Happy Birthday, Jensen Ackles!

This is the first year I’m wishing Jensen Ackles a happy birthday that he hasn’t been Dean Winchester. Last year at this time, I knew that would soon be true, though I had no idea that it wouldn’t be until 2020 was almost over that Supernatural would actually come to an end. It’s been three months, and during that time Jared Padalecki has kicked off a new character and a successful new show with Walker, doing lots of interviews and talk shows and even live tweeting on Thursday nights again. Misha Collins has continued to fight the good fight to change the world, with livestreams and tweets and collaborations with the other people out there trying to do the same thing, and a GISH mini hunt coming up. Jensen, on the other hand, took the time in between Supernatural and his new role in The Boys to retreat to the snowy wilderness of reputedly Colorado to enjoy some family time and shovel snow, with only brief appearances to document the snow shoveling or to accept well-deserved awards.

Suffice it to say, we’re all missing him. A glimpse of his stand-in on The Boys at Friday’s filming location was enough to create a social media uproar, and Jensen wasn’t even the one in the pictures! That says something very good about how much of an impact he’s made on many people’s lives.

In the spirit of missing him, and of missing Dean Winchester (because I still haven’t managed to completely separate them in my head or my heart) I thought I’d do a little appreciation post to celebrate Jensen’s birthday. If I do more of these in the future (which, let’s face it, I’m sure I will), they won’t be focused on Dean. They’ll be focused on new characters, new projects, new photo shoots, new aspects of his life. So for one more birthday, in this post let me express my gratitude to Jensen for giving us Dean Winchester.

There’s no doubt that the characters and the story are a big part of why Supernatural had such a huge impact on my life, and that’s down to Eric Kripke and the other writers over the years, but there’s also no doubt that it was Jensen who breathed life into Dean and made him so compelling.

People joke that Jensen has chemistry with even inanimate objects, and I think that might be true. He could disarm someone as easily with a moment of flirtation as with a knife to their throat. But make no mistake, Dean Winchester is dangerous.

You never doubt that, the way Jensen portrays him.

At the same time, Jensen also made you believe in his vulnerability.

Dean was not a cardboard character who didn’t have emotions. Far from it. Jensen’s ability to make you really believe in Dean’s feelings about the other people in his life who were important to him was so brilliant that the show made us love anyone he loved, and root for those relationships with all our hearts.

He didn’t love easily, but when he did, he loved fiercely.

He let us see the joy Dean took in those relationships, how lucky he felt when he got to have moments of shared happiness with the people he cared about.

Sometimes it seemed those moments were few and far between, but I smiled along with him any time he got to grab some of those precious moments of peace.

Supernatural was far from light-hearted most of the time; it was truly a little horror show more often that not.

But Dean never entirely lost his love of life and his unabashed enjoyment of  play and pleasure, whatever that might be. Jensen understood that as part of what makes Dean Dean, and sometimes added little ad libbed moments that kept bringing that out.

Ackles could make you cry with a single man tear, smile with Dean’s infectious joy, or laugh out loud with his ability for both over the top slapstick or the most subtle moments of humor. And Dean Winchester was a richer character for it. A character who felt real.

Jensen gave Dean so much depth, so much complexity. He showed us in countless small ways – some scripted, some not – what Dean was feeling in any given situation. He showed us how deep Dean Winchester’s emotions ran.

How desperately he loved.

How agonizingly he hurt.

How fiercely he fought.

How much he cared.

I’m so grateful that for fifteen years, Jensen cared too. About the show, about his character. About the fandom that he always acknowledged kept the show going. That refusal to ‘phone it in’ made all the difference, so that even when there were seasons or episodes that weren’t my favorite, I could still find the character I loved and find something to love in the show to keep me invested in the journey.

I’m also grateful for the real person I got to know a little along the way. From the first time I met him, perhaps realizing how nervous I was, he was unfailingly kind – and really good at making me laugh. Way back in 2008, when he found me and Kathy standing in the rain outside his trailer on set waiting to do our first interview for our first book, he asked incredulously why we didn’t just “go inside and make yourself at home” – AS IF! When a PA knocked on the door to end that interview, he said no, we needed more time – even though it was after midnight and we were already over the moon with the time we’d gotten.

We were babies when this long journey started.

I have so many good memories across the years since then. Ackles has an instinct for knowing when someone needs to be put at ease (which is pretty much always me when he’s around) and a whole lot of creative ways to do that. Once you get into a conversation with him, you tend to forget who you’re talking to and just enjoy the conversation –  I once sat there dumbfounded when I realized I’d just been perfectly comfortable first having a seriously in depth chat and then joking around and having fun like I wasn’t talking to that guy who plays my favorite character of all time, Dean Winchester.

Lots of people talk about how “down to earth” the Supernatural lead actors are, and in my very limited experience, that really seems to be true. The couple of other times I was fortunate to be on set, in the midst of being in almost every scene, Jensen kept checking on me to see if I was okay — could see, could hear, was warm enough, had a headset. When does the lead of a TV show do that for a nobody who’s just grateful to be there? (Jared and Misha were equally amazing, every single time. Who decides to eat their lunch with the nobody in the tent?) The kind of people they are made all the difference to what that set, and that show, were like. And how long it went on.

That’s my favorite picture. It’s not very good quality, just snapped on my phone at the end of the day, but that? That was a damn good day. Thanks to Jensen.

I will be forever grateful for what a pleasure Jensen was to work with as I put together the Supernatural books I’ve written and edited. It’s an entirely different way of interacting when you’re the person dealing with a deadline and have to (politely) badger someone for an edit of their chapter, and even more stressful when you’re perfectly aware that  you’re a fan who’s badgering a celebrity! There was never a time when Jensen didn’t treat the entire process seriously and me with respect. His support of all our books, right from the start, has meant so much to me. That time he asked me to autograph one for him, after he’d given me so many autographs, still makes me a little wibbly when I remember it.

I love what he had to say in Family Don’t End With Blood about his anxiety and how the fandom inspires him, and what he said about Dean and his legacy in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. He’s told me a million times he’s not a writer, but he’s incredibly thoughtful about his profession, his character and this extraordinary fandom.

This is a year of change. Soon Jensen will be in Toronto filming The Boys and bringing Soldier Boy to life, and I cannot wait. I know he’s going to continue to do great things and change lives in the process.

His tenure as Dean Winchester, and the experience I’ve had as part of the Supernatural fandom, however, can never really be replicated. I’m aware of how special this time has been, and indescribably grateful for all the joy the show – and Jensen – have brought me for the past fifteen years.

Photo: Entertainment Weekly

Photo: After the finale barn scene, from Trishymakeup

So happy birthday, Jensen Ackles. Wishing you a day filled with love and family and joy.

I look forward to ‘meeting’ Soldier Boy and the privilege of watching you craft another character who will inevitably be nuanced and complex and make me feel.

And to someday, if we’re all very lucky, being able to see you bring Dean Winchester to life once again.

–Lynn

You can read Jensen’s chapters in Family Don’t

End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You

Are Done. Links on the home page banner or at

peacewhenyouaredone.com

 

17 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Jensen Ackles!

  • At the Stageit next weekend I want them to talk to each other as Sam and Dean. Can you make that happen? I miss those two so much and I’m sure they do too. I don’t care what they talk about but just as their characters. Happy birthday Jensen Ackles. May it be filled with joy

    • The show is never going to be equaled and neither are the characters. The thought and effort that went into crafting Dean (and Sam) and to making sure that everything that was said stayed true to the characters was obviously a labour of love. Jensen made sure that Dean was always Dean (and changed lines if needed to). I miss it but I appreciate it too.

      Dean gave me phrases I use. Son of a bitch- has been used occasionally as well as a few choice others. Having a conversation and saying -oh this happened on an episode of Supernatural! Or – this was said at a convention (Kirby for example) has added some fun trivia to conversations.

      On the plus side -Radio Company Volume 2 is almost ready for release! Apparently, there might be a volume 3? I can deal with that.

      My internet is glitchy (the joys of rural living) so Soldier Boy won’t be in my future any time soon but I know Jensen will rock it. I hope his birthday is awesome (thanks Dean).

    • I might get so emotional if that happens, I’d have to log off the Stage It! I’ll tell them tho 🙂

  • Thanks Lynn for making sure that your post was the first thing I saw as I woke this morning.
    So many beautiful pictures and memories to treasure of our beloved Dean on the birthday of the most incredible guy who breathed life into him. We were so glad for the time we had with Dean, he taught us many things about resilience, determination, and how to love ferociously and laugh in the face of adversity whilst eating pie, but none of that would have been possible without the very remarkable Jensen Ackles a man of exceptional talent who is finally being recognised for his work in a most deserved way.
    The ultimate professional and the kindest man, for those who are lucky to meet him they know him to be sincere, genuine and humble. Jensen has an infectious joy for life that he bestowed on Dean and shares selflessly with us all.
    Happy Birthday Jensen Ackles, as Dean would say, you are awesome.

  • I can’t believe how much I miss both Dean and especially Jensen, he breathed life and made such a wonderful character that I have followed avidly for so long. It is so painful – I look every day on instagram in the hope that he or Danneel will have posted something but we’re not having much luck with that at the moment – we have been far too spoiled in the past. Look forward to your next review from Season 1.

    • Next review, of one of my favorite episodes, “Home”, is coming up this week! We have bee spoiled for a very long time, but with The Boys starting up, I think we’ll start to see and hear more. I miss them both too!

  • This was a wonderful post Lynn…both as a tribute to Dean and to Jensen. When I first started reading I was really struck by how well you captured the many facets of Dean’s personality.

    Last night I was up to Clap Your Hands If You Believe in my rewatch, and I always look forward to the humor in the episode. I was really struck by the scene in the diner where Dean was trying to explain to Sam why having a soul meant NOT picking up a hot hippie chick and taking her home on the night that your brother is abducted by aliens! The scene made me laugh of course, but this time I really noticed how upset he was at Sam seeming indifference, and his frustration at not succeeding in explaining the problem. Dean told him that he would, “Sit in the dark and feel the loss” if he had a soul. Sam wonders why he can’t do that with the girl there and his brother replies, no, “because you would be suffering, and you can’t just turn that off for the night!” Sam asks if having a soul means suffering and Dean is like, “That’s exactly what I’m saying!” “So suffering is a good thing?” Dean responds, “I’m saying it’s the only game in town!” That’s brilliant writing of course, but Jensen is flawless in that scene, making us laugh and simultaneously feel bad for Dean, even in the midst of such an impossibly bizarre situation.

    And Jensen as a person, all I ever have read and heard of him are good things. Even in the 30 second chat I had with him once at an op, he was so friendly and kind. I’d worn a “Sky Rockets in Flight” tee shirt because I had seen him online wear that at a con once. I told him I wore it on purpose for the op to show him and he said yeah, I loved that shirt! He got his from a shop in London. He was so friendly I just felt happy and safe with him, not nervous at all. He was the sweetest person I ever had an op with. My friends always say that Jared jokes around and teases them and stuff but he never has with me, strangely enough. So I was amazed that Jensen took those few seconds to talk to me like that! It may seem like nothing but I will never forget it.

    • Lynn, I also meant to add to my post that no one captures the joy of being a Supernatural fan the way you do. I’d been thinking about his portrayal of Dean at first, but then when I got to: “His tenure as Dean Winchester, and the experience I’ve had as part of the Supernatural fandom, however, can never really be replicated. I’m aware of how special this time has been, and indescribably grateful for all the joy the show – and Jensen – have brought me for the past fifteen years,” I got all choked up because I feel the same: I know no other show or movie will ever move me the way our Show has.

      • Thank you for getting it – and for that example above from the soulless Sam episode that was so illustrative of what I was trying to say. I’m glad you had that special moment too. And it’s true, this has been so joyous for me. I probably should feel embarrassed that Jensen reads these posts sometimes but I can’t because it’s honestly just all true – and I’m grateful!

  • Hola,soy Corina y soy de Argentina.Espero puedas entenderme,Lynn,mucho gusto.Estoy increiblemente agradecida por tu nota.Sin dudas es la más extraordinaria y maravillosa que he leído hasta ahora y se nota que tu eres fan de SPN.Es muy especial cómo detallas los momentos que Dean atravesó en esos 15 años,dolor,alegría,amores,etc… incluso acompañadas de unas fotos muy bien seleccionadas.En cuánto a Jensen se vé que ama actuar y lo hace realmente de corazón.Durante todos esos años pudo interpretar a un Dean muy auténtico,querible y a la vez complejo con quién todos pudimos sentirnos representados.Un Dean que fué y seguirá siendo un ser de luz y fuerza que hace bien a mucha gente.Y cómo persona recalcás la idea que yo tengo (por desgracia sin conocerlo) de que es un ser humano simple,sencillo,amable,cálido -lo que lo hace increible,agradecido de la vida y generoso,(además de súper apuesto).Te felicito por la nota y te envidio sanamente por tu experiencia con Jensen .Beso y abrazo.Cuídate mucho

  • This was a amazing story about jensen aka Dean. This character Has been amazing for me the last 15 years and I have to admit I am smitten with jensen. NOT Only for his looks but for his smile and his eyes that looks right thru you. And the characters he plays i just love every part of him. I have watched him since days of our lives, Smallville but supernatural will be a show that I will always watch over and over. Happy birthday you beautiful man. And tell your wife she is a lucky lady.
    Julie smith
    Gravelswitch kentucky

  • I’ve really loved this post a lot. I’m not very familiar with your work so far but I’ll my best efforts to get to know it better. Good day to you.

  • I agree with everything. I came to the show very late and binged BUT it came in my life when I needed it the most. And Dean/Jensen mesmerized me with his talent. I looked forward to each episode to see what I was going to be feeling . I never met Jensen but I feel like I have, He is truly a special caring person. If more people cared as he does, well it’d be quite a different world wouldn’t it? Have a wonderful Birthday with your family, Jensen!

  • I really enjoyed your article of Jensen/Dean! I arrived to this show only 19 months ago! I discovered it one day when I was looking for something to watch I had always known that supernatural was around but I never watched because I wasn’t into that Genre! But I said what the heck I watched the first episode on Netflix snd you can probably guess what happened! Of course I was hooked, first of how good looking the boys were, but then the storyline had me hooked, so 19 months later I have watched the show 8 times!😁Now I just watch favorite/random episodes everyday! I have all the books, posters,calendars You name it I have it! I am so fascinated with Jensen , the show has changed my life mentally! I love both boys and Dad of course and misha!! I look forward to everyday because I know I can see my crushes whenever I want! Thank you lynn I love your interviews and books you are so lucky to have met them! I look forward to your thoughts and assessment about the Boys and walker (my new favorite show)!
    💙❤️♥️😘

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