At San Diego Comic-Con, Hall H on Saturday is normally ruled by Warner Brothers and Marvel. Sundays? It’s left in the hands of Jared and Jensen. I am of course talking about Supernatural, the CW’s longest running scripted series. Sunday afternoon at Comic-Con, I attended the roundtable Q&A with the cast and crew to hear about season 11, as well as the legacy they’ve created over the last 1o years.
Here are the highlights:
A: I don’t think it’s changed at all. I think it’s been extraordinarily similar. I’ve been WAY more benevolent than malevolent to them. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that you can never really work out what I’m going to do. I think I’m the good guy.
Q: How will Rowena factor into things this season?
A: Well, she’s got the upperhand at the start of the season. If we come back into the season in real time, it’s going to be bad for me. Jeremy [Carver, Executive Producer] has the best insight into what the Darkness really means. Season 1o focused a lot of the personal relationships and the expansion of character a lot more than anything else. There was a lot more backstory this season. I think season 11 is a bit of a reset. We had a great reset at season 6, and I think we have a really good reset coming up in 11. Not in the context that we NEED it, but it’s just a great time to do it.
Q: You are always recognizable in almost everything that you’re in. Where does [Crowley] rank on the totem pole?
A: On the totem pole it’s probably top, which is a blessing. It’s more immediate, it’s what I’ve been doing the last few years. White Collar, Doctor Who…I’m a fan of all the stuff that you’re fans of. I even got to meet Peter [Capaldi] last night, which was cool.
Q: So how did the pizza run go last night?
A: The pizza run was good. Were any of you in the Hall H line last night?
Q: My friend was & she said thank you very much.
A: Pizza Hut donated a bunch of pizzas and we handed them out last night to people waiting in the Hall H line and it was a little bit more pandemonium than I thought there was going to be, people were getting knocked over and like a crush of bodies so it was exciting, very exciting.
Q: You caused a riot at Comic-Con?
A: Ya, a little riot, a pizza riot.
Q: So what do we say about GISHWHES this year?
A; well um GISHWHES stands for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen which is a title that in and of itself is full of hubris and every year I endeavor to make it even greater than it was the year before. We’ve broken eight Guinness World Records now and have so much fun and I’m always trying to come up with ideas that are kind of going to blow the participants minds, that are going to be incredibly challenging and incredibly fun, so my ambition is to make it an even greater international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen and registration, by the way, closes in one week so if anyone wants to join up now is the last chance.
Q: When Charlie died, what did you think?
A: It’s interesting. I actually know there is a lot of controversy in the fandom about it. But I don’t think we can have Sacred Cows on the show: Characters that for some reason or another are unkillable. For any reason. I think Sam and Dean are the only ones that are kind of “all right we all know they’re like 007, they’re not really gonna die,” but I think that we need to have the palpable drama of knowing that a character we love may actually die at some point. And if we start to get complacent and start to feel like “oh no no one is really gonna die” or if they die they’ll be immediately resurrected then it takes the danger out of the drama and it makes it ultimately less interesting. And I know that the writers really do try to have some integrity when it comes to allowing the story to unfold in a very free creative manner and not being fettered by what they think the show should be doing, so it’s kind of what happened in story as it unfolded and I know everybody loves Felicia and loves Charlie and an amazing character and who knows, you know hopefully we’ll see her again, but I do think that you know we’ve got to believe that everyone could die.
Q: There has to be some stakes involved.
A: Yeah it raises the stakes, you know.
Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester)
Q: It’s been 11 years. Do you think if Sam and Dean binged Supernatural season 1, would they watch an episode and think “It took us THAT long to beat a Wendigo?”
A: [Laughs] Yeah, I think so. What’s funny is that when we first started filming the pilot I remember [series creator Eric] Kripke going “Hey, treat it like it’s not a big deal. It’s not ‘THERE’S MONSTERS IN THE CLOSET!’ It’s ‘Oh. There’s monsters in the closet.'” We were to play it off like we’ve known it our whole life because Sam and Dean knew it their whole life. That’s how I feel now. I feel now how Sam felt then, like it’s old hat. But if Sam and Dean were to sit down and watch an episode, they would think A) Who are those guys dressed up as Sam and Dean, because we look way different now, me especially, and B) What’s taking them so long?
Q: What are you really looking forward to this season?
A: The boys are back on the same page. From soulless Sam, to Lucifer Sam, to the Mark of Cain, or even Vinnie. We’ve had these things that push the boys apart. I love that they are on the same page. I mean, I am a brother, I have two sons that are brothers. I like that comradery, that teamwork.
Q: Have you learned your lesson to stop hiding things?
A: [Laughs] You’d think we would by now, right? We’re always doomed to repeat our mistakes.
Q: So 11 years is a long time to being doing one thing. What do you think is at the heart of that longevity and fanbase?
A: I wouldn’t say this in front of them [smiles] but we have really great writers. They think of new, great ideas. Supernatural has become greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not just about two brothers fighting demons, it’s about so much more. It’s about sacrifice, it’s about love, it’s about loss, it’s about teamwork, it’s about ‘you can’t always get what you want,’ it’s about loyalty. It’s all these greater messages that are everlasting, and we’ve found this fun way with this show to express them. We have no boundaries on this show. I’ve played Jared Padalecki on the show. I’ve played soulless, I’ve played Lucifer. Jensen’s died 35 times. We’ve made fun of CSI, and gone to fan conventions IN the show. The fandom has been there with us, and forgives us when we error, and are there when we succeed. They love us so much, I just want to say how much we love them too. It’s become a family.
Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester)
Q: Now that the Winchesters are back on the same page, with the Darkness coming, is there a possibility of former villains teaming with the Winchesters to defeat it?
A: I’m sure it’s a possibility. There’s probably going to be alliances made that normally wouldn’t be made, but the the greater purpose of what we’re dealing with, might be made. I’m just speculating right now. I am liking the format we have now, which is the brothers, back together, not afflicted with anything like demon blood or the Mark of Cain. There just Sam and Dean fighting a common purpose.
Q: With the format going back to the brothers being on the same page, how does Castiel fit into that?
A: Well, we’ve kind of got a secret weapon. Cas has his mojo back. It would be foolish not to utilize that friendship. He will very much be a part of the show and of what they’re doing. If you remember in the past when the brothers were fighting the Yellow-Eyed Demon or something, there was Jo, Bobby, and Ellie. There’s was always this “Mod-Squad” that would get together to help. Cas very much a part of the team. It will be interesting to see who else has joined the team.
Q: Has time passed since the finale?
A: That’s an interesting question. The way it’s going to seem is that it’s a direct pickup. The question then becomes “How long were we out? Was it just a few minutes or a lot longer?”
Q: Is it difficult switching back and forth between acting and directing?
A: It’s gotten a little easier, but it’s certainly not easy. It was very difficult when I first had to do it and I found a way to take one hat off and put another on, but it’s still hard. I’ve discovered that acting and directing take two totally different parts of the brain.
Q: Which episode are you directing?
A: I’ll be directing episode 3.
Andrew Dabb (Writer)
Q: So what can you tell us?
A: [Laughter] Oh boy, it’s going to be one of those. Well I was born on a farm in Utah, this is about me right? [More laughter] You guys don’t really want to talk about the show, right? Ok great. No, I think season 11 it’s going to be great. The Darkness is out. Sam and Dean are doing their thing. Crowley is dead, so that’s fun for everybody. Um ya, I think it’s going to be fun.
Q: Will there be any unlikely allies for the Winchesters?
A: The nice thing about having the Darkness out it’s such a big event, it’s such a big galvanizing event, it has ripple events kind of that can touch monsters and heaven and hell and demons and witches. I think certain people or certain factions we have considered bad guys in the past will come back and help us in ways that are I think very surprising, but also will be very satisfying because it’s always fun to see the bad guys work with the Winchesters because it’s only temporary even if it’s with a major negative agenda.
Q: I know it’s been mentioned before, but are there any new elements on Jeffrey Dean Morgan coming back to the show as a guest appearance?
A: You know that’s always something that we’re always a little wary of only because he carries so much weight for us. When we bring him back I think we really — if and when we bring him back — we really want it to count, we really want it to have a lot of weight, so it’s about finding that moment more than anything else.
Q: Is there still any interest, because obviously the spin-off didn’t work out, is that still on the table — a different spin off?
A: I think, you know it’s on the table I think, but you look around right now and there’s so much genre’d television out there, it’s what you bring to the party that’s new, you know, and that’s what Supernatural did and does so well. So if an idea came along that had that same energy that same aggressiveness had that same kind of appeal I think we’d jump all over it. I’d say right now, certainly this season, we’re not going and planning a spin-off.
Q: Throughout the years we’ve seen a Soulless Sam and the Mark of Cain Dean are there any facets of either character that we haven’t seen yet that we’re going to see this season?
A: Well I think certainly both in the song and dance men we haven’t seen and we’re just dying to. I think with Sam and Dean you’ve got characters that have been through the wringer quite a bit; it’s very easy and very understandable to take them to a very dark place. But with both of them I think it’s really important they both keep a sense of humor, they both keep a certain lightness even though it’s gallows humor and I think both Jared and Jensen do that really well. Things can be going as bad as they’re going and Jensen can say a line, Jared can say a line and it can lighten the mood and it makes you feel for them even more. So that’s a side of their characters that probably we didn’t explore as much last year because so much stuff was going on, so much deeply dramatic stuff. This year there’s a lot of stuff going on too, but I think certainly as writers we’ve looked at injecting more of those moments, more of what I would call more human, brotherly moments.
Q: Is there kind of a theme for this season?
A: I think the big theme for this season, because the Darkness is a big theme, I think it’s basically you can’t escape your past. You know and both for Dean and Sam and Misha and Mark you’ve got basically the past the fans are certainly aware of, nothing coming out of whole cloth, but things maybe we haven’t touched on in a few years that are going to come back in a way that I think will hopefully be surprising and very gratifying.
Q: How was it that you got to spend an entire episode just celebrating the show for the 200th episode?
A: You know it became something where we, at the end of season 9 Jeremy came in, we knew the 200th episode was coming, we knew we wanted it to be an event. There’s two ways those events can go, they can be a big myth thing or they can be a really cool one shot. Jeremy came in with the idea of basically doing a musical version of Supernatural. Certainly there have been musical episodes before — Buffy’s musical episode — and things like that, so it’s how do you do this in a way that’s a little bit different and that evolved into a version that allowed a lot of fans celebrate both their love for the show, but also show different interpretations of the show and things like that we thought could be very cool. So once that was on the table we all latched onto it and because we have such great partners in CW and Warner Brothers they let us kind of run free a little bit in a way that a lot of newer shows don’t get. We were able to really kind of chase it as far as we could go.
Well, what do you think? Are you excited for the return of the “Old-School” Winchesters? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.
IMAGE: Huffington Post