumped over a hill, then slowed down and turned around (which Jared took as the universal guy code of “hey I did it, let’s see what you’ve got!”) Feeling like he had to outdo Jensen, up Jared went – and almost crashed into a ski school on the other side. He careened to the side to avoid them and ended up hurting his back, though at least no ski school attendees were harmed. Boys. Seriously.
A fan asked if Jared and Jensen wanted to go on and do other things, if we should “let you go to other roles”?
Jared (emphatically) No! I don’t know another character I would rather explore and would love more than Sam Winchester.
Entire room: (breathes a sigh of relief)
I can’t help but think that the passion these actors have for their characters is one of the reasons that Supernatural just got renewed for an eleventh season. Jared, Jensen, Misha, Mark – and all the recurring guest actors – they love the characters they play. They care about the characters they play. And that, I think, makes a difference.
Someone asked about the mockumentary, saying that Misha had said that they cut it back pretty significantly. I had a conversation with Jared about that a while ago, and he’d said that they all thought that was an odd choice. As Jared put it, cutting it back to make them not look like too much of a jerk doesn’t actually work. It ends up being less over the top, so it just seems like maybe they’re actual jerks!
The actors were never worried that they’d look bad – they were all on board with the mockumentary the way Misha conceived it, because they know and trust their fans.
“We know the people who are going to watch this,” they told The Powers That Be. “We’re not worried. We know them, and they know us.”
Everyone is hoping that Misha is able to do a director’s cut – count me in with everyone! And not just because I’m hoping for more footage of Jensen in short shorts. I love that this cast and this Show can make fun of themselves – and of us. It’s a tradition since the Kripke era, and a risk that few shows have taken. Few shows, after all, can count on a reciprocal relationship like Supernatural has with its fandom.
The last thing I’ll share a little about (without any personal details) was a conversation about a much more serious subject – depression and suicide. As a psychologist, it’s a subject that I know is important, and important to talk about, but it’s also difficult. Jared shared his own personal story of loss, and some of the fans in the room did as well. We talked about the powerful and confusing emotions after such a loss, and everyone in the room supported each other. We talked about the struggle many of us have had with depression; Jared shared his own story, and also how he was able to reach out and let himself be helped, and how Jensen was there for him. As hard as that is, it’s what saves people – reaching out and asking for help, and having someone on the other end be willing to give it.
One of the reasons such a strong fan community has formed around Supernatural is that the themes of the show resonate with so many of us. Especially when things are tough.
Jared: That’s why I love Sam so much. We all have our demons. The show is about pushing through and fighting and keeping going.
Fan: This show is like therapy, it literally keeps people alive.
Jared: It’s a symbiosis. We care about each other, like the brothers care about each other. We’ve been through stuff, like they’ve been through so much. The message of Supernatural thematically is ‘try!’ And this show, this exists for a reason.
Every head in the room nodded, and more than one person reached for the tissues, including me. It’s what we wrote about in Fangasm, and what I’ve tried to explain (probably without much success) to people outside the SPNFamily who don’t get it. This Show is important, and it’s done so much for so many of us. I may criticize a plot twist or wish for something different to happen in canon, but at the end of the day, I love this Show. I love this community, this – as Jared put it – symbiosis.
Jared: We’re all a bunch of misfits. The relationship between Sam and Dean, we connect with it. Everyone wants a Dean to their Sam.
I don’t think anyone has summed up why I love this Show better than that.
Before Jared’s meet and greet ended, we got a surprise visit from Jensen, who walked into the room, spun on his heel dramatically and walked back out.
During Jensen’s meet and greet, Jared did the exact same thing. I got the feeling it was some odd sort of competition. Boys.
Jensen also told the skiing incident story, complete with an imitation of him going over the hill and turning to Jared like, “your turn” and then seeing the ski school and being like “Oh no, here comes Jared!” in dramatic slow motion.
Someone asked about how much creative control Jared and Jensen have over the show’s story line, and Jensen said none. He said he could probably give feedback that would help shape the story somewhat, but that’s the writers’ domain. They’re also so far ahead of where filming is – they’re breaking the last episode now and the actors are filming episode 15.
Jensen: The character is a collaboration between the writers and what I do with it. Eric Kripke incorporated nuances of what we did from the beginning, like Dean eating so much.
Fan: I bet you regret that one!
He said that the writers do defer to Jared and Jensen now when there are character issues, since they’re the ones who have lived with them. The writers know how much they want to protect the integrity of those characters.
Someone also asked about the Dean and Cole fight scene earlier this season, and Jensen talked about working with Travis Aaron Wade on that scene. Travis was really getting into it, he’s a very emotional actor, and Jensen was a little nervous that he’d get hit for real.
Travis: I’m trying to keep the mood.
Jensen: I’m trying to keep my teeth.
They ended up choreographing it with the help of their stand-ins, and I think we all agree the final scene looked phenomenal. Also, I appreciate that Jensen jumped up and acted out some of that scene for us. A lot.
My question was about Sam saving Dean, which is something that feels important to a lot of fans. We got that, sort of, when Sam cured him of being a demon, but not entirely. I wondered if that would continue to be a theme for the rest of this season?
Me: Oh, good!
Dean, predictably, wants to be like ‘I’ll deal with this myself, not drag Sam into it’, but Sam is having none of it. He’ll continue to pursue finding a cure for the Mark even if he has to do it a bit covertly.
You go, Sammy!
There was a question about his favorite episode as a director, which is Weekend at Bobby’s. He also really enjoyed directing ‘The Girl Next Door.’
Jensen: I got to direct a relationship we’d never seen before, between Jewel [Staite] and Jared. I’d worked with Jewel before, and I know her. And I hoped they would trust me and listen to me, and they did.
The conversation in Jensen’s meet and greet also touched on depression. A fan asked if there were times that Jensen didn’t like Dean, and he said that last year, Dean was in a very dark place, and it started to get to him. So much so that he called “down south” and said I need to know where the light [at the end of the tunnel] is.
Bob Singer thanked him for calling them and not just keeping it to himself until he had a breakdown on set or something – again that theme of reaching out and telling someone when you’re feeling close to the breaking point.
Jensen also didn’t enjoy playing Dean opposite Soulless Sam, though he acknowledged that many viewers enjoyed that version of Sam.
(Or at least enjoyed the fact that he had a propensity for doing shirtless pull-ups…)
Jensen: Jared did a great job, but selfishly, I didn’t like it because I couldn’t play Dean as he relates to Sam normally. Their relationship is the constant in the show. And it was like, I want my brother back.
Both Jared and Jensen seem happy with where they are right now professionally. Like Jared, Jensen said he feels like “where I’m sitting now is pretty great.”
He went on to say that Supernatural has spoiled him, because he loves the crew and he loves the character.
What does he hope for, for his character?
Jensen: My ideas are never as good as what they come up with, but I’m excited at the thought of seeing what they come up with for Season 11.
Everyone: Us too!
Jensen: I would love to see Dean be cured, but I’d love to make it a predicament that they’re now in, like you have to give the mark to someone else, a sticky situation. But I still want Dean as Dean… and everyone has a soul, nobody’s drinking demon blood… just Sam and Dean cruising down the road in the Impala.
I don’t think Jensen had a clue about what Jared had talked about in his meet and greet, but like the running joke during their panel, Jared and Jensen are often on the same wavelength. He echoed what Jared said in his meet and greet when he went on.
Jensen: The brothers both have big scars, but the moral of the show is “Never give up, keep fighting for each other.”
No wonder Supernatural has been an inspiration for so many of us.
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