I headed to Charlotte last weekend for the second Supernatural convention that Creation has put on in 2021 post pandemic. While the one before, in Denver, was a whole lot of everyone being overjoyed to see each other and simultaneously get accustomed to a lot of new rules, this one felt a bit like “the new normal”, at least the one we’ll have for a while. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, so masks and Covid tests and social distancing (and the plexiglass photo ops) are here to stay for now.
It seems the altered schedule might also be here to stay – Jared and Jensen once again did some of their photo ops and both their meet and greets on Saturday instead of Sunday. When they were both working on Supernatural, it made sense that the production gave them Mondays off so they could be at conventions until late – now that both are working on different shows, no other production is going to be as accommodating. Doing some things on Saturday allowed them to finish up autographs on Sunday at a reasonable time so they could be back where they needed to be on Monday morning – in Jared’s case at least, on the Walker set! It also gave them a chance to hang out more now that they don’t get to see each other on a daily basis. I’m a creature of habit, so I pretty much loathe change, which means I miss the way Sundays at cons have been the same forever – but I’m also a realist, and the changes do make sense with the actors all working on other gigs. It made Sunday a bit less hectic at least!
Apparently at the next con, even autographs will be split between the two days, which I actually don’t like at all. If you don’t have a photo op for them to sign, you need to do autographs on Saturday now – but I’ll miss end of the con autographs as a nice way to wrap things up and say goodbye. Ah well.
Charlotte, for me, was different in other ways too. I got there late afternoon on Friday, which meant by the time I got the vendor table set up I missed pretty much everything, including some panels I really would have liked to see. There was once again no Richard Speight, Jr. to host and no Matt Cohen either, so I didn’t miss them -but I DID miss them! Rob Benedict stepped up the plate again as host and house band and generally kept things rolling like the pro that he is.
Friday night was the ‘Saturday Night Special’ concert, so at least I didn’t miss that – and it was a really good one. Louden Swain was on fire, and so were all the guest actors who joined them onstage that night.
Adam Fergus introduced everyone’s favorite photographer, Chris Schmelke, who played bass on Juliet. We missed out on an exhausted Chris at the SNS in Denver, so it was great to have him back onstage with the band!
Jake Abel joined in the fun to introduce her, Kim Rhodes sang ‘Be Me’ (no, it’s not actually called ‘Dimestore Refugee,’ who knew?) and made it clear why it was one of her favorite songs, and David Haydn-Jones channeled his inner rockstar (and George Michael) with ‘Faith’.
Jason Manns joined Rob and Billy for a gorgeous rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ and ohmygod I have missed that SO much!
Local singer songwriter and SPNFamily favorite Hayden Lee joined the band for ‘Amazing’, with the ballroom lit up with lights in support.
Jeffrey Vincent Parise joined the band and Billy Moran for ‘This Is How’ on the bongos (I think those are bongos? – never mind, they are djembe) – he’s really good at them, whatever they are! (That would be djembe, Lynn…I’m talking to myself, which is somewhat alarming…)
Mama’s Jam was particularly jubilant, the actors all clearly overjoyed to be back together again and grateful to have Louden Swain there to make all that beautiful music. David Haydn-Jones, Adam Fergus, Kim Rhodes, Jake Abel, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, and Hayden Lee joined the band at the end, and you can see how much fun they were all having!
I clearly had way TOO good a time on Friday night, forgetting that I was probably dehydrated from flying and my N95 plus cloth double masking and also forgetting that it was a very bad idea indeed to take the Embassy Suites up on their “two free drinks”. That punch cocktail was delicious, but after concerts and celebrating and too late to bed I woke up at 6 am with a migraine that made me want to bang my head against a wall. Literally. I ended up missing just about the entire day Saturday, much to my absolute dismay, including Misha’s panel – the first time I have ever missed a Misha panel! My good friend Gail Martin (who wrote a chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done and is an accomplished writer herself) was kind enough to sit at the vendor table, since I missed all of that too.
Approximately twenty seven hundred Advil later, I finally dragged myself out of bed and downstairs for a few autographs. Several of the actors who wrote chapters for There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done were at this con and I wanted to make sure to thank them for their contributions and make sure they had their contributor copies – David Haydn-Jones, Adam Fergus, and Tahmoh Penikett all wrote insightful (and sometimes amusing) essays sharing their personal experiences with Supernatural and the SPNFamily. Adam asked me to sign his copy, which was incredibly sweet.
I finally felt human again by Saturday night, which meant I could enjoy a nice dinner with my friends at the woefully understaffed but trying super hard anyway bar/restaurant at the hotel. I guess they weren’t quite prepared for just how many people a Supernatural convention brings in!
Sunday I was, thankfully, feeling human, so it was a more traditional con day. That meant it kicked off with the J2 gold panel. We were all incredibly happy to have the boys back onstage together, but I think perhaps Jared and Jensen were even happier than we were. Their half hour panel was full of laughter and smiles and just plain positive feelings. It’s clear that these two missed each other, and it was heartwarming to see them fall right back into being brothers.
Someone asked for the Applebee’s song, and Jensen promised to teach it to Jared and they could sing in in the afternoon panel (which Jared looked just a tad anxious about, and who can blame him?)
Jensen also said that he’s planning to do some behind the scenes videos when he directs Walker, so we’ve got a lot of videos to look forward to coming up!
Someone asked what Sam and Dean were doing in Heaven, and Jensen said that Dean was basically being Dean and living his best life, including driving Baby fast and doing donuts and blasting classic rock. Jared said Sam has got the Men of Letters library going up there. (Aka very in character answers!)
Jared and Jensen also spent some just fondly reminiscing about good times they shared while filming Supernatural, which, not gonna lie, made me tear up a few times. They miss it, and somehow that makes me feel better – because I miss it!
Both agreed that Sam would have told his son Dean (Dean Jr? DJ?) about hunting, but not have him become a hunter.
Jared: Sam absolutely told Dean, his son, about his uncle, but didn’t tell him to be a hunter.
Jensen: Sam would protect his family. He’d tell him in order to keep him safe, but not have him hunting.
I love that they have their own head canons about the show’s ending just like we all do.
A fan asked about what their selfish wishes or hopes would be, and their characters’ selfish hopes. Jared said he hopes he gets to meet his grandkids, and Jensen agreed that when you have kids, your selfish hopes become about someone else, not yourself.
Jared also answered about Sam.
Jared: Sam got his selfish wish – being back with his brother.
Both Jared and Jensen took any opportunity to say how proud they are of each other, which was genuinely heartwarming. Jared said that it was Jensen who inspired him to take on two roles in Walker, acting and executive producing.
Jared: I got to see someone I admired and respected wear two hats, watching Jensen (directing) on SPN.
Jensen reminded Jared that both of them were essentially producers on Supernatural for fifteen years – the show often did not have a producer on set for many years, which is highly unusual. But they had Jared and Jensen.
Jensen: You produced and directed for 15 years on Supernatural. We didn’t have a producer on set because they trusted us and the crew.
(Yes, I am getting misty eyed here, thinking for the millionth time just how special Supernatural was and always will be)
I also got a little emotional when Jared and Jensen talked about the Samulet – when the question was, where is it, Jared patted Jensen on the chest and Jensen just nodded with a smile. (Also I just love that they know all the fannish terms for things in the show at this point).
Someone asked about his favorite character, and Jensen had no hesitation in saying that Dean will always be the character who has had the most impact on him and will probably influence all his future characters. But both Jared and Jensen were quick to say that each other’s characters had also been an influence.
Jensen: Walker’s got a little Dean in him – I rubbed off on this guy.
Jared: Yeah, from watching you for 15 years!
Jensen said that his character in Rust would have been a bit more like Sam (“Sam in a cowboy hat”), which makes me sad that we probably will never actually see that character at all. That’s not even close to the true tragedy and loss related to the film, but it’s a small loss in addition.
So Walker is a bit of Dean in a cowboy hat and that character would have been a little of Sam in a cowboy hat!
I have lost the context of this moment, but it somehow resulted in Jared encouraging Jensen to “take it off!” and Jensen telling Jared to hold his coffee while he unbuckled his belt.
I think it’s obvious why my brain went offline for a few seconds there tbh.
I have, similarly, lost the context for Jensen saying someone should ‘go down’ and all of us immediately snickering, prompting both Jared and Jensen to point to some of the front row snickerers and yell in unison “stop it!” To mostly no avail.
Never change, fandom.
Gotta say, both Jared and Jensen looked ah-mazing – very Winchestery outfits and very nicely fitted. Just saying.
My friend Gail had asked me to give Jared Padalecki a copy of a Star Wars novel signed by the author, Tim Zahn, so I was able to do that on Sunday also. Jared and Tim fanboyed over each other at a Comic Con a few years ago, and I knew from the very personal chapter that Jared wrote about being a fan in Family Don’t End With Blood that he is serious about Star Wars. He was over the moon excited about getting one of Tim’s books from Tim himself, and I loved seeing him so happy. He gets fandom, seriously.
Later that afternoon, I caught some of Tahmoh Penikett’s panel. He talked about wishing that he’d taken the role offered to him on Continuum and how much he loves the craft of acting and challenging himself.
He also talked about his time on Supernatural as Gadreel, which he wrote about in his chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done too, relating all kinds of behind the scenes details in his essay.
Tahmoh: You go into a show like Supernatural and you’re the new kid, and it’s nice when people like each other on the show and accept you. It’s rare. Jared, Jensen and Misha were so accepting. And if these guys didn’t like each other, the show wouldn’t have gone 15 seasons. They’re ball busters though!
Alex Calvert was up next, reminiscing about the fun times he had on set – and the times that weren’t as fun!
Alex: The most fun times were when we were all in the car.
He said being piled on was not so fun though – those guys are big!
Fan: Have you ever been pranked?
Alex: Um, are you new here?
(I laughed out loud, NGL)
Alex: On the last day, I wanted to get Jared and Jensen some expensive Scotch like they like to drink, and then have them open it in front of everyone, and stick a giant dildo in there.
It’s fairly clear that Alex fit right in, though he didn’t actually do it.
Alex was impressed with the level of pranking that went on.
Alex: Of course Jared and Jensen would try to ruin MY takes, but what impressed me is they were committed enough to the gags to ruin their own too!
A fan asked about Jack and Bobby’s relationship, and Alex had a question for her.
Alex: What’s your Jack and Bobby fantasy? Don’t make it weird…
And about Rowena’s affection for Sam…
Alex: I feel like Rowena might be like oooh, send Sam down here… so I can restrain him…
Alex was pretty much the king of innuendo, which made his panel very enjoyable. On Jack absorbing multiple beings:
Alex: I have so many people in me! Oh, that sounds wrong…
On filming a makeout scene in another film:
Alex: It was hard… no, wait…
After that was some photo havoc. The plexiglass makes it even more impossible than usual for the actors to hear anything a fan might say about poses, etc. I had some vague idea, which I mostly failed to convey to the handler, but it didn’t matter because when Jared and Jensen saw that it was me, they just decided to do whatever the hell they wanted since they know I’d appreciate it.
They were right.
This is either Sam and Dean whenever a door gets between them, or Jared and Jensen when you give them free rein on a photo op with a piece of plexiglass. Or both.
The J2 afternoon panel was even more happy making than the gold panel, if that’s possible. The energy in the room was off the charts as the boys finally took the stage, apparently foiling whatever plan poor host Rob had for them.
Rob: Never tell Jared and Jensen that you have a plan…
Almost the moment they got settled onstage, Jensen got a phone call – from Danneel. Look at both of their smiles, delighted that he got to say ‘I’m onstage, like right now’ and her flustered getting off the phone.
They were once again struck by just how long Supernatural was on the air, and specifically that fans who are now 15 were actually not born when the show began airing!
I agree with them about the ridiculousness of this fact…
They had more chances to reminisce about the show and what had amused them over the years, this time mentioning when poor Jake Abel was repeatedly struck by the Molotov cocktail in Swan Song and their encounters with the bees on ‘Bugs’. I love it when they get laughing together, because they just feed off each other and laugh more.
Another fond memory was that they have apparently added to John Winchester’s journal over the years – mostly “offensive illustrations.” Yep, we can all imagine.
They really got laughing remembering the time that they went to see My Bloody Valentine with Kerr Smith in the movie theater. That film gave out 3D glasses to everyone, and they joked that the people sitting near Jensen and Kerr would be like “wow, it looks like they’re right here!”
Someone asked about scenes they wish they’d done different, and Jensen said he wished he’d done that scream in ‘Yellow Fever’ differently. More like this… (Jared is instantly on his wavelength to act it out without even any discussion – how do they do that?)
I was thrilled that Jensen asked Jared to tell the hilarious story of when he was in Europe and broke up a fight between two guys, thinking they didn’t know who he was.
As the one guy walked away, he turned back around and said dramatically, “Merci, Sam Winchester”. Jared tells it so well, I don’t blame Jensen for wanting to hear it again.
Jensen also told an amusing story about the guy who called him Sam Winchester and he just went with it and introduced himself as Jared lol.
Someone asked Jensen about being a cheerleader, which he explains as not really being a cheerleader but as somehow being an escort and letting him meet a lot of girls in high school. He then answered with a smirk.
Jensen: I keep it next to my coach’s uniform…
Hmmm. Jared is all of us.
Jensen: I do miss being an escort…
Jared is still all of us.
They were serious at times too. Jensen talked about how he got interested in directing, while Jared listened intently.
One of my favorite parts of the panel was Jared and Jensen talking about how the writers tailor the characters to the actors, so that there’s a lot of Jared in Sam and a lot of Sam in Jared, for example. They both agreed that there’s some of each other’s characters in their new roles also. Jared said he borrowed from Dean a bit for Walker, which Jensen agreed with.
They were both emotional about Supernatural, just like we all are. They agreed that the show has prepared them for their entire careers, and that they essentially produced each other for all that time.
There were a couple of questions about Sam and Dean in Heaven. Jensen said that in Dean’s heaven, he was probably on that never ending hunt that he thrived on, which Jared described as a game of “Whack a Mole!” (or whack a monster, I suppose…)
What were their favorite episodes of the series? Jensen said that it’s not really episodes, it’s moments that stand out. They both agreed that so many scenes that take place in Baby show who Sam and Dean really are.
Jensen: In recent seasons, the barn scene in the finale. Those moments leave marks on your heart and soul.
Jared: I couldn’t agree more.
They are both so proud of the barn scene (and have adopted the fandom’s word for it), and rightly so. It was a heartwrenching scene, but both actors were beyond amazing. I will likely never be able to watch it without sobbing, and that’s as it should be.
Jared and Jensen talked about the SPNFamily too, saying that “you guys are as much a part of this family as we are.” The SPNFamily doesn’t end with “screen” after all.
Then it was time for the last question, with a little Robsen rendition of the accompanying song.
I don’t know what they’re doing here – maybe posing like male modeling sons of bitches?
This fan is all of us if we were swept up in hugs like this! (Also, love the purple dog shirt)
We got a hug-oops-I’m-about-to-drop-the-mic and then the traditional fist bump, and it felt so good to have these two together onstage again, clearly as close as ever. Their wave goodbye to the fans also seemed extra emotional somehow.
All that remained was autographs with Jared and Jensen, and I caught up with Misha too since I missed his autos yesterday. He was also incredibly sweet with his congratulations on There’ll Be Peace and thanking me for his contributor copy. Misha has contributed to four of my books, including the first long essay that any of the actors wrote, way back in 2012. And now he’s a writer for real! I got a chance to tell him once again how much I enjoy his poetry, and to remind him that he is a bona fide published writer several times over. (In other words, we had a mutual congrats fest). Peace and Family Don’t End With Blood benefit Random Acts, so we both feel good about that, and if you’ve purchased either book, thank you from Misha and Random Acts also!
My new friend Ann and I returned to the hotel bar for a quick dinner, and then I joined my friend Liz to keep her company as she took a Lyft to the airport. Her rental car had died in the hotel parking lot, so she had to go to the airport to pick up a new one. Little did we know that 20 minute ride was going to be the longest 20 minutes EVER, thanks to the fact that the driver was either drunk, falling asleep or unable to see pretty much anything, including the highway. Liz and I tried to just keep talking, thinking that if he was falling asleep, maybe our chatter could keep him awake. The conversation veered into inane and our acting skills were most definitely put to the test – especially when the guy drove right off the highway and into some construction area and then made a U turn without a word and got right back on the highway. Liz and I looked at each other wide-eyed and then went right back to talking!
We somehow survived, only to have Liz injure her ankle the moment we got out of the car of almost certain death. We limped into the car rental place, still shaken from our ordeal, and then Liz had to fill out approximately 3,987 reports of what had happened to the rental car when it was THEIR fault entirely! (I sat on a bench and tried to get my heart to stop beating out of my chest after our near death experience)
Many many minutes later, we limped back out to the replacement vehicle, which refused to pair with Liz’s phone for many many more minutes. The pleasant sounding voice repeatedly insisting that no phone was found might have been funny at another time, but I think we came close to just bashing the screen in after 15 minutes had transpired.
We clearly should just count our blessings that we survived since anything that could go wrong did – on the way back we stopped at McDonald’s and the drive through person could not understand what we were trying to order no matter how many ways we attempted to explain it. It’s funny now. Ahem.
Actually it became funny even then when we both had the realization that our evening would make a perfect Kings of Con episode. Rich and Rob, feel free to use our misadventures as you see fit.
Next week, NOLA! (For the one year anniversary of the series finale!). If you’ll be there, stop by the vendor room and say hi!
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