TV Squad visits the set of Supernatural, part three
Click here for part one, and here for part two of our Supernatural set visit.
Mulder and Scully, Crockett and Tubbs, Lucy and Ethel, Martin and Lewis, Bert and Ernie. Why is it that the best teams on TV are always duos? It must be something locked into the laws of the universe. Maybe we're just coded into pulling for a duo.
That's the case with Supernatural -- this show wouldn't be what it is without the Winchester Brothers. That wouldn't be enough to hold things together either, without the natural chemistry and camaraderie that exists between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. They seem like they could be brothers in real life, they're both from Texas, and even off-camera they joke and pal around like they've known each other for years. Stars that get along so well? In Hollywood, that sometimes actually is Supernatural.
Jensen and Jared spoke to a group of us during our recent set visit. We first spoke to Jensen solo, with Jared joining the conversation later. Check after the jump for our in-depth interview.
So, how do you feel about your second season of Supernatural?
It's been a long haul. I mean, it's obviously better. It's much more a well-oiled machine. You know, the first season you're trying to really get all the jitters out. You try to see what works and what doesn't work. So, when you come back for your sophomore season, it's always going to be a little smoother of a ride. You hope you don't fall into that sophomore pit as a lot of shows do. They come out really strong and don't have the lasting power. But I think we've done pretty well this year. I'm pretty happy with what we've done.
The rehearsal we just watched was hysterical. Are you guys always like that?
Oh, yeah. We're very professional on this set. [laughter] Even to the bitter end. We definitely don't want to have any fun.
I understand you had a very emotional shoot yesterday.
I did. Jared just lay there on the bed with his eyes closed. [laughter] The jerk. But, yeah, I had some pretty heavy stuff. Probably the most emotional stuff jam-packed into one day on that show. That was pretty heavy. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day.
How many takes do you usually need to nail that kind of difficult scene?
After reading the script, I went up and sat down with Kim [Manners, the director] in his office. I said this was the only scene that I wanted to talk to him about. I was like, "What are your plans?" Because he's diligent on his homework -- he's a huge believer in preparation for an episode. So I knew that he had all the shots lined up, and he had the blocking, and he had the blueprints of the room, and everything lined out.
I told Kim, "Look, man, you're going to have to help me out on the scene, because I'm not going to be able to do it over and over and over and over again. Because I won't have it. You're going to start getting repeats after five." So he said, "I've got four different setups." I convinced him to shave it down, and to just use the one close-up that he was going to use. And so, he did. I wound up doing it three full takes in that camera setup. At the end of the day, I think it was maybe about four or five takes, including the other two setups. So, not too bad.
You and Jared seem to just get along really well. Are you very thankful for that?
Very appreciative, very thankful. And yeah, we definitely know that it's a fortunate circumstance to work with someone that you get along with. We've both been on shows and on projects where not everybody gets along, and somebody's got tempers or somebody's got an ego or whatever it might be. But, we've been very lucky and very appreciative of the fact that he and I get along very well on and off set. We work well together. We hang out off set sometimes too, whenever we get time away from set. It's definitely a big luxury that we don't take for granted.
Does it help that you're both from Texas, and come from similar backgrounds?
I'm sure it has something to do with it, you know. It helps me, having him around, because his accent kind of keeps mine going, and mine kind of keeps his going. So we kind of feed off each other in that aspect. But it definitely played it up, just the fact that we have similar upbringings; we have very similar family lives. His parents remind me of my parents. I think there's a lot of in-common stuff there.
Have you and Jared had more creative input into the show this season?
I think we definitely have been a little bit more collaborative with Eric [Kripke] and Bob [Singer] and Kim, and all the department heads. We definitely felt like we've been given more input. We put just as much into this show as those guys do. I mean, not a lot of cast members can say that on a show that they work on. But Jared and I are here all day, every day. I can count on one hand how many days off we've had this year.
It's really a solid effort from all of those people, from the directors to the producers to the writers to the actors. And if I've got issues, I'll call Eric directly and I say, "Hey, man, I want to change some lines. Maybe give me just a little bit here and do this there." And like I said, I went into Kim's office and I was like, "Can we change these shots up? I'd really like to add wide shot just in case I explode." Everybody's very welcoming to it too. Nobody tries to one-up the other person, like, "No, no, no, I don't like that idea, just because I don't like you." There's none of that. It's a very, very collaborative set.
What can you tell us about how this final episode is going to wrap up the season?
Storyline-wise, this is it. This is the big show. This is what we've been waiting for, for two whole seasons. All the problems that set the entire show in motion -- it's all culminating in this one episode. That's very indicative of who Kripke is. He doesn't like to keep those long, drawn-out story lines with a bunch of loose ends. He likes to tie things up and create new problems and more motives and stuff like that, which I really like. There's a lot of shows out there with that continual rolling, never solving the big problem.
In this episode, we're going to deal with the demon that took Mom; we're going to deal with Dad's death; we're going to deal with making deals with devils; we're going to deal with Bobby and Ellen and Joe, the people in the roadhouse. We're going to deal with the cult and devil's traps and all of the stuff that's been playing into the season. It's all kind of coming together in this final episode. That's not to say that it's wrapping everything up, because in doing so -- and in kind of wrapping up that story line -- so much more else is created. Which is really cool. It's definitely going to give us somewhere to go for Season Three and Four and however long we go.
At this point, Jared Padalecki comes over to rib on Jensen, and he joins the fray with us.
Do you prefer the episodes that help build the show's mythology, or the episodes that stand alone?
Jensen: I prefer the ones that follow a common thread. I prefer the ones that move the mythology part forward. I mean, the stand-alone ones are great, and sometimes they're fun to just hang out.
Jared: I'm sort of opposite. I like to film the fun ones, because it's a break from the drama and the tears and the crying, which I love to do and I love to watch. Those are my favorite to watch, but it takes so much out of you. It's like when you're supposed to work out your legs, it's so much harder than working out your arms. The next day, you're like, "Ah, I feel good that I just did that." But at the end of the day, you're like, "Oh, God, it's going to be a big day, I'm not going to walk around."
It's imperative to the storyline that we do [the mythology episodes], but then we do ones like "Hollywood Babylon," which is our next one to air, and it's fun. He's a P.A. and I'm kind of teasing him and making fun of him. And "Tall Tales," where we're just goofing around and wrestling and kind of being goofs. The workload is a little bit more stand-able.
Jensen: It lightens up a little.
Jared: But there's definitely something to be said about filming the mythology episodes, because at the end of a hard day...
Jensen: Well, that's what I was saying. Sometimes you come in and you do a light scene, or you do an action scene, or do something in which you pour out your heart and soul. You really dig deep for something, and it exhausts you emotionally. There is a certain gratification that comes with that.
Was the connection between you two immediate?
Jared: Yeah. I think it was really pretty free from the get-go. I say this all the time -- we have similar interests, and similar hobbies and similar manners. I've definitely worked with my share of performers, and I'm sure Jensen has as well, where it's all about drama. If there's not some sort of conflict going on in their lives or on the set, then they're just not happy. Here we are both like, "Actors are stupid, man. I don't like to hang out with them."
Jensen: I don't condone them.
Jared: Because something's always going to be going on. But he and I are both like, "We're here to make a project that we are both very passionate about. Let's get our work done." There are no rumors going around set, we have fun on the set.
It's remarkable because, being two guys from Texas, we've probably gone for the same roles. I feel no competition with him. I feel like he's my biggest supporter, and I know I'm his biggest supporter. I am so happy after he just nails a scene -- I am like, "Dude! Rocking!" And he does the same for me. He gives me credit where he thinks I deserve it, and likewise, he's also very constructive with criticism. Like, "Hey, you got a better one in there -- don't get lazy here." He knows me, he's seen my acting more than any other person in this world, because I am acting with him constantly, and vice versa.
Jensen: We can just tell. I can tell if he's faking a line, or he can tell me. To be able to have that luxury of being able to call each other out on it, and keep each other accountable, essentially, it's really cool. I think it definitely helps the show out.
Jared, do you get recognized by fans more for Gilmore Girls or Supernatural?
Jared: Depends on the arena, I guess. If I am in a place with a lot of little girls [laughter], maybe Gilmore Girls. But if I am in an older establishment, like a sports bar or something, where it's a bunch of guys, usually Supernatural. I've also met a lot of girls who are fans of Supernatural.
Jensen: With me, I usually wear a hat if I'm going to walk around town or something. If I wear a hat, no one's going to bother me. But the other night, I walked out of my hotel, and the first people I see is this drunk couple, stumbling down the street. And the guy goes, "Hey, there's the guy from that show." This show's been on for just two years, so it's a little bit more out there.
Do you ever go online and read the blogs, Wikis, and fan sites about the show?
Jensen: We've checked out The CW Web site. Kripke's more into that kind of stuff than we.
Jared: Oh, Kripke can recite the list.
Jensen: We'll ask, "Which ones do you go to?" And he's like, "This one and this one and this one..."
Jared: On the set, sometimes -- like right now when we have time -- we'll flip on the Internet. One I read the other day just made me like cry with laughter. I was reading about Jensen, and they were saying that if he went to Denmark and someone said, "What's your name?" He'd say, "Jensen." And they'd say, "No, no, your first name?" And he'd say, "Jensen." They were talking about how his name is such a common last name. This went on and on. I was like, "Oh my gosh, they're talking about..."
Jared: There's no point.
Jensen: Absolutely no point.
A big part of the show's look and feel is the classic rock that you have in lot of episodes. Are you guys into that kind of music?
Jared: During the pilot, because there was so much [music], we were referencing the cassette tapes a lot, so we'd listen to it. And every now and again, we'll have our computers out and we'll just be playing around and listening.
Jensen: I had a cell phone last season that played music out loud. I'd put a speaker on it, and we'd just sit in the Impala and put AC/DC on and just hit the dash.
Jensen, the other day you were showing Kim the promo reel that they used at the Television Critics Association, with the Johnny Cash song. You really liked the way that was cut together.
Jensen: I was like, this should be the opening of the show, this should be the title card of the show.
Jared: I wish they would.
Jensen: And we've both stated our arguments for it.
Jared: We've both expressed interest in it, but I guess they just really don't want it.
Jensen: That's not our department.
Jared: Right. I think Kripke, in his head, has no introduction for Supernatural. So be it.
The special effects team really does an incredible job on this show.
Jared: Oh, yeah! It's neat to see. It's an awesome process. When you go out to the trailers... I mean, "nerd alert." They're great. I wouldn't say it, if they didn't taunt me. Any day if you can walk in there and you see them wearing shirts with the Apple powerbutton. Like, "I am the nerd, who are you?" They're totally like geek gods. They sit in a room and stare at 14 computer monitors for 10 hours a day. "We're nerds."
Jensen: But those guys are brilliant, man. They put together some amazing stuff. We're really lucky to have them.
Jared: It's fun to go over there and just see them. Once I went in there, and I guess there were seven different monitors, all playing different episodes of Supernatural. I was like, "Too much me." [laughter]
But I like seeing them creating. We went in during the clown episode, I guess. I saw them creating the clown face that would come out.
Jensen: The morph. We walked in there, I remember, when the first set was up. Ivan starts explaining it technically to me, and I just turned and walked away. [laughter] Not even a chance.
Do you fear clowns now? More or less? Or did you fear them before?
Jensen: I hated them.
Jared: What's funny was in the episode, Sam hates clowns, and Dean is like, "What the hey, they're just clowns."
Jensen: It's the opposite of what we're like.
Jared: It's just the opposite. Like I had a clown cover, a clown blanket, and ten clowns on my bed and I'd just sit there. I was a clown for Halloween. I loved Stephen King's "It".
Jensen: See, I watched Stephen King's "It" way too young. And that ruined it.
Jared: That was terrifying.
Jensen: I was like, "Nope, nope, clowns are out." And dolls too, for "Playthings."
Jared: Dolls. That was spooky. Just walking into a room full of dolls.
Jensen: Walking in with a bunch of dead eyes looking at you.
Jared: Every now and again, one of them was missing one eye, or there was one that didn't have either eye.
Jensen: Just two empty sockets.
Jared: And Jensen was like, "Put your fingers in her eyes." And I was like, "I don't want to. What if something gets me?" For whatever reason, we couldn't force ourselves to.
Jensen: Because you're a pansy.
Is it strange when you're doing those green screen scenes -- especially fight scenes -- and nothing's there to react to?
Jared: Very, very. We're getting used to it now -- "Look at the tape and be scared."
Jensen: It's all in your imagination, for sure.
Jared: Right. But after seeing a few episodes and seeing it go through the whole rigmarole of us acting to nothing, and seeing them put it in front of us, you go, "Oh, okay! I trust them next time, because now I've seen they're really going to not make me look like I'm looking at a piece of tape."
Last question: What are your favorite TV shows?
Jared: Arrested Development and The Office. The British Office. We can watch only DVDs, really. Any show that's on right now, we can't watch, because we won't have time.
Jensen: I really liked Studio 60 when it first started. But it just kind of tapered off.
[Special thanks once again to the folks at MeeVee for helping us piece this interview back together!]