As we wait to find out whether the Supernatural universe’s ‘The Winchesters’ will return for a second season, I talked to one of the show’s guest stars for its first season – Gil McKinney, reprising his role as Henry Winchester, patriarch of the Winchester family. One of the exciting things about ‘The Winchesters’ was having some of the cast of the ‘Mothership’, aka Supernatural, make an appearance – including Gil. He has also been doing the convention circuit again recently, so it’s been wonderful to see him in person as well as onscreen.
Lynn: How did you find out that you’d be playing Henry Winchester again? I’m assuming you didn’t have to audition for the part!
Gil: It’s kind of funny, I remember exactly where I was when I caught wind of it. I was driving around running errands and got a text from Alaina Huffman, who played Abbadon on Supernatural. She left LA years ago, but she reached out to me and said hey, are you doing The Winchesters pilot, because your name is in the script?! I said, wow that’s pretty cool. No one had reached out to me yet, but I knew the pilot was in the process of being cast. She had been sent the script, and I don’t think she would mind me telling the story that she had an audition for Josie.
[Who we didn’t end up seeing on the series – at least not yet.]
Gil: I asked her to send me the script – not the whole script, but the audition material.
Lynn: The sides.
Gil: The sides, exactly. It was the scene in the pilot where they’re reading the letter from Henry, and it says Henry Winchester played by Gil McKinney in the sides, and I was like, that’s cool! That’s never happened to me before, but also kind of strange because no one had mentioned anything yet. That casting office knows me fairly well, I would say they’ve cast me in more shows than any other office. They’re wonderful. They’re called UDK, Ulrich Dawson and Kritzer, and they’re fantastic, some of the kindest casting people you’ll ever meet.
Lynn: They cast Supernatural too, right? I’ve heard many of the actors talk about how great Robert Ulrich is, and how great that agency is. I keep saying someday I need to buy them a fruit basket. A GIANT one!
Gil: So I called my manager, just to let him know, and then weeks, if not a couple of months, went by and I remember exactly where I was – in my garage putting together a motorized tractor trailer situation for my son – and I get a text out of nowhere from Jensen. We’re very friendly but we don’t communicate regularly or anything, but I got a text from him out of the blue saying hey, do you have a minute to chat? I was like, yes Jensen, I’ve got a minute for you! So we chat and he tells me they want me to come play Henry on the show again, and I was just floored, I was so happy.
Lynn: I can imagine!
Gil: You know, I can only speak for myself, but as actors, the disappointments pile up so the victories become extra special, and that was just really cool. We had a really nice conversation – he was on a boat somewhere in the swamps of Louisiana. I want to say he was with Robbie Thompson and they were looking at alligators or something cool like that. I was like, that sounds nice man, I’m putting together a motorized tractor for my one year old. I said, this is the best call I’ve gotten in a long time and of course, anything you need.
Lynn: That’s awesome.
Gil: I’m over the moon because, you know, conventions and Supernatural are one of the best things that have ever happened to me, but I did one episode in Season 8 and one in Season 9 and they never got back to Henry. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world doing conventions and the one question I got more than any other is when is Henry coming back, are we going to see Henry again?
Lynn: I think we all thought we would. He’s part of the core family, the Winchesters, so I really thought we would.
Gil: Well, you know, I’m not in the writers room, I don’t know why decisions are made one way or the other. All I do know is I spoke with Adam Glass somewhere during the course of those years – Adam basically created and wrote the Henry Winchester character and introduced it and cast me, which I’m forever grateful to him for. He also flew me back to LA to do an episode of Criminal Minds Beyond Borders that he was writing on, he offered me a guest star on that. One day we were sitting in my trailer at CBS studios and talking about everything and he expressed to me that he fought and fought to have Henry come back in a much bigger way, but for some reason, in the writers room not everybody was on the same page. They wanted to go in a different direction. One producer just felt like Henry should stay dead, which is hard to hear. So I didn’t lose hope but as season 14 and 15 came, I just had to kind of accept that Henry likely was not going to be back on Supernatural. And that was a tough pill to swallow.
Lynn: I’m sure it was. It was a great character, and I think a lot of people wanted to see more of Henry.
Gil: I’ve done a lot of guest stars on shows, and hands down that role is my favorite, because it’s such a cool show and such a great character. Especially in that first episode I did, As Time Goes By, when Henry is in almost every scene. So as an actor, I spent a couple of weeks in Vancouver, on set pretty much every day. It was so much fun to shoot!
Lynn: And it was such a great episode.
Gil: So fast forward to this call from Jensen and I was like, wow, it’s finally happening – Henry is gonna get to come back finally, after all these years!