Jared Padalecki: Supernatural‘s Best Is Yet to Come
by Angel Cohn
Supernatural fans best know Jared Padalecki as Sam, the normally sweet Winchester brother who works with Dean (Jensen Ackles) to fight off otherworldly beings on the CW’s underrated but well-written and -acted drama that has the unfortunate task of airing Thursdays at 9 pm/ET, opposite two of television’s hottest series. Hunting down Jared for an interview proved easier said than done — the show shoots in Vancouver, and since the primary cast is only two people, they tend to be a little busy! But TVGuide.com finally caught up with the adorable former Gilmore Girls hottie and asked him some of our own burning questions. Plus: The scoop on Sam’s upcoming good lovin’!TVGuide.com: Supernatural has one of the most popular show blogs on our site. You’ve got some really loyal fans.
Jared Padalecki: Wow! That’s rockin’! Because we’re here in Vancouver, shooting 80 to 90 hours a week, I’m so removed from the real world that sometimes I lose track of the fact that people are enjoying our show and what we do. We’re in our own reality up here, which isn’t really reality.
TVGuide.com: The fans are analyzing every tiny detail.
Padalecki: [In a girlish voice] “He looked uglier in this episode than he did in the last episode.” [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: The big fan question is what can be done to save or promote the show. They are all worried it won’t come back for a third season.
Padalecki: We are all worried, too. We’re doing the only thing we can do, which is work on the quality of the show. It is just one of those unfortunate things, since we’re in this ridiculous hour on this ridiculous night of television. I don’t remember ever in my life the No. 1 and 2 [scripted] shows being on in the same hour. We’re, like, a welterweight in the ring with Mohammed Ali and George Foreman. We’re going to sneak in some punches, but it is a little like we were thrown to the wolves. From what I know, the powers-that-be are happy with what’s going on, but unfortunately I think coming back has to do with how many people are watching. Tell your friends and everybody you can about the show! We love hearing online and in other venues that people are enjoying it. If you know anybody who might be interested in the show but hasn’t watched it yet, try to convince them to sit down with you. We’ll buy you pizza! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: My favorite episode of the show aired recently, the one where Sam goes bad.
Padalecki: I haven’t seen it yet. Usually we’re shooting when it airs.
TVGuide.com: Oh, you’re watching Grey’s Anatomy — don’t lie.
Padalecki: [Laughs] Don’t tell anybody, they’ll kill me. I have the season pass for Supernatural on iTunes, so they are all sitting on my computer waiting for me to watch them. I’ve just been working so much, it’s crazy. I could either sit down for an hour and watch one of these episodes, or I could do what I probably should be doing and memorize my lines.
TVGuide.com: How much fun was it to play the bad guy, seeing as Sam’s usually so sweet?
Padalecki: It was awesome to explore that different side of Sam, even if it was just because he was temporarily possessed. I’ve now played Sam for 40 different episodes, which is something like 320 days of shooting, and that is a long time to play a guy who has been a certain way for the majority of it. It was fun to have that little “vacation” from Sam and to mess with Dean a bit. As a viewer, I love it when the brothers are at odds with each other. They love each other and they are kidding around, but when you see them clash and go head-to-head, it brings a new, interesting dynamic.
TVGuide.com: There was recently a brawl between them, too!
Padalecki: Yeah, we’re keeping it interesting. We definitely have found our niche this year. The writers and actors and everyone involved with the show, we’re all trying new things. I definitely feel like here in the second season, we’ve had a lot of strong showings, and I’m very proud of a lot of our episodes. It is too bad that we’re up against Grey’s Anatomy and CSI, but all we can do is make the best show we can. The pro and con of being up in Vancouver is that while I don’t get the benefit of seeing how successful Supernatural is, I also am not subject to how successful CSI and Grey’s Anatomy are. I get to focus on my work without having these other shows thrown in my face, so to speak.
TVGuide.com: Well, at least you have a fun place to work!
Padalecki: Yeah. Another fun thing about that [bad Sam] episode was that it was filmed right before the Christmas holiday. After the first stretch of five months of shooting, you get to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was fun to do the scenes with Alona [Tal], who plays Jo, as you see Sam being a slimeball.
TVGuide.com: Is Jo coming back, or is she done with the brothers?
Padalecki: I don’t think she’s done with the brothers, and I don’t think the brothers are done with her. But the next time they see each other, they won’t be so happy. Sam will probably be happy to see her, because he doesn’t really know what happened, but I don’t think Jo will be too happy to see him!
TVGuide.com: Yeah, if I were Jo, I’d be wary.
Padalecki: Exactly, but I think she’s a tough chick. Maybe she’d have a knife in her back pocket — just in case.
TVGuide.com: There have been a lot of great mythology episodes this season, especially surrounding the idea of Sam’s possible destiny to be evil. Is that more interesting than the monster-of-the-week episodes?
Padalecki: For me it is totally more interesting. What I originally loved about the show is that there was that element, that mythology. In school you study Joseph Campbell and archetypes and you recognize them in movies like Star Wars and The Matrix. You see good versus evil, the trusted companion and the friendly demon, the unfriendly family member…. There is a whole list, and it was what got me interested in the show. But I think one of the reasons we’re still keeping the monsters of the week is because it is just fun. Especially when trying to get new viewers, as opposed to having them tune in [to see us] talking about if Sam’s a demon and if he has demon blood, or if his dad or mom was a demon, or what have you. Then they are just going, “What the hell are they talking about?!” [Series creator Eric] Kripke said that every three or four episodes he wants to throw in a heavy mythology episode, but he wants to have the core be fun and something people could tune in for the first time and enjoy.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, the doll one still gives me nightmares.
Padalecki: That director, Charles Beeson, did a great job. I was really proud of that doll episode, because it could have been not scary, but the way it was shot was great. The episode [airing tonight] where we are working with this girl Tricia Helfer from Battlestar Galactica is also directed by Charles. He was fun to work with.
TVGuide.com: Do you get freaked out by any of the stories?
Padalecki: Not a whole lot. But speaking of Tricia Helfer, when she was filming, she was talking about how she and her husband were [checking out Supernatural] and during some of the parts she audibly screamed. Her husband then jumped and they spilled Chinese takeout on themselves. It was so cool, and I was so flattered. I remember taking a doll and sneaking it in Jensen’s trailer to try to freak him out. So it isn’t scary for me because I’m familiar with the story, but it is creepy.
TVGuide.com: How was Tricia to work with?
Padalecki: She was a champ, and so cool. She had one of the heaviest guest-star roles that we’ve ever had. She worked, I think, every day, which is usually just something Jensen and I do, while the lead guest star usually works five out of eight days, or six maybe. Sometimes she was in before us and sometimes she was out after us. She was very professional and very fun to work with and very talented.
TVGuide.com: The boys have been getting in a lot of trouble this season with the police and the FBI. Will that continue?
Padalecki: That absolutely will continue. I like that the police and the FBI are hot on these guys’ trail. Obviously we know the demons are after Sam and Dean and they pose a major threat, but sometimes you forget, “Aren’t they doing illegal things? Shouldn’t the law be chasing after them, knocking at their door a day too late or an hour too late?” I think in Episode 19, we have a really intense run-in with the law and we end up in prison… or so I hear. The boys, what are they going to do?
TVGuide.com: I’m sure some mystical being will help them out.
Padalecki: [Laughs] Someone’s going to have to help us. We’re going to have to call Bobby Singer and have him run a truck through the gate.
TVGuide.com: Bobby’s been there for you guys, he’ll help you out.
Padalecki: Yeah. Jim Beaver‘s awesome. He’s fun.
TVGuide.com: I loved him on Deadwood.
Padalecki: Yeah! He got the news of their SAG nomination while he was here shooting, and I could see him light up a little. He was like, “I’m sorry, I’ve got to tell someone. [Deadwood was] nominated for best ensemble for a drama.” I’m so happy for him, because he’s great and the whole cast of that show is great.
TVGuide.com: Wait, you have time to watch TV?
Padalecki: I don’t. I only have time to watch DVDs. I don’t have a chance to keep current with anything, because I’m afraid I’ll get into a show and there will be a new episode I want to catch and I’ll be working and then I’ll be at work thinking, “Man, I wish I was in my trailer watching that show.” I learned a long time ago that if I make any other plans while I’m filming, I’ll only end up resenting the work. I’ll catch it later.
TVGuide.com: Are you taking some time off during your summer hiatus?
Padalecki: I’d like to work, strangely enough. Last summer I took off.
TVGuide.com: You are a glutton for punishment.
Padalecki: I can’t even believe the words coming out of my mouth. Last summer, I didn’t even do a one-day cameo on a movie or show. I went on vacation with my girlfriend and my brother and sister-in-law; I spent time with my sister as she turned 21; another one of my buddies got married. The first season was really tough for me. Even though it was only Canada, every time I wanted to go home I had to go through customs and immigration.
TVGuide.com: Customs? For Canada?
Padalecki: I know, it is so weird. It’s like, “Come on, guys, you are only 20 miles inside the border, just let me go without this hourlong line.” But the first season was crazy hours, I missed my girlfriend and home. This year, not that I don’t miss them, but I knew what to expect, and the benefits are a little better this season. I have a bigger trailer, I have wireless Internet in it…. I’m all spoiled now. My girlfriend and I have the little camera things on our computer, so if she’s in L.A., I get to “see” her. It’s been easier, so I think I am rested and ready to work this summer. Hopefully a good project comes up.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of girls, any chance that Sam will be getting one?
Padalecki: You know what? Sam did just get a girl, some action. It was due time for it. It’s been a while since his girlfriend died and not that he’s not an honorable, chivalrous kind of guy, but it was time for him to move on and accept what had happened. The last thing that the audience wants to see is this guy just whining and bitching and moaning and pining for his girlfriend who we knew nothing about. The episode we just finished, Sam had a love scene. I got the news three weeks before that I was going to basically be in my underwear, so I was like, “All right, time for me to hit the gym and stop eating all this candy.” I started running with my dogs and doing push-ups and sit-ups, and eating my protein bars and drinking 10 glasses of water a day. It was so weird. I’d never done a scene like that. I was so nervous. But they were so nice and so professional. It was necessary for Sam and for the show. I think I impressed Dean, and I got some.
TVGuide.com: It never made sense to me that all the girls would throw themselves at Dean. It should be equal!
Padalecki: Yeah! Some should come Sam’s way. Sam made his mark on society now, after all this time.
TVGuide.com: Who would you rather hang with? Sam or Dean?
Padalecki: Hmm… that’s a good question. [Pauses] Um… I think I would rather hang with Dean because Sam is smarter than I am, so I think I would be intimidated by that. [Laughs] Plus, I could kick Dean’s ass, but if Sam went berserk he could mess me up pretty good. You have to print that so I can show it to Jensen.
TVGuide.com: Cool. Maybe we’ll get another on-screen fight between you two.
Padalecki: It would be more comforting to hang out with Dean and know he wasn’t possessed by a demon or have weird headaches and see people dying. It is always a buzzkill when you are with your buddy and he gets a headache and says, “We’ve got to go three states over and save someone before they die.”
TVGuide.com: Speaking of which, do you do all your stunts and fighting?
Padalecki: I did a lot until I broke my hand. Then they thought that maybe we shouldn’t have him doing that. But I have a stunt guy who is a great match for me and he’s a lot tougher than I am. He does all the hard stuff and I just look pretty.
TVGuide.com: Anything else to look forward to for the rest of the season?
Padalecki: I think our final run is fantastic. The episode after Tricia’s, which was one of my favorites, is the one where Sam gets some “special lovin’,” so to speak. Then we have a great time when Sam and Dean go to Los Angeles to visit a haunted movie set. It gets better from there. Even though we haven’t finished filming our final episodes, I think in four months I can see being more proud of Season 2 than of any of the other work I’ve done.
Check out this video preview of this week’s Supernatural.