A Family Affair – Jensen Ackles at DallasCon
There were a few more people in the room than usual at Jensen’s Q and A this afternoon – his parents, sister and brother in law. What a treat to be able to experience them experiencing Jensen ‘doing his thing’ and fans appreciating him for it.
“This is one of my favorite parts of the day,” Jensen said as he took a seat at the front, “Just to chat in a small group. I could do this all day.”
Fans: Feel free!
We actually asked the first question, mostly because we’ve been wanting to know the answer for a few weeks now, ever since we chatted with Steve Carlson about his new cd.
Lynn: When we interviewed Steve Carlson a few weeks ago, we asked what made you decide to sing “Angeles” on his new cd – and he told us we had to ask you. So we are.
Jensen: Wait, he said it was my idea? Liar!!
Lynn: Well, that kinda answers it!
Jensen: (laughing) No, I guess the reason is that it’s a song that I kinda love to play on the guitar. One day Steve and I were playing guitar and I played that song and he really liked it. Then he got the idea for the album and asked me if I wanted to do something on it, and I was like, you tell me which song — of the ones I’ve played — that you’ve liked. And he said I really like that one. So it was that easy.
Lynn: So he really was lying….
Jensen: Well, yeah – I mean no –
Jensen: I guess it was kind of collaborative – we may have helped each other get to that decision. There wasn’t a lot of thought put into it. I’m not a musician, so there’s not a whole lot of songs that I play, I just kinda play for myself, so that just happened to be one of the ones I do play.
Lynn: Well it turned out beautiful.
Jensen: (smiling) Thank you.
Fan: And what about the video you and Steve shot for Angeles?
Jensen: It’s actually the fans’ fault that there’s a video.
Fans: (are unrepentant)
Jensen: I kid you not, you can ask Steve. He said why don’t we just shoot something, because you know that if we don’t, they’re gonna take the song and just compile their own music video on YouTube.
Fans: (are unrepentant….again)
Jensen: And I was like ok, what do you wanna do? And he was like I dunno, let’s just shoot some stuff on our iphones. We did the first part in the ADR truck in Vancouver on set, where we do our looping and stuff in the back of a big truck. Jared was actually in there filming with his iphone.
(Jensen mimes Jared bobbing and weaving as he films while Jensen teases him about it)
Fans: (are laughing)
Jensen: We did that part in March, and then we were back in LA and went out on my boat and Steve said hey, bring your guitar. I was like, really? But okay fine, so we shot more and then he mixed it all together on his computer.
And what about that unusual video that Jensen made with Jason Manns?
Jensen: (laughing) I don’t know. He was doing a fundraising for a thing he was doing and he needed to film a little thank you video for the fans and I helped him. I don’t know whose idea it was. I think I said, you should get really really overly dressed up for it. And while we’re shooting, then you should just take your pants off.
Jensen: I don’t know…because it’s funny?
Fans: Oh, it was funny all right!
Jensen: (perhaps to his mom) He did have boxers on, it’s not like we were…it didn’t turn into nc17!
And speaking of videos….and boxers…
Fan: Whose idea was it to make those videos from the set, like the ones where you asked us to vote for the Peoples Choice Awards in your boxers?
Jensen: It’s kind of a collective thing, who comes up with it. Sometimes it’s my idea, sometimes Jared’s idea. it’s generally something very quick – we’ll have someone from production come down and say we need a video and we’ll be like ok, whattya wanna do, dude? And it’s that quick. There’s not a whole lot of thought that goes into it.
Fans: Feel free to do more of them. (In your boxers)
A fan then asked what parts of the classic Texas stereotype fit him really well and which don’t?
Jensen: I’ve lived outside Texas almost as long as I’ve lived inside, which is not a statistic I’m proud of. I would say I definitely have the Texas pride. You don’t get a lot of people from other states having state pride. There’s just something about Texas, people just love it, and I’m no different. I don’t wear cowboy boots or a cowboy hat all the time – I have them though. I’m a Cowboys fan. I like to think I’m a kind of a good ol’ boy but I’m probably a lot more city than a lot of folks. I’d probably go out to the ranches here and get schooled.
Another fan asked about how comfortable he was doing accents, and if his own Texas accent got in the way.
Jensen: (deadpans to the very British sounding fan). You’re really good at that accent, whatever it is. You’re from Rhode Island, right?
Jensen: I’m not great, but if I worked at one, I think I could. My dad and I have always messed around with accents. I’d be nervous to try an accent in front of someone who actually talks like that.
British fan: Can you do English?
Jensen: I can, but I won’t, because you’re English!
Jensen: And there are totally different ones, Birmingham or South London. At the first con, it was like, what? Doesn’t anybody speak English in this town? Kidding kidding.
Fan: You can hear your accent, like you can’t say “get”
Jensen: (nearly blushing) I say “git”. I guess I do.
Fan: And whenever you guys say “my brother”
Jensen: (still endearingly embarrassed) Filming in Canada, they pronounce words more like the British, “beeen” to the store, variations of words that are much more British dialect, which just makes us stand out even more with the “gits” and the “my brother”. We’re from Texas, what do you want?
Fans: (silently) Oh we want that, believe us!
The next question was, does he have a bucket list?
Jensen: Not necessarily. There are still things that I’d like to do, some places I’d like to travel. I’ve already bungee jumped and skydived a couple of times. I’d say base jump but my mother’s back there, so…
Mrs. Ackles (from the back of the room) GASP!
Jensen: She’s like, I don’t even know what that is…
Fan: How about the Las Vegas roller coaster?
Jensen: The Stratosphere? Yeah, done that. Roller coasters – funny story – growing up here, I don’t know if you are familiar with Six Flags. As a kid I remember looking at the Shock Wave, which was this double loop coaster, thinking that was my hell. I was horrified and had nightmares about riding that thing because my brother was like, as soon as you’re tall enough, we’re going!
(Jensen looks around the room for his brother Josh, who alas was not there to defend himself).
Jensen: Okay, Josh isn’t here right now, but it just terrified me. And one year I finally was tall enough to ride and either I mustered up enough guts or Josh forced me onto it, but I did it and I remember just wanting to immediately do it again because it was so much fun. So whatever fear I thought I was gonna have went like that. So roller coasters don’t thrill me as much as they used to.
Fan: Is there anything you’re very afraid of?
Jensen: (after considering it thoughtfully) The uncertainty of my work. Not really a fear, but….I grew up with my father in the industry, and I know that the years fluctuate. Some years are good years, some years are bad years. And it’s hard to have that uncertainty kind of constant in your life. I know that I’ve had a run now that’s been incredible, and it’s very rare in this industry to be working this consistently for as long as I have been and I’m thankful for that and I don’t take it lightly. But that doesn’t promise that I’m gonna have work for the next 5 or 10 or 20 years. Especially now when so many movie stars are coming off the big screen and working in tv, it makes it that much more difficult. I’ve kind of carved out a nice tv career, and I’d love to do movies as well, but imagine how hard it is now for anybody to make that transition when the big movie stars are coming back to tv and taking those roles. So there’s a bit of a shift in Hollywood right now, generally movie stars wouldn’t touch tv, but I think that stigma has gone away because tv is so powerful and such a great medium, especially with all the cable shows. It’s a really kind of high end industry now and more stars are taking notice and taking roles that would otherwise be for somebody who’s not quite an A lister. So that’s always a little unnerving, just the uncertainty of the line of work I’m in.
Fan: How about that snake in Yellow Fever?
Jensen: I mean, anybody that has a 9 and a half foot python crawling over their shoulder is gonna be nervous. Especially when you turn and you see the head, and it’s bigger than your fist.
Mrs. Ackles from the back of the room: Wha??
Jensen: It was right here…and I just thought, oh man…. But you’ll notice that Jared was sitting on the opposite end of the couch, and he was the one who took off, I was still left there with it crawling across my body. That didn’t scare me too much. I didn’t like it but I wasn’t running.
Mrs. Ackles may have been singing the praises of Jared’s good sense from the back. We would have been, if we were her.
Jensen: I just thought of a fear I’ve recently – well, not completely conquered. I’m a little afraid of sharks.
Fans: Um, who isn’t??
Jensen: But I just went shark fishing 2 weekends ago – not fishing like catching –
(he pauses and glances at the back of the room)
Jensen: Um, mom you might not wanna hear this – we spent 16 hrs on a boat offshore and chummed a 10 mile chum slick and had mako sharks coming up to the boat and I had a pole with a big tuna head on it and a camera, and they were like CHOMP! I’m glad I was in the boat, I would not have wanted to fall in the water. But I don’t think any person in their right mind would want to. There’s a lot of sharks in the ocean.
Fans and Mrs. Ackles – Well, yeah!
Switching gears, the next question was about Jensen’s roles as Ben and then Alec in Dark Angel.
Fan: I heard a story that the Dark Angel producers almost didn’t cast you for the part of Ben because you were too pretty.
Jensen: (wryly) I’ve often said that if I don’t get a role, I’d like it to be because I’m TOO good looking.
Fans: (silently) Then it’s a wonder you ever get cast at all!
Jensen: With casting, it’s amazing how quickly people can make their mind up about an actor — as soon as you walk into a room, they can be like, “No”. A lot of times, out of courtesy they’ll listen to the audition, but 9 times out of 10 it’s a look they’re looking for. I remember the feedback when it got down to Tom Welling and I for Smallville, for who was gonna be Superman. We went three times against each other, and they really liked my performance but they really liked Tom’s look. And in the end they were like, let’s go with Tom. And I think they made the right choice, Tom did a great job obviously, the show ran for 10 years. But I’m glad that they were able to see over that hurdle for Dark Angel. I was Ben and then they were like, we need someone else to come in full time, and they were like well, Jensen was good, but we killed him….
(He pauses for dramatic effect, imitating The Powers That Be as they ponder….)
Jensen: And then they were like, ‘Hey, how about a clone?’
Jensen: When you work in the sci fi genre you can get away with stuff like that.
On the other hand, you can’t get away with much when your mom is in the back of the room, something the fan who asked the next question was counting on.
Fan: So your mom is here and she can tell on you – what did you do as a kid to get in trouble?
Jensen: I wasn’t a problematic child or a troubled kid, I got into about as much trouble as a normal teenager. You know, the 4 am phone call from the cops, hey we’ve got your son on the side of the road in handcuffs.
Fans: Oh, do tell!
Jensen: And of course my mom said ‘that’s impossible, my son’s asleep in his bed.’ And the officer said, Ma’am, you’d better check on that.
Mrs. Ackles: (is laughing in the back of the room)
Fan: What did you do?
Jensen: (cue innocent – and frankly adorable – face) Um, nothing. Massive case of mistaken identity.
Mrs. Ackles and the room full of fans: (are not fooled)
Jensen: Just up to no good with some friends and we got caught. But you know, you make some mistakes, you learn from them.
Fans: (look skeptical)
Jensen: (indignantly) Hey, now I have a story to tell when I’m here. So I’m actually glad it happened. So there!
Fans: (silently) Whatever.
Jensen: They were gonna let me drive home that night, but my dad was like, no, you keep him on the side of the road, I’m coming to get him. That was a long drive home….
Mr. Ackles (deadpans) He was training for the part of Dean.
I think we know where Jensen gets his sense of humor….
Fan: So how was it directing your dad?
Jensen: (dramatic put-upon sigh….) No, but you should ask him. I convinced him to come up and do a scene with Jared and me. And he was like, I don’t wanna work with a couple of hacks and some rookie director!
Fans: LOL. Yep, same sense of humor.
Jensen: No, it was super easy, the show itself is so incredible to direct, because we’re on our 157th episode, it’s a well oiled machine. So production wise it really runs smoothly and because I have such an understanding of the show. It was the same as it is with Jared, just ‘ok man what do you want me to do?’ Give him a couple notes, and I didn’t have to give him much, he knows his stuff.
Fan: So, other than getting arrested…
Jensen: I wasn’t arrested, all right?? No criminal record!
Fan: Okay, okay. Any fond childhood memories?
Jensen: Many. There was a creek behind our house and I just remember – it’s funny because a lot of my friends are starting to have children, Jared included, so there’s a lot of conversation about how they want to raise their kids and seeing what other parents are doing. I think they’re called helicopter parents, always hovering over their kids and making sure they don’t hurt themselves? My parents would let me go down to the creek, trappin’ frogs, a mile down the road doin’ god knows what. They trusted me. And it was funny because they’d gone to Hawaii and brought home a conch. And that’s what my mother used to call me home. She literally stepped out from the door and BWAAA! It was like Batman – bwaaa – gotta go, guys!
Mrs. Ackles: (LOLing in the back)
Jensen: And those are fond childhood memories, just being able to go off and be a kid and get grass stains on my knees and get dirty, and I’m thankful. Until I heard the conch and then I had to come home and eat my peas.
Mrs. Ackles: Green beans
Jensen: (horrified) No! they’re still off my list.
A fan also asked Jensen if he would ever considering doing an exhibition of his photography.
Jensen: Now that makes me very nervous! I know that might sound odd, but I take pictures — but I don’t consider myself a photographer, just like I don’t consider myself a musician, so I don’t know, that would be fun, but I don’t know that I have enuf, maybe I do. I just started taking pictures again, I put the camera down for a while. Maybe.
Fan: Or publish some of your photos in a book
Jensen: There’s an actor, Jeff Bridges, I think, who does that, and he’s an amazing photographer. Every time he does a movie, he makes a book of his photographs. It’s also intimidating because he’s an amazing photographer
Fan: We’d love to see your perspective on things.
And speaking of more things that might make him nervous….
Fan: Is Jared going to let you babysit Thomas?
Jensen: (laughing) I don’t know, I might have to earn the right for that. Probably. I don’t know if I wanna change diapers though – I might just wait until I have one of my own.
Fans: (anticipatory awwwww)
Random fan question of the day: Best place to get a steak?
Jensen: Nick and Sam’s, where I had my rehearsal dinner.
Lynn: What’s your favorite thing about S8 so far? We heard this morning that purgatory certainly wasn’t it — understandably!
Jensen: I will say that purgatory looks very cool, they’re doing a treatment on it on film and it’s really cool, so I’m excited to see that. It’s tough though, it’s not fun. There’s so much blood on me that – not my blood –
Lynn: Which is good….
Jensen: Which is good, yes. But I guess they don’t have showers in purgatory! But yeah, sorry to interrupt your question –
Lynn: Best thing about s8?
SPOILER ALERT, FOR THOSE WHO ARE STAYING SPOILER FREE FOR S8….
Jensen: We introduce a new character, Benny. Have you guys heard about him?
Fans: (enthusiastically) YES!
Jensen: Of course you have. You probably knew about him before I did!
Fans: (are not denying)
Jensen: And that relationship with Dean is something that’s new, and poses a very kind of sticky situation. The guy who plays him, Ty Olsen, is awesome. He came on day one and just instantly was part of the show. So it’s nice to have another character. Someone who can pose problems, and also pose problems in the brothers’ relationship. So I’m excited to see how that plays out.
We’re excited too – especially because alot of S8 seems to be tied back to how it impacts the relationship between Sam and Dean. Be sure to tune for the series premiere on October 3!
And stay tuned here for more from Dallas con with Chad Lindberg, Gabe Tigerman, Matt Cohen and Richard Speight Jr!
ETA: Check out the fabulous report of Jared’s Q and A by redteekal, and leave her a big thank you!