Ackles and Padalecki as The Next Pitt and Clooney – A Chat with J2
The ‘private’ Q and A with Jensen and Jared still didn’t fit any real definition of private, but it was a little more intimate. This time they dispensed with the round tables and cheese plates in favor of just clustering the chairs around the boys in a small semi-circle, making it seem more like a press conference than a meet & greet. However, since this meant we all were sitting much closer to them, there were definitely no complaints. Shocking, I know.
The guys were in a great mood, apparently because Jensen had just taken a 10 minute nap and Jared had just had lunch, thus everyone’s most pressing needs were temporarily satisfied. Jared brought a Red Bull in with him, though both he and Jensen testified to the sad truth that sometimes they’re just so sleep deprived that even a shot of caffeine doesn’t wake them up. Awww, boys.
Jared starts digging through his pockets for something, perhaps the remnants of his sandwich.
Jensen: “This guy always has pills in his pockets.”
Jared: “That sounds bad.”
Jensen: “No, not bad pills, just like vitamins or whatever.” He then gestures to Jared beside him, all 6’ 4” of him on a small folding chair, and notes, “It takes a lot to keep that body going.”
Fans: (nonverbally of course): “Obviously.”
Jensen was asked what was challenging about being a director, now that he’s had his first opportunity. He described the difference in perspective, and how difficult it was to move back and forth between the roles, using a scene between Dean and Bobby as an example.
Jensen: “As a director, I was looking at the scenes from where to put the camera, how to shoot the scene to get it done quickly, and I knew I could shoot it in one shot – but as an actor, there’s a lot going on here, it’s an emotional scene, I’m talking to Bobby about Sam, Dean’s having all these big issues…there’s a lot of complexity to it. So as an actor, when I looked at it as one shot I thought wait a minute, there must be more to it than that. But there wasn’t, it was so simple for the director in me. So that was a weird thing to balance out, I couldn’t get out of my actor head to get back into my director head.”
We shared a laugh with him at that comment, and then Jared jumped in to share some of the conversations he and Jensen had about Jensen’s directing gig. Clearly they both learned a lot from Jensen’s experience.
Jared: “And you were telling me, how much you needed to understand about special effects rigs and production rigs and what goes on behind the scenes – directors might want to take eight weeks and spend a lot of money when something’s just blasting through, and we don’t need a full costume with a stunt double, we don’t need to hire a body specialist to do backflips, or a CGI outfit that costs so much money that we’ll have to cut another scene out of the episode or another character.”
Jensen also described the concept meetings that directors have with all the department heads where everyone sits around a table and you go through the script line by line.
Jensen: “And as the director I might say okay, for this scene I’m envisioning Dean in the foreground and Sam running around in the background with the monster chasing him. And then the props guy and the special effects guy say okay, we can put a guy on a skateboard and put him on a wire rig and whip him across the frame…and I’m like, woah woah woah guys, he can just run!”
Apparently most directors like to go big, even when it would be much easier and save a lot of money to do it more simply, which was a big eye opener for the first-time director.
Jensen: “And I’ve even done it as an actor, they’ll be like ok, what we want you to do is jump off the thing and you gotta run through this and hit the thing and do this and then you get there, and I’m like, why don’t I just walk through here? And they’re like oh yeah, that’ll work!”
Jared jumps in to sum it up: “The pros are everyone’s trying to do the best they possibly can, but the cons are if we all did that, we’d shoot one episode in 9 months and it would cost a billion jillion dollars.”
Well said, Jared.
Jensen also got to do talent casting for actors, a situation he’s been on the other side of often enough. Both Jared and Jensen described casting as the bane of an actor’s existence.
Jensen: “You come into a room and you have maybe 3 or 4 people just staring at you who are so bored out of their minds because they’ve been listening to the same scene all day long and some of the people are horrible. Some people who consider themselves actors should not be actors.”
When he was in the position of doing the casting, Jensen used his empathy to make the experience less stressful for the actors who were auditioning, getting up to shake their hands and say thanks so much for coming in and just trying to make them comfortable. After all, Jared and Jensen both know what it feels like to be dissed by a casting director.
Jensen: “Once I did this audition for this big director in Hollywood, and he was on his phone, and we came near the end and there was this dramatic beat, and he jumped up and was like good job, man. And the person reading with me was like, uh, we’re not done the scene. And the director was like oh yeah, I always forget about that, well, thanks, take care… ”
Jared described what sounded like a nightmare of an audition: “So the casting director’s phone starts going off, and as we’re reading the scene she literally gets up and walks off to the side and is like hey, I’ll call you back, oh what about lunch, etc., right in the middle of the scene, and we finish and she’s like, thank you so much, and I’m like thank you so much?? You saw like the first 5 seconds of it!”
No wonder the casting process is the bane of actors’ existence.
Jared: “It’s like trying to fall in love in 2 seconds, it’s impossible, so it often goes to someone who just looks the part.”
Both Jensen and Jared have lost parts because they were too tall – that is, taller than the ‘big star’ they would be working opposite. This prompted a dead-on Stallone impression from Jensen. Guess we know who’s the shorter one in that instance, don’t we?
Since we have a good friend who’s a film director, and think he’d make a fabulous guest director for Supernatural, we asked about the difference between directing a television show and a movie. It would be a challenge – in television, you do one or two takes and then move on to the next shot, whereas in film the director might do forty takes.
Jared: “Film directors are specific, they wanna do this, they don’t wanna do that, and they want every single shot.”
Jensen: “We have to cut so many things, and I learned when I directed that you have to pick your battles. Like we just recently shot a scene with a cat and the cat was not behaving, it wasn’t working in the shot and we did three takes, the cat did not work, and boom, the director was like ok, cut here and we’ve gotta move on. Kim Manners used to always say, he wants to find one moment in the scene to really capture — that if he tried to capture every moment in the scene, it would take 6 months to shoot it. So he would have to pick his battles.”
It warms our heart every single time to hear Jensen or Jared talk about Kim. They clearly learned so much from him, and his words still guide their work and their decisions and how they make the show – the actors, directors, producers, crew, everyone.
Sometimes, it seems, talent doesn’t translate between mediums though.
Jared caught the episode that actor James Franco recently did of General Hospital, and said that although he loves Franco’s film work, he was awful. He literally didn’t understand the concept of you’ve just gotta DO it and make it work, you don’t have time to “find it” like you would in a film.
Jensen: “As an actor, you should be able to make writing work. It might take a little longer, you might have to put a little extra thought into it, but you can make the writing work.”
We had never really thought of making the writing work as the responsibility of the actor, but neither Jared nor Jensen shy away from that. They’re serious about their craft and aware that good acting can salvage not-so-good writing – and should.
A fan asked how far Jared and Jensen would go for a role – would they change their look completely?
(Fans collectively gasp NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!)
Both guys said it would have to be something they were really passionate about, or the opportunity to work with a director or actor who was really talented. But doing something like Christian Bale did in The Machinist isn’t in their plans, that although some people say he’s so dedicated, messing with your health isn’t worth it. As Jensen joked, “It’s just make believe.”
We had already heard the story of Matt Cohen asking Jensen for advice on how to play Michael, but frankly we never get tired of hearing Jensen talk proudly about the amazing job that Jared did playing Lucifer. Jared said he spent a lot of time thinking about that episode, and had also discussed it with Eric. Matt had mentioned at the con the day before how much he appreciated the advice, and how he tried to go in the same direction when playing young John and Michael. A Supernatural lovefest
Fan: “So in season six, is Dean more like Sam, and Sam more like Dean?”
Jensen: “I don’t know that they’re flipflopping characteristics or personalities. But we left Dean in a house with a family and he’s essentially been….. mildly domesticated.”
Jared: “Great word.”
Jensen: “I won’t ruin anything by saying that Sam comes back — obviously you know that Sam and Dean are back together on the show…”
Jared: (incredulous) “What?”
Jensen: (clarifying) “They’re working together.”
Fans: (nonverbal again, obviously) “Right. We knew that.”
Jensen: “Now Dean has more of a compassionate side because he’s kinda lived a normal life. But he’s still Dean and that’s not gonna change.”
Jared: “And I think Sam, having been to hell and back, there are certain parts that Dean usually personified, like the quick action, the strategic mindset, and acceptance of collateral damage, that I think Sam more embodies now. Dean’s kinda been domesticated and Sam’s kinda been un-domesticated…”
Jared: “Yeah, hardened. And Dean’s been a little bit un-hardened…”
A fan then began the next question with the caveat, “I’m not really looking for a spoiler for season six….” This prompted the boys to pipe up:
Boys: “Everyone dies!”
Fan with question carries on: “In season 5, all we did was cry and I’m used to Supernatural being depressing but you can only be depressed so long, so my question is….”
Jared: “Stop, you’re depressing me!”
Fan perseveres: “Are we finally gonna get some happy kind of brother relationship, or a brotherly bonding moment like fixing the Impala?”
Jensen. “I’m with you! And we’ve gotta kinda get back on that track, and that’s gonna take a few episodes, to figure out what happened to him (Sam), and Dean to kinda shed his new life and get back to his old life.”
Jared: “I think now they both want to be on the same page – Sam had wanted to be on his own page, and he went off with Ruby and did his own thing, … and now I think in s6 they both at least in words want to be on the same page – they both want to reconcile.”
Jensen: “I agree, I think getting the guys back together and having them laugh together is a good decision.”
There were some questions about theater (Jensen would do it again, but it definitely took him out of his comfort zone), returning to soaps (Jensen would do that again too, and in fact they’ve asked and he’s said yes, but scheduling conflicts haven’t let it happen), and what sort of computers the boys have (Macs). They also asked about one fan’s ‘I Do’ tee shirt (for marriage equality), and both expressed their support with “fingers crossed” that things keep going in the right direction.
The half hour was drawing to a close, when a fan came up with the perfect final question.
Fan: “So, the show will end someday….”
Jared: (incredulous) “What??”
Fan (once again demonstrating that well known fannish persistence): “You two have really great chemistry together, like in the vein of Hope and Crosby, or Paul Newman and Robert Redford. So could you see yourselves doing a series of movies together, not just like oh we happen to be in the same movie, but seeking out some projects where you could work together or maybe even another tv show?”
Jensen: “Absolutely. I would hope so. To have a familiarity with another actor as much as we do with each other is a rare thing in this industry. You see it with Clooney and Pitt, or Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, the Ben Stiller crowd, all those guys work together because they’re so familiar with each other and that’s very valuable in this industry.”
Ackles and Padalecki as the next Pitt and Clooney? Let’s just say we all left the room happy.
Stay tuned for more on VanCon…..