It’s Danneel Ackles’ birthday, so we thought for our continuing celebration of Supernatural Spring Break week, this was a good time to both wish her a happy birthday and share the rather amusing story of one of our first times meeting her.
There have been a few memorable times since, including the party celebrating ‘Supernatural Day’ in Austin with Mayor Adler, which was just plain fun and an opportunity for some real conversation.
And I’ll be forever touched that Danneel wanted a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood (and how incredulous she was that Jensen actually had a chapter in it!) and that she has read our other books too.
The actual first time we met Danneel was a long time ago – at the after party following the premiere of indie movie Ten Inch Hero, which was at a club in LA back in, I think 2008. We all left the premiere and walked over to the club, invited by director David Mackay – the cast and the audience all together.
We had a lovely little chat with Danneel there about the film, met screenwriter Betsy Morris who’s still a friend today, and asked actor Matt Barr (now of Walker) to watch the rest room door while I in desperation used the men’s room because there was a huge line at the women’s. (He was lovely about it and it makes me laugh now every time I see him as Hoyt).
It was a momentous party, what can I say? After that, my co-author Kathy and I interviewed David over a three hour brunch in Vancouver for the first book we were working on, and mentioned that we’d love to chat with Danneel too. To be honest, we didn’t really think that would happen. But a few months later, while we were in LA for the Supernatural convention, we got a call from David.
I’ll let some excerpts from our second book, Fangasm! Supernatural Fangirls, take it from here…
I honestly did not think it was possible to be even MORE emotional and off balance while watching the last episodes of Supernatural – but for this week’s episode, that turned out not to be true. Not only are we in the midst of a global pandemic and in the last eight episodes of the series, we learned shortly before the new episode aired that it would be the last one to air for an indeterminate amount of time.
Showrunner Andrew Dabb broke the news, saying that while they had filmed through episode 18 of 20, the post production was only finished through this week’s episode, 15.13. So Monday’s episode, Destiny’s Child, will be the last episode of Supernatural to air in its regular planned manner. The last one perhaps to air in this season, with no clue when it will be safe to finish the ones that are filmed or to film the ones that are not. Dabb, along with producer Jim Michaels and Misha Collins by video yesterday, did reassure the stunned fandom that they would, at some point, return to “finish what we started.”
A fandom that was already dealing with a lot is now dealing with a lot more! All those things made watching this week’s episode a different experience than it usually is for me. I was incredibly grateful to HAVE a new episode to watch, to pull me out of that always lurking anxiety that keeps threatening to overwhelm me, and to give me a healthy and welcomed escape for an hour. Supernatural has been both an inspiration and a healthy escape for me for going on fifteen years, and once again, I was acutely aware that I need it more than ever. There was a little bit of panic at the thought of not having it anymore as we go through this very difficult time in isolation, I’m not gonna lie. New episodes are all encompassing for me in a way that rewatching old episodes is not, though rewatches are definitely going to be part of my plan going forward!
Destiny’s Child was a mixed bag, as pretty much of all Season 15 has been, but there were quite a few parts that I thoroughly enjoyed – enough to pull me out of the present reality and make me forget for some precious minutes that we’re living in a real life apocalypse! I’m so grateful for that.
So, let’s wade in. The THEN included both Rachel Miner as Meg and Gen Padalecki as Ruby. The entire fandom knew that Gen and Danneel would be in this episode thanks to tons of promotion, but huh, why was Meg in there? I was not spoiled for that return at the start of the episode, so I just filed it away as maybe. I adore Rachel Miner and have wanted her to be back for a while. Also there was a whole helluva lot of pizza in the THEN, which made me kinda hungry. (That’s a good sign that you don’t have COVID19, so yay)
As the episode begins, Sam and Dean are startled out of doing research by a weird noise, so they run down the hall to see what’s going on. As they open the door to the Armory, a bright flash of light appears, and then a lovely little Fiat. And Savage Garden’s “I Want You” starts to play!
This is an idiosyncratic detour, but I LOVE that song and it is, for me, a Supernatural song. That’s because it was the music to one of the very first Supernatural fan vids that I discovered when I first fell down the rabbit hole of loving the show way back circa 2006. I had a youtube playlist of maybe 20 videos that I used to watch over and over and over, and that was one of them. (As I recall, it was pretty much still photos of Jensen Ackles that someone had collected and put to music. As you do.)
I sat there grinning happily at just the music cue, and then it got better. Close shot of one sockless ankle in a snazzy shoe stepping out of the Fiat; close shot of yet another snazzy shoe stepping out of the other side. Pull back to AU Sam and Dean from another universe (which we were all also spoiled for but I didn’t even care because I was just GIMME!)
AUSam to AUDean: Bro, we did it!
The two fist bump – which made me grin even more because that’s what Jared and Jensen do after every joint convention panel they do in real life, so it seemed like a little meta nod.
Actual Sam: Dean?
Actual Dean: Sam?
It was a Rocky Horror Picture Show moment, so I expected a “Rocky?” “Uh” but honestly, it was just a wonderful little moment thanks to the comedic talents of both these actors.
Actual Winchesters: What the hell?
AU Winchesters simultaneously: What the heck?
Then poof, they’re gone.
Me: Noooooooooooooooooo bring them back!
I have a conflicted relationship with the writers of this episode (Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner), who have written some things that make me furious but who also have written some solid episodes – or parts of episodes. This scene and its dialogue were A+, so credit where it’s due. (That won’t be the case for all of the episode, alas). But I’m all for what some of my timeline was calling the “Fancychesters”.
Sam and Dean run off to tell Castiel, who responds with a very understandable response: I’m not understanding you.
One of the things I loved about this episode was that it gave the cast the opportunity to really show off their considerable gifts for subtle humor. Misha Collins, in just that one line, made me laugh out loud. They are all SO good at it, with their facial expressions and delivery. And credit too for the writing that gives them the chance.
Twenty three more Supernatural episodes to go, and counting. Last week’s ‘Game Night,’ written by Meredith Glynn and directed by John Showalter, was the first episode I watched knowing that the Show was coming to an end, so I think I was even more attentive than usual. As in, nobody should say a word to me while I’m relishing every last second of my favorite show for the next solid year! It wasn’t a perfect episode, but it was a wild rollercoaster of both action and emotion, and that means I enjoyed it – and was grateful to be able to see a new episode. That’s going to be the case from now on in, but I’ll probably still find things to quibble about in the midst of my relishing. Okay, make that definitely.
The ‘Then’ includes Nick, which made me groan because I’m just over that story line and the inevitable tie-in to Lucifer (as is about 99.9% of the fandom, but apparently that news has not reached the network). The ‘Now’ begins with someone baking cookies and for a split second I thought it was Dean doing some nesting in the bunker, but nope, it’s Donatello humming and baking in his cozy kitchen. I really like Donatello so when the doorbell rang I started shaking my head immediately, even before he wound up tied to a table with a gigantic hypodermic needle poking into his neck. (I closed my eyes but his screams were still audible). Ouch.
Back at the bunker, it’s Winchester Game Night. Dean is fixing his favorite childhood game, Mousetrap (aww), Jack is making Jiffy Pop on the stove and Mary’s got the beers. Sammy’s out picking up the pepperoni meat intensive pizzas and one with pineapple for Jack, over Dean’s objections. It’s a nice domestic scene which means things are about to go south in a big way.
Sure enough, Dean gets a phone call pleading for help from Donatello.
Dean: So much for Winchester Game Night…
He tries to call Sam but there’s conveniently no signal – that’s Show’s favorite way of splitting characters up, oops, no service suddenly – so he and Mary head off with instructions for Jack to fill Sam in. (I do love that Sam’s voicemail says if you can’t reach him to ‘call my brother’ just like John’s always said ‘call my son Dean’.)
Once Sam gets back he says what I’m thinking – I should be there with you!
Dean assures him it’s okay, and Sam takes issue (me too, Sam).
This year’s Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans was the gift that just kept on giving for Supernatural fans. Our very own Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) was crowned King by the Krewe of Bacchus, making him Bacchus LI (51) and introducing him to a whole new group of people who probably have never heard of that little CW show he’s on. I have a feeling that Supernatural came away with lots of new fans, because Ackles seems to have charmed the entire city of New Orleans.
With his customary humble attitude, Ackles made the traditional visit to the local Children’s Hospital, joyously tweeted about by several teenagers and nurses who were beside themselves that Dean Winchester himself was right there in the lobby. From his first appearance as he stepped off the bus and was greeted with a high school band that then amusingly followed him around playing the whole time, Jensen seemed as thrilled to be there as others were to have him there. He tossed doubloons with his face on them into the air and grinned his way through interview after interview, expressing his gratitude for such an honor and thanking wife Danneel for having the idea and helping make it a reality.
When the first photos appeared online of Ackles in his Bacchus regalia, the fandom lost its shit. Not gonna lie, some people were worried that no one could really pull off the sort of traditional over the top garb that Bacchus wears, but guess what? Ackles did. Boy, did he ever!
I never knew I had a thing for Jensen in white tights and boots but there you go.
It wasn’t just the outfit though. From the moment he climbed up on that float and began to toss beads and doubloons to the screaming crowd, Jensen looked every inch a real king.
Tell me this isn’t the benevolent King Ackles greeting his loyal subjects. With beads.
Along with much of the fandom, I watched the various livestreams of the parade, amused by the commentators who clearly weren’t sure who he was (but at least had done their homework, unlike some others…) When their livestream on Facebook began, one said “Oh wow, someone is watching from California.” Pause. “Oh someone is watching from Maine.” A second later, “OMG someone is watching from Australia!”
May I introduce you to the SPN Family, lovely commentator?
Jensen himself looked entirely in his element up on that float. He fist bumped when they paid homage to Supernatural with ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and some other classic rock, and burst into giant grins when he saw someone holding up a Supernatural-related sign. Plenty of SPN Family made the trek to New Orleans and braved a very rainy day to make sure that there were lots of people cheering Jensen on.
Ackles enjoyed every moment, and got so into it that by the time they neared the end of the parade route, he was dancing on top of the float!
That same exuberance carried over to the party celebration after the parade, where Jensen joined the DJ to rile up the crowd – and did more of that dancing he’d been doing all weekend. I saw several experienced Mardi Gras partiers say that they have never had the reigning King leave the VIP area and just party with everyone. Not surprising to anyone who knows how down to earth he is though, is it?
I saw a post on twitter that commented on how much Jensen has “come out of his shell” and how comfortable he seemed being in the spotlight at Mardi Gras. The post compared this weekend to the chapter Jensen wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, in which he talked about his struggle to overcome his anxiety and especially his fear of speaking in front of other people. He credits the SPN Family for helping him feel more comfortable with that — and I guess Mardi Gras weekend really shows how far he’s come!
Here’s an excerpt from Jensen’s chapter, about how the fandom has changed him:
Before this experience, even at family events, I was anxious. I remember at my brother’s wedding, when I had to give a toast, I was so nervous it was like I had cottonmouth. I couldn’t even speak! I remember thinking, What’s wrong with me? I was already a professional actor by that time, so I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just get up and give a toast. It was like Bizarro Jensen!
…The first awards ceremony that I had to do. I was so nervous I felt like I was just going to pass out right on the stage. Even though I knew the lines—and they were on a teleprompter! It didn’t matter. I felt like I was about to faint just trying to do that.
…Fast-forward to ten years later. Supernatural, and my experience with fans and doing conventions, has changed that for me. And it’s because of the interaction between us… It’s because of the flow of love between us. We get so much energy from you. It’s fuel. That back and forth of emotion between us is fuel for me. And that emotion is genuine; it’s real. That makes all the difference….That comfort has carried over. You see, you’re not strangers anymore. You’re not strange to me. Of course, we’re all a little strange—and we take the little bit of strange in each of us and mix those little bits all up together, all of us, and that’s why we love the relationship we have. You’re family. And you’ve changed me.
I thought of what he wrote as I watched him hold court and toss beads and give interview after interview and shake his ass as he partied, a gigantic grin on his face.
It felt so good to know that we have been a part of his journey, a part of why he’s now able to be a King of Mardi Gras and enjoy every minute of it. Nobody deserves the honor more than Jensen, and I love knowing that we helped him get there.
Ackles is back at his day job now filming Supernatural, and castmate Jim Beaver has already joked that he’s refusing to take his “sparkly suit” off, so that means all is back to normal on that show I love. But really, can you blame him?
I’m just waiting for Creation to announce “Bacchus Photo Ops” with King Jensen because hey, sign me up!
Party on, Mr. Ackles!
Source credit on video (www.instagram.com/p/Bul5OlancWE)
What could be more perfect for Halloween than talking with the director of some of the scariest projects out there? Eduardo Sanchez burst onto the film scene in 1999 with the innovative and terrifying Blair Witch Project. He has gone on to direct in film and television, including my favorite show of all time, Supernatural.
I am fascinated by every aspect of creating the Show I love, because if there’s one thing that has become very clear to me after researching and writing about that Show for over a decade, it’s that Supernatural is a collaboration. It takes top notch writing, set dec, locations, cinematography, make-up, special effects, producing, acting and directing (among a multitude of other things) to make Supernatural the special thing it is. So I’m always genuinely interested in the perspectives of all the many people who contribute to that collaboration. I loved hearing the actors’ perspectives when they wrote chapters for Family Don’t End With Blood and the insights of director of photography Serge Ladouceur in Fan Phenomena Supernatural and all the contributions that everyone on the set shared in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. I am endlessly fascinated by what it takes to make a show like Supernatural.
So it was with great anticipation that I scheduled a chat with Sanchez, who has done four episodes of Supernatural so far, not to mention the groundbreaking film The Blair Witch Project. And guess what? Our chat was even more fun and more fascinating than I had anticipated! (And not scary at all). So sit back and relax and enjoy a director’s insights into the diverse episodes of Supernatural he has directed so far.
Lynn: The first episode you directed is one of my all-time favorites, The Chitters. That’s partly because it introduces two of my favorite original characters, Jesse and Cesar (Lee Rumohr and Hugo Ateo), affectionately known in the fandom as the “hunter husbands”.
Lynn: Written by Nancy Won, who I wish had stuck around on Supernatural, this episode was groundbreaking in its own quiet way. It was the first time Supernatural told a fully fleshed out story of two gay characters in such an organic and matter-of-fact manner. There were articles after the episode aired praising Supernatural for being “quietly progressive” with an interracial gay couple who are both hunters and heroes. Were you aware that it would be an important episode in that aspect?
Eduardo: I didn’t know the history of Supernatural. I came in like the tenth or eleventh season, so it was impossible to watch every episode to catch up. But they told me that there hadn’t been this sort of thing in the show before, so we cast it really carefully and wanted to kinda ground it in not being stereotypical and just make these guys as real as possible and make their backgrounds as real as possible. At a certain point, yeah, I started to realize that this was an important episode. It was also just a fun episode for me – it was the first time I had done the show so I was nervous. The crew made me feel very much at home, and the guys were very friendly and welcoming. It was cool that we ended up bringing in these two characters who I know people really loved and I really loved bringing them to life. It was an all around good experience.