It’s Danneel Ackles’ birthday, so we thought for our continuing celebration of Supernatural Spring Break week, this was a good time to both wish her a happy birthday and share the rather amusing story of one of our first times meeting her.
There have been a few memorable times since, including the party celebrating ‘Supernatural Day’ in Austin with Mayor Adler, which was just plain fun and an opportunity for some real conversation.
And I’ll be forever touched that Danneel wanted a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood (and how incredulous she was that Jensen actually had a chapter in it!) and that she has read our other books too.
The actual first time we met Danneel was a long time ago – at the after party following the premiere of indie movie Ten Inch Hero, which was at a club in LA back in, I think 2008. We all left the premiere and walked over to the club, invited by director David Mackay – the cast and the audience all together.
We had a lovely little chat with Danneel there about the film, met screenwriter Betsy Morris who’s still a friend today, and asked actor Matt Barr (now of Walker) to watch the rest room door while I in desperation used the men’s room because there was a huge line at the women’s. (He was lovely about it and it makes me laugh now every time I see him as Hoyt).
It was a momentous party, what can I say? After that, my co-author Kathy and I interviewed David over a three hour brunch in Vancouver for the first book we were working on, and mentioned that we’d love to chat with Danneel too. To be honest, we didn’t really think that would happen. But a few months later, while we were in LA for the Supernatural convention, we got a call from David.
I’ll let some excerpts from our second book, Fangasm! Supernatural Fangirls, take it from here…
… he let us know that Danneel Harris had actually agreed to an interview too. This prompted some hyperventilating and a rush of euphoria that left us grinning like fools. Jensen Ackles’s girlfriend was going to meet with us? Really? David had given Lynn’s cell phone number to Danneel so that she could call us tomorrow, the same day the boys came back to town. SWEET.
Given the pattern of the weekend so far—great things happening and then going horribly wrong—we should have known what was coming.
[On the Sunday of the convention, while everyone was in a fever pitch of excitement over Jared and Jensen being there] Lynn was obsessively checking her phone. “Noooo!!” she gasped. It was the plaintive moan of a beast in distress.
Kathy assumed that Lynn was passing a gallstone from the sound of it.
“No reception!” Lynn said, wide-eyed.
For Kathy, who hates phones (really, what doesn’t Kathy hate?) this didn’t seem like a big deal. The world really is too connected anyway. An hour out of cell phone reception seemed like a welcome respite, an opportunity just to enjoy the moment.
Lynn wasn’t as philosophical. “What if Danneel calls?”
Kathy honestly didn’t hold out much hope that this would actually happen—a yellow on the threat scale at most—so she wasn’t concerned.
Lynn was taking up her slack by flailing around, banging buttons on her phone as if somehow this would jolt it into action. “How can there be no cell phone reception in LA??”
Lynn had a point. We’re reasonably certain that there is cell phone reception in the Arctic Circle, but there was not a bar to be had in a hotel in LA. LA!! The town where everyone’s people are calling everyone else’s people, where iPhones are accessorized to coordinate with the day’s outfits, where a missed call can ruin a career. Jared and Jensen distracted Lynn for the duration of their time onstage, but as soon as it was over Lynn made a bee line for Jared’s girlfriend, Sandy (the woman sitting in front, wearing a hoodie so no one would recognize her—except Lynn apparently). Lynn wildly explained our dilemma to the stunned and probably scared actress. It was a good thing the Men With No Necks (MWNN) were only being paid to guard “the boys” or Lynn would have been face down on the carpet.
While Lynn was doing this, Kathy was pretending that she did not know Lynn.
Sandy was sympathetic, but didn’t know if she’d even see Danneel. Lynn thanked her for the sympathy and moved on to the next person who might be able to help. She attempted to enlist convention photographer Lizz, to no avail, and finally Creation owner Adam.
“I’ll try Lynn,” he said, sounding slightly exasperated. “But I’m kinda running an entire convention here.”
Thwarted again, Lynn pulled out all the stops. During her Jensen photo op, she stopped everything to explain the situation to Jensen himself.
“Hi, Jensen,” Lynn said, hoping that her voice wasn’t sounding too shaky. “We have an interview set up with Danneel today for the book we’re writing on fandom, and she’s supposed to call us, but I don’t have any reception on my phone, so I’m afraid she won’t be able to.”
The photo-op process screeched to a halt, and the room fell silent. Photo ops, you see, are not a place for conversation. They are highly valued by fans, who pay top dollar for the privilege of standing next to a celebrity, and they are relentlessly organized. The entire experience lasts about twenty seconds, and during that time you’re expected to say hello to the celebrity, smile, perhaps get an arm around your back or lean into said celebrity’s very firm bicep, and then move the hell out of the way and let the next person crowd in for the next picture. The photo ops allow no room for deviation. So when deviation happens, no one is very happy. The photographer wasn’t happy. The other fans weren’t happy. And the MWNN looked ready to move into swift and potentially lethal action.
Not that any of this stopped Lynn. “Can you put us in touch with her?” she continued, oblivious to the threatening stares all around her.
“Oh right, the interview,” Jensen said.
Lynn just nodded, though inside she was stuck on “OMG Jensen knows about our interview and our book, ohmygodohmygod.”
“Maybe she can email you,” Jensen continued. Then the conversation abruptly ended as Lynn was grabbed unceremoniously by the back of the neck and “escorted” from the photo-op room. Uh oh. She hadn’t experienced that feeling since being a two-year-old caught trying to get away with her baby brother’s coveted teddy bear. Lynn was most definitely in trouble—and even worse, she’d made no progress in getting in touch with Danneel, who didn’t even have our email address!
Lynn, ever the intrepid researcher, was not deterred. She thanked the Man with No Neck for his assistance and got right back in line for her next photo op, the “sandwich” photo (as in sandwiched between Jared and Jensen, which is vaguely dirty and thus very popular). As Lynn walked up, Jensen immediately tried to continue their conversation.
“So do you want to . . .” he began, while Jared looked confused. After all, the celebrities know the no talking rule as well as the fans.
Lynn held up a hand defensively. “Shh, I’m not talking to you. I totally got in trouble for it before,” she added, as the MWNN hovered threateningly.
Jensen laughed. “I got in trouble too,” he protested.
We doubt the MWNN were involved.
“Can Danneel get us her email?” Lynn managed as she was once again “encouraged” to leave the room as quickly as possible.
There was no time for an answer. Damn. Thwarted again. We were disappointed, but Lynn was relieved that she wasn’t escorted out of the entire con (the specter of the Flying Fangirl from Asylum still looms large at these events after all). We were still feeling like an interview with Danneel had been too good to be true anyway, so we tried to swallow our sadness and settled in to watch some of the other guests. Midway through the next panel, Lizz the photographer came out into the audience and passed us a note—from Danneel. It just said, “Send me an email, love danneel” and included her email address. Being a bit clueless about the popularity of smartphones in 2008, we figured this meant that she wanted us to get in touch with her later for an email interview. We were disappointed that we wouldn’t get to talk to her in person but incredibly excited that she’d given us her email address. We wandered back outside after the panel and tried not to be too miserable about the Danneel interview not happening that day. We were hanging out in the hallway chatting when photographer Lizz suddenly appeared and yanked us away in the middle of a sentence with an exasperated, “Come with me!” She led us down a small side hall.
We still weren’t entirely sure what was going on. Were we in trouble again? Had the MWNN decided to kick us out after all? Moments later, Danneel emerged from the side door, introducing herself with a smile. Somehow we managed to compose ourselves and smile back. Apparently Jensen had facilitated the interview after all! Danneel suggested that we all grab some coffee, so we headed upstairs to the hotel’s Starbucks, where Danneel insisted on treating.
Coffee in hand, we went back downstairs to start the interview. Danneel suggested that we go backstage to talk, and then came a weirdly symbolic moment. The very same Man with No Neck who had tossed Lynn unceremoniously out of the photo op for daring to speak to the talent now held back the curtain to the backstage area, solicitously helped Danneel and us step over the various wires and cables snaking across the floor, then closed the curtain behind us to seal our crossover. The irony wasn’t lost on us.
Kathy whipped out her trusty voice recorder just as she had done for every other interview we’ve conducted, turned it on, and . . . nothing. We were interviewing Jensen Ackles’s girlfriend and there was NOTHING. It wasn’t the batteries, which had been checked and rechecked. Kathy tried to maintain some semblance of professionalism. She would quietly figure out what was wrong and then she would just as quietly fix it. Deep breaths. Okay, the recorder was FULL. Not to worry. She excused herself, leaving a confused Lynn to entertain Danneel.
First the cell phone, now the voice recorder. Sunday turned out to be the day technology failed us. This, for Lynn, is an everyday occurrence. For Kathy not so much. She loves technology. She embraced the Internet years before it got pretty, she used a “portable” PC to write her doctoral dissertation (portability is of course a relative designation—relative to muscle mass and stamina), and she gets gleeful over the prospect of using every new toy her university has to offer. So yes, technology was her friend. Until it wasn’t.
While Kathy dashed upstairs to grab her laptop (wishing that she could grab a shot of tequila), Lynn attempted to keep up a conversation with Danneel without actually asking any of our carefully prepared interview questions. Without a recorder, there was no way she’d remember a damn thing that was said—so that left small talk as the only option. Luckily, Danneel and Lynn connected over their mutual love of writing, swapped college stories, and then Lynn (as always) managed to talk about her children. Danneel proved herself a great listener. Minutes went by—lots of them—and Lynn realized to her horror that Jensen and Jared were almost done with their autographs. After that, it was off to the airport—and we would lose our interviewee to her boyfriend as she left with Ackles. Where was Kathy???
Finally, shortly before Lynn had moved on to telling Danneel about her daughter’s first steps, Kathy returned and hurriedly tried to download everything onto the laptop while time quickly ran out. Come on!! All Kathy could focus on was how long it was taking for everything to download. That and the rising nausea that threatened to overtake her. Lynn, in desperation, started asking the interview questions (which, since they weren’t recorded, are lost to posterity—and to this book).
Suddenly Jared Padalecki walked by, meaning that autographs were over and people were getting ready to leave. We despaired of a recorded interview, heartbroken over the squandered opportunity. And then, quite unexpectedly, Jensen Ackles was standing there, smiling and saying hello. Even more improbably, he held a fluffy white dog in his arms. For a moment, Kathy was sure this was all part of the nightmare, because fandom at the time had no clue that Jensen even owned a dog. Icarus, however, was quite real—and quite fluffy. Icarus was almost as excited to see Jensen as we were—he’d apparently been whining backstage every time he heard his owner’s voice during the Q&A. We hugged Icarus while Jensen hugged Danneel and tried to talk her into riding with him to the airport. All Kathy heard in those words were that it was too late—she’d blown it.
Danneel, however, had other ideas. She blew Jensen off. No wait. This part can’t really be happening either. More of that dream? Kathy was contemplating poking herself with a sharp object, sticking her finger in a wall socket, anything to jar herself back into reality. This was surely just her own anxiety-ridden psyche toying with her. Must be. Who says goodbye to Jensen Ackles so that she can talk to US?? But Danneel really was excusing herself to say good-bye to Jensen, Icarus happily following, with assurances to us that she’d be right back to finish the interview. Kathy gathered together the few shreds of sanity she still had, sorted the problem, and figured out how to record directly onto the laptop.
Danneel returned, true to her word, and the interview finally began. We relocated to the “green room,” the cloistered room where the guests are confined between stage appearances. The green room, as we were well aware, is a private space—more or less a “No Fans Allowed” clubhouse for the celebrities. We immediately felt like imposters, occupying a space where we clearly shouldn’t be. The room offered a small banquet of food, a bit of which we gratefully sampled, and a table stacked full of fans’ gifts for “the boys.” The coolest of these was a hairdryer that looked exactly like Dean Winchester’s favorite gun—and yes, it actually worked!
Danneel, of course, was quite comfortable in the green room and turned out to be very good at making us comfortable as well. Lynn asked questions. Danneel answered. Kathy breathed. Everything was going to work out just fine. Somewhere the unicorns of fandom were neighing happily.
And then the laptop went dead.
Kathy again tried to be unobtrusive as she flailed around trying to find an outlet. No point in making a bigger fool of herself, right? Sooner or later, though, it became apparent that she was in need of assistance and everyone, including Danneel, was up and scouting for an outlet, crawling under tables and moving furniture to do so. Danneel, we decided, had the patience of a saint. She never lost her sense of humor either, shrugging off our apology for keeping her from accompanying Jensen to the airport by wryly noting that “Jared would have been in the limo anyway, it’s not like we could have made out on the way to the airport” and jumping up to knock on wood when we asked her about the possibility of marriage.
In the midst of all the sitcom mishaps we did manage to carry on an interview…
You can read the rest of our misadventures (and the interview itself) with Danneel in the book, but Kathy and I left that day with a respect and affection for Danneel that has never faded.
Jensen posted a photo of her plunging a clogged toilet today for her birthday, and I laughed because it makes it clear that she’s still as genuine as she was that day she got down on the floor and crawled around looking for an outlet right along with us.
I’ve had the opportunity to chat with Danneel several times since our hilarious interview, and I think most people who have run into her at the brewery would say this too – she’s not afraid to be real.
I’m so glad Danneel was able to be part of Supernatural as a cast member before it ended, but really she’s always been part of the SPN Family. Happy birthday, Danneel – thanks for keeping it real!
You can find all our Supernatural books at
the links on the home page here or on amazon.
Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be
Peace When You Are Done have chapters by the
Supernatural actors – more info at
3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Danneel Ackles!”
What a lovely way to say Happy Birthday to Danneel, I first realised what a “real” and spunky person she was years ago (may around season 3) when some reviewer (I forget who) insisted that she was not really with Jensen (he was with Jared apparently) and there was no way Jensen and her were getting married, she came back at him full on with a just watch me!!!
Thank you Lynn for the lovely tribute to Danneel for her birthday. Danneel seems like a very kind and caring person who graciously shares so much of her family life and her husband’s time with us, whilst tirelessly taking care of their three small children, running a business and supporting many good causes, a fabulous example to us all.
I love that story and Danneel is so relatable (in a good way) but have to ask-is there anyone from SPN that isn’t a sweetheart? The fact that everyone is down to earth and very real is such a great thing.