For You, Supernatural – As You Start That Last Ride

For You, Supernatural – As You Start That Last Ride

Tomorrow Supernatural returns for its final seven episodes, leading up to the series finale after fifteen glorious years. Most of the fandom is feeling a lot of conflicted emotions right now – anticipation, elation, pride in what the show has accomplished and what it has meant to so many. And at the same time, anxiety and sadness knowing we’re about to lose it. Over the past year, the actors and fans pulled together their thoughts and memories of the show and how it has changed their lives. How Supernatural has inspired them, gotten them through tough times. Has helped them figure out who they really are and become that person. Has created lifelong friendships.

The result was the book There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural. There are chapters from Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and a dozen other Supernatural actors, plus a special message from Misha Collins to close out the book, and from twenty fans. The hope is that the book will be something we can all hold onto, to remember forever how special Supernatural has been and will always be –and to help get us through its ending. Everyone talks about what Sam, Dean, Castiel and the other brilliantly written and acted characters have meant to them in their chapters, whether they portrayed that character onscreen or were inspired by that character in real life. These characters have been incredibly real, and incredibly important, to so many of us.

So now, as Supernatural’s fictional characters prepare to jump in Baby and try to save the world one last time, we wanted them to know that they’re not alone – we’re all here with them, cheering them on, right up to the end. The title of the book is a wish for those fictional characters we love. The beautiful original song and video are too – it’s our message to the Winchesters and Castiel, the boys’ “angel over us”.  It’s what we wish for them, after all they’ve given us – the peace they so richly deserve.

All the kudos to the incredibly talented Eloisa Parton, who created an amazing video, and J R Wyatt, who wrote a song that makes me cry every time I listen to it. That’s a high compliment.

LYRICS:

Take up the fight

In the family business

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not

And in the end

We’ll drive Baby toward sunset

‘Cause, Brother, we’re all that we’ve got

To hell and back

And all that we’ve been through

It’s been quite a road so far

On a path

That ain’t easy to stick to

Just never forget who you are

We’ll dance with the devil

With an angel over us

And you’ll always keep fighting

Next to someone you can trust

Together we’ll carry on

Just a couple of wayward sons

And, Brother, just remember

There’ll be peace when you are done

Save each other

Save the world

Together into the unknown

Face whatever 

Comes our way

Let’s take those boys home

At the end of the day

I’m always proud of us

But when the time comes to leave here

We’ll put Baby in drive

And leave this place in the dust

We’ll dance with the devil

With an angel over us

And you’ll always keep fighting

Next to someone you can trust

Together we’ll carry on

Just a couple of wayward sons

And, Brother, just remember

There’ll be peace when you are done

So, Brother, just remember

There’ll be peace when you are done

About the Book

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done has chapters from Jared, Jensen, Richard Speight, Jr., Shoshannah Stern, Lauren Tom, Julie McNiven, Andrea Drepaul, Carrie Genzel, Todd Stashwick, David Haydn-Jones, Adam Fergus, Tahmoh Penikett, Rick Worthy, Chad Lindberg, Gabe Tigerman, Lee Majdoub, Brendan Taylor, Hugo Ateo, Lee Rumohr and writer Davy Perez, as well as twenty fans of the show. The very personal chapters talk about the characters we’ve come to love and the experience of portraying them, and thoughts on what the legacy of Supernatural will be. The book benefits the important work of charities Random Acts and SPNSurvivors. You can find more information at peacewhenyouaredone.com

About the Vidder

Eloisa Parton was born in Italy, but is currently studying Visual Effects in Vancouver. She started casually making videos and uploading them on her youtube channel in 2012, but only in the summer of 2014 did it became a full-time hobby. Around that same time, she started watching clips and videos of Sam and Dean Winchester and immediately fell in love with the characters and their relationship, even without knowing anything about the show. She started watching Supernatural in May 2015, and the show and her love of the characters (especially her favorite, Sam Winchester) gave new life to her channel, inspiring her to make more and more videos and bringing lots of new subscribers. What was a small channel with just a few hundred subscribers now has over 16k subs, largely thanks to her Supernatural videos.

About the Singer/Songwriter

J.R. Wyatt believes in the American songwriter’s dream enough to bleed for it. Music has been flowing through him since he first picked up the drumsticks at age three and then never stopped exploring new instruments, the most important of which was the pen at age twelve. Drawing influence from musical heroes like Bruce Springsteen, Kurt Cobain, Jason Isbell, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Jeff Tweedy, Wyatt learned to bear his soul whenever he put pen to paper. After becoming a staple at local bars and clubs in the small Maine town he grew up in, he decided to take his guitar and his dreams to Nashville. Starting with no contacts, job, or money, Wyatt found a kindred group of songwriters and musicians to collaborate with and self-released his first full-length album, Staying Gold, in 2016. Four years later, he’s back with his sophomore record, I’m Still Here, which demonstrates new levels of confidence as a songwriter and ambition as a producer. J.R. Wyatt’s songs acknowledge pain from the past so we can learn to live better while we’re still here, a perfect fit for the story of Supernatural.

Enjoy! (Or cry with me, which is what I do every time I watch the beautiful video…) We love you, Supernatural – and we’ll miss you like crazy. But we’re wishing our favorite characters ‘peace when you are done.’

Watch the video here (and have tissues ready):

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done

— Lynn

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Happy Birthday Richard Speight, Jr.!

Yesterday, perhaps so we can all celebrate his birthday today in style, Richard Speight, Jr. released his first music video from his first CD with his band Dick Jr. and the Volunteers. The song, ‘Goin’ Straight’, will get stuck in your head in the most enjoyable way possible, and the video itself is brilliant!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMdsL-oQatw&feature=emb_logo

Leave it to Richard to give us a toe-tappin’ way to celebrate with him.

As Supernatural comes to an end, I’m more nostalgic than usual and feeling incredibly grateful to the people who have made the show the phenomenon that it is. Richard is one of those people.

He joined the show early on to play The Trickster and captured the fandom’s hearts. Over the years, the character returned, eventually revealed as Gabriel.

Richard went from acting on the show to directing, even proving his versatility by directing himself as both Gabriel and Loki! I’ve chatted with Richard over a dozen times over the past thirteen years about acting and directing Supernatural, and his insights never cease to amaze me. He’s been an integral part of the show since almost the beginning.

He’s come a long way from our very first chat back in 2007!

Photo: Lizz Sisson

In fact, Richard has developed his own distinctive style as a director, and has brought his vision to some of our favorite episodes. He collaborated with writer Jenny Klein to direct ‘Just My Imagination’ which is still one of the episodes I go back to watch again and again. He then went on to direct many more, including four episodes in Supernatural’s final season.

Photo: Chris Schmelke

Here’s our most recent chat, in which Richard shares fascinating insights and behind the scenes looks at directing Supernatural Season 15, and what it felt like to finish that final episode.

Behind the Scenes with Director Dick

But that’s not all.

Richard came to a Supernatural convention early on, rather reluctantly and not knowing what to expect, and ended up becoming the host of the whole damn thing – as well as joining Rob and Matt for countless hilarious R2M panels and joining Louden Swain onstage to rock out at countless Saturday Night Specials. He took the sparsely attended Friday night karaoke and turned it into a free event that everyone could enjoy. He helped make Louden Swain the house band. Perhaps more than anyone else, Richard turned Supernatural conventions into something special – which has helped keep them going for almost fourteen years!

Richard wrote a chapter for Fan Phenomena Supernatural with all his trademark wit and humor but also a lot of serious appreciation for the Supernatural fandom. I’m so grateful that he also contributed a chapter to There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural – in it, he puts his finger squarely on what makes this show so special, and why its legacy will live on. He also expresses his appreciation for the show and the fandom that changed his life. He’s eloquent, and I think what he has to say in his chapter will be a comfort and an inspiration to fans grieving the end of the show.

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Behind the Scenes of The Last Season of Supernatural with Director Richard Speight, Jr.

Richard Speight, Jr. has a birthday coming up, and that has me thinking about a) how long I’ve known him and b) the incredible impact he has had on Supernatural and on the SPNFamily. In our very first conversation, close to 12 years ago, I was impressed with how smart and thoughtful he was. It wasn’t long before he talked about wanting to direct in addition to acting, and I was not a bit surprised when he added that to his repertoire – and kicked ass at it. He’s come a long way from 2014, when producer Jim Michaels posted a photo of Richard shadowing director Tom Wright on the set of Supernatural, going on to direct eleven episodes and to shape the show in significant ways.

I also knew early on that Richard was an excellent writer, because he wrote a chapter for one of my first books, Fan Phenomena Supernatural. When it came time to write my last book on the show that captured my heart as it went into its very last season, I knew I wanted Richard’s voice in that book too. His chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done is, fittingly enough, a conversation between me and him. Like countless other conversations we’ve had over the past twelve years, in hotel restaurants or convention green rooms or in a taxi so he could show me where he’d filmed in San Francisco, his chapter is brimming with insights and a little bit of his trademark humor. In There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Richard also gets serious about this little show that has changed so many lives. The way he describes Supernatural’s legacy, and what makes it so special, makes me tear up a little every time I read it. He gets it. From Richard’s chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done:

The “Supernatural” take on family ain’t the Lifetime version. It’s dark, it’s rough, it’s painful, it’s broken. It may not be a perfect family, but it’s our family. It may not be a perfect world, but it’s our world. And I think the way Sam and Dean and Castiel choose to navigate that world and how they deal with each other along the way is inspirational to a lot of people and will continue to be an inspiration for a very long time.

Richard understands why the SPNFamily is so important, and why the show and its iconic characters will always be with us, which is what that book is all about. He also gets the show itself. That’s why I couldn’t wait to talk to him about the episodes of the show he directed for Season 15, three of which have already aired. In part 2 of my conversation with Richard, he takes us behind the scenes of those three episodes with so many fascinating insights. And maybe makes me a little emotional again as he talks about the upcoming end of this incredible show.

Part 1 of my epic interview with Richard shared insights into his new film Driven, his hilarious podcast with Rob Benedict, and some behind the scenes stories of directing his first episode of Season 15, Proverbs 17:3. I had a few more questions about that episode, because so much about it was SO good, so we pick up there…

L: Switching gears again, another scene I really liked in that episode was with the actress who played Lilith, who was so good – things very quickly go from all serious and horrifying to this poor traumatized girl falling on some antlers and being impaled, to her just getting up and brushing herself off! How challenging was that kind of split second progression?

R: Let me tell you, first off, Steve Yockey wrote a great script. So clever, the miscues were great. It was like my third or fourth Steve Yockey script, so we work together well. We connect on the material, he likes what I do, I like what he does. As we go through and adjust, we’re always on the same page. But I really really think, to pull that moment off, I give massive credit to Anna Grace Barlow. Finding her was finding Nate Torrence for Sully. I cast her off tape, I never met her. She turned in an audition that she shot in the garage during a short film she was doing that was so fantastic. And she came up and just knocked the leather off the walls. She was so good at every scene, from day one. Day one, her first day of shooting, she was confronting Sam and Dean in a parking lot as Lilith and taking the gun. She was already doing heavy hitting stuff right out of the gate. I thought she was incredibly talented. And she got the character. We discussed the character, she got the beats, and she played all that drama for real. Because you don’t get the joke, you don’t enjoy that moment, if you didn’t buy into everything that has happened before that.

L: Yes, and you really did.

R: You believed that she was in distress, you believed that she was a victim in this scenario, that she was in peril and incapable of doing anything to defend herself. And she’s completely distraught by what she’s witnessed and probably damaged for life, and then she stumbles and dies on those antlers and it’s a WTF moment of massive proportion.

L: Massive! She did a great job there and Jared and Jensen did too, with Sam and Dean’s WTF just happened expressions.

R: They did, they played it like the audience should have been too. But Anna Grace did such a good job and when she makes that turn, she’s Lilith the rest of the time. We had such fun crafting that character. To really go into this episode, I started talking to Jerry Wanek about the episode two weeks before we went up there because he read it and he called me and said “Wes Anderson”.

L: Ohhhhh

R: And I said, you had me at Wes. Because he’s like, I’m trying to figure it out, tonally I don’t want you to hang your hat on the set here but if you’re into it, I’ll lean into it and let’s create that vibe of symmetrical sets and straight on angles. And I said, oh absolutely. Then Carrie at the costume center got on board and that’s why Anna Grace Barlow looks like she’s from Moonrise Kingdom.

L: Yesssss

R:  If you go back to the campsite scene, we used plaids and all these things ala that heightened style. I loved that episode so much, and every set was a meal. It was all stylized. The sheriff’s office, very stylized. We used angles that reflected that kind of style – I don’t wanna say an homage because every shot is an homage because you picked it up from somebody at some point – but nonetheless it was a consistent style thing through the whole episode and it was so fun to do. Anna Grace in her little beret and kerchief being super evil was just so phenomenal.

L: That really added to the character being memorable and full of personality.

R: Everything she does previous to that scene – when she did that hospital scene and expressed her fear to Dean and in the hotel room telling him she doesn’t know what she’ll do now because her friends are all dead? That scene rips your heart out.

L: Yes, you have no idea at the time.

R:  She was shaggin’ flies with every take. Everything was a great take by her, so she gave so many options and choices. And when she went dark, she went dark so well. She was a fantastic villainess. In many ways, I wish it was Season 5 instead of Season 15, because I think we would have seen her many more times.

L: My favorite moment was when she asks them to give her the gun, and Dean says, “the Equalizer?” and she just deadpans “I’m not gonna call it that.” I laughed out loud.

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A Chat With Richard Speight, Jr. – Driven, Kings of Con and Supernatural!

I hadn’t had a chance to chat with Richard Speight, Jr. since the fall of 2019, when, as we all know, the world was very, very different. So it felt like a welcome little slice of “normalcy” to sit down (in two different parts of the country) last week to catch up on what’s going on in his world – including the new film Driven, the newly renamed podcast with Rob Benedict, and the four episodes of Supernatural he’s directed in Season 15.  We’re so excited that Richard has a chapter in the new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural — his is one of the most inspiring chapters in the book and really wraps up what the show is all about and why so many of us love it. That chapter came from our last chat in the fall, and this chat turned out to be equally fascinating!

But first, our conversation last week began with the obligatory wow, 2020.

Lynn: Crazy time. Interesting time to be a psychologist.

Richard: Interesting time to be an auto mechanic! Everything is so bizarre. Every now and then, as I move through my day, I just have a moment of ‘Holy cow’…

L: It hits you like a slap in the face, doesn’t it? Like oh, this is actually real… It’s nice to cling to these little bits of normalcy. I’ve really been enjoying your podcast with Rob. Last week you announced it’s now going to be both a podcast and sometimes a youtube show – called Kings of Con. Which made a lot of people very happy, including me. How did that come about?

R: Well, we started the podcast on a lark, just to be creative and kill time, so we didn’t think about it or plan on writing the songs or anything. And it just became its own thing as we went along, and we discovered what was funny and what worked. Then, 12 episodes in, we started talking to some people who are much more ensconced in the podcast world and got some advice – one thing that is valued across the board is expanding the brand. And My Guest Is Richard Speight is a wonderful title if you know who the hell Richard Speight, Jr. is, but if you’re just scouring podcasts that’s not gonna mean anything to you.

L: (laughing) Very true.

Rob & Rich: The Kings of Con!

R: So we began aiming for a very specific audience vs. aiming for an audience in general. And because we’re enjoying doing it and we’re finding a comedic style and format that we really like, we thought, “let’s take the advice of people who do this for a living and really try to make this a cooler brand.”

[Detour on the phone call for Dad Richard, which was frankly adorable]

R: Hang on Lynn, I’m with the kids by myself, I need to keep my eye on things…

L: (also a parent) Yes you do.

R (to young son): Your hair looks great, but you’ve gotta get dressed.

L: (cracks up)

R: (to Lynn) His hair is fabulous, but he’s totally naked.

[Yes, this was one of my favorite parts of the interview. Anyway…]

R: So we’re gonna have to discover this new podcast the same way we discovered that the first one worked.  We’ll figure it out, we’ll involve some guests, but not much is gonna change. We still like what we were already doing — the songs, the banter. We like everything. What we’re gonna do now is expand the brand so it’s a known property, but it’s not gonna be Richard Slate and Rob Bennett and the cast of the series, you know? It’s just like, we’re the dudes from the convention who are that voice and face of cons.

Richard emcees a con

L: It’s a great idea! So many of the people we love seeing at conventions, but especially you and Rob, can just sit and riff and make it hilariously funny. But this will allow other people who don’t know who you are to find it – and I think it will fill a real gap because you are the guys who have this vast knowledge of cons and con stories and other actors, so I think it will feel a real gap right now when people are really missing conventions.

R: Yeah, and I’m itching to have people come in and join us, from that world and elsewhere. The whole zoom recording and youtube posting, which were not things we really had considered, were strong recommendations from the people that we are tapping for info. So I figured we’d try that and see how it goes.

L: It’s a great time to explore and evolve – there’s a freedom to that I imagine, as an artist, to do what you want to do.

R: Yeah, it’s incredibly freeing — because it’s just us making crap up!

L: (laughing) There’s that.

R: There’s no time limit, no context, no ad dollars, nothing. It’s great!

L: I’m enjoying it, and I look forward to the new format. I really enjoyed the indie film you co-starred in that came out recently too, Driven. The film has an almost theatrical feel to it, since for most of the film it’s just the two main characters, often in a car. It had an intimacy to it with that close focus. What are the good things about that and what were the challenges?

R: In this case, I think when you have a movie that is theatrical in its style, which this was, you’re at the mercy of the dialogue — so you better hope it’s well written. I happen to think this was very well written, which was why I agreed to do it to start with. I thought it was very clever and fun.

L: It was!

[Phone call interlude, this time for the dog]

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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