All Supernatural conventions are emotional; it’s been that way from the beginning for me, because I’m so emotional about this Show and this fandom. Over the years, that’s only become more true. Not just for me, but for all of us – for the fans whose lives have been changed or even saved by an unlikely little show on the CW, and for the actors who make the show and have been interacting with the fandom for the past decade. It’s amazing, unprecedented. I’m writing a new book about it, with chapters written by those fans and those actors, so maybe I’m primed to be even more emotional than usual. But I think anyone who was at Minncon would agree that emotions were running high all weekend.
Minncon is inevitably going to require several posts – now that my camera actually takes photos that aren’t just little blurry err-that-sorta-looks-like-Misha pics, I’m overwhelmed with how many I want to post and a bit frustrated that I can’t post ALL of them! But there’s also a lot to say, and I want to do justice to the emotionality of the weekend. Saturday was a difficult day after Richard Speight took the stage to announce that Misha had been mugged the night before and had been to the hospital for stitches. In true ‘Always Keep Fighting’ style, Misha was at the con nevertheless, not up to doing a panel, but determined to take the photo ops fans had paid for and were so looking forward to. If you ever doubt the creativity of either cast or fans, you wouldn’t if you’d seen the 1,001 ways that Misha and fans came up with to take a photo with Misha’s mouth (and stitches) covered! He came back on Sunday for more photo ops and autographs, and while he was banged up and more reserved than usual, he told me he was doing okay – that he’d been better, but he’d also been worse. A pretty healthy attitude for someone who’s dealt with a fair amount of crap and knows he’ll have to deal with the psychological impact after the physical impact has healed.
When something very unfair happens to someone who really really doesn’t deserve it, it hits all of us hard when we care about that person. We immediately want to DO something to help, so our friends from Random Acts set out a journal where fans could write Misha a note of encouragement and support. Hundreds of fans came by their table in the vendors’ room to do just that. Within hours of learning about the attack, fandom had #WeLoveYouMishaCollins trending number one worldwide – which definitely lifted his spirits. And of course his fellow actors, who are his SPNFamily too, were there to support him. In typical guy style, that support shows up in teasing as often as it does in hugs, but Misha felt it. Jared and Jensen were angry enough on his behalf to say they wished those guys had attacked them instead, with an understandable ‘let me at ‘em’ response.
Richard: Better yet, how great would it have been if it was Osric?! They’d all have broken shoulders! He can take down some muggers if he can take down a moose!
The fandom and the cast came together in support of Misha, much like when Rob Benedict suffered a stroke at the Toronto convention. It was one of those times when fandom, at least as far as I saw, put aside their differences when it comes to fictional characters and rallied around a real human being who needed their support.
That heightened sense of emotion carried over into the Saturday Night Special, which I’ll write up separately, and to Jared and Jensen’s panels and meet and greets on Sunday. There were serious moments, and there was also LOTS of laughter — so much that I’ll do a separate post that’s going to be devoted to just that, Jared and Jensen laughing. I defy you to look at them cracking each other up and not smile yourself!
I was very fortunate to be able to go to both Jared’s and Jensen’s meet and greets, so can share some tidbits from each.
Jared’s was first, with a new Creation chair arrangement of one big semi circle, with Jared’s chair in the middle. It definitely looked like he should be teaching a class, but is seemed to work well since everyone had a clear view of the gorgeous Mr. Padalecki. I’m not complaining.
These are just a few tidbits, not verbatim, not a transcript, you know the drill.
Someone asked Jared about doing those emotional scenes in Supernatural, and whether it was harder to get “into” them or out of them. Jared said it was easier to get into them.
Jared: Me and Jensen, we aren’t lying when we play those scenes. I’m telling Sam’s truth. I get Sam. I love Sam. He’s a part of me.
I can imagine that would make it easier to feel the character’s genuine emotions, but then there you are, really feeling it, when the director calls cut!
Jared talked about getting some good advice from Peter O’Toole when he was filming with him. Jared shared that he’s an emotional guy, and he was emotional on set one day. O’Toole told him, “those are Tom’s tears. Don’t waste Jared’s.”
He tries to apply that to Supernatural as well. To remember that those are Sam’s tears, and not to waste Jared’s.
Another great question was about how Sam and Dean changed during Season 10. Jared said that they did change, just like Jared and Jensen themselves have changed, and that he likes the changes in Sam. The biggest change for Sam, Jared said, is his re-commitment to his brother. He also said that those changes are permanent, that they will continue in S11.
Which made me want to jump up and down, but I refrained.
Picking up the theme of change, someone asked how Jared and Jensen have changed each other? Jared said again that he’s an emotional guy, and that Jensen helps him by telling him at difficult times to “keep moving your feet.” It’s like “Always Keep Fighting.” And Jared, for his part, has changed Jensen, who has become more emotional – and Dean too.
A fan asked about his favorite versions of Sam, and Jared joked that he’d played about 46 versions of Sam, and Jensen has only gotten to play a few versions of Dean. He liked playing demon blood Sam – for obvious reasons, but also because it was a bit of a power trip. There would be a bunch of huge stunt guys who could kick his ass in real life, but demon blood Sam would kick theirs (not in real life, but still). He also liked playing Soulless!Sam, who he played as very logical – sort of like a mathlete, which Jared actually was in high school.
There was a little anecdote about the teen!Dean episode, and how it wasn’t actually scripted that Sam pulled the car seat back so his legs would fit. Jared actually did have trouble fitting in it!
One of the fans was a paranormal investigator (listen up, Chad Lindberg!) and asked Jared if he believed. He told the date night ghost story that he’s told before, which never fails to give me goose bumps.
He and Gen were on a date night at a historic old hotel in Austin. They noticed a light flickering in their room.
Gen: That’s weird…
Jared switched out the bulb with another light – then both started flickering!
Later, Jared woke up to someone tugging on the sheets from behind – only to see Gen asleep in front of him. In true Winchester fashion, Jared calmly told the ghost that they were friendly and just trying to get some sleep, and then (somehow) went back to sleep. In the morning, they woke up to find the curtains, which they had carefully closed, wide open. And then they turned on the television (which was programmed to come on with Mario Lopez advertising the hotel or something) – and instead, what came on? Supernatural! Dean and Benny in Purgatory.
Jared: Okay, okay, we got the message!
Jared’s a great storyteller – I can’t do this story justice in print!
There were also some serious moments in the meet and greet. I asked Jared for his perspective on that very emotional moment at Comic Con when the lights went down in Hall H and fans all held up their candles and chanted ‘Always keep fighting’. (See our Comic Con article of last month for more detail). I was there, and was quite overwhelmed with the emotion – and I could see the moment Jared finally realized what was actually going on, so I was eager to hear from him how it impacted him.
He said that he didn’t realize at first what was happening – it’s Comic Con, after all, and the world (and the networks) are watching you. When he was handed the note that explained the candles, he didn’t read it right away, thinking that it was something for later. It wasn’t until Richard said “you should read that” that he did, and then he realized. He still has his candle and the note. I asked him how he felt about it, about how sweeping and life changing the AKF campaign has become.
Jared: As strange as this may sound, I felt like a father. Like AKF has taken on a life of its own. It’s not about me, it’s not about the show – it’s about understanding that you aren’t alone.
That’s exactly what it’s all about. In a sense, that’s what our first book was about – Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls is all about discovering the community that is fandom. It’s about Kathy and I discovering that, to our surprise, we weren’t alone. It’s what the new book is about too, in a much more explicit way – with other voices, not just ours. Other fans who found they weren’t alone, and the way it changed them and saved them. And cast members, Jared included, whose lives were changed just as much.
Several women were courageous enough to share their stories of keeping fighting with Jared and the rest of the fans at the meet and greet. There were lots of tears and lots of supportive arms around shoulders and encouragement to keep going, to let it out and not keep it in. It was powerful and cathartic and very very emotional. Leaving the details private, one young woman broke down, almost unable to get the words out as she tried to tell Jared what he and the Show have meant to her. Jared got up from his chair in the front of the room and crossed over to where she sat right beside me. He got down on his knees and held her hand and told her how much he admired her courage and how glad he was that she was here.
“You’re not alone,” he said. Hearing the sincerity in his voice and seeing the empathy he conveyed, I think she had to believe him – which was life changing all over again.
I’m sure he conveyed the same to the two fans during the main panel, when both Jared and Jensen literally got down on the floor to reach out to them and let them know that they are not alone. That’s how different Supernatural conventions are – and how unique the relationship that has developed between cast and fandom is.
I think about the early days of the conventions, when the actors and the fans were just getting to know each other. Before we were all “SPN Family”. There was a ‘no hugs’ rule back then; my first photo op with Jensen, I remember standing awkwardly beside him as he sat equally awkwardly on a chair, afraid to even bump my shoulder against his. Now they reach out, instinctively and genuinely, both physically and emotionally, when they see someone who needs it. No wonder the weekend was so emotional.
Jensen’s meet and greet was a bit lighter.
[Vague spoilers] He talked a lot about the upcoming “Baby” episode, which I think fandom is collectively anticipating so much we’re all about to spontaneously combust. He mock complained about being in all the scenes, and then confided with all the glee of a little boy that at the end of an episode he put Baby away by doing a reverse 180 – and it only took him a few times to pull it off! (he said, beaming). He also talked about the three person fight scene that takes place in the back seat, which really makes me wonder how the hell they all fit back there, let alone had a fight! Apparently it was a challenge.
In both meet and greets, a fan asked about filming that longed-for mythical Hawaii episode, which one of them said wouldn’t be much fun if they ended up filming it in Vancouver in the cold and had to stand around wet and shirtless and shivering. We all tried to convey great sympathy while picturing them wet and shirtless. Also, Jensen joked that Dean would have to take a ship because there’s no way he’d fly to Hawaii, so it would be a three week long episode that would be very boring.
Jensen also talked about his soap opera days and did an excellent imitation of the way soap actors stare at each other for way too long after delivering a line, which was frankly hysterical. And spot on.
Someone asked how much leeway he had in making those emotional moments happen for Dean. Jensen said that they “allow me to determine how I want to get to where I need to go.” He said the details of how to get there are generally not in the script. During the season finale of S10, Jensen said that he got emotional when Dean said “please forgive me” to Sam, and that maybe a tear popped out, and he asked to reshoot that because he wanted Dean to be more stoic.
There are two ways of pulling up emotion for an actor, Jensen said. Either you pull from something in your real life, or (and this is easier), you think about your character and what they would feel.
Jensen: Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, sometimes the scene didn’t warrant that much emotion.
I asked if Dean also felt a re-commitment to his brother, as Jared had said about Sam, and Jensen said yes. Although they were pulled apart for different reasons, Dean was also distanced from Sam. He felt so guilty for letting Gadreel in, and that influenced his decision to take the Mark of Cain. Dean was going to sacrifice himself to make up for what he did. Then there was the Mark itself, which pulled him away from Sam even more, especially after Cain made it clear that there was no way out. So both brothers drifted away from each other, and are re committed in S11.
Jensen: We address it. There’s a line, like when did we get away from helping people? It’s a reboot of the boys’ relationship. The boys are back in the saddle again and committed to each other.
I gave him a thumbs up and a big grin at that.
Jensen: [also grinning] It’s a reboot. Control alt delete.
If I was excited about Season 11 before (and I was), I’m even more excited now!
I’m still calming down from the emotionality of Minncon – but in a good way. Jared and Jensen are fond of calling the phenomenon of the SPN Family “lightning in a bottle”, and this con really showed why. I tweeted the photo of Jared and Jensen lying down on the stage to connect with a fan with “there will never be another cast like this.” I think there will never be anything just like this again – it’s taken a decade to develop, and it’s now something unique and special and powerful. I feel privileged to be a part of it.
Stay tuned for lots more photos from Minncon, and our long awaited interviews with Tahmoh Penikett and Chad Lindberg, once we return from Vancouver.
For more of our Supernatural adventures and misadventures,
check out ‘Fangasm’ and ‘Fan Phenomena Supernatural’ at
the links at the top of the page
Photos by me!
Edits by the awesome @arkine13!