Supernatural VanCon 2014!
The first con of the new season is always special as fans make the pilgrimage to Vancouver, basically a Supernatural fan’s Mecca. Many of us haven’t seen each other in a long time – reunions happen about every ten seconds at VanCon, with squeals of happiness and enthusiastic hugs and, if you’re lucky, a chance to grab a drink and catch up with someone else who fans the Show just like you do. I cherished the opportunity to meet so many people who I chat with online in person – and relished every fangirl hug. I wish I’d had about a hundred more hours so I could have done even more catching up!
And it’s not just the fans. There’s an energy to VanCon that’s different from other cons – an almost manic energy, because it’s been so long since the fans and the cast have been face to face. At this point, eight years of conventions behind them, the actors seem almost as excited to see the fans again as we are (most definitely) excited to see them. We’ve been enduring what seems like an endless Hellatus, but now the Show is filming again, which leaves fandom bursting with curiosity and anticipation – and makes for some excellent questions. The series regulars are quite good at knowing just what they can and can’t answer, so it also makes for some excellent responses. No real spoilers, but plenty of tantalizing hints. If it’s possible (and I didn’t think it was), I’m even MORE excited about Season 10 now!
VanCon is also special because it’s the ‘hometown’ convention, so some of the crew come by to watch the panels or do panels themselves or just chat with fans. And everyone we talked to had the same thing to say about Season 10. The start of filming the 200th episode coincided with the first day of the con, and the crew was bursting with enthusiasm about the episode.
Kevin Parks: You’re gonna love it!
Adam Glass: You’re gonna love it!
Jim Michaels: You’re gonna love it!
We caught up briefly with Jason Fischer from the production office, who we interviewed for Supernatural Magazine a few seasons back, and with cinematographer extraordinaire Serge Ladouceur, who has a fascinating chapter in our new book, Fan Phenomena Supernatural. What did they say about the episode? I think you can guess.
Misha, Mark, Jared and Jensen seemed no less excited, especially about the opportunity to do a tenth season and about what they’ve shot of it so far. More from VanCon this weekend, but for now, a few tidbits from Jensen’s meet and greet. [Please note: this is not a transcript, just my personal recollection of a few favorite moments from the discussion]
Actually one of the funniest moments was before Jensen even joined us. A room full of 20 Supernatural fangirls waiting for Jensen Ackles is, needless to say, overflowing with nervous anticipation. Our lovely volunteer went over the rules and regulations (without singing them Richard Speight style, alas) and then confirmed via her headset that they were ready for our guest to be brought over.
“You should use a code, like they do at Comic Con,” one of the waiting fans suggested. Apparently they refer to the guest as “the package”, presumably to throw off those dangerous predatory fans who might…well, I have no clue what they might do, since the whole thing is silly, but whatever. It took us all about three seconds to realize just how much innuendo would be engendered by announcing “here comes the package” to herald Mr. Ackles’ arrival. Of course, at that moment, he did just that. Cue lots of stifled giggles. Hopefully Jensen just thought we were glad to see him.
Jensen was eager to answer questions, as always, and in a great mood. My question was about the difficulty of playing a character who he has portrayed for nine years and knows inside out – as a different character. And yet not a different character. Dean, but not Dean. A demon, but still one with Dean’s memories and perhaps some of his emotions. Jensen confirmed that it was a significant challenge. Dean doesn’t care about anything, not his brother, not saving the world — all humanistic emotions are gone. (Which is difficult when the character has so much emotional depth). And yet, Jensen said, there are traces of that Dean who does love his brother – so playing that was a challenge.
Demon!Dean sounds like he’s going to be quite the handful, for both Sam and Crowley. The Mark gives him more power than your average demon, so when Crowley tries to get him focused on the task at hand, he’s just like, nah. (Even watching Jensen talk about the ‘new’ character is so intriguing – gimme now!)
“And then,” Jensen added, “I was also directing!” He rolled his eyes and laughed at himself. “So I’m directing AND essentially playing a new character. I love a challenge…and then I question why!”
There were times he was glad he had prepared so much, so he could just hand his director’s book over to AD Kevin Parks and say ‘it’s all in there’ so he could concentrate on playing Dean.
The other challenge of directing, he said, was a more technical one. He had to film a sort of cat and mouse chase in the bunker, but the bunker needed to look a lot bigger than it was. (By the way, that’s really saying something, because that set is HUGE!) Jensen went to Jerry Wanek for help, and they found ways to decorate the hallways to make them look like many different ones. It sounds like that scene will be amazing – similar to Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train”, with the protagonist going one way and the antagonist the other, until they eventually — inevitably — meet. *shivers with antici—-pation*
I was a happy fangirl because so much of the meet and greet focused on my favorite character of all time, which is always what I want to hear more about. I’m endlessly fascinated by Dean Winchester, and that doesn’t show any signs of diminishing any time soon (to the shock of exactly no one). Someone else asked about Dean in the pilot, and what drew Jensen to the part. He said the character jumped off the page right away for him, but he also gave a lot of credit to Eric Kripke, who created such a nuanced and layered character. He also gave credit to Jared, because the chemistry that he and Jared instantly had together took the characters to another level. It let them “fill in the blanks” to flesh out the relationship between the brothers.
Jensen also talked about Dean’s death scene in the S9 finale, although just listening to him talk about it made many of us in the room literally cringe. The emotion, for many fans, is still too raw. Jensen said that, as an audience member watching the Show, he really liked it. He liked that it was quiet. I hadn’t thought about that, but I think his acting choices in that scene, and Jared’s acting choices, really made the scene so much more powerful than it would have been. They chose to make it quiet, and the quiet simplicity of it only made it that much more horrifying. That much more real. Jensen played Dean’s reaction to being stabbed as shock, because that’s what would probably happen in real life. People lose an arm or a leg, they don’t yell and scream, they go into shock, not moving, not fighting. It’s not what we expect of Dean – we always expect him to come back swinging, grab for a knife, fight back. Or for Sam to get there just in time and swoop in and cut off the bad guy’s head. This time, none of that happened. The moment played out, almost in slow motion, almost silent except for the whoosh of Dean’s breath as his lungs are punctured, the grisly sucking sound of his flesh being pierced. Even now, I can’t think of it without shuddering.
This has been said before, but Jensen again said that he and Jared asked to cut the scene short and not say all the dialogue that was written. There was something like “we played it through”, but they felt it would have more impact if it was just “I’m proud of us.” I think they were right. Jeremy agreed. Jensen said it’s great to work with someone who doesn’t say, ‘just read what’s on the page, please’.
I’m always fascinated by how much the actors care about the Show and about their characters. After nine years, clearly their input is respected. In the scene where Dean pretended to warm up to Gadreel and shake his hand and then stabbed him instead, Jared asked if Sam would notice that Dean shook with his left hand, and Jensen replied that absolutely he would. That’s why there’s a quick shot of Sam’s perplexed reaction that was edited in.
One fan said she missed Dean being Dean, and Jensen allowed that he also misses “happy-go-lucky Dean”. It sounds like that Dean we know and love will be back eventually, a lighter Dean than in S9. Which is setting the bar pretty low, come to think of it. Dean was pretty dark in S9.
On a lighter note, a few last tidbits. Someone tried to get Jensen to tell us whether or not he sings in the 200th episode, which will be a “musical-ish” one.
“I’ll say this,” he answered. “Jensen doesn’t sing.”
Someone gave him kudos for the little offhand comment at the Upfronts when he said the S9 finale would be “eye opening”.
“Did you know?” he asked, and then without waiting for an answer, “Of course you did. You’re all little geniuses.”
Well, obviously. We’re Supernatural fans, after all.
So who’s got a theory about what’s coming up in S10? Time will tell whether we’re all little geniuses – it’s nice that Jensen thinks so.
Stay tuned for more con reports, cast interviews and Vancouver adventures! Here are a few highlights…
Lots more to come!
To read more of our chats with Jensen, Jared,
Misha, Richard, Krikpe, Gamble and more, check
out our books on Supernatural – links at the top!