PaleyFest 2011: The 'Supernatural' Cast Talk the Mother of All, Heaven vs. Heaven and a Potential Season 7
by Laura Prudom, posted Mar 14th 2011 10:30AM
We may be a little biased, but we think that PaleyFest 2011's event to honor the CW's 'Supernatural' was a fairly special occasion. Not only did the hard-working cast -- Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jim Beaver -- take the time to fly back from filming the show in Vancouver to celebrate the occasion and answer the fans' burning questions, but TV Squad's own Maureen Ryan moderated the panel (and did an excellent job, if we do say so ourselves).
We were able to spend a little time with the cast and executive producers on the press line before the Q&A, and though predictably coy on the subject of spoilers, they were more than willing to drop a tantalizing hint or two about the rest of the season to ensure that we'll be itching with anticipation until the show returns from hiatus on April 15. Where's a time-traveling angel when you need one? Spoilers ahead.
Although we regrettably didn't have time to catch Jared Padalecki (sorry, ladies!) or Eric Kripke on the bustling carpet, who can complain about the opportunity to talk to Misha Collins, Sera Gamble, Jim Beaver, Ben Edlund and Jensen Ackles?
Collins was happy to share a little about what's coming up for Castiel in the next few episodes (as well as talking about his awesome new charitable project, Hope to Haiti) while Gamble shed some light on the direction the show will take leading up to the finale -- and hopefully into a potential season 7. Ackles gave us a wonderfully thoughtful tidbit about Dean's mindset this season, as well as a shout-out to everyone's favorite dearly departed daddy, John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Check out the video below. Caution: Video contains adult language.
The creative team behind 'Supernatural' certainly knows its audience; although we weren't treated to a full screening of a new episode, the sold-out PaleyFest audience did get a peek at a hilarious extended scene from the show's recent meta episode 'The French Mistake,' which highlighted more of Jared and Jensen as Sam and Dean pretending to be Jared and Jensen as they attempt to act like Sam and Dean (yikes!). This segued nicely into a preview of the hotly anticipated Western episode, set to air on April 22.
In it, we see Sam and Dean preparing to go back in time to try and track down the legendary Colt, as well as someone (or something) called Phoenix -- though the Winchesters' attempts at going incognito in the Old West leave a lot to be desired (at one point, Castiel queries whether it's customary to wear a blanket when he catches sight of Dean's zarape).
Still, they've got a bag of gold jewelry and watches (dragon swag, perhaps?) to barter with, and despite Sam's dorky Western-style shirt, they're ready to boldly go where 'Back to the Future III' kind of went before. With a little help from Castiel's magic fingers, our dashing duo find themselves in 1861, which (predictably) makes Dean geek out. We were also treated to an atmospheric clip of two gunslingers toting pistols at high noon for a good ol' fashioned shootout. Who will be the fastest gun in the West -- a mysterious man in black, or our own Sheriff Dean Winchester?
Check out some of the highlights from the panel below:
Many fans have been missing their Castiel fix of late, but as Collins reassured us on the press line, we're about to see a whole lot more of the embattled angel, especially in the Edlund written-and-directed episode 20, 'The Man Who Would Be King', which will be told from Castiel's POV.
We'll also be introduced to another angel: Castiel's "trusted lieutenant" Rachel, and delve deeper into the civil war in heaven. It sounds as though Castiel is getting in way over his head in his fight against Raphael, and Sam and Dean will find themselves caught in the middle of the fracas. Collins shared that we'll get to witness a little more of Castiel's inner struggle over the burdens he's had to shoulder ... Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, indeed -- especially if the rumors prove true regarding another fan favorite character who might be making a return in the episode. King of Heaven vs. King of Hell, perhaps?
For those of you who have been following writer-producer Ben Edlund's career, you may recall that 'Supernatural's' resident evil genius has tried his hand at directing once before, on the surreal, puppet-centric 'Angel' episode 'Smile Time'. Edlund promised that there will be no puppets in his 'Supernatural' directing debut, but he did tease that the aforementioned 'King' will be "very emotional" and "bring to fruition some serious friendships" leading into the finale. He also quipped that we'll be seeing some flashbacks to Castiel's childhood, but we'd take that joke with a grain of salt.
The cast were very complimentary in regards to Edlund's directing style, too. Collins pointed out that unlike most directors, who periodically appear and disappear on set in a similar way to guest stars, as both a writer and a producer, Edlund actually knows the overall story arc of the season and the characters, which allows him to give advice on an actor's performance in a way that others can't. Padalecki agreed, recalling that, while some directors just tell him where to stand, Edlund actually walked him through the scene, with directions like "you can pause here and think about how Sam's feeling ... " which Padalecki found very gratifying.
We all know that Jensen Ackles is skilled in front of the camera, but after his directorial debut earlier this season, his prowess behind the lens is now well-documented too. During the panel, Ackles revealed that he'd be eager to hop into the director's chair again should he have the opportunity next season, but admitted on the press line that he was grateful that his first outing, 'Weekend at Bobby's,' was light on his character.
"Out of the eight days we filmed, five of them I was just directing, which was great because the times that I did have to act in the scene and direct at the same time were a bit difficult, because I was in a completely different mindset ... I didn't realize how different a mindset it was until I was in it. I know now, so given the opportunity again I'll adjust accordingly, but I think [the producers] may have given me a little reprieve on that just so I could focus," Ackles told us. "We haven't gotten the official word for season seven yet, but I think that once we do, we'll probably sit down and talk about it. They mentioned that they were very happy and that they would be open to giving me another one, so I'll keep my fingers crossed."
All That Glitters
One of the most popular questions amongst fans pertains to the special amulet that Sam gave Dean for Christmas when they were kids. It was last seen being tossed into a trash can by Dean, but the fans aren't so eager to let go, and Ryan put the question to creator Eric Kripke during the panel. "Well, contract negotiations with the amulet aren't going so well ... " he quipped. "It's kind of a diva -- it's currently doing a guest spot on 'One Tree Hill'." In all seriousness, though, Kripke confirmed that there were currently no plans for the amulet to return. Woe is us!
As Ackles joked on the press line, both he and Collins have long-since begun regret their decision to give their characters the low, graveled voices we've come to know and love -- Collins was only too eager to expound on this during the panel. "I may be running into medical problems," he joked, musing that someday he'd love to see Castiel carting around a tank of helium so that he could raise the angel's voice back to his normal tone.
Missouri or South Dakota?
During the fan portion of the Q&A, an interesting question arose regarding the fate of Missouri Moseley (Loretta Devine), a character who only appeared in one episode of season one ('Home') but left a lasting impression on fans. Kripke confirmed that they would certainly be open to seeing the character again someday, Devine's schedule willing.
The creator even confessed that he had originally planned to bring the character back for the season one finale to help Sam and Dean deal with the demon Meg, but when a scheduling conflict arose, he had to rewrite the script, and thus created the character of Bobby as an illustration of what one of John Winchester's grizzled old male hunting buddies might look like. Jim Beaver let out an audible sigh of relief that Devine couldn't participate in the episode -- if she had, perhaps we'd never have met Bobby Singer at all.
Another interesting tidbit: the Bobby Singer character was originally supposed to be named Bobby Manners, after both Bob Singer and Kim Manners, but the producers found a real person named Bobby Manners living in South Dakota, so they were legally obligated to change the character's name.
While both the fans and the stars are relieved to have the brotherly dynamic back between Sam and Dean, Padalecki did admit that he does "really, really miss" playing soulless Sam, purely because it was a great challenge, and because he enjoys playing characters that are "a little bit darker, a little bit disturbed," as well as exploring the nature of the soul. Gamble mentioned that it was executive producer Bob Singer who pitched the idea of bringing Sam back sans soul, and Ackles took the opportunity to reiterate how difficult it was to play Dean without that comfortable rapport between the brothers to fall back on. We may not have seen the last of soulless Sam yet, though -- the wall that Death put up to protect Sam from his memories is flimsy at best, and we'd be surprised if we didn't see it falter altogether before the season is out (most likely in the reportedly "Sam-heavy" final episode).
Supernatural: The Movie?
When it was announced that this season's scheduling would facilitate episodes 21 and 22 airing back-to-back on May 20, Kripke explained that he originally intended to structure the final two stories more like a movie, as one cohesive whole. "But there are so many mythology balls up in the air," he professed during the panel, "in the end, in order to tie up all the loose threads, it's very episodic." Because of this, both episodes will stand alone, with certain aspects of the mythology tied up in the first hour, and another group tied up in the second hour, all leading up to ... a cliffhanger ending! (Both Gamble and Ackles shared on the press line that episode 21 would be a Dean-heavy episode, which will see the return of Lisa and Ben, while episode 22 will be more focused on Sam.)
When Ryan attempted to find out if there had been any storyline twists the cast members hadn't seen coming over the course of the entire series, Ackles and Padalecki stayed surprisingly quiet. It wasn't a case of amnesia so much as a case of confidentiality: Kripke indicated that there are a number of "curveballs and twists" in the season's final episodes, which have certainly thrown our brothers for a loop.
As for the show's final finale -- hopefully still a long way down the road -- the creator divulged that he still has a special coda tucked away to close the book on all of the characters. He didn't use it for last season's 'Swan Song,' but we will see it when the story finally comes to an end.
What are you most looking forward to in the final batch of episodes? Are there any characters you'd love to see return? Share your predictions for the shocking twists and the season finale's massive cliffhanger below, and make sure to check out Collins' Haiti project at TheRandomAct.org.
More PaleyFest coverage:
PaleyFest 2011: 'The Walking Dead' Cast Talk Love Triangles, Action Figures and Season 2
PaleyFest 2011: The 'True Blood' Cast Talk Demon Babies, Witches and Season 4
PaleyFest 2011: The 'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talk Romance, Charlie Sheen and the Return of Tammy
Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA.