The first “Salute to Supernatural and Other J & J Projects” and the first con of 2023 happened in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Anyone who knows me knows that I am generally a person who loathes change – especially when it comes to things that are important to me. Like Supernatural. So I had a little trepidation flying to Vegas, wondering if the con would feel different, if it would be less “Supernatural” and if that would make me sad. I was nostalgic to be back at the Rio despite my less-than-wonderful memories of the year our toilet started overflowing in the middle of the night (when everyone had been asleep for hours) and we ended up having to switch rooms at 3 am in the midst of a truly horrific mess. Somehow I am STILL fondly nostalgic for the Rio anyway, with its open-24-hours Starbucks and its gigantic Hash House breakfasts and its 20 mile walk to the convention center (yes, that’s an exaggeration). Alas, there’s only one Starbucks left and it closed at 5 pm every day much to my dismay, but I did have some Hash House thanks to my lovely friends.
Most importantly, yes, it still felt like a Supernatural con! Give me the Jared and Jensen gold panel and the Jared and Jensen main panel and the Misha Saturday panel and Louden Swain at SNS and I will continue to be happy. I thoroughly enjoyed the Smallville panel with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, and the Walker panel with Mitch Pileggi, Jake Abel and Keegan Allen. SNS was awesome and there was no drama (that I witnessed anyway) and phew, I feel like I can relax a bit. I just don’t want to lose what I so love about Supernatural cons, but I’m happy to get to hear some new stories and meet some new people for the other shows I’m watching too.
The new semester just started, so this is a briefer con write up than I usually do, but I wanted to write up some of the fun before I don’t remember it all. I missed Kathy a lot at this con, since my first trip to Vegas was with her – we rode the roller coaster and saw the Criss Angel magic show and generally “did” Vegas, and it will always remind me of her. I still can’t believe she’s gone, honestly. (If you’ve read Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls you understand how unique and wonderful our friendship was). Luckily I had lots of friends at this con, and I’m very grateful.
My friend Sue picked me up at the airport on Friday afternoon after a flight that was long but not arduous largely because I got a very nice seat that had a footrest! So I might have slept most of the way… Anyway, caught some of the Gil McKinney and David Haydn-Jones panel, which was hilarious. When I came in, Gil was telling the story of the time he was filming a show and they gave him a prosthetic penis and it looked like a cave man’s.
David: Why didn’t you keep it? And use it as a hat?
I mean, sure, why not?
From there they ended up talking about hat size…and head size…
David: We’ll try on hats together later…and that’s not even a double entendre!
Gil thanked the fandom for their influence in giving him the courage to go back to performing onstage as a singer – he writes about it in his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood. And he sang at the SNS in Vegas too, yay!
David wrote a chapter in the next book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, about the impact the Supernatural fandom has had in his life too.
They talked about the flexibility that’s essential to being an actor. David said he first auditioned for Ketch looking scruffy and wearing a motorcycle jacket, but the next time after they took the character in another direction, in a tuxedo!
Gil said that he especially loves working with directors who are also actors, like Richard Speight, Jr. and said he had a great director once who really helped him get back to where he should be.
Jason Manns was the emcee for Friday, and did a great job as always.
Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster had a panel on Friday too, which as always was equal parts amusing and serious (as in, tears in my eyes kinda serious)
What other characters would they like to play?
Kim: I’d like to play Lucifer, angelically… as I pop your eyeballs out…
They told the hilarious story of when they first met on set and Briana apologized to Kim for cussing a lot!
On the more serious side, they talked about how we can all be kind to ourselves.
Briana: When someone says something nice to me, I put it in my “love drawer” in my brain to keep it.
Kim: We often interpret ‘strong’ as impervious, but it can mean vulnerability.
Someone suggested they should guest on ‘The Boys’ and they both answered Yes Please! I can totally see them killing it on that show.
Briana and Kim both wrote inspiring chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood, with a lot of the type of wisdom that they share at cons so openly.
I was too exhausted to make the mile long trek back to the ballroom for karaoke, so it was an early night for me – also I was so sad that the Starbucks was closed, I just wanted to mope a bit. No iced decaf latte, sob…
Saturday was a jam packed day, including a Smallville panel with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum. I watched Smallville back in the day, though wouldn’t consider myself a “fan” but I enjoyed it, so their stories were fun. But more importantly, they were just fun! Tom and Michael, as longtime friends and colleagues who grew up together in Vancouver and know each other very very well, have a similar dynamic to Jared and Jensen – so they are a lot of fun to watch!
Tom said he was leaving to go finish up filming The Winchesters as Samuel Campbell, which I guess he’s done by now since the show has wrapped filming.
He said that when Jensen was trying to cast that role, he kept saying they needed a Tom Welling type and he was finally just like, why don’t we just cast actual Tom Welling? Lol
I enjoy Michael Rosenbaum’s podcast, Inside of You, which Jared, Jensen, Misha and many others have been guests on. I also remember hanging out with him once back in the early years of Supernatural at a concert in LA. I think maybe Steve Carlson was playing, or maybe Jason Manns, and Michael’s band joined too. Jensen was there and we had a nice chat, and then someone introduced me to Michael and we got to talking – he struck me as a very nice, down to earth guy, but I’d never seen him do a panel. He was awesome!
At one point he borrowed a fan’s scooter and made the rounds of the ballroom, much to everyone’s delight.
He also said he had a pitch for a new show with Tom that sounded great – it’s called Zeroes and it’s about two guys who were on a TV show and now one lives in the other’s basement.. . sounds like Jared and Jensen in the early seasons of SPN, except they were still ON the TV show. And neither were a Zero!
Tom is also delightfully down to earth, admitting to the challenge of trying to do the Smallville podcast they do and not being able to remember the episode lol
This is entirely out of context, but at one point Tom gave the advice of “if your pants are too tight, just don’t wear underwear” which sounds….uncomfortable.
Tom said that Tom Ellis had a lot of fun messing with him on Lucifer.
Tom: He did ask for a second take of that kiss…
They had a little bit of serious conversation, trying to decide if Michael’s character Lex (who was my favorite character in Smallville btw) was actually a bad guy.
Tom: But is Lex really evil?
Michael: No one is inherently born evil.
Tom also said that the young actors on The Winchesters asked him, how do you do this? (have the stamina to do an ongoing series) He advised them to drink water and take naps, saying you need that sleep when you’re doing a series.
Michael has a new album out – with Billy Moran and Emma Fitzpatrick on it – so check that out!
Both Michael and Tom joined Louden Swain for a rousing version of Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf to close out their panel – awesome job, guys!
— Fangasm (@FangasmSPN) January 14, 2023
Misha came onstage and got to banter quite a bit with Rich and Rob, a dynamic which I have missed because we haven’t had Rich at that many cons recently.
He also wore short sleeves, which everyone appreciated I’m sure.
Misha got to talk quite a bit about his new show, Gotham Knights, which is currently filming.
Misha: We’re filming episode 11 and I’m loving it!
He said he’s really proud of the work they’re doing.
But it’s not without its acting challenges – Misha said the mask he has to wear as Dent is in two pieces and covers a lot of his face, and apparently it’s pretty awful looking and scared his daughter.
Misha: It takes hours to get on, but it looks very realistic. It’s not something you want someone you want to have sex with to see….
He did talk about his sex scene on Gotham Knights, which I know a lot of people are anticipating, saying they have an intimacy coordinator now so it’s a lot different than back in the day when he did one on “24”.
Misha: In that one, I’m in just a sock… a very large sock… and she has pasties on. And the woman takes off her robe and on the pasties she wrote “hi Misha”.
A fan asked, who would Castiel and Harvey Dent work a case?
Misha: Castiel tries to help the family any way he can… and then Harvey Dent kills the family…
Coincidentally, the cinematographer for the TSA shorts that Misha did (which are hilarious if you haven’t seen them) is also on Gotham Knights! One of those short films has Misha being a TSA agent who does a “Private Pat Down” – which a real TSA agent sort of enacted with him recently, much to his amusement!
Fans chided him a little for the video he posted when there was a huge storm in LA and a tree came down on power lines – why was he out there taking a video of that?
Misha: I think I’m a bit of a danger enthusiast…
Misha did a little reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ of Supernatural too – he said that having Kansas on stage at Hall H was one of those pinch me moments of his life.
Mine too, Misha!
Someone asked what Castiel’s favorite Zeppelin song on the mixtape was and Misha chuckled.
Misha: Stairway to Heaven? I’m not taking risks with this answer…
I love that the cast has stayed such close friends, even if fandom is constantly trying to convince people otherwise. Misha said that he and Jared and Jensen had gone to see the James Terrell art installation at the Louis Vuitton store that morning, and it was so cool. Jared and Jensen were waiting for him in the hotel lobby and the actual James Terrell walked right by them!
The three of them also saw Criss Angel at a restaurant and they didn’t go say hi (or say hey, we had an episode of our show called… okay I guess maybe they wouldn’t want to say it was ‘Criss Angel Is A Douchebag…’)
More shenanigans of the Supernatural cast enjoying Vegas together…
Misha’s customary saying too much about things continued, as he was in the middle of a long answer about Gish and NASA and Amazon.
Misha: I think I might have signed an NDA about this…
Misha has a heartwarming chapter about the Supernatural fandom in Family Don’t End With Blood – and that book and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done both benefit his charity, Random Acts.
We got separate Rob and Rich panels for some reason (I love them together!) but when the two of them were onstage with Misha, Richard told a hilarious story about directing Walker. He said the episode’s writer told him he had a total fanboy moment because he’s a huge Supernatural fan – but it was seeing Rob and Ruth Connell at an airport (not working on a show starring Jared Padalecki lol)
Rob’s panel included some info on the new Louden Swain album, Feelings and Such. Rob said it’s a very emotional album and also very collaborative, with songs written by Stephen Norton and Billy Moran too.
Rob, who has been filming The Boys in Toronto, said that he’s been playing the bad guy lately on a lot of shows, and it’s so fun. Hmmm, does that mean he’s a bad guy on The Boys? I can’t wait to find out!
I missed seeing Tyler Johnston at Vegas con unfortunately, but Rob brought him up in his panel when asked if he agrees with Chuck about the episode ‘Bugs’ being terrible (I disagree for the record).
Rob: Bugs do gross me out, but Tyler Johnston is so adorable!
Rob said he’s been loving watching Supernatural from the beginning for the Supernatural Then and Now Podcast.
Rob: It’s great! Obviously Kripke had thoughts about Bugs, because Chuck was voicing his thoughts. But the show is great!
That it is.
He too reminisced about Supernatural, saying that before covid, they were all going to be there and after the last shot of the finale, they were all gonna have a toast and then start the after party with the cameras rolling, including us (the fans) in it too.
Rob isn’t sure if Kripke knew from the start that Chuck was going to be God.
Rob: I always wanna ask him that.
(Well Rob, this is probably a good time, just sayin…)
Rob wrote a heart-stopping chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood that takes you moment by moment through the time he had a stroke at a Supernatural convention, and how he came through it with the help of his friends and the fandom.
I caught some of Richard’s panel too. When I came in, he was saying that he realized from the start that Jared and Jensen were destined to be great.
Richard: We’re lucky we got to watch them do that together.
Richard: Jared and Jensen aren’t great because of Supernatural. The show is great because of their great acting.
Damn right again.
It wasn’t just them, though. The whole show, as he said, had such a great group of people all collaborating.
Richard: I’m enjoying doing the podcast because so many great people came together to make the show so good.
He had some kind words for his good buddy Tim Omundson (Cain), saying he did such a good job on Supernatural that he could have had his own show.
Richard also had lots of praise for the talented composers who made Supernatural even better – Chris Lennertz and Jay Gruska, saying that directors don’t have control of the music, but the composers for the show were “unbelievable”.
For the episode of The Winchesters he directed, Richard said he pitched “Can’t Find My Way Home”, but it came back too expensive for the Eric Clapton version. They were lucky to find another version though that they could use, by Steve Winwood!
He said he had a lot of fun in Season 15 of Supernatural putting personal references in his episodes – to his wife, his sons, and even a Dick Junior and the Volunteers song that made sense.
Richard knows the actors joke around and call him “Speighteen Takes”.
Richard: Actors I work with know I don’t move on until I get what I need. That’s the joke but they know they can trust me to get their best.
Sometimes I think back on the early convention days, when Richard and I would always go out for a drink or a bite after the con and decompress, talking about how the con went and a little bit about what we were up to. I remember him starting to talk about wanting to direct very early on, and every time I see how successful he’s been, I remember those early conversations so warmly.
Richard has a fascinating chapter about his whole long ride with Supernatural and how it changed his life in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done that gives a lot of insight into who he is and how he got there.
The Saturday Night Special was well worth the mile long trek back to the ballroom after dinner, with lots of great guest performances. Kim and Briana both joined the fun, Briana with a moving version of ‘Red’.
Michael Rosenbaum introduced them with lots of enthusiasm.
Gil McKinney joined in too, with a wonderful rendition of a Harry Styles song – I have so missed his voice at the SNS!
Jason Manns joined Billy and Rob for beautiful harmony for Hallelujah, with the audience singing the chorus – that always makes Jason and Rob smile so happily.
I was also thrilled to have Richard Speight, Jr. back at SNS – he did ‘Copperhead Road’ and from his Dick Jr. and the Volunteers album my favorite “Livin At Night”.
Rich and Rob are so damn good, they can even play on their backs!
The finished up with a rocking version of Mama’s Jam (though I will always miss the days when so many guests joined them for it, Matt Cohen cheerleading from chairs and Kim and Briana running around the ballroom).
It was Billy Moran’s birthday, so his wife brought a cake onstage for him and we all sang.
Then the band did an old school rendition of “Medicated” and I was sad I didn’t have my kazoo but it was still awesome.
Sunday, as always, was J2 day!
The boys were in a good mood, had been out having fun the night before and the day before with some SPN and Walker friends, and looked awesome too. No surprise there.
Someone asked about Jensen’s writing process for Radio Company songs, and Jared joked “Well, when I’m in the shower…” miming the process.
Jensen said they do the music first, and later add the lyrics.
They were asked about doing “Hot Ones” and Jared got so excited saying they were just talking about that, that he started jumping around – much to Jensen’s amusement. They’ve actually talked to the show about wanting to be on, along with Misha, so fingers crossed!
Jared said when he made that video with Gen eating the hot pepper, “every fluid in my body leaked out of me…”
To everyone’s ohhhhh reallllly, he added “Um, above the clavicle!”
Jensen talked a little about his role as Soldier Boy on The Boys, saying that there were a few takes where he used his “Dean voice”. He was worried about too much Dean being in Soldier Boy, but Eric Kripke told him that he never saw Dean in the new character, to his relief.
It wasn’t all that easy for Jared to move onto a new character either.
He said that on the first season of Walker, it kind of worked out because Cordell was out of sorts and feeling weird being back and so was Jared feeling a little lost on a new show.
But mostly they talked about Supernatural and how much fun they had doing it and how much they miss it. In fact, there were long stretches of time where they just talked to each other about that, reminiscing and sharing laughs and clearly missing those days. I was perfectly happy to just sit and watch and listen, frankly!
They talked about missing the camaraderie of the Supernatural cast and crew, which was something very special.
They reminisced fondly about sometimes having shooting go late into the night, so that their meals were quite late – but they never called any meal “dinner” even if it was at midnight, it was second meal or something. (I was on that set a few times when “lunch” was at 10 pm, so I can vouch for that!)
They took it as a point of pride, I think, that every year in the very new days of social media, the studio would ask them to sign social media contracts, leaving them for them in their trailers and then asking “did the boys sign them”.
The answer, repeatedly, was no.
They looked so proud of that…
Jared said now that Supernatural is behind them – FOR RIGHT NOW – he can just be proud of the show that they did.
Jensen: I’m proud of how we went out, and that allows us to come back.
Jared: No matter what, we always gave it our all.
Both Jared and Jensen wrote about Supernatural and what it’s meant to them, and what the fans have meant to them, in Family Don’t End With Blood, and about what they’re proud of in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, if you’d like to read more of their thoughts.
In between the J2 panels, there was the Walker panel, another new addition to the cons. This one was Mitch Pileggi (Bonham on Walker, Skinner from X Files and of course Samuel Campbell on Supernatural), Keegan Allen (Liam on Walker and from Pretty Little Liars) and Jake Abel (Kevin on Walker and of course Adam on Supernatural). I already know Jake is awesome, but the three of them were really fun together!
There were a few serious moments, but not too many. Mitch talked about his first impressions of Jared and Jensen, saying that he was immediately impressed with both of them. He also said he’d pretty much be on anything Jared asked him to, saying that he’s been in the business for 40 years and Walker was his best job ever. That makes me feel so proud, that Jared has created such an amazing place to work, just like he wanted to.
Mitch did an episode of the original Walker Texas Ranger, but said he likes what they’re doing on this version better.
The running joke was that Mitch has been on just about everything, so Keegan immediately was like “of course you did!”
Mitch got a few questions about The X Files, and every time Jake and Keegan started humming the theme song hilariously.
Someone asked who Keegan would be if he was on Supernatural. Jake started describing a sort of frenemy and suddenly realized: I’m literally describing Crowley, aren’t I?
They are all mischievous, and all in denial about it.
Keegan: Oh, I’d never take anything from set…
Jake: Oh no, especially not that one thing…
Keegan actually told a hilarious story about the one time he did take something, thinking no one would miss it, and it turned into a Big Thing. Poor Keegan.
Jake: I took that harness from Percy Jackson, it’s like leather bondage gear…
Keegan: He wears it to work, with nothing else.
They all agreed on how hard it was to narrate audio books, randomly. And even more randomly, they got talking about when your nipples get hard and it became a Thing.
Jake: Keegan, do your nipples get hard? You know everyone is looking at them now…
Mitch: I don’t wanna be on panels with Jake…
(Also Mitch: let me see…)
Jake was asked about Adam and Michael’s relationship and what they did over pandemic quarantine.
Jake: Adam and Michael had like an odd couple relationship. I think Adam probably took up baking.
Another fun panel!
Jared and Jensen leapt onto their main panel per usual, even though apparently Jared right now has no ACL in his leg – he demonstrated and ewwwww!
Jensen: Get that fixed, man! Your brother is an orthopedic surgeon!
Paging Dr. Jeff Padalecki, stat!
They had an adorably fake grumpy “argument” about when Christmas lights should be put up and taken down, which was really just an excuse for some priceless brotherly mock fighting. It never gets old, honestly.
They were also naughty, per usual.
Fan: What’s your favorite stroganoff?
Jensen: Nope, not goin’ there.
Jared: He’s handsome though.
They are Urban Dictionary pros, I swear.
Jensen talked about Demon Dean’s singing, saying he had “great pipes”.
Jensen: Vocal chords, I’m talking about vocal chords!
There was a lot of Supernatural reminiscing again, much to my great delight. Jensen and Jared together told the story of how Jared had to keep leaping into Bobby’s car in the season premiere of Season 3. Kim Manners kept urging him to go faster, and he ended up literally scalping himself repeatedly, much to the person in charge of hair at the time (Jeannie Chow’s) shock when she ended up with a piece of scalp as she did Jared’s hair! Ewwww. When these guys say they gave it all for Supernatural…
Jensen is enacting Jeannie’s face when she realized lol
They talked about their acting process, about how when they’re doing a scene, everything else fades away and then it rushes back in after they yell ‘cut’.
Jared tried repeatedly to get a rim shot out of Norton – honestly we were all rooting for him by the time he eventually did!
Someone asked if they had their own journal of monsters (their characters), who would be in them. Soulless Sam in Jared’s? Jared wasn’t so sure.
Jensen: He’d be in Dean’s!
There was a question about changing something that I can’t recall, but Jared volunteered that while the actress did a great job, what he would change is the Amelia storyline – possibly my least favorite one.
Jared: I don’t think Sam would have spent so much time with Amelia, he would have looked for his brother.
Jensen acted out what it would have looked like if Dean had dodged that rebar in the finale rather amusingly.
(No, not that he thinks Dean should have… but it was funny to see him wiggle out of the way repeatedly!)
Jensen said that he had just signed a new deal, and there should be a press release soon. We are still anxiously waiting!!
Probably the most talked about moment was when Jared said he couldn’t do something because he was “in season” (meaning filming) and Jensen leaned over and smelled him and confirmed “Yep, he is,” and every single fanfic reader in the room immediately just about fell off their chairs as Jared blushed.
This is unrelated, I think Jared demonstrating the remedy for brain freeze, but it’s also what I tweeted it as: Quintessential J2!
Near the end of the panel, there was a surprise wedding proposal – she said yes as Jared and Jensen watched. Now that’s what I call a memorable proposal!
And then they both asked if Jensen would sing at their wedding haha
There was a question from a fan who hasn’t yet watched the ending of Supernatural, about whether or not she should. That’s one of the five most controversial questions you could probably ask in this fandom, and some people weighed in with YES and others with NO let it end at 15.19. There’s a persistent misunderstanding of what Jensen has said numerous times about initially not wanting Dean to die – in part because that’s HIS character and that’s a big thing to get your head around, and in part because both Jared and Jensen want Sam and Dean to come back and make more television. That gets twisted into a misunderstanding that what he means is that he hated the finale, and that isn’t true (as he’s actually said many times). They love the finale and are proud of their performance, and of course the Winchesters being in Heaven doesn’t preclude any more Supernatural, because – well, because this is Supernatural! He answered the question once again by explaining that while Dean’s death is meant to be heartbreaking, it’s part of Sam and Dean’s emotional journey that we got to go on with them.
Jensen: And if you don’t watch the finale, you’re robbing yourself of that.
Of course that doesn’t mean anyone has to watch it – it’s a TV show, you can take it or leave it and you should leave it if it makes you unhappy – but it’s also an integral part of the show and the characters’ journey.
Predictably, my tweet of his answer got all kinds of replies, but I understood what Jensen was saying. (That said, I still don’t watch the part of the finale where Sam is alone in the bunker with Miracle very often, because it’s so damn well done and it’s really really sad).
They both said multiple times, as they often do now at cons, that “just because Supernatural ended, doesn’t mean it’s the end of Supernatural.”
We also got dad jokes (mostly from Jared) and Jensen finally exasperatedly (but very fondly) exclaiming about Jared, “such an idiot”, both of them grinning ear to ear.
We had the last question, and then Richard Speight, Jr. appeared with yet another birthday cake for a surprised Billy Moran (it might possibly have been the same cake, but who’s keeping track…)
The traditional fist bump and then Jared and Jensen thanked the fans – another awesome day of panels!
I always get emotional when they stand there like that looking so grateful. Sigh.
My trip back was not nearly as pleasant as my trip out to Vegas, trapped on the tarmac while a rain storm freaked everyone out, but I eventually made it home, grateful.
Now that I’ve had a week or so to forget that I’m not a fan of the Rio, I feel a little sad we didn’t get to re-up after so many years of Supernatural cons there. I don’t really like change, so all the changes happening recently sometimes take some adjusting for me – but I’m working on it!
The boys certainly had a great time doing Vegas up right in between con panels – they hit the town and had some fun and some good food, and honestly it warms my heart seeing them all enjoying being together again.
Here’s hoping the Supernatural and friends con returns to Vegas at some point!