It’s been a whirlwind and very Supernatural-centric week – which is of course the very best kind. First the 100th Creation Supernatural convention in New Jersey (lots more about that soon) and then a wild and wonderful Monday in New York City to celebrate the Season 14 premiere of the show — with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles!
For once living on the East coast was a benefit instead of a liability, so I went all out to try to get tickets to Entertainment Weekly’s screening of the Season 14 premiere and to Live with Kelly and Ryan for Jensen’s appearance on that show. Getting tickets to both NY events was a lot like the early days of Supernatural cons, where fandom would wait hovering over their keyboards (yes, at the time we didn’t use our phones for everything) constantly hitting refresh waiting for tickets to go on sale so we could grab the best seat. When Entertainment Weekly announced that they would be hosting a screening of the Season premiere episode on October 1 in NYC, and that it would be offered only to existing subscribers, I was ecstatic. I’ve been a subscriber since before Supernatural was on the air, and I’m within driving distance of the Big Apple, so I eagerly awaited my email on the day they were to go up for grabs – and waited – and waited. Nothing! I’ve lost none of my fangirl propensity for getting emotional when it comes to my favorite show, so I promptly freaked out and started frantically tweeting the universe trying to figure out why I hadn’t gotten an invitation when I was seeing people happily proclaiming that they already had their tickets! It was like fangirl hell for a while there – but the lovely Sam Highfill replied and an equally lovely person from EW helped me out as well as several of my awesome fellow fans and all was well eventually. Phew!
Next announcement was that Jensen Ackles would tape a segment of Live with Kelly and Ryan that same day – cue another adrenaline-fueled OMG how do I get tickets panic on my part. Some of my fellow fans were kind enough to give me instructions on how to set up an account, but by the time I figured it out, I didn’t get tickets. Instead I was waitlisted, which meant more constant refreshing and lots of freaking out. Do some work, hit refresh, nope, still waitlisted. Do some work, hit refresh, nope, still waitlisted. Do some work, hit refresh, no….wait! It says ‘Available’!!!! I’ve never typed my information in faster to snag those tickets before it magically turned back to ‘Waitlist’ once again!
My friends Liz and Kristen and I got approximately 2 hours of sleep on Sunday night after working our butts off at the con, but getting up at 4:45 am is a lot more doable when you know you’re going to see Jared and Jensen and the premiere of Season 14 if you do! We headed out into the dark and made it into the city by 6 am, where we joined a small group of fans to wait for the Live show to let us in. We weren’t lucky enough to be Priority, which meant we had no idea if we would actually get in or not – there were no guarantees for us general admission folks. But there was a Starbucks a few blocks away and lots of fellow fans to chat with, so the wait wasn’t too bad. We watched the sun come up over the city, and even got to tape a little promo with Ryan Seacrest. No clue if it ever aired anywhere, but it was fun anyway.
I didn’t actually relax until we managed to get inside the studio, and even though our seats were way off to the side, I was incredibly grateful just to be there. (I also haven’t done the whole studio audience thing, so the experience was fascinating). We were right by the entrance door to the studio, so we saw Clif appear and knew the fun was about to begin! Danneel and JJ came through the studio first, Danneel holding JJ’s hand as they crossed over to the other side to watch the taping, and that got a huge ovation from the Supernatural contingent of the audience. We were coached on hand signals that meant “clap” or “clap more” or “add some hoots and hollers” but when Jensen finally appeared, we didn’t need any coaching – our section of the room burst into screams of joy.
Jensen high fived fans as he came in, and clearly we were all VERY happy to see him!
I’m sure everyone has seen the segment by now – it was cool to see a little clip of the premiere and to hear the fans in the crowd go wild when seeing it. Kelly and Ryan teased Jensen about having a fourth child since three is just too difficult, and both Jensen and Danneel shook their heads. Jensen also told the story of how they named Zeppelin, not after the band but after the sailing knot since his umbilical cord was knotted when he was born. Ryan congratulated him on fourteen seasons of Supernatural, and it seemed quite heartfelt. I thought Jensen did a great job, which wasn’t a bit surprising – but I’m always impressed anyway with all of the actors’ ability to do these things off the cuff.
Jensen and Ryan seem very comfortable with each other – they’ve known each other a long time and were even roommates once upon a time. It was Ryan’s friendship with Jensen that introduced him to Jason Manns as well, so their lives have had an impact on each other for sure. Between taping the segments, they chatted amiably. Ryan asked Jensen about his bar, and Jensen said, “it’s a brewery actually.” Ryan looked suitably impressed and interested: “A brewery?!” I expect Ryan will make a trip to Family Business Beer next time he’s in Austin, which will be well worth it.
At one point between takes, Jensen spent a quiet moment looking up at the balcony, where many of the Supernatural fans were sitting, looking both fond and grateful. He also made sure to look over in our direction at the edges of the studio, where more fans were clustered (and letting our appreciation for him and our favorite show be known).
There were also some cute moments when Danneel introduced Ryan to JJ, and after the taping Jensen and Ryan and Kelly took some photos together before he headed out, waving again to fans and acknowledging the clusters of fans both at the sides of the room and in the balcony (since most of us didn’t have priority seating).
We had been told that they might tape some promos after the show itself, so we were to stay there for that when it was after 10 am and it was no longer being taped live. Someone said there was a special surprise, and the studio started to gear up again with Kelly and Ryan back in their chairs – and then we spotted Clif back in the doorway. I thought maybe Jensen was coming back to film something else, and then to my shock and joy, Jared walked through the curtained doorway!
The place absolutely erupted in screams – I’m quite sure all the people there who were not Supernatural fans were utterly befuddled – but it was such a wonderful surprise! Like Jensen, Jared high fived people on his way in and greeted the fans in the balcony too. They are both invariably so warm and never forget to acknowledge and appreciate the fans who come out to support them.
Seriously though, if that doesn’t look like a happy group of people, I don’t know what does! The expression on that woman’s face in the front of the seating area is totally how I looked at this moment, btw.
Like Jensen, Jared took the time to find the fans in the audience and acknowledge them.
Jared then taped a segment with Ryan and Kelly too, which will air separately (by request of the show). I loved them telling Jared he’s the best looking man in a beanie, while they projected a graphic of Jared in a dozen different beanies and looking handsome as hell in every photo (Probably an intern spent a lot of time putting that together, but they could have just asked fandom!).
Jared pulled out his ever-ready beanie and put it on, and then Ryan and Kelly pulled out beanies too. Kelly rocked hers, but Ryan was a bit beanie challenged.
They took some photos with all of them beanied up, which was adorable.
They also tried to talk Jared into having a fourth kid (his reaction was pretty much the same as Jensen’s) and he told some heartwarming and amusing stories about Odette being really good at saying the word “no”.
Jared: That’s my only move as a parent!
There was also a moment when Jared referred to Jensen as “my brother Jensen” – none of us can remember the context because we were too busy going awwwwwww at the time.
So that was fun! We had already been ecstatic to be able to watch Jensen tape the show, but to have bonus Jared put us over the top into something close to euphoric. Clearly.
We left the Live studio and hopped in an Uber to race to the theater where EW was having the premiere screening later that afternoon, trying to get there early enough to get a decent spot in line this time. Our driver dropped us off at the address listed but it didn’t look anything like a theater, so we asked the gentleman doing valet parking. I mean, surely someone who works here will know, right? He helpfully told us to walk several blocks in – you guessed it – the wrong direction. We finally asked someone else, who pointed us right back to where we’d started. URGH! Don’t you people realize that we’re fangirls in a hurry???
We finally located the Henry Luce Theatre and took our place in line. Once again, the waiting was fun as often as it was grueling (thanks to being on our feet for so long) because the line was obviously just a big group of Supernatural fans, all of us overflowing with excitement about seeing the season premiere.
I will admit that when we were half an hour past the time they said they’d let us in, I got a WEE bit cranky, but I just wanted to sit down! Luckily once we got in (and kudos to EW for being so organized and letting people in a few at a time to make it less stressful) the seats were super cushy and comfy. This time we got seats in the middle and there pretty much wasn’t a bad seat in the place anyway, so all was well.
Sam Highfill greeted everyone, then the lights went down and the big screen lit up and we were off and watching the Season 14 premiere! Jared, Jensen, Danneel and Clif came in as soon as the lights went down and sat in the front off to the side. I had a clear view of Jensen from my seat since he was sitting on the aisle, and from time to time as we watched the episode, I glanced over to see how he was reacting. I had chatted with him the day before about going to the event and he had said that he and Jared hadn’t seen the episode yet, and he was really looking forward to watching it with the fans. Every time I looked over, he looked rapt – as engaged in the show as the rest of us were. They always say they’re fans of the show too, and it was very obvious when you watch them watching it.
No spoilers here for the episode itself, but let’s just say that there were some moments when the audience reacted strongly. At one point, half the audience went OOOOH and then the other half went EWWWW and then you could just hear Jared’s booming laughter. There’s also a scene where Sam really gets to be Sam F—king Winchester and kick some ass, and as it ended I saw Jensen start spontaneously applauding Jared’s performance, which just warmed my heart. In fact, it reminded me of the very first time I met Jared and Jensen – I went to see the theater production of A Few Good Men in Fort Worth that Jensen starred in, and happened to go on the night Jared surprised Jensen by flying in to see him perform. He sat right in front of us, and I was so touched to see Jared keep bursting into applause for his friend. He was obviously so proud. I talked to him at intermission in the lobby and said that it was nice of him to come support Jensen and he beamed and said “Of course I would, he’s my bud!” Seems like nothing has changed as far as that’s concerned, and it was heartwarming to see it.
This is not spoilery, but I will say that Jensen’s portrayal of Michael was CHILLING and so NOT Dean that I missed my favorite character like an ache in my heart. Jared’s portrayal of Sam was by turns GODDAMNBADASS and OMG break my heart why don’t you? One of the things I love about Supernatural is it can bring the action and the drama and the fight scenes, and then it can hit you with an emotional scene that cuts right through you because it’s done in such a nuanced way. I suppose it’s spoilery to even say who’s in the premiere, so let me just say that everyone in it brought their A game and every one of our favorite characters got to be both badass AND emotional. I cannot wait to write my episode review of this one!
After the screening, Sam Highfill took the stage with Jared and Jensen to ask them some questions. I obeyed the stated rules and didn’t video anything – and in fact we weren’t sure if we were allowed to take photos, so we didn’t take as many as we would have until we saw everyone else taking photos – but EW did film the entire Q & A so hopefully that will be published after the premiere.
There was a fair amount of chatting that wasn’t about the season premiere, so I’m assuming that part is fine to share – here’s what I remember!
One of my favorite moments in the Q & A portion was when Jensen was trying to remember something about demon Dean and said, “when was that, Season 12…?”
Entire audience: “NINE”.
Jared cracked up and whacked Jensen on the shoulder and slapped his knee playfully, thoroughly amused.
Sam Highfill asked Jensen when he found out about the Michael twist at the end of last season.
Jensen: ….the day before filming…when I read it…
Jared: cracks up
Jensen: I don’t read ahead because it messes me up!
Jensen said he doesn’t like to read ahead because it gets confusing if he knows things that his character doesn’t know.
Jensen: I start making choices with knowledge that I shouldn’t know and that can alter my performance in this episode if I know what’s happening three episodes from now subconsciously. I did know about that a few weeks early though.
Though sometimes they shoot out of order, he said, so Jensen ends up having to ask Jared to fill in the blanks.
Jared said their characters are similar to them in terms of how they prepare for filming. Jared reads ahead and studies the scripts much like Sam would do lots of research, while Jensen doesn’t read ahead.
Jared: I mean, I don’t know what Jensen’s process was before Supernatural…
Everyone: lol his process…
One of the best moments was when Jared talked about Sam having a beard this season like it was his idea, and Jensen was like, wait a minute, give me credit!
Jared: Okay, he was like ‘I tried and they said no, so you should try too’.
Jensen: And he was like oh, I should totally do that! I thought it would be a way of differentiating the character. We ended up using wardrobe to do that, but I had called Andrew and had a conversation about how to play Michael and I pitched, what if I grow out some facial hair? He said well, the problem is this… (don’t want to spoil – but my Comic Con videos talk more about this so if you’re curious, check them out on the Fangasm youtube channel).
Jensen: So I was a good friend and called him and said well, I tried, but I got shut down, so maybe you ought to. Time has passed, and the whole grief thing for Sam, so… So you’re welcome!
Sam asked what advice they would give someone playing the younger versions of Sam and Dean, and Jensen said he told Brock Kelly to play Dean like he was tougher than he actually was yet – which I think he did a great job of. Jared said he wouldn’t give advice, that when he looks back even at himself playing Sam Winchester in the first season, that person is like a stranger to him now because the characters (and the real people) have changed so much over the years.
Both Jensen and Jared would love to see an episode that fleshes out what life was like for Sam and Dean as kids on the road with John – stuck in a motel and wanting to be out there hunting or getting into mischief or whatever. I’m down with that, though I wish they’d done it when Colin Ford could have played a young Sam because he totally rocked it.
Jensen teased Jared about a scene when he was supposed to be beat up but somehow didn’t have a scratch on him, and Jared explained that sometimes editing makes their reactions seem a little off. The time Zachariah broke Sam’s legs, there were shots when he was groaning in pain, but the one that got used almost looked like Sam was like eh, whatever, brush it off…
Also, Sam Highfill is all of us being thoroughly amused by the boys.
There was at one point a spirited argument (with fans) about how many episodes there have been where Sam and Dean did not have a scene together and then trying to figure out which ones.
That led to talking about demon Dean and what sort of reaction Jensen had when reading the script that had Dean turning into a demon. He gave a hilarious re-enactment of him reading that part of the script, muttering “No….no …..NO WAY!”
Jared then added his own hilarious re-enactment of the first part of that scene, where a grieving Sam is supposed to lay his brother’s dead body on the bed. They wanted him to actually carry Jensen and lay him down.
Jared: He’s not a small person!
He was supposed to look sad, but only ended up looking like he was straining.
Jensen’s delighted face watching Jared play that out made me laugh even more.
Toward the end of the Q and A, fans were able to ask a few questions. My hand went up so fast it was painful because of course I had burning questions about the premiere, but alas, Sam Highfill didn’t pick me (most people who got picked were on the aisle so they could get to the mic, which totally made sense – I was smack in the middle). I was hoping the fan questions would be about the premiere episode, but instead they were more general con-type questions like where they’d like to do a convention (cue lots of everyone calling out their own cities).
There was also, unbelievably because there were only a few questions, my least favorite question in the universe – the what has been your most disturbing fan encounter one. Really, fandom? We need to highlight those rare instances because fans aren’t pathologized enough? I’m perfectly aware there have been some negative things happen and have even written about them, but this was a celebration of the show and the fandom, so that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about. Jensen and Jared are reluctant to talk about those things too, but with encouragement they did – and related a couple of pretty disturbing things. I’ve written five books on Supernatural and on fandom challenging the pathologizing that happens far too often — including Family Don’t End With Blood, in which Jared, Jensen, Misha and the other Supernatural actors wrote their own chapters celebrating all that’s awesome about fandom. So while acknowledging that in any group of people there are going to be some who aren’t okay, I just didn’t want to make this awesome event about that. Oh well.
Someone asked what music they’d like to have on the show and Jensen explained how the budget didn’t allow for the kind of classic rock they’d really love to include very often, less so as shows get into their later seasons. Jared then suggested one of his favorites from his own playlist, which turned out to be Metallica’s version of The Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Much to Jared’s dismay, nobody else had ever heard of it, which was hysterical.
Jared: (finally finding and proudly playing the song off his phone)
Clif: (from the audience) No one has ever heard that!
Only fans will appreciate this, but we also got to hear Jensen call Jared “J-Rod”, which is what I’ve heard the cast, director and crew call him on set, and Jared call Danneel “D”, which is what they all seem to call her. But we don’t often get to hear those affectionate nicknames, so that was nice.
Fan: Will Sam and Sister Jo get to interact?
Jared: (to Danneel in the audience) Hmmm I don’t know. D??
At the end of the Q & A there was a sweet moment when Jared got up and patted Jensen on the shoulder and then stood up and proudly gestured at him, announcing “Jensen Ackles!” and then Jensen did the same with “Jared Padalecki!” as we all applauded our butts off.
Someone suggested that EW should do a premiere watch party every year, and there was a cheer from the audience. I wish they’d started this 13 seasons ago in fact!
We left the theater in a sort of fog of happiness and wandered out to the docks outside the building. It was a gorgeous evening so we decided to eat at a restaurant with tables right on the water. We watched the boats rocking with the current and the sun go down over the New Jersey skyline and the lights come on illuminating the Statue of Liberty as we shared drinks and squeed some more over the incredible day we’d just had. Good friends, SPN Family, Jared and Jensen, and the ambience that is unique to the Big Apple. My friends may have had some Pop Funkos with them, so Sam and Dean joined us to watch the sun go down.
We didn’t want the day to end, so we sat there enjoying the good food, drink and company until the lights strung through the trees came on and our eyeballs started to demand rest.
And yes, we did get back to our hotel and sleep for eleven hours!
Totally worth it.
Stay tuned for more from Supernatural NJ – the 100th Con! And for my review of the Season 14 premiere right here!
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