Savoring Supernatural

I told myself that I would work really hard to savor every moment of Supernatural’s last season, and today I feel like I’m keeping that promise.  I’m going to try to document these last months with the show that has been so important to me, because I want to remember every moment.

Today is a good day.

It’s been a week of being immersed in the show and the fandom and the fandom-adjacent things that have made this wild ride so special. A week of doing GISH (a charity scavenger hunt challenge sort of game spearheaded by Misha Collins) with the team I’ve been on for six years, which will never be in the running for actual winning but which always manages to be silly, have fun, spread some kindness and do some good in the world. My team is full of spectacular cheerleaders who applaud even my most not-quite-masterpiece-level attempts and somehow inspire more creativity than anything else I do all year long. Credit for that also goes to Misha Collins and company’s think-outside-the-box challenges that I always think nah, I can’t do that, and then the damn item will not let me forget about it!

GISH always makes me feel close not only to my team but to the SPN Family at large, knowing many people are out there doing the same silly things I am all for a good cause. This year, because of the pandemic, there were lots of zoom panels too, some of which were informative and some of which were just good old (chaotic) fun. It was so nice to see the faces of some of my favorite Supernatural actors and also some fans who I miss seeing! Having a zoom panel each day made it feel almost like a convention weekend, and made me feel immersed in the Supernatural fandom in a more immediate and consistent way than I’ve felt for a while. We even joined Kansas for a ‘Carry On’ singalong over zoom, which I’m not ashamed to say made me all kinds of emotional. And yes, I savored it.

This weekend Creation had a virtual mini con, so as GISH was ending, the fandom gathered around their screens once again, this time to watch Stage It panels of Kim and Briana, then Misha, then today Jared and Jensen. I had to work during Kim and Briana’s, but I bought a ticket for Misha’s and for Jared and Jensen’s and then live tweeted the panels because apparently I just wanted it to feel as much like a con as possible! We have been lucky as a fandom to have been able to see Misha quite a bit online over this quarantine, and I’m so grateful. I would have felt so much more cut off without his zoom chats and panels pulling together all sorts of fascinating people – and I would have been a lot less informed and able to help make change too.

Also, as shallow as this may be, quarantine has agreed with Misha. He looks GOOD.

We haven’t seen as much of Jared and Jensen, however. Last week there was a little interview from Australian tv, which was wonderful. Then today they did some meet and greets and a joint virtual Stage It panel for a mini Creation con, live from their respective quarantines in Vancouver (they’re back in their apartments that they’ve had there for many years – and now having to start cleaning out soon…)

I’m not sure I realized how much I missed them until today. Conventions, whether you’re there or you’re watching a video kindly recorded by fellow fans, are a way of feeling close to the cast of our favorite show. That near constant contact is what has made this fandom feel so much like a family, and part of why we all feel so close to the actors who bring our favorite characters to life. I said to someone tonight, it actually felt “healing” to be able to “spend time” with them, even though we could see them and they couldn’t see us. Nevertheless, it was a connection. We got to see them smile and tease each other and throw their heads back and laugh, and I found myself grinning like a fool and kinda glad nobody could see me! I’m so glad they’re happy to be back and still in love with this show and these characters just like we are.

Jared and Jensen on the possibility of having more Supernatural in some form one day: Spinoff? Special feature? Hmmm….

Hmmmm

That constant interaction that we usually have through conventions and interviews etc also makes me feel close to the show itself. My questions are always about the show, and I’m used to regularly hearing Jared and Jensen and Misha’s thoughts on what their characters are experiencing, and little clues about where the show might be going. We haven’t had that in a long time, and it was so good to hear them talk about the show again. It made me feel so much more immersed in the fandom and the show, and so grateful that Supernatural is still on the air and is not over yet.  My social media was overflowing with Supernatural content, which felt so good – with joyous posts and a million screencaps and fans who are so grateful for something good and fun and pretty in the midst of such a dark and difficult time.

Also, how do they look like this just hanging out on a zoom call???

Cap jaredwalkersam
cap acklespower

I might have stared at those last two for a while. Pretty sure I’m not alone.

Jared and Jensen both have their dogs with them in quarantine, which melted at least half the fandom. (Icarus waved hello on his way to greet dog walker Maisie). Also speaking of melting, in his meet and greet, Jensen wore a white Henley sans hoodie. Anyway…

From rainbow-motors gif

It was a good day, and that’s not something you hear all that often right now.

I’m so grateful that Supernatural is still here, and that it can still make me this happy. A day like this, it’s easy to keep that promise. I’m savoring it! Meet you back here for the next moments I want to remember – you can follow updates on twitter @FangasmSPN.

Panel videos below – enjoy!

–Lynn

You can always remember and celebrate

Supernatural with the new book There’ll Be

Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans

Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural. Links

above or at peacewhenyouaredone.com

 

 

The Last Day of Filming for Supernatural – Now It’s All Too Real

There’s a sense of déjà vu happening in the Supernatural fandom today – for me at least. For the second time this year, we now know when Supernatural will film its last scenes.

Way back in the spring, before the entire world changed and we were plunged into a pandemic, we thought we knew when Supernatural filming would end. We counted down to that date with mixed emotions – something to anticipate and be proud of, because it was to be the culmination of fifteen years of an amazing show – but also something to dread, because it would mean the show that has changed my life would truly be at an end.

As filming began on the penultimate episode (some people do say ‘penultimate’, Sam) we were all steeling ourselves for that ending. Not just the fandom, but the cast and crew too. It is a very big thing to end something that has been your life for that long, especially something that has meant so much. The actors were exhausted but had themselves in the emotional and psychological space to “bring those boys home” and were determined to do it in a way that did them justice. I consoled myself with knowing that we’d have conventions with them right after they finished filming, so we could ‘be there’ for them to process it and hear from them about how it went and how they felt and just be reassured that they were okay.

The last Comic Con

Everything changed when production shut down in March, so quickly that Misha Collins commented on his #SuperGood livestream yesterday that he impulsively grabbed a trenchcoat and some other memorabilia that would be incredibly important to him because he didn’t know if they would ever be back. The May 18 date that had been set in stone for the series finale to air also disappeared, and with it all the coping mechanisms that I had carefully put in place to be sure I was surrounded by my close friends and fellow fans as I watched it. A planned pilgrimage to Lawrence Kansas to pay homage to the show’s roots, a viewing party with friends, a few days off afterwards to deal with the overwhelming emotions I know I’ll have. Poof. Everything swept away.

The conventions that we thought we’d have to see and hear from the actors after filming ended and after the finale aired also were rescheduled, of course, including the SXSW panel celebrating fifteen years of the show that had been planned for March. Suddenly the Supernatural fandom was plunged into limbo, with thirteen episodes of the season aired and seven held up (five filmed but needing post production and the last two not filmed).  There was a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety in the midst of the overwhelming anxiety of a global pandemic. Would they get to film the final two episodes? If so, when? How? Could the cast stay safe enough to film them in the way they had originally planned? What would have to change, if not?

Last shot before filming shut down

Supernatural is my comfort place. I love knowing Sam and Dean and Cas are out there, ready to save the [fictional] world. I love the familiarity of the show, the feeling of ‘knowing’ the characters and that world. I love knowing the actors fully inhabit their characters, making them real, and caring about them as much as we do. I love being immersed in a fandom that is vibrant and energetic and full of creative inspiration and people who want to talk about Supernatural as much as I do. It has been hard not having new episodes of the show as we deal with the heartbreak and frustration of the pandemic. But I realize I’ve been clinging to the fact that Sam and Dean and Cas will be back. That Supernatural will back. That the world and the characters I love so much still exist out there. When the show didn’t end in May as planned, it sort of seemed like maybe the Winchesters would thwart the odds once again. Maybe what we said for all those years really would come true: Supernatural will never end.

Of course, we knew it would, one way or another. And believe me, I’m unspeakably grateful that it will get to end on its own terms, filmed in Vancouver where it belongs and hopefully with the crew that has been such an integral part of the show from the beginning. I’m grateful that the cast cares so much that Misha needed that trenchcoat, that Jared has said that he never wants to say goodbye to Sam, that Jensen just posted about missing Comic Con and has called Dean his best imaginary friend ever. I know they will put their hearts and souls into wrapping up this show the way it should be.

But right now, I’m reeling from knowing that end date. Filming resumes August 18 and ends on September 11. Seeing it in black and white makes the finality of it and the reality of it inescapable. My show – the one that changed my life and gave me so much for fifteen years – is actually going to end on that day. The fictional characters who are so familiar and comforting and inspiring to me will interact for the last time on the show as it has been. To someone on the outside, that might seem like a silly thing to be emotional about, but that is only because they don’t fully understand what Supernatural has meant to so many of us. I’m not going to apologize for the tissues I’m using up this afternoon.

I’m excited to see those last seven episodes, and I trust this cast and crew to pull out all the stops and give us the ending our favorite characters deserve, but damn, it turns out I am not ready to let this go.

Back in May, when the show was supposed to end, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural was released.  We intended for it to be something for us all to hold onto as the show’s final episode aired – the heartfelt words of the actors who brought the show to life to remind us of how much Supernatural  and the SPN Family have meant to them too. The equally heartfelt words of fans whose lives have been changed or even saved by the show. This show is  special, and I don’t ever want to forget that. As that final filming date draws near and the last episodes of Supernatural are aired, we hope that the book will be a comfort and a way of remembering this little show that became so important to so many.

Since I clearly won’t be at a watch party in Lawrence Kansas when that final episode does air, I’m counting on all of you to ‘be there’ with me, even if we’re all online from all corners of the world – because I’m going to need all the support I can get. And all the tissues.

And maybe I’m going to hold onto a little bit of hope that, as Jensen Ackles’ chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done concludes, “And let’s be clear. Supernatural will never end. The show might, but what it has built? This will never end. Besides, nothing ever stays dead on Supernatural.”

–Lynn

You can find There’ll Be Peace When You

Are Done and Family Don’t End With Blood at

Peacewhenyouaredone.com

 

“The Boys” Comic Con Scoop on Season 2 – and A Season 3 Renewal

Comic Con at home is definitely a different experience than being in Hall H, but I’m not gonna lie, watching panels in my jammies isn’t the worst thing to happen. Better food than the hot dogs I always seem to grab between Hall H panels too.

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of Eric Kripke and pretty much any show he creates – I’m still madly in love with one of his first ‘babies’, Supernatural. I also love his newest show, ‘The Boys’, so I couldn’t wait to watch their Comic Con at Home panel on Thursday evening. It did not disappoint! The biggest news out of The Boys panel yesterday, moderated by Aisha Tyler, was that the show has an early renewal for Season 3 already, which brought a cheer from the assembled cast — and from my living room. Here a few highlights of the panel, which you can watch at the link below.

Showrunner Eric Kripke thanked everyone who’s been watching, saying that fan reaction has exceeded all their expectations. He gave credit to the amazing cast, who have allowed people to respond not just to the superhero bit but more to the characters thanks to the actors’ talent. They also worked hard to layer in the satire and social commentary, and he shared that it’s gratifying that the audience is getting all that they set out to put in the show. Kripke reiterated that the show is a commentary on the world we’re living in, in terms of things like politics, celebrity, and social media manipulation, which is one of the things I love about it. Season 1 touched on the me too movement and the American weapons industry – Season 2 tackles white supremacy, white nationalism and systemic racism. It’s also more intense and higher stakes. As Kripke said, “crazier, but more emotional.”

According to Kripke, the show is still “the triangle”: strong characters first, madness second, and then “if we can sneak in discussion about the real world.”

Season 1 of The Boys definitely managed it and it sounds like Season 2 will also.

Eric Kripke at last year’s Comic Con panel

The panel included a sneak peek at a very unusual scene in Season 2, which left me going Ewww and Awwww simultaneously and also maybe giggling a little inappropriately.  It includes most of The Boys on a boat, which apparently Karl Urban was actually driving.

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Happy Birthday, Osric Chau!

I was going to throw back to one of my interviews with Osric that have happened over the past seven years, but then I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to include, so I thought, why not just write up a new happy birthday post and revisit a few of those favorite times? I am incredibly nostalgic right now, with Supernatural’s wild ride coming to an end soon, so looking back and appreciating the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know over the past fifteen years is one of my favorite things to do. And Osric Chau is one of those wonderful people.

Our first interview was way back in 2013, during which Osric refused to start eating his lunch before ours arrived even though I kept fretting that his was getting cold, and I realized for the first time what a very nice person he was.

In some of the more serious parts of our chat, Osric explained his hesitation initially about even putting the role of Kevin Tran in his reel because it was such a stereotypical character, and his delight in being able to watch the character evolve and be fleshed out over time (into Kevin Freakin’ Solo!)

In a less serious moment, I gushed about Osric’s cosplay of Princess Bubblegum and we laughed about the rest of the cast’s reaction. Come on, though, he can rock a dress!

Photo Briana Buckmaster

Osric also gushed about his love of Mark Sheppard, and he patiently fixed my camera. Tech problems have been a theme of my interviews all my life, with no sign of that changing. Luckily the Supernatural cast all seem to be technologically skilled. And endlessly patient. That was one of Osric’s first cons, and he was eager to experience what a Supernatural convention was all about – from the perspective of a fan, which he was accustomed to. After our chat and lunch, we walked him back to the ballroom – where we were allowed in thanks to our wristbands, and he was not! Somehow our ‘but he’s one of the guests’ wasn’t initially taken seriously, but eventually he was allowed inside. Like everything else, he took that in stride. That was our first chat, and I already knew by the end of it what a nice person Osric Chau is, and how savvy he was about all things fandom.

It was also his first time performing at the Saturday Night Special. When we had lunch on Saturday, he was extremely nervous about singing and playing the guitar for the first time onstage, so we got a chance to calm him down a little for a change. He killed it, and proceeded to kill it many other times at many other Saturday Night Specials. Damn, I miss Saturday Night Specials!

Our next actual interview was the following year, at Van Con in 2014. It started out with me unable to make my iPad record, and immediately handing it over to Osric to fix. He did.

Osric: (graciously) That’s all right, we all have our strengths…

That interview, Osric walked me through what it was like to film his final scene (at the time) as Kevin, as he’s killed by Gadreel. I wasn’t surprised to hear that he was so emotional, he couldn’t bring himself to come back to the set and say goodbyes, or that there were tears behind that thick burnt-out-eyes makeup.

On a less serious note once again, I wanted to hear the real scoop on how Osric managed to (unintentionally) dislocate Jared Padalecki’s shoulder – I have to say, the blow by blow account of what really happened was fascinating (and occasionally hilarious), but left me scratching my head and muttering “boys…”

There have been other interviews over the years, which apparently included at one point a standing-on-your-head contest in the green room with Osric and Matt Cohen and presided over by Alaina Huffman, if I recall correctly.

But my favorite memories with Osric have been not in an interview, but at San Diego Comic Con. We’ve spent time together at a few Comic Cons, but in 2015 we had some adventures that are some of my favorite memories of any Comic Con. I was an associate producer of the documentary series ‘Squee’, so I spent much of my time at Comic Con that year coordinating film shoots, including one with Osric.

After that was done, we planned to get together later that day for dinner, but then I got a call from Osric saying that Misha Collins was going to buy pizza for the thousands of people in line for Hall H who would be spending the night outside to get into the Supernatural panel the next day. Misha needed help, so Osric wanted to pitch in and asked if I could help out too. I think this may have been the first year of Misha’s traditional bring-sustenance-to-the-Hall-H-line tradition. It was a wonderful, generous, and very Misha idea, so of course I said yes. What I didn’t realize was that the place where we were getting the pizza was FAR away from where we were, way up in the Gaslamp district, which I had never quite realized was on a hill. Let’s just say Osric and Misha are in way better shape than I am and have fewer years of accumulated fatigue, so I was woefully out of breath by the time we finally reached the pizza place. Were there no pizza places CLOSER to the convention center??

The GISH mascot met us there and we all loaded up pizzas – and then made our way back down the long walk to the convention center. It was a lot more fun going down, gotta say. People started to recognize Misha (our pizza caravan was a bit conspicuous) and trailing along behind us, so we looked a bit like some strange parade. Osric gave me his camera and asked me to film it, but he should have known by then that my tech skills are nonexistent – there’s a reason you never saw him post the impromptu parade footage.

We finally made it down to the convention center. Misha loaded pizzas on a pedicab and took off pedaling down to the place by the water where fans were waiting, like the pied piper with us following and giving out pizza to hungry and grateful fans. It was so much fun watching the expressions on people’s faces when they had the sudden realization that it was Misha himself bringing them pizza!

Osric suggested that he and I grab a couple of pizzas and bring them to the ADA line, which had a big group of waiting fans also, but was in an entirely different place. The fans there were equally surprised to see Osric handing out pizza, and were happy to have not been left out of the free food. We chatted a while, and then decided to try to go visit a mutual friend who works for Comic Con and was inside getting ready for the next day. By this time it was close to midnight or maybe later and the convention center was closed up tight. Nevertheless, we followed our friend’s instructions for where to go – only to be stopped by security, who were none too happy to see us where no one was supposed to be. By this time, Osric and I were over tired and kind of silly, which did not endear us to the security person. We giggled our way through that interrogation and finally were permitted inside after some back and forth phone calls, where we stayed until the wee hours of the morning catching up and talking about all things fandom and Supernatural and Comic Con. We were all tired the next day, but even now, that remains one of my favorite memories ever of Comic Con. Thanks, Osric.

The following year, Osric wrote a chapter for the new book I was putting together, Family Don’t End With Blood, in which he talks about his personal struggle with feeling anxious and awkward and trying to figure out his own identity, and how the validation and acceptance of the SPNFamily contributed to his own evolution (with cosplay, conventions and concerts all contributing). He concluded his chapter with:

Knowing all this and tabulating the wealth of experience I’ve collected and adventures I’ve had that I would otherwise have missed without the safety net of this fandom, I can only be grateful. I receive amazing messages from fans every single day thanking me, but it really is a two-way street and a wonderful symbiotic relationship. Because of you, I allow myself to do the things that I do, and then you thank me for it. And so I respond with the most honest and straightforward answer I know: “No, thank you.”

It has been such a pleasure watching Osric’s evolution and success over the past seven years. I love what he wrote in Family Don’t  End With Blood, and many fans have told me how much his chapter inspired them.

I’ve loved so many of the creative projects he’s been in over that time too, from (another favorite) Dirk Gently, to Ryan Choi on Arrow/DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Eric in the feature film Empty By Design, Damien on the fabulous indie film Demon X, and numerous brilliant Hillywood Show parodies including, of course, both of the Supernatural ones – and more!

Dirk Gently
BTS of Demon X
Hillywood Supernatural Parody 2

Kevin Tran’s return to Supernatural in Season 15 was bittersweet, but I was grateful to have a conclusion to his powerful story.

And yes, I cried like a baby as Sam and Dean waved goodbye.

Thank you for bringing such an important character to life on Supernatural, Osric. And even more, thank you for being you. I’m honored to have your inspiring chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, and cannot wait to see what new successes and adventures you’ll be off to next!

Here are the links to just a few of our chats and adventures with Osric, and you can read his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, available at the links at the top of the page here.

First interview with Osric

Kevin’s Death and the Perils of Wrestling with Jared

Dirk Gently and Writing for Family Don’t End With Blood

Comic Con Adventures with Misha

— Lynn

Family Don’t End With Blood and the newest

book written with the cast of Supernatural,

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, are

available at the links on the home page here!

 

Happy Birthday, Jared Padalecki!

 

When I wrote a birthday message for Jared Padalecki last year, I had no idea that this year’s birthday would take place in a world that is completely different. I thought Supernatural would be wrapped and over, and Jared would be on to his next project (which we didn’t know at the time will be Walker). I thought Jared would have celebrated the last birthday on which he was still Sam Winchester. Instead, Supernatural is in limbo with production stopped just short of the series finale, and the actors and the fans are all in limbo too until they film those last two and air the remaining episodes.

That’s a tough thing for all of us. As Jared posted a few weeks ago, being Sam Winchester and a lead actor on Supernatural has been a huge part of his identity for more than fifteen years. Having all that yanked out from under you unexpectedly is even harder than having a planned ending that you can anticipate and prepare for, surrounded by the support of the people you’ve been close to for all that time.  His post was heartfelt, but there’s always mixed response when a celebrity posts something personal online. There was also speculation about why Jared has grown out his hair and his beard (during this time when he doesn’t have to step in front of the cameras). All that discussion about hair and beards made me remember some of my earliest chats with Jared, so I thought for his birthday this year, I’d throw it back to some of my favorite moments with him. Like most of us, I don’t know him well. We don’t know any of them well, even though it can seem like we do if they’ve made themselves accessible and enjoy interacting with fans like this cast does.  I’ve been lucky to spend a little time with him when he’s not on a stage or at a convention over the years, so I thought I’d share just a few of the little glimpses I’ve gotten in those times of the person Jared Padalecki is –  thoughtful, warm, emotional, intelligent. And a very good writer.

I first met Jared in 2007, shortly after my friend Kathy and I fell in love with Supernatural and spontaneously decided to fly across the country to see Jensen Ackles in a community theater production of A Few Good Men in Fort Worth, Texas. (Yes, our families did think we’d lost our minds)  There was no fandom twitter, so fandom was connected through sporadic posts on Live Journal mostly. We happened to read that someone had spotted Jared and then girlfriend Sandy on a flight to Texas, along with speculation that maybe he was going to see his costar perform. So when we saw a very tall man in the lobby candy line trying to be inconspicuous (by putting on a hat), we knew who it was. The audience for the play was mostly the regular community theater-goers, so nobody else went over to say hello other than us. Well, me. Kathy refused to budge from the corner. I don’t know what I was expecting as a brand new and extremely passionate Supernatural fan, but Jared’s warm welcome was not it. I said it was awfully nice of him to fly all the way down here to see his friend in a community theater play.

Jared brightened, that now familiar white-teeth smile making his whole face light up.

“Of course I would, he’s my bud!”

Jared was so nice, I felt protective of him immediately.

Me: Are you sure we should take photos, right now nobody knows who you are? But if we take pictures, they probably will come find out.

He waved my concern away and posed for photos and went on his merry way, standing in the refreshments line like the rest of us and greeting Jensen’s dad with a joyful “Papa Ackles!” and a big hug for Danneel – also in the candy line.

Wow, I thought, what a nice guy. Also? He was a baby! Look at those bangs!

The first time I got to spend more than a few minutes with Jared was on our first set visit, which took place the next year, in 2008. There’s a whole chapter devoted to that in the book Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. But what told me more about the kind of person Jared is was not the interview we did that day, but the moments in between. Kathy and I sat there rapt watching them film for an entire day, and came away with a little bit of understanding about what makes that set so special. Jared and Jensen seemed to set a tone that kept everyone from getting stressed out, from crew to guest actors, with constant jokes in between takes and then a lightning fast snap into professionalism when the cameras rolled. It was clear to us, as nobodies from the outside, that everyone making the show loved it – because everyone kept coming up to us eager to tell us about the part they played in that, with obvious pride. Every single member of the crew also had glowing things to say about “the boys”.  The same thing has happened every single time I’ve had the privilege of being on that set over the years.

We soon had our own proof of how nice “the boys” are. As midnight approached, the PA who was watching over us told us that shooting had run too long, there was no way we could do interviews with Jared and Jensen as had been planned. She apologized profusely but we were fine with that – we had already had a day that was beyond our wildest fangirl dreams. Jared and Jensen, however, had other ideas. One after the other, as they wrapped, they came to find us.

“Come on, we’ll just do this on the fly,” Jared said, and we jumped down from our chairs to follow him out of the studio and onto the lot. It was pouring rain and Jared’s legs are ten times longer than ours, so we essentially ran after him as he helpfully carried our little primitive audio recorder and did the “interview” as we hurried to the makeup trailer. He kept right on answering our (rather breathless) questions in the makeup trailer, and then instead of saying goodbye, invited us into his own trailer to keep right on going! It was late at night, he was exhausted and wet and must have just wanted to go home, but he was a lovely host anyway, introducing us to his dogs Harley and Sadie and generously answering all our questions.

Here’s the part of that interview that I was reminded of when all the discussion of Jared’s hair (facial and otherwise) happened.

Lynn: It reminds me of what Eric Kripke said about this [looking at fan reaction online]. He said he likes to hear what the fans are saying, but not so that he can follow it and do it, because then he’ll lose the vision and what they love in the first place.

Jared: Exactly, exactly,  and I’m lucky because I’m able to avoid the internet and opinions.  I remember when I started Gilmore Girls, I was 18, fresh out of Texas, just graduated high school, pretty naïve — and the 5th episode they cut my hair. The internet was kind of new and I was like oh, weird, they write about that? Cool! And so I read about it and it was like ‘oh Dean has a different hairstyle’ and a girl was like ‘he looks ugly, he looks like a girl’, and I was like, that hurts! … I don’t know where it comes from but not only is the bad, bad, but the good is bad, even if it says ‘he looks hot, he looks better than he used to’. Even that’s bad… you get false confidence or arrogance and you know, just start focusing on vanity, which I don’t want to do. My job is to flesh out Sam Winchester how I can, not to take from a billion people, but to play it my way, otherwise all these shows would be CGI – but there’s nothing interesting in that, they would make it exactly like choose your own adventure novels, but that’s not fun. It’s like choose brown hair, etc, but that’s not interesting.

Lynn: And then you’re devoid of emotion and reality.

Jared: And history and experiences.

Lynn: That’s a really good recipe for staying grounded.

Jared: I’d like to take credit for it, but it’s nothing more than – it’s once bitten twice shy kinda thing, you know? I’m not a masochist, it hurts so I stay away. And it’s stupid that I’m hurt, but still, I am hurt.

Once again, I was struck by what a nice person Jared is, and this time also by how thoughtful and sensitive a person he is too. That conversation happened twelve years ago, which seems unbelievable now. The world has changed a lot, but what he said that day still makes a lot of sense.

He contributed to that first book for us, and then to another, and another, and another. He even read them all.

Fast forward to 2015 at a convention. Jared casually asked if I was working on another book and I said yes, I’ve heard so many powerful stories from fans about how this show and fandom has changed and even saved people’s lives, so I want to put all those personal stories together in a book so everyone will understand just how special Supernatural is. Jared considered for a minute and then said that he had a story to tell too – and that’s how Family Don’t End With Blood ended up being written by both the fans and the actors. (If Jared wanted to write a chapter, I thought, maybe the other Supernatural actors did too. They did.)

Working with Jared for the two years it took him to write his chapter in that book let me see some other sides of him. I was blown away that he wanted to share a story that was so personal in a book. He had already started the Always Keep Fighting campaign and had spoken out about his own mental health challenges, but it’s different talking about them in an interview and actually sitting down and writing the story of your own most difficult and hopeless moments, in the first person, with all the details that actually happened. It was a tremendously courageous thing for someone who is a ‘celebrity’ to do, opening himself up for judgment and ridicule – and that hurt we’d talked about so long ago – but he wanted to do it. I think there were a few times I asked, ‘are you sure?’  He was. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to give back.

In the three years since Family Don’t End With Blood was published, I’ve heard from hundreds of people who say that Jared’s chapter did make a difference, sometimes a life saving one.

I learned about Jared’s determination too as I worked with him on his chapter. I learned that he was someone who wouldn’t get annoyed when I sent him lots of follow up emails, and that he would still smile when he saw me at conventions even though he knew I was going to ask how his chapter was coming along. I learned that he doesn’t do things half assed – I was not the one asking him to make most of the revisions that got made, that was mostly him. And I never once asked him to say more. That was him. He wanted to tell his story in a way that was real and genuine, and he kept pushing himself until he did, until his chapter was thirty pages long.

I knew, when I started putting together the final book about Supernatural last year (There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, which came out in May), that I wasn’t going to ask Jared to write another chapter like that – he had written his heart out in Family Don’t End With Blood. He once told me it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. But he still had some important messages to get across in the new book – things he’d said at events and interviews over the past year about the show and about being Sam, that he wanted fans to know and remember. Even though he was incredibly busy trying to film the last season of the show, he also included some new thoughts about the legacy Sam Winchester leaves behind in his chapter for that book.

And he was, once again, still smiling after my many follow up emails trying to meet the nearly impossible May publication deadline. Sometimes when you work with someone, your view of them changes, and not always for the better. In this case, working with Jared on those two books made me appreciate him even more.

I’m sure Jared, like all of us, has changed quite a bit in the thirteen years between that first meeting in the candy line and now. But I think that capacity for honesty (and admission of not being perfect), innate sensitivity, and thoughtfulness about himself and the rest of the world are still what shapes him.  There are so many fan-written chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done that talk about how Jared has inspired someone else. How his openness and affection have enabled change for someone, or his portrayal of Sam has given someone the strength to always keep fighting. That says alot.

I hope, on this last birthday on which he’s still Sam Winchester (for real this time), that he can continue to hang onto all those things and know that they make a difference.

That he makes a difference.

Happy birthday, Jared Padalecki! Thank you for Sam Winchester – and for being you.

–Lynn

You can read Jared’s chapters in Family

Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace

When You Are Done – links here on the home

page or at peacewhenyouaredone.com