Back To Where It All Began – Supernatural Chicago 2022!

Chicago was the very first Supernatural convention, way back in 2007. I was there, overcome with anticipation to see both Jared and Jensen together and to be in a room full of my fellow Supernatural fans. Kathy and I, along with our friends Laura and Karen, had stalked the Creation website for weeks to get the best possible seats, and we couldn’t wait to all be together to celebrate the show that was already changing our lives.

It’s 15 years later, and so much has changed. Kathy, my partner in crime who I went to all the early cons with, and to the Supernatural set, and who I wrote the first four books with, passed away unexpectedly several months ago. Going back to Chicago, where this unlikely fifteen years and counting adventure began, without her was emotional. I felt lucky to have so many of my friends there to remind me how much love I have in my life and what incredible friends I have still here with me. I’m so grateful.

Chicago con always seems special because it’s the site of so many memories. Even though this year’s was in the convention center instead of the familiar hotel where so many cons have been held, I still stayed in that hotel so the nostalgia was real. It’s also the con where I met or became closer to some of my best fandom buds, and making new memories with them this year felt extra special.

Also Jared was back and that was something to celebrate for sure – he missed the last convention in New Jersey after his very serious car accident. He’s still on the mend, but it was wonderful to see for ourselves his smiling face and have his banter with Jensen back to normal. It felt healing to all of us, I think.

Chicago had a great line up of guests, and I caught most of their panels since I flew in at a ridiculously early hour. Free shuttle to the hotel, yay!

DJ Qualls was back for the first time in a while – I always enjoy his panels, and he’s incredibly friendly. All weekend long, every time I walked by his autograph table in the vendor room to get to my book table, he was happily chatting and selfie-taking with fans and enjoying it immensely.

DJ: Jensen is good at everything. For the dance number that we did, he had like a 15 minute head start and knew it all.

A fan asked what his craziest dream was, and DJ started to laugh.

DJ: Heh heh, no. I had one after Jared’s accident…I think I was worried about him… and it was like fan fiction…

So no, he didn’t share it!

I enjoy hearing DJ talk openly about things like gender roles and the pressures of masculinity. He said that he got hurt every single time he did some stunt work on Supernatural, but the expectation was that you just “walk it off” so he did.

Next we had what for me was a real treat – a panel with Katie Sarife and Joy Regullano, who played Marie and Maeve in the Supernatural 200th episode, Fan Fiction. It’s one of my favorite episodes and they were brilliant in the parts. I had coffee with Joy in Vancouver years ago and so enjoyed our chat – it’s linked below if you want to get to know her a little.

Joy identifies as a fangirl herself, wanting to represent fans as “smart people with a passion”, and Katie said that her ex-boyfriend was a huge Supernatural fan. He’s the reason she already knew “Carry On”, in fact.

Since they are Vancouver based actors, they knew the show – and Joy had auditioned before.

Joy: The first role I auditioned for was K Tran – which became the character of Kevin!

Both said they loved the episode and the way it ended, except that they would have loved to come back. Understandable.

What was the most fun working on Supernatural?

Joy: Well, Jared is like 6 foot 15, so it was fun being able to boss him around and like, be mean to him.  (In the show!)

She also had a scene in which she adlibbed to Jared (Sam): “Look with your eyes and not your mouth” but unfortunately it got cut. I would like to have seen Jared’s response!

Katie: I learned a cool trick from Jensen, of crossing my eyes and the moving just one of them.

(This made me cringe because Jensen has done that to me to tease me and it’s the only time I have ever run away from him lol)

They also enjoyed the comedy in the episode, right down to the “you can’t spell subtext without S-E-X.” Classic Robbie Thompson.

Joy and Katie were asked if Jared and Jensen pranked them, but they said no.

Katie: I think because we were playing teenagers, there were no pranks. Jared and Jensen were really sweet. And not creepy.

I love that everyone who ever worked on the Supernatural set has nothing but praise for the main cast.

Joy: It was like a master class in acting, watching the experienced actors just snap into character like that.

(I’ve witnessed it too, and to a non-actor it is nothing less than amazing!)

Friday also had a great trio panel of Gil McKinney, Adam Fergus and David Haydn-Jones. They joked that it was the “grumpy old men of letters panel”!  It was Pride month, and David had on his Yasssss Queen shirt given to him by a fan and some truly awesome rainbow socks.

They all shared their Pride experiences, with David winning for best drag story.

It was so nice to have Gil back – be sure to check out his new movie, Metamorphosis, on Amazon Prime!

Picking up from the last panel, they all listed Fan Fiction as one of their favorite episodes, along with another Robbie episode, Baby, and the classic Changing Channels and The French Mistake. So agreed.

There was some good discussion of story telling and how we need diversity in it, of all kinds.

David: We need villains in archetypal story telling. I was a sociopathic murderer on Supernatural!

He’s right. On both counts.

Gil recalled that when he was first on Supernatural, Jensen took him aside and said, “when they ask you to do conventions, say yes!”  He’s glad he did – me too!

We also had a Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster panel, which was full of both laughter and tears, as their panels often are.

Kim and Briana: Prioritize finding your joy.

They both said that they’ve become who they are in part because of the fandom’s encouragement and support – which is what they both wrote about in their chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood. Whether it’s in their chapters or their on stage panels or their Wayward podcast, Kim and Briana never fail to inspire.

A fan asked how their characters would have related to Charlie (Felicia Day).

Kim: Jody would at first try to “mom” Charlie, and then quickly realize, oh, you’re a badasss!

Briana: Donna likes smart women, so she’d get along well with Charlie.

They also had good things to say about working with Jared and Jensen, and also what it was really like.

Briana: They would goof off, and then they would high five each other about it, just like my two brothers do.

Their panel ended with a surprise birthday cake for Kim, served up by Jason Manns. Awww.

Friday night I joined two friends to go out to dinner at a restaurant in the city that had outdoor dining and delicious food and drinks, and two hours flew by while we caught up and talked all things Supernatural and fandom and it was glorious. Part of what makes cons so wonderful and so rejuvenating.

And then it was Saturday. And we got more Kim and Briana! Their friendship is always a heartwarming part of their panels – a good friend is someone who’s there for you when your fake eyelashes fall off in the middle of a panel lol.

Richard Speight, Jr. and Matt Cohen have not been able to make many recent cons, because they’re busy with all kinds of awesome stuff, but I’ve really missed them. At this con, like old times, we got a true R2M panel with Richard, Matt and Rob – and it made me laugh every bit as hard as their panels always have.

Richard and Rob teased Matt about his recent interview on the red carpet for EW with Benedict Cumberbatch, who told him that he belongs in front of the cameras on the MCU not just reporting about it.

Matt: I should drop the mic and join the MCU according to Benedict.

Richard: What the F is the MCU? I thought maybe it was Cumberbatch’s college…

Rob: Oh, Dad…

Matt said he’d just interviewed Jensen for The Boys, and they were just exclaiming like “Ackles!”  “Cohen!”  He’s also really looking forward to the new prequel series ‘The Winchesters’.

Matt talked more seriously about how important it is that the multiverse has opened up such great opportunities for other versions, and more diverse versions, of superheroes.

Richard joked about what Rob likes to do when he’s not able to be at a con.

Richard: I love when Rob sends me a photo of just a chair with a mic on it…because he’s there all alone.

Poor Rob. But he has stepped up to the challenge at recent cons, just saying!

Rob and Rich said they are really enjoying doing the Supernatural Then And Now podcast, which is awesome if you haven’t checked it out.

Richard: There’s a lot of stuff that’s been pretty surprising as we watch Supernatural from the beginning.

Rob: It’s a great show!

(Who knew?!)

Rob reminisced about finding out he was actually playing God on the show.

Rob: I didn’t know I was God until the end of Season 5, when Kripke told me. He said, you’re God. I said, oh good. He said, so you probably won’t be back. I said, oh no.

Me: lol

Rich also gave us the good news that he’s working on another album – I really enjoy his first one produced by Jason Manns, so yay!

On Saturday we also got another David Haydn Jones, Adam Fergus, and Gil McKinney panel – this time with added DJ Qualls. David wore his Saturday outfit, which never disappoints.

A fan said that Gil and David were dressed alike the night before.

Adam: Even their underwear!

David: This genius guy and I used to shoot a lot of p—

Gil: I thought you were gonna say porn!

David: That’s because you were looking at my thighs…

I have no clue what the context of this was, but DJ, while watching whatever this is, said: We say harder than Chinese arithmetic…

They all told some stories of other memorable moments in other projects they’d done. DJ talked about zombie films but wasn’t sure if zombies poop, and said he once had to do his own stunt of a reverse roundhouse kick (which he managed with encouragement of Ewan McGregor).

Gil said he played young Elvis and Tom Hanks came in and did a cameo. Adam said he was filming a romantic scene and turned around and kinda freaked out when Colin Farrell was right there.

David had to do a commercial of an adult man in a suit on a slip ‘n slide.

David: I partially fractured three ribs! Adults should not do slip ‘n slide…

It’s challenging work being an actor. DJ also shared that though he’s not a big fan of parades, he’s excited to be getting an award at the NYC Pride Parade. Go DJ!

Saturday is also, of course, Misha Collins day! He looked out over the crowd happily as he always does to kick off his panel.

Then Misha and Richard got into a hilarious exchange about the time Misha stayed at Richard’s house while he was away, without realizing that there were Nest cameras all over. So Richard got some interesting footage.

Misha: I sleep naked…and sometimes get up in the night…

Richard: That’s for my Daddy time, all the footage of Misha from the Nest cam… Your yoga is in fine form, Misha.

Rob: And your glutes…

Me: lol

Misha said that post having Covid, he now has to make difficult decisions. Like, can I hug you? SHOULD I hug you?

He also joked about the SPNFamily takeover of the CW.

Misha: So, the CW is picking up three new shows. One is Jensen, one is Jared and one is me!

Everyone: Sounds good to us.

He shared some more details about his new show, and said that he was at first hesitant to take the role worried about being away from his kids, but they were enthusiastic about it and that was the tipping point for him.

Misha: I’m playing Harvey Dent, who’s a good guy, and wrestling with how much of myself should come through. He’ll eventually become a bad guy. Gotham Knights is a bigger show, lots of CGI skyline to look epic. In Supernatural we didn’t do that. Snow in Kansas in summer? Whatever…

He said his character has a super cool backstory and evolution, so he’s really excited about the role. He also joked that if his Harvey Dent voice sounds like Castiel, it might be automatic now whenever he’s in front of cameras.  He probably hopes not, though, to save his poor voice!

Misha: Jensen was the deep voiced character on the show, then I came along and he was like, oh no dude…and then Mark Sheppard came along, and he won.

He told some of the classic prank stories we’ve heard about over the past decade, including how when Cas was at the table in My Bloody Valentine.

Misha: Every time I approached this table, there was something under it poking me…  Then Jensen said, just look at me, but when I did he gave me a kissy face.

(And cracked Misha up after all).

He also had some very warm words for the Supernatural set and his costars.

Misha: Jared and Jensen are always a little bit competitive with each other, and they both tried to do the best job of setting a good tone on the set. And it worked.

Misha’s kids are now watching Supernatural. He joked that they’ll be about 30 when they get to him – and also that the show is scary.

Misha: When I watched it to prepare for the role, I had nightmares!

I don’t know why, but Misha also talked about some of his little known talents – like double jointed thumbs and rolling his tongue and wiggling his ears (I can do that last one too, hah!)

When the panel neared its end and the band came back onstage, some in the crowd started to boo poor Rob and Louden Swain.

Misha: I love that I try to cultivate this whole ‘be kind’ thing, and then the band takes the stage and the fans are like F YOU, GET OFF!

We also got a Sebastian Roche panel for the first time in a very long time at this con. I had to miss quite a bit of it, much to my dismay, but when I returned it seemed like old times.

Sebastian: We’re losing our f—king minds! Oh sorry for that word….the word ‘our’…

Me: lol

Sebastian: In Ireland they say “feck”, it’s so cute. There’s no one more fecking Irish than Adam Fergus, is there?

He then did A Fish Called Wanda Imitation which was hilarious. The randomness of a Sebastian panel is a big part of the fun.

Sebastian: I’d love to play a Southern person. Maybe from Louisville. Louisville? How the F do you pronounce it that way???

Next up was Ruth Connell, who I’ve missed recently at cons also. So good to have her back! She reprised her dance with Mike Borja, then looked over at Rob.

Ruth: Don’t be jealous, he’s a robot!

Ruth to the audience: You just had Sebastian…or did he have you?

She also convinced Rob’s adorable son Calvin to come onstage and say hi – who can believe he’s about to be off to college?!  At DePaul, where my friend Paul Booth teaches some kickass fandom courses he could check out.

Ruth said she’d just finished filming a movie with Christopher Lloyd called Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose.

Ruth: It’s a true story!

Simon Pegg is also in the film. Ruth at first thought they said he was the narrator, but he’s actually Nandor.

Ruth: And he’s the nicest man!

Small SPNFamily world, since he’s also on Jensen’s new show, The Boys.

After she was cast, Ruth found out that she was accused of being a witch. Accidental typecasting!

Ruth is a believer. Eighteen months before she got Supernatural, a psychic told her that a person named Dean would be important in there life – which gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!

Ruth: I told Jensen years later that the psychic said that about Dean, and something about it happening “up north, like in Niagara Falls”, and he went pale because he was going there that same day.

More goosebumps. She also said that there was a Supernatural episode where she had to say dialogue that meant “unleash me here” and it was just what she needed to empower herself in real life too. As for Jensen…

Ruth: You can tell that Jensen is an android, because his freckles aren’t random – they’re perfectly symmetrical.

She loved her time on Supernatural, though she wishes she’d had more time in hell. (Things you can only say about Supernatural).  Favorite scenes?

Ruth: I loved the one to one scenes, like with Jensen in ‘Regarding Dean’, or the scene with Jared in the car (bonding over their Lucifer trauma).

Saturday night was some autographs with Laurena and Alana, and then dinner. We got takeout from one of the hotel restaurants and then camped out in Laurena’s room to catch up and have our traditional little ‘fandom therapy’ session, which is always therapeutic. And fun!

And then it was time for the Saturday Night Special. The band rocked as always, and there were some great guest performances too. Adam Fergus did a wonderful rendition of ‘With Or Without You’, introduced by Sebastian Roche.

It was awesome to have Gil McKinney and his beautiful voice back at SNS – he did an emotional rendition of ‘Seventeen’, a song on his Jason Manns-produced album.

David Haydn-Jones belted out a spirited rendition of “F—k You” which would have fit right in on The Boys. Louden Swain actually suggested it as perfect for him and his first reaction was, are you punking me??

Louden Swain played some of their new songs, including one of my new favorites, Comeback Kid. It gets stuck in my head in the best of ways.

We also had Kim Rhodes looking adorable and singing great harmonies with the band on a version of Cecelia that’s now one of my favorite versions of that song.

Briana Buckmaster looked and sounded the part of a total rockstar, leopard print dress and black leather jacket and boots – perfection!

Jason Manns joined Rob and Billy for the traditional version of Hallelujah. There were lots of new people, so it took a few choruses before fans realized they were waiting for the audience to sing the chorus back to them. It always seems to touch them to hear it, and it always sounds haunting in the ballroom.

And we got a rare treat with Richard Speight, Jr. also taking the mic to perform a few songs from his Dick Jr. and the Volunteers album – including ‘Livin’ At Night’, one of my favorites.

I was hoping we’d get some Matt Cohen at the SNS but he must have had to leave too early – Mama’s Jam is always rockin, but not as rockin as it is when Matt is cheerleading.

The cast joined in for a rousing rendition of ‘Medicated’ on kazoos (or whatever they could find to approximate them, Richard blowing across a bottle lol).

Sunday morning the air was crackling with excitement – everyone missed Jared at the last convention, so it was extra special to have Jared and Jensen on stage together again for the gold panel. And a relief to see Jared for ourselves after such a serious car accident. Jensen joked: I wheeled Jared up here today.

Also? Bowlegs.

Someone asked about a crossover that has already made its way to fanfiction – Cordell Walker meeting Beau Arlen.

Jared: In all the worlds I imagine, I imagine Walker meets Beau Arlen.

Jensen talked about that moment when he was directing Walker when he ad libbed walking through the Kansas concert and making eye contact with Cordell – which unfortunately didn’t make it into the show, but must have been a priceless moment. Then they re-enacted it, as they love to do in their panels.

They were asked about their Impalas from the set. Jared said he picked his up at Family Business Beer Co and wanted to drive it home. Jensen said he considered putting a 327 engine in it (for reasons) but decided against it. Both said they are absolutely keeping all the dings and dents. My heart.

Jared has a few other sentimental items from the show, including the Legos that were in the Impala – and are now in Jared’s Impala. He also has the Samulet and the army men.

I seriously love that they are as sentimental about Supernatural as all of us are.

Jensen talked about his evolution with making music (the latest being his hilariously awful rendition of Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ as Soldier Boy).

Jensen: I’d always play music with Rob when he guest starred on the show.

Jared: We were hanging out and I was like, you gotta hear Jensen sing!

Jared had to fly in later than expected because he was moderating a panel on the new prequel Walker: Independence in Austin, so Jensen stayed behind too to fly into Chicago with him. On the way on the plane, Jensen showed Jared the Termite scene from episode one of Season 3 of The Boys. This is the grin on Jensen’s face when he told us that, and I’m sure the grin on his face when he saw Jared’s reaction too. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s a unique combination of sexual and disturbing that only The Boys could pull off!)

Jared and Jensen took some time to be serious about Supernatural, which I always appreciate.

Jensen: Supernatural was our home, and Jared and I welcomed others to our house.

They were each other’s partner in crime for all that time, which they both clearly value. Karl Urban was Jensen’s partner in crime at times on The Boys. Jensen noted that Jared didn’t really have a partner in crime on Walker, because he’s the Executive Producer (which makes people reticent to commit crimes lol).

Jensen: I was directing Walker and I started teasing Jared, like a brother would, and turned to the other actors and was like, haha, am I right? And I looked around and people were just like staring.

Oops. A bit scary to make fun of the EP, I suppose.

The gold panel is always over WAY too fast, and this was no exception. It’s a good thing we know we’ll see them again, because I could watch those long-legged boys talk and laugh forever.

Alex Calvert had a panel later that morning, which I caught at least some of and always enjoy.  He said he loved doing any scenes on Supernatural that involved stunts.

The pranks, not so much.

Alex about getting back at Jared and Jensen: Sometimes I fantasize about it at night…don’t make it weird…

Me: lol

He told the hilarious story of planning one elaborate prank that he didn’t get to do.

Alex: Jared and Jensen love expensive Scotch. So I was gonna tell them I was giving them some Johnny Walker Blue as a thank you on my last day. Then imagine them opening the box and it’s this giant dildo. I decided not to do that, but great fantasy…

Me: lol again.

Also, Alex would fit right in on ‘The Boys’, just sayin’.

Alex also reiterated the ‘family don’t end with blood’ theme.

Alex: For Jack, I had my three sexy uncles. It’s not always the family that you’re born with, it’s the family you make.

At some point in here, Laurena and I had our J2 photo op. After devoting a surprisingly long amount of time the day before practicing a complicated pose, when we realized the boys weren’t as constrained as they had been in terms of getting a little closer, we abandoned all the (hilarious) careful planning and just settled in for some very welcome hugs from Jensen and Jared.

It felt healing. And warm.

Here’s the me part of it, since I’m not sure if Laurena wants her part to be immortalized here – but she looks adorable all burrowed into Jared, just sayin’.

Jared and Jensen did their traditional leap onstage for the main panel, which was good to see since Jared is still in the healing process – hopefully he took it a little easy! They fist bumped after to kick off their panel too, a little expression of solidarity at the start.

There was a question about regrets, I think, and Jared noted that he’d like some take backs, but that he’s learned from those things.

Jensen talked about his epic entrance scene on The Boys, in which he awakens in a cryogenic chamber sans clothes. It was his very first day on the new set.

Jensen: Nothing between me and a new cast and crew but a sock.

gifs by abordelimpala

Jared could not resist making it dirty.

Jared: What are you pointing at?

Jensen could not resist making it even dirtier.

Jensen (laughing): Me!

OMG these two. I love it when they are just being themselves and having fun (and often being naughty in the process).

There were a lot of shenanigans at this panel – in other words, it was an AWESOME panel! This is demonstrating stage left and stage right for some reason I’ve forgotten.

I don’t know what this is, but for some reason Jared had to hold Jensen back…something about a wrong answer…

Jared even got a rim shot from Norton, much to his great joy and Jensen’s indulgent laugh.

They told the story again – because I think Jensen is just really proud of himself – when Jensen showed Jared Episode 1 of Season 3 of The Boys on the plane on their way to Chicago haha.

There were also some truly awful Dad jokes, including Jared’s ‘on the way to the bathroom you’re Russian, in the bathroom European, on the way back, you’re Finnish’ which sent Jensen storming offstage. Priceless J2.

Jensen also told Jared all about that video making the rounds on social media of the moose chasing off a bear haha. How perfect for Jared (aka moose) who is afraid of bears!

That went off the rails too.

First he tried to cover his ears with lalalalala I can’t hear you.

Jared: I’m afraid of bears.

Jensen: West Hollywood bears?

Jared: No, they’re cuddly…

Boys.

It’s clear from their interactions that they still know each other incredibly well. Jared started to answer a question with “my cheesy answer is…” and Jensen jumped in.

Jensen: As soon as Jared says “my cheesy answer” I knew what was coming.

Jared: Well, you’ve been watching me perform for like 35 years!

They still wish that Supernatural had some more glimpses of the brothers just doing their thing, like that everyday life episode Robbie Thompson always wanted to do.

Jensen: It would’ve been nice to see Sam and Dean not just blow off steam, but maybe take a vacation.

Jared: Or them just sitting around doing nothing.

Me: Yes, all of the above!

Not gonna lie, my favorite moment of the panel was when Jared and Jensen asked the audience if we were up for a reboot of Supernatural – and the ballroom burst into cheers.

Jared and Jensen: Us too!

They talked about a limited series, which we were all very much down for. Perhaps the brothers work one big case for 8 or 10 episodes?

YES PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

They agreed on one important point though.

Jared and Jensen both: If we do more Supernatural, we two decide on how to do it.

I REPEAT, YES PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

Jared: He and I weren’t producers on Supernatural, but we protected the characters and the canon and the tone.

Jensen: What we built on Supernatural, we will never have that again – it was like coming home.

Me: Tissues??

The last question included inspiring Jensen to do his best Valley girl imitation, which was rather epic.

And then this panel was over far too soon too!

The evening was spent at my friend Laurena’s house, with a fire roaring in the fire pit in their backyard and some delicious takeout and good conversation. Perfect way to end a convention weekend, catching up with old friends.

Stay tuned for more Supernatural conventions and our rewatch, which is nearing the end of Season 2.

And if you want to know more about Supernatural and its actors behind the scenes, check out the books with chapters by the actors – almost all of the actors who were at this convention wrote chapters. Gil, Adam, David, Kim, Briana, Ruth, Rob, Matt, Richard, Misha, Jared and Jensen all have chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood or There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, with their thoughts on how the show and the fandom have changed their lives and what they hope Supernatural’s legacy will be for all of us. Available at the links on this page or at:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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