It’s kind of a tradition to wish one of my favorite actors a happy birthday here. For many years, this was a good time to thank Jensen Ackles for bringing to life my favorite fictional character, Dean Winchester – and I am still and forever grateful for that and always will be. Over the past year, he’s brought to life not one but two other characters, and voiced Dean again, released his third record, and had his first live Radio Company show. Not to mention a worldwide publicity tour for ‘The Boys’ and tons of conventions. It’s been a busy year for Mr. Ackles!
I will always wish for Supernatural to still be on my TV or streaming screen, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed those other characters he’s made so memorable. So I think a little celebration of Mr. Ackles’ past (very productive) year is in order this year for his birthday post.
First up? Soldier Boy. Soldier Boy was a revelation – I had already been a big fan of ‘The Boys’, so having Jensen join a show I already loved felt almost too good to be true. To have him portray a character as nuanced and unhinged as Soldier Boy? Utopia!
Wakes from a deep slumber indeed – we were all wide awake when that happened!
We got to see a whole other side of Jensen on ‘The Boys’ (no, I’m not talking about that first very naked introduction) – Prime Video allowed Soldier Boy to curse the way Dean Winchester probably would have, and to indulge in all sorts of things we didn’t get to see Dean do either. I will also be forever grateful for that amazing super suit and the fact that Kripke thought that long hair would help differentiate Soldier Boy from Dean. Please, universe, let the long hair stay forever!
I half fell in love with Soldier Boy despite the truly awful things he says and does thanks to Ackles showing us his vulnerability and trauma alongside his being an asshole. (So much so that my next book will be a deep dive into that show).
Soldier Boy is not dead and will be back at some point, so we all have something to look forward to when that happens!
I’ve had the privilege of talking to Jensen in depth over the past year about his experience on The Boys, and I’m thrilled that it was a challenge (which he welcomes) professionally. I’m also thrilled that it gave him exposure (no, not that scene again…) beyond what even a wildly popular show on the CW could provide. He shone on the press tours for The Boys, and I loved watching people discover him and his talent for the first time!
Then we got another intriguing character in Sheriff Beau Arlen in ‘Big Sky’ – and more of the long hair I’d like to stay around forever! (I happen to know that Danneel loves it too, so come on Jensen, listen to us!)
I’d watched a little of Big Sky in the first season and enjoyed it, but wasn’t as excited about it as The Boys. Sheriff Beau really grew on me, though – along with the fascinating character of Donno – and I found myself missing the show when it wrapped, still not knowing if it will get another season.
Beau was the character who I think was closest to Jensen himself, especially since he got to play a father (Soldier Boy’s biological son didn’t really make him a father) for the first time. It was interesting to watch him portray that, knowing what an important role that is for Jensen in real life. It brought out a softness and at the same time a fierce protectiveness in Beau that made the character so much more interesting than I expected him to be – and I feel like there was still a lot more to find out about him when the season wrapped!
Kudos on making us all fall a little in love with yet another character, Jensen!
We also get to hear Dean Winchester (and see him every now and then) on The Winchesters. It doesn’t feel like having him back in the same way as it would if Sam and Dean were truly back and it was Supernatural, but I’m interested in what that show is setting up and hoping it paves the way for just that, without changing any of the canon I so cherish. Fingers crossed.
(And it’s been a bonus to watch that show’s young stars come into their own – watching Drake Rodger and JoJo Fleites experience Jus In Bello con last weekend was joyous).
I got to chat with the cast and EPs Jensen and Danneel Ackles and showrunner Robbie Thompson at New York Comic Con last summer, which was extra wonderful because I hadn’t had a Danneel or a Robbie hug in way too long. It was wonderful to have a chance to ask some questions about the prequel, and it was lovely to meet Drake and Meg for the first time.
And that velvety suit was lovely too. And soft.
And that’s not even all – there have been other acting projects too, and Chaos Machine has been out there pitching new deals. But it’s not just acting and producing that have made the past year stand out for Jensen.
The past year has been a pivotal one for Ackles in terms of one of his other talents (is there anything he can’t do??) – I don’t think he can really say anymore, in his self deprecating way, “Oh I’m not really a musician.” Pretty sure that ship has sailed, Jensen! I was incredibly fortunate to be at Radio Company’s first live concert in Nashville in December and it was crystal clear that Radio Company can be stacked up against all the other successful bands out there and hold their own. Ackles was a rockstar, truly, and I don’t think I stopped grinning the entire show. Actually I’m pretty sure no one did.
I was at that long ago convention when Jensen sat onstage with a guitar after the ballroom had mostly emptied out and played a song for us, a little haltingly, as we sat on the floor, rapt. I was at the first little meet and greet/concert with Jensen and Steve at the Nashville convention when they played for twenty or so people – he told me how nervous he was after and asked how it had been. Seeing him blossom into a bona fide rockstar had me so emotional at the Analog show that I’m surprised I didn’t just sob my way through it.
Radio Company’s new album dropped last week and has already been at the top of the country charts. I’m not even a huge country music fan, but its smooth harmonies and catchy tunes get stuck in my head in the best of ways. And Jensen’s voice will never not be addictive. Congrats on crossing over into true musician category, Jensen.
The year has also seen tons of conventions. I wondered, when Supernatural ended (still sobbing…), if the conventions would continue for only a short time – I feel so lucky that they have kept going! Whether I’m fortunate enough to be there or watching from afar like I did with JIB last weekend, it’s wonderful to be able to ‘see’ them and hear their thoughts so frequently throughout the year.
Yes, it’s a job for them, but it’s also something they clearly enjoy and I’ve written many times about how it’s made the relationship between the actors and the fans a little bit more reciprocal in the Supernatural fandom than in others. That has carried over to Walker and The Winchesters (and soon to Gotham Knights I’m guessing), because these actors know their fans so much better than most actors do.
Jensen and Jared and Misha and the gang were in Rome last weekend (in their coordinating jackets) and will be headed to Atlanta shortly – I won’t be able to be there to celebrate with them unfortunately, but I’m sure the fans who are there will make it a special con weekend for the birthday boy. Somebody give him a birthday hug from me!
Sometimes he still looks about ten years old.
Happy birthday, Mr. Ackles.
May the next year be as exciting for you as this one was – and here’s hoping for more of all three characters you brought to life this past year – and more of whatever other exciting new things you have planned!
gifs: abordelimpala, justjensenanddean, jensenandtheboys, sensitiveham
You can read Jensen’s personal thoughts on
fandom and Supernatural in his chapters in
Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll
Be Peace When You Are Done – info and links at: