Taking the East Coast by Storm: Jared, Jensen and Misha at NJCon
After the 12 hour flight to VanCon a few weeks ago, we were ecstatic to be able to actually DRIVE to NJCon – and the East Coast was ecstatic to have a con to call their own. Jared always asks how many people are con virgins and we’re always blown away by the hands that go up and the screams of joy that accompany them. There haven’t been many Supernatural cons on the East coast, so a whole new group of fans were treated to the awesomeness that is the SPN cast at a con.
The success of a convention depends on every guest there, and on the ability of Emcee Richard Speight Jr. and house band Louden Swain to keep the energy level up, and they came through with flying colors at NJCon. But the con’s success also rides heavily on the shoulders of Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins (and some very fine shoulders they are…) All three were in fine form this con, and I do mean that in every way possible.
They looked very fine. No surprise there. I mean, look at them!
They were also in very good moods once again. It sounds clichéd to say that the guys love being there as much as the fans do, especially when it’s their job to be there and interact, but I doubt even the best actors could fake the kind of enthusiasm that J2M have at cons.
Jared and Jensen took the stage for the gold breakfast and looked blown away by the high decibel greeting they got – they get a similar reception every time, but it never fails to make them break into huge grins. This time Jared was so moved he had to jump around the stage, and Jensen climbed right up onto two chairs to show his enthusiasm right back.
The boys’ enthusiasm never waned through both their panels. Jensen was in such a good mood that he repeatedly burst into song, much to fandom’s delight — and to Jared’s! When Jensen started rocking out to Eye of the Tiger, Jared leapt up from his seat and literally fell on the floor, then jumped up to raise a triumphant fist.
“He’s doing it, he’s doing it!” Jared shouted, looking every bit as excited as the fans. It’s the joy they take in each other’s accomplishments – and each other’s goofiness – that make J2 so much fun to watch onstage.
Jensen also sang El Paso, and the pleased look on Jared’s face was pretty much the same look I had on mine. When Jensen sings something soft and slower, it’s evident what a great voice he has. The band wasn’t exactly prepared to accompany him, so it didn’t go on for long, but it was beautiful while it lasted.
Rob Benedict: “Uh, we’ll have to practice that. We’re a 4/4 band and that’s a ¾ song. We’ll practice, Mr. Ackles.”
And, as if that wasn’t wonderful enough, Jensen joined Rob Benedict and the band on the Outfield’s classic “Lose Your Love” to close their panel, which was amazing.
Long-time fans might remember that Jensen sang that same song during the first season of Supernatural at a club in LA (El Scorpion, for those of you who are curious – thanks longtime fans!), so it’s been a favorite of mine ever since. What a treat to have him sing it again, and with Rob. They both made it clear that the line “I don’t wanna lose your love tonight” was directed at the fans. Pretty sure there’s not much chance of that any time soon.
Other than impromptu bursting into song, the rest of the panel alternated between heartwarming and hysterical.
The boys told the story of Jensen’s tweet of Sam and Dean in the Impala filming the last day of the 200th episode, tagging it “Sam and Dean sittin’ in the Impala where we belong”, thereby making fans all over the world reach for the tissues. Perfect tweet was perfect.
But it turned out the selfie has a story too. Jensen’s phone was broken (no selfie mode) so he took the picture with Jared’s, then texted it to himself so he could tweet it. Which seemed somehow completely appropriate. Also, apparently the first few shots weren’t aimed perfectly and ended up being crotch shots, along with an ass shot of AD Kevin Parks.
“You should’ve posted those,” Jared quipped.
Fandom nodded enthusiastically.
They read a Supernatural script together that I think will be auctioned for charity (correct me if I’m wrong), and made ridiculous faces as they told story after story. My face ached from laughing once again.
The boys’ friendship is always center stage at conventions – anyone who has ever watched the two of them interact knows just how much they care about each other. Jared talked about how they have become brothers, about how family is constructed as well as born into (a real life message straight out of Supernatural).
At Jared’s meet and greet, he told the gathered fans what most of fandom already knew – the Ackles family now lives less than a half mile from the Padalecki family in Austin. Not only do they feel like brothers now, while they’re working together and filming the Show, but Jared and Jensen clearly intend to remain brothers after Supernatural no longer graces our television screens. How often does that happen? It’s pretty extraordinary, and pretty wonderful.
Family don’t end with blood.
Later that afternoon, I asked Jensen how JJ was doing, and whether she was talking now and killing them with the adorable. He laughed and said that I should see the videos of her running around with Tom.
Me: I don’t think fandom can see those. We might all spontaneously combust from the cuteness. It would be dangerous.
I think even Jensen and Jared are in danger of being overwhelmed by the adorableness, frankly. Though in hindsight, I wish I’d responded to his “You should see the videos” with an emphatic YES PLEASE! I’d risk the spontaneous combustion.
One of the hysterical moments came when a fan stepped up the mike and said to Jared, “We all know you like to wear Saxx underwear” and alluded to its comfort. Jensen jumped in to express his agreement, thereby sending everyone’s imagination into double overdrive. The fan then continued: “So I wanted to ask, how long is your…”
Jared’s eyebrows flew up, Jensen’s mouth dropped open, and I think the entire audience gasped audibly.
“…average work day,” finished the fan.
Jared and Jensen couldn’t even answer for a few seconds, they were laughing so hard.
Finally Jared pulled himself together and smirked.
“Ten or twelve…” he said, and then paused, while he shared a conspiratorial look with Jensen that made Ackles double over with laughter. “…hours.”
Whoever you are, you crafty fangirl, kudos from us. And Jared, nice comeback.
My favorite Jared quote of the day was when he reassured a nervous fan that she didn’t have to be nervous here, with the Supernatural family.
Jared: “This is the safest place in the world.”
We watched the Supernatural “mockumentary” on the Saturday evening of the con as it was passed around fandom like wildfire, which resulted in me being even more in love with this Show and this cast than I was before – which, if you know me at all, is REALLY saying something! How incredibly lucky are we to have a cast whose egos are perfectly fine with skewering themselves and each other unmercifully?? Who aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves or look unbelievably silly in front of the cameras just to say thank you to the fandom who has kept the Show on the air all these years. Excuse me while I reach for the tissues, I’m all emotional about these guys right now.
I’m usually dying to ask Jensen something about Dean in the meet and greet, but I couldn’t resist asking about the mockumentary this time.
Lynn: So the behind the scenes ‘documentary’ was pretty awesome. How much input did you and Jared have into creating your ‘characters’ for it?
Jensen: (raised eyebrows) You mean other than Misha says, ‘you’re going to be a tofu eating yoga master’, and I’m like ‘Oh, okay sure’?
Lynn: (laughing) Omg, I loved it so much!
Jensen: I wish we’d had more time, we shot it really quickly.
Lynn: well, it turned out perfect anyway.
Jensen: (teasing, in case it’s not obvious) Also it gives Misha something to do, he can come in and shoot a scene and then go off and make a documentary. And Jared got to exaggerate his character a little.
Lynn: Ya think?!
The entire time we were having this conversation, Jensen was laughing. Can you say eye crinkles?
A few more tidbits from the meet and greet, which were less silly than my question. Someone asked whether it was difficult to play a character like Dean, who has so many walls built up around him all the time. Jensen said yes, and that he tries to find times when Dean would let the walls down a little. He puts them up or takes them down depending on who he’s with. A room full of strangers? Walls go up. With people he knows well – his brother, Bobby, Cas – the walls come down more.
Jensen said he tries to take them down when he can because he thinks that’s compelling, when you have a character who’s so walled up, to show him vulnerable sometimes. He does that with Dean’s humor, for example.
Just about everyone in the fandom is looking forward to Demon Dean – even more now thanks to the few photos we’ve gotten of the Season premiere and what Dean is getting up to. Once again, Jensen talked about how hard it is for Sam, because Demon Dean has the memories but not the humanity. Sam can be right there talking to Dean, but it’s not Dean. He paused and said ‘but it is Dean, I mean…’ Then he laughed and admitted, ”I’m still confused.”
Just imagine how Sam feels!
There was a question about directing, and whether that sort of mindset stays with him after he’s gone back to being an actor. Jensen laughed and said NO, he snaps right back out of it once he’s done. “And slam the door,” he added with a laugh. “And have a whisky.” He says acting is much easier for him, his mind is clear – he can ‘clear the mechanism’ to quote a Costner movie. He knows his lines easily now, since it’s like a muscle and all these years of practice have made it easier. And he can slip into Dean like second nature. That lets him be available and present to just react, instead of having his acting be too rehearsed.
Two more quick tidbits – at Jared’s meet and greet, he told fans to ask Jensen to tell the wrench story. Apparently they were shooting a scene last week that required Jensen’s stunt double, Todd Scott, to run across a room and then get launched through the air fifteen feet and slam right through some kind of wooden structure (using an air cannon or something that sounded totally terrifying, frankly). Todd did it, it was fine, and then Jensen picked up the filming of the shot by hurling himself through the same wooden structure (which also sounded totally terrifying). He said okay, I’ll just barrel through, and did – without a scratch.
The next day, he was just supposed to hit something with a wrench and instead he caught his finger with it. OUCH!
Young actress standing next to him: OMG you’re bleeding! (Jensen portrayed her squeal quite well…)
Jensen: (deadpans) Yeah, that really hurt.
He then proceeded to aim the spray of blood gushing from the cuticle at Jared. Naturally.
Last tidbit, and my favorite of the day. A fan asked how he handled “the adoration” of so many fans. Jensen said that the security guy who had just walked him into the room had asked the same question. And he said it isn’t about ego, that’s not how he looked at it. That it’s about the opportunity he has to bring joy – real joy – to other people. He gets to play a part in bringing that joy, and there’s nothing better. In fact, a young woman in the photo ops had looked at him afterwards, with a big smile on her face, and just exclaimed, “I’m so happy!” To him, that’s what this is all about.
Fan: That’s exactly what Jared said.
I have to admit, I got a little teary listening to his answer. I realize it sounds cheesy, but there’s no doubt in my mind that what he said (and what Jared said) was genuine.
Both Jared and Jensen talked about “fame” when we sat down with them on the set to interview them for Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls. They had a very balanced attitude toward it even then and were already vigilant about becoming cocky or taking the idea of fame too seriously.
Jared: When I started Gilmore Girls, I was eighteen, fresh out of Texas…pretty naïve. And the fifth episode they cut my hair and the internet was kind of new and I was like oh, weird, they write about it? Cool! And so I read the comments and it was like oh, Dean has a new hairstyle and a girl was like, he looks ugly, he looks like a girl, and I was like, that hurts! …But even the good is bad, if it says he looks hot, even that’s bad, you get cocky or you get the false confidence or arrogance and you know, just start focusing on vanity, which I don’t want to do. — from Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls
Jensen talked about fame too, and his reaction to being the object of attention.
Jensen: I’m not a household name across the country, but those few that recognize me [in a public place], then I have 35 other people trying to figure out who I am, and … I’m like, uhh, not really anyone. And then they’re like “no, come on, tell me, who are you?” So then I have to run down the resume, which is completely embarrassing….It’s those other people [not the fans] that are uncomfortable, like if someone makes a scene and everyone is looking at you, and I just want to hide, it’s like all of a sudden, I’m a zoo exhibit. — from Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls
We talked to Misha about fame in Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls too. He was new to Supernatural then, and already struggling to come to terms with the “adoration” he hadn’t expected.
Misha: I had a moment when I first got on Supernatural, when I was like “Ohmygod, people are paying attention to me and I have fans, maybe I should cultivate an image and like try to seem really cool.” … It took me maybe a month to realize no, this is just not fucking who I am and I don’t wanna behave that way…And then I started being like, “Here, here’s a picture of me in drag, fuck it,” which is much more liberating and relaxing. — from Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls
That’s the same healthy attitude that inspired the mockumentary — I’m so glad Misha hasn’t changed! We love him for his willingness to go against “normal” and for the creative ways he encourages us all to do the same. His big brain is as fascinating as his pretty blue eyes.
We were thrilled when Misha wrote a chapter for Fan Phenomena, writing about his evolving understanding of fame and fandom, and how to harness the ‘power of fandom’ as a force for good in the world. We chatted with Misha for a few minutes on Saturday.
Misha: Ah, it’s the writers!
Us: We could say the same back to you – you wrote a chapter for this book too.
Misha: (grinning) True.
He wanted to know how the book was doing and what fans thought of his chapter. If you haven’t gotten the book yet, there’s a link at the top of the page to check it out – and please let Misha know your thoughts. Writers need lots of reassurance.
Fans did give Misha a lot of reassurance onstage. In fact, one of my favorite Misha moments from NJCon was his flustered almost-blushing reaction to fans’ heartfelt shouts of “I love you Misha” as he took the stage for the first time. He seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the welcome he got, which was frankly adorable.
Misha also upped the adorable quotient by sharing a video of daughter Maison, who had for some reason started saying “Misha Collins” over and over again and then cracking up – without knowing what it meant at all. He walked to the back of the ballroom and held his phone up to the camera so we could all see.
Entire ballroom: Awwwwww.
One of my other favorite Misha moments didn’t involve him being onstage at all. When it was time for his panel with Mark Sheppard, Misha was nowhere to be found. Richard Speight, ever the resourceful emcee, began a song called “Where’s Misha?” and soon Rob and the band joined in, with Rob answering the refrain with “I don’t know” or “Don’t ask me”. As the minutes went on and the impromptu song got funnier and funnier, Mark joined in too, playing the shaker and answering the title question with an emphatic “I don’t care!” By the time Misha got to the stage, the entire audience was laughing. These are the moments that make a con – and Richard – priceless.
The rest of the Misha and Mark panel was pretty priceless too. Here they take a moment to cuddle, and then wonder out loud if fandom will make it into a painting. Anyone?
I wish I had seen the mockumentary before our chat with Misha, because I want to bow down before his brilliance now that I’ve seen it — his willingness to go out on a limb, and the wit and creativity with which he does. I love that Misha and Jared and Jensen and Richard and the entire cast and crew are all on the same page, so close and comfortable with each other that they’re not afraid to slather their handsome face with mud and put cucumbers on their eyes, or lampoon their own much-adored beautiful long tresses, or play with the “series regular, new guy, who’s the fan favorite” dynamic that fandom grapples with all the time (with a lot less good humor perhaps). Or play the out-of-work actor dishing up the lunch! Insecurity be damned, these guys just went there. That was for us, fandom.
I had a chance to chat with Jared a bit about the mockumentary too – he said there was more shot than what ended up on the doc. The expression on his face when he said that made me wish I could see the footage that didn’t make it. Can you even imagine?
Between the con antics, the gag reel and the mockumentary, it’s like Hellatus is finally coming to an end – with a bang! So go out and grab the S9 DVD set, and maybe a copy of Fangasm or Fan Phenomena Supernatural, and celebrate Season 10 – it’s not far off now!
Stay tuned for interviews and more from NJCon!
Links for more info on Fangasm or
Fan Phenomena Supernatural at the
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