A Supernatural Roman Holiday — Jus in Bello Con Part One
This was my first time at Jus In Bello con – and my first time in Rome – so needless to say, it was quite an adventure. It’s a very different model of convention, so I was curious to see how it compared to the Creation model of US cons that I know quite well. Long story short? In some ways, it’s better and in some ways it’s not.
The better comes from the more relaxed feel of the con – there’s plenty of security to keep physical order, but the norms for what can be talked about and asked about are much looser. This is, no doubt, in part because we’re in Italy and not the US, where everyone is ridiculously hung up about anything having to do with sex and thus there are strange rules about not asking actors perfectly reasonable questions. At JiB, the questions were playful and sometimes delightfully innuendo-filled (either intentionally or unintentionally thanks to the language differences), and as a result the actors were free to be the same. That meant panels that were flirty and dirty and just plain fun – and that left me with my stomach muscles literally aching from laughing so much.
The different norms meant, for example, that when a fan asked Tim Omundson about the homoerotic tension on Galavant, Tim just answered it, thoughtfully and with some interesting insights. There doesn’t seem to be the censorship that happens at US cons, or the intra-fandom policing with audible groans when some part of fandom doesn’t like the question of another part of fandom or whatever. It seems like half the reason that JiB is so much fun is that people aren’t hung up on what it’s okay to ask the actors and the actors aren’t hung up about what they can and can’t say onstage. There are many more four letter words flying around, which means the conversation sounds more like it would on any given day, i.e. more real. And I don’t know how to explain why, but hearing Jensen, Jared, Misha etc. swear is kinda hot.
There are lots and lots of panels at Jibcon, even though there weren’t that many guests. People do solo panels and group panels – invariably, the group ones are my favorites. This cast has so much fun together and has become so close, traveling the world together and bonding because of it, so it’s always wonderful to watch the rapport between any two or three of them.
The winner for best innuendo and most hysterical conversation was the Mishalecki panel, by far. At JiB, shipping is apparently not the taboo subject it is at other cons (or in fandom itself sometimes, it seems). Jared and Misha pondered their characters’ ship name (Sastiel? Cam?) and bickered about their characters’ possible sexual positions and then started riffing on the word “influence” as a euphemism for, let’s say, the outcome of sexual gratification. And they just could not stop (not that anyone wanted them to). I don’t think I’ve EVER laughed so hard at a panel!
They were both cracking up and simultaneously blushing, and the laughter was infectious. Each time one of them went too far they would frantically try to push their microphones down to put on the brakes (without much success). It’s doubtful any of that would have happened if we hadn’t been in Italy, and that would have been a real shame!
Misha then clued Jensen in to the new use of “influence” and they continued the innuendo-filled tradition in their joint panel, which was also pretty amusing. Their final panel ended with a bottle of champagne and Jensen popping the cork like a friggen’ boss while Misha watched admiringly.
Me: Is it hot in here?
Another highlight of the Jensen and Misha panel was the original song that Misha composed and sang on the spot, accompanied by Jensen on guitar. “Come on, you’re quick, you can think on the spot,” Jensen insisted, and damned if he didn’t! The song had something to do with getting your mellow on at Jus in Bello con. And having a guy to grope at photo ops. Misha had a bit of a classic Bowie vibe going there, I swear.
The J2 panel was relatively tame by comparison to each of the J’s with Misha, perhaps because Jared and Jensen are used to being more constrained in their joint panels in the states or perhaps because that panel came earlier in the con. (Things became looser and looser as the weekend went on). One of the best parts of their panel was Jared suddenly being struck by Jensen saying “Sam and Dean” and how much it sounds like “Salmon Dean”. He tried so hard not to bust out laughing over it, but finally he just couldn’t hold it in and he told us all what he’d been imagining.
Cue a whole bunch of fan art with Dean as a salmon in his leather jacket and with his bow legs (fins?) being chased by a ferocious bear. OMG it was priceless, and Jared’s laugh just lit up the entire room. Jensen was reluctantly amused, shaking his head indulgently.
Jensen’s epic rock paper scissors battle with a fan was also fun – especially how gleeful Jared was watching. Sometimes Jensen just channels Dean so much, doesn’t he?
And we got the first of two J2 hugs at JiB, with Jared lifting Jensen up right off the ground. Their casual athleticism is….impressive. Isn’t it?
At the end of their panel, Jared and Jensen got to be superheroes (much like their alter egos) – in this case, Batman V. Superman. It kinda gave me goosebumps seeing them standing there side by side in silhouette in their capes. It was also amusing when Jared de-masked Jensen, because he looked so caught off guard and then just went with it.
The playful feel of the con is purposely facilitated by the organizers – in previous years, there have been toys or stuffed animals onstage for the guests to play with – this year, each panel ended with the guest rolling a dice wheel and then a classic film would play on the screen as the emcee handed the guest a big burlap sack with some sort of prop to match the film inside. That’s how Jared and Jensen ended up Batman and Superman.
Misha and Jensen’s film was James Bond, hence the champagne they shared.
For Jared’s panel, he rolled the dice and up popped The Wizard of Oz – which meant Jared in red ruby slippers that were high heels. God bless him, he put them on and walked around in them, all 6’4” of him.
Rob Benedict got to be Indiana Jones (and practice with the whip on Richard Speight Jr., which resulted in more innuendo and something about a reach around…). Rob makes a pretty sexy Indiana Jones, don’t you think?
And Gil McKinney drew 50 Shades of Gray and bent over for a fan to use a crop on him.
And again I ask, is it hot in here??
The guests were all good sports and seemed to enjoy the props. They’re actors, after all, so it totally made sense. And it certainly encouraged the innuendo to continue!
There’s also a cocktail party on opening night, which was in previous years apparently similar to the old fashioned speed dating with the stars Creation variety. This year, they decided to switch it up a bit, so the guests more or less stayed still and fans lined up for their turn to enter the ‘inner circle’ and chat. It didn’t go very smoothly, but I’m not sure the alternative would have either.
I got to spend some quality time with Richard, Gil, Rob and Misha though, so that was nice. Even if Misha did stick his tongue out at me instead of smiling.
And of course, the con felt laid back because I was on vacation, which meant that I was laid back anyway. We spent a few days before the con touring Rome (including being a total tourist on the double decker bus….don’t judge me, I was tired…) and some wonderful food and drink. The guests were on vacation too, which contributes to their good moods – they all go out to dinner and do some touristing and generally have the same sort of bonding experience that the fans are having. It was a running joke throughout the con that the actors kept trying to master a bit of Italian, with uneven results. But it sort of didn’t matter, because watching Rob Benedict attempting it was so adorable that who the hell cared if he got it exactly right?
The flip side of that laid back atmosphere was that things didn’t always happen when they were scheduled. I’m used to Creation’s keep-things-on-time organization, even if it sometimes rankles. (Remember that time in ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ when I got unceremoniously “escorted” from the photo op room for talking to Jensen??) Anyway, I’ve gotten used to that sort of strict schedule, so trying to rush back and forth between photo ops and panels and autographs sort of threw me. I ended up having to miss a few panels, which was stressful. If I had to make a trade, though, I’d stick with the laid back atmosphere at least in terms of allowable questions.
We had little meet and greets with all the guests as part of our package, which were shorter than the Creation ones and very informal – except that they were held in a conference room at a rather formal looking long long table, which I was at the far end of thanks to being the low bidder for my ticket. I felt like I should yell “HELLLLOOOOO” down the table every time I wanted to say something!
I’m used to meet and greets being mostly questions about the Show, but these were more like informal conversations, with everyone having a glass of something or other and chatting about stuff. Which means I can’t even remember a lot of what we talked about – they were pleasant, but not earth shattering in their Supernatural revelations.
Richard Speight talked about Kings of Con, which begins filming in late summer. One of the things that sets it apart, he said, is that it does NOT make fun of fans.
Richard: Because that’s not funny! We make fun of ourselves – we’re the assholes!
I’m so looking forward to Kings of Con, and it’s wonderful seeing Rich and Rob so excited about it.
I was still very upset about Robbie Thompson leaving Supernatural when I was at JiB, so I asked a few of the actors how they felt. Robbie and Richard have been friends for a long time, and Richard agreed that he had a unique voice that enriched Supernatural. (sob). He also said if you want Gabriel back (most likely in a porno…), tweet Andrew Dabb!
I asked Jensen how he felt about Robbie leaving too – I’ve talked to him about Robbie at length before, so I know he really appreciated the way Robbie wrote Dean. He’s also very sorry to see Robbie go, and had nice things to say about his writing. But Jensen said he’d talked to Bob Singer, who instead of retiring is now back in the co-pilot’s seat along with Andrew Dabb, and that he has faith in their ability to be showrunners. I was glad to hear that he and Jared are continuing to collaborate with the writers – Misha also weighed in on the season finale, in fact – and that all three of them are trying to play an active role in keeping their characters in character. Jared and Jensen are essentially uncredited producers, he said. So that made me feel a bit better!
There was also a bit of discussion about my favorite game to play, guess what was an adlib. Jensen said that the priceless moment when that severed head is batted off the Impala by the windshield wiper was NOT scripted. Oh how I love those ad libbed moments – they are invariably the BEST!
Jensen also talked a little about how close they are with the crew. Every Friday on set they have a lottery where everyone contributes to the pot and then someone wins it. Jared and Jensen often ‘sweeten the pot’ with extra money, and then put in crew members’ names instead of their own. These guys, I swear. Seriously. No wonder so many of the crew have been there since day one and consider the cast and crew to be family.
Oh, and he said that he REALLY wanted to host Saturday Night Live, which – think about it – would be awesome! He could do it with Jared and it would be like a J2 panel. With special guest Misha. And musical guest Louden Swain. There are so many possibilities! It an be an SPN SNL. I tweeted about it last night – feel free to RT with the hashtag #JensenAcklesForSNL. Because we need this!
We talked with Jared in his meet and greet about how we all wish we saw more Sam pov on the show, and he agreed. For example, where did Sam’s terror of Lucifer go, and why didn’t we see it in later episodes? Jared said that he tried to put in some nonverbals to convey that, because he hadn’t forgotten it either – like a small flinch, for example. He agreed that yes, Sam would still be afraid. Jared talked to Andrew Dabb about the episode being ‘funny’ at times, and Sam being too cavalier about Lucifer. He said that some scenes were unfortunately cut that would have made Sam’s fear clearer, and would also have made it clear that Chuck had reassured the Winchesters that Lucifer could no longer hurt them.
Jared said he was happy that the Show has switched pov’s between Sam and Dean across the series run, because then you get to have reaction shots from both. He also mentioned what Curtis Armstrong had told me in our recent interview – that Jeremy Carver was already gone by the time the last few episodes were filmed, so the Show was in a showrunner transition period. I think, now that I’ve seen the finale too, that the communication and transition challenges probably had a significant impact on those last few episodes.
Jared also talked about some ad libs. In ‘Red Meat’, one of my favorite episodes all season, he said that director Nina Lopez Corrado was amazing. Unlike many new directors, she was very open to their input. Jared suggested having a sponge in his mouth (to bleed) as Sam gets shot and falling to his knees, and she went with it, which I think was a great decision. Jared and Jensen both want her to come back and direct — me too!
Gen sat in on some of Jared’s meet and greet, so I got to chat with her a bit, which was lovely.
Misha’s meet and greet largely consisted of a spirited discussion of politics and Donald Trump, which was as you might imagine quite amusing. He also brewed himself some tea and there was some discussion of that as well. In other words, typical atypical Misha! Fans complimented him on his portrayal of Casifer this season, which made him look adorably pleased.
Rob talked about returning to the Show and filming the most recent episodes. The pancakes God was cooking were also an adlib having him serve them up to Sam and Dean. Rob said he was actually really stressed about having to make them. There was a lot more to that scene that got cut, including Chuck asking ‘how were they?’ (According to J2, very good).
Rob also loved Sam’s reaction when Dean was breaking down in his initial conversation with God.
Rob: Jared’s reaction to Dean’s emotional plea to God, he was so the little brother in that moment.
I think I said the exact same thing in my episode review!
He also talked more about working with Jared and Jensen as they gang up on him to crack him up, Jared playing footsie with him and Misha or Jensen with their hand on his thigh and poor Rob just trying to get through the scene.
They shot the scene of Rob singing ‘Fare Thee Well’ just one time and then one for vocals. Rob said he was sitting there thinking, “I can’t wait to play this at cons.” He did that, for the first time, at Jib. And it was amazing.
Gil wrote down everyone’s name at the meet and greet and then gave himself a memory test at the end — and got them all right! He’s excited about looking forward to becoming a dad, which was heartwarming to see.
Tahmoh told the necklace story for the first time in his meet and greet, which was more hysterical every time I heard it. It’s one of those — like the train story — that just keeps getting better.
We talked with Tim about Galavant, which I personally LOVED, and how much we wish it would come back. Tim has been pretty blown away by the fan reaction to its cancellation.
Jason talked about how much fun the green room is at Jib, and says he feels incredibly lucky. When it comes to how many episodes you’ve done, Jason said, “I win – and I’m the most thankful.”
Most of the panels are on youtube, but I had some favorite moments that stuck with me, so I’ll share them in Post No. 2 from JiBcon, along with more pictures. I have SO many pictures! And some vids from the Jailbreak show that I’ll share too.
Big thanks to @mamaprior and @arkine13 for the watermarks. You ladies are the BEST!