Supernatural Con Anniversary at Chicon!
This is a quick Chicago con update, but I want to give Chicon some love because it’s special. It’s where it all began – the first Creation Supernatural con we went to many years ago (way way back in 2008). I still remember how incredibly excited I was, and how confused about how to get tickets. Kathy and I and two of our friends took turns monitoring (read stalking) Creation’s website, trying to literally have someone online at all times as we waited for tickets to go on sale and bit our nails to the quick. We were thrilled to snag Row B tickets, and guess what? We’re still there today! That first con, the hotel bar had purple nurples and Jensen and Jared didn’t stand up for photo ops and the rule was not only ‘no hugs’ but no touching at all! I remember gingerly inching closer to Jensen as I stood awkwardly next to him, hoping my shoulder might bump his before the photo was taken. Jared ignored the no hugs rule even at that first con and pulled me in, much to my shock (and delight). I think of the way they are in photo ops now, and all the wonderful stories of heartfelt fan encounters that happen, and marvel a little bit at how far we’ve come. From strangers to family, it’s been quite a journey.
Kathy and I had a table in the vendors’ room to sell Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls and Fan Phenomena Supernatural, so we ran back and forth from the table to the ballroom all weekend. I should have worn my fit bit to see how many miles I logged! We were thrilled to meet so many people who came by the table to buy a book or to have us sign their book and to tell us what reading it had meant – we wrote Fangasm to validate fans, to celebrate fandom, and to challenge shaming, so every time someone tells us that reading the book did just that, it makes our day. So nice to meet each and every one of you who came by!
Megan Padalecki also had a vendors’ table to sell her brand new children’s book. It was lovely to chat with her again, and to be able to tell her that her brother is also an excellent writer. (As you’ll all see when our new book comes out in the spring – you can sign up for free updates and various surprises from time to time at the SmartPop Books website here – http://www.smartpopbooks.com/book/family-dont-end-with-blood )
Alaina Huffman was up first. She told an amusing #SPNFamily story about a bunch of them taking Richard out for his birthday – and making him wear a sombrero. I imagine this netted them some grumpy!Dick. We also found out that when the cast hangs out, they too play ‘fuck marry kill’. Somehow this brought me a lot of joy.
She also said she’d love to work with Ruth Connell (Abaddon and Rowena?? Bring it!) – and, as if reading her mind, at that very second, Ruth called her! So we got a little Facetime with Ruth too.
Julian Richings came out to the most awesome introduction song anyone has ever had, as Richard sang a little bit of ‘O Death’.
Julian talked about how he loves the character, who has ‘a twinkle in his eye’. He also shared his love of Chicago, where he’s been filming for the past few months. He also loves Chicago pizza, but confided that in that first scene with Jensen, he didn’t realize how heavy it was and ate far too much of it.
Death when he sees Sam and Dean again: “Boys, I’m a little ticked off…”
Jason Manns was next, with what he’s taken to calling a “quoncert” – that is, half questions and half concert. I have always loved his music; I also love his sense of humor.
Jason as he took the stage: I’m sure someone here just leaned over and asked their friend, ‘who’s that guy?’
He confided that he’d love to guest star on Supernatural one day.
Jason: I’d love to play a long lost Winchester brother, but I’d probably play Officer #1 who was eaten by a chupacabra…
He also talked about his just released CD ‘Covers With Friends’ and how much fun they all had making it.
We were also treated to some Station Breaks with Jason and Rob fronting. Since I don’t live on the west coast, I’m unlikely to ever see them play – so this was a special treat.
Osric didn’t come onstage in cosplay, but he was rocking yellow hair for #TeamYellow. (Though Richard insisted it was green…)
Os got some questions about Kevin coming back to SPN, which somehow ended with Kevin being God’s wife, and that became a running joke. As happens at cons.
Os: Cosplay is taking a leap of faith that you guys will catch me. And you have, every time.
He also had some wise things to say about perfectionism and why it keeps people from doing the things they want to do. Don’t be afraid to do a whole bunch of things that aren’t perfect – at least you’re doing them!
Next up was Emily Swallow (Amara) at her first Creation con. She’s a natural! It was also all kinds of cute to see her and Rob Benedict, her onscreen brother aka God, be all affectionate together. I suppose that bodes well for the future of the universe.
She fielded the inevitable “how does it feel to kiss Jensen Ackles” question brilliantly.
Emily: Close your eyes and imagine yourself kissing Jensen. That’s how it feels.
Audience: [collective sigh]
She also joked that she couldn’t exactly remember how many takes they had to do of that particular scene. Good answer.
I complained a lot about Amara’s dress in my episode reviews – low cut aside, at the very least, did she have to wear the same one all season? When we were lucky enough to visit the Supernatural set last spring, Emily was filming that day, so we got to chat about “the dress” then too. That made it extra funny for me when she joked that no matter what Amara went through, including getting thrown around all over and with a gaping stomach wound, that dress took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’!
Emily: It was probably disgusting, she probably dragged it through dog poop once or twice…
By the way, that day on set we had on jackets because it was chilly and raining off and on, and poor Emily kept having to take off her coat and film in just that dress! (Though I did get a kick out of her trekking through the woods in her furry boots and then taking them off to slip on those Amara shoes at the last minute).
She also said the same thing that every guest star we’ve ever interviewed has said about the Supernatural set and Jared and Jensen.
Emily: Walking onto the Supernatural set is like walking into a warm embrace. And Jared and Jensen set the tone.
Saturday kicked off with a second Osric Chau panel – he had managed to wash the bright yellow out of his hair, and was wearing truly awesome Samurai pants. Nevertheless, as soon as he took the stage, they announced some photo ops with Misha on the screen, so tons of people got up and started leaving the ballroom. This was too great of an opportunity for emcee Richard Speight Jr., who immediately started joking about people leaving because Osric was onstage. That became a running joke of the weekend, much to everyone’s amusement. (Except perhaps Osric…no, just kidding, he was laughing too).
Also, Osric came out in a truly creepy Richard Speight Jr. mask – the masks were also a fixture of the weekend, and were they ever disturbing! The ever resourceful Billy Moran helped him out of it eventually.
Kevin’s Continued Winchester Gospels also got a mention, in which Osric stumbles over a Tumblr account where Kevin ships everything, and Osric is so tickled by it that he makes his own fanfic vids in which Kevin is the shippingest shipper to ever ship. Have I mentioned that I adore Osric??
Catch Osric in the exciting new show Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency coming up soon!
Richard and Rob sang the “haunted” version of Mark Sheppard’s customary theme song, “Mr. Crowley”, to welcome him onstage. It was a bit scary actually.
Mark Sheppard was up next. I loved what Mark had to say about Supernatural getting the EW cover – that now the rest of the world is finally understanding how special this SPNFamily that we’ve got going is. Damn right!
He also had some serious insights into Crowley and his motivations, pointing out that there’s a big difference between someone telling you that you’re loved and actually believing that you’re loved – hence Crowley’s human-blood-drunk rantings to Sam, when all that desperation and longing suddenly was revealed (thanks to Mark and Jared’s incredible acting).
Mark: Even though Crowley can have most of what he wants, he can’t have what he needs. Most of this world wouldn’t have any problems if they believed they were loved.
Mark was showing off his soft and serious side in between the snarky “Why are you late? Did you bring a note?” comments to fans arriving late. When a young fan became overwhelmed as she stepped up to the mic to ask a question, Mark gave a put upon sigh that didn’t fool anyone and reassured her, “I’m coming.” Then she got a big hug.
He also said that he wants to revisit the bromance between Crowley and Dean. Understandable. And doesn’t necessarily see the need to assign a sexuality to Crowley.
Also understandable that his celebrity man crush is Matt Bomer, who Jensen agrees is just too pretty. Though I still maintain Jensen could give Matt a run for his money. Let’s just have ALL the pretty…
Next up was R2M – Matt Cohen did his traditional chair leap to kick off their panel.
They like to tease each other about who gets the most questions, which was a bit skewed last time. Rob told an amusing story about the Minneapolis con, when even his own mother was saying “My question is for Matt…”
We also got some stories of all three of their college exploits, which included Matt and company’s two story beer bong and Tim Omundson stealing the hot girl away from Richard just when he thought he had a chance (thanks to being in the band). Oops.
They also did some of their patented imitations of each other. Here’s Rob’s version of Rich, which seems to be Angry!Dick.
For all their joking around, they do get serious every now and then. When asked who of the cast he’d live with, Matt said Rob and Rich “because they’re my best friends.” Awww.
Richard also told the story from Asylum about Tracy Dinwiddie answering the question of ‘how does Jensen taste?’ by saying it’s like sucking on a jolly rancher. Except apparently they don’t have them there, or at least the questioner never heard of them. Which made the answer a whole lot more interesting…
Misha came onstage wearing a Trump mask, which was disturbing to say the least – and then took it off only to reveal a Rob Benedict mask! All these masks were just plain creepy, which I suppose is entirely fitting at a Supernatural con. And so very Misha.
The crowd tends to be very active during Misha panels, and this one was no exception – though not nearly as animated as the last one! At one point someone asked him about his favorite Disney princess, which he was struggling to recall.
Someone from the audience: Jensen Ackles!
Misha: Okay, you win this round.
He also had a delightful double entendre filled exchange with a fan, which included:
Fan: When Lucifer was still inside Cas…
Misha: Oh, you mean before he pulled out…
Fan: If they did another body swap, who would you want to swap with, Sam or Dean?
Misha: You mean, which one do I want inside me?
Oh, Misha. Never change.
More seriously though, when asked why Cas didn’t get to have his time and his talk with God, Misha said that he thinks that Cas was present during Lucifer’s talk with him. From a filming and story point of view, it would have been redundant to show a scene so similar twice.
Oh, and this is Misha on Tumblr, trying not to see everything he knows he’s not supposed to see. And apparently not entirely succeeding.
Misha: Nobody tells you that you get to a point in your career where you’re reading porn of yourself online…
I still remember our first interview with Misha, which is a chapter in Fangasm. It was back in Season 4, and Misha was new to the show – but not new to the internet. Let’s just say his answer to our question, what is Castiel’s relationship with Dean, was not what we expected!
Misha ended his panel with a giant selfie of the entire room doing heart hands in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Misha tweeted out his photo, but mine has a slightly different perspective.
A pretty nice one, I think.
The Saturday Night Special was unique for first timer Emily Swallow joining in – she and Rob sang a beautiful duet of ‘Let’s Be Still’ which was stuck in my head for days. That’s a good thing. And their ‘brother and sister’ hug after was lovely.
We were treated to some new Louden Swain, which sounds awesome, and to Richard Speight on bass and Osric Chau belting out ‘Lose Yourself’.
We also had Matt Cohen being a rockstar and Mark Sheppard killing it on drums – especially on ‘Whipping Post’. He and Stephen Norton are amazing in how in sync they are when they drum together, which is probably a very difficult thing to do indeed. And Creation’s genius photographer Chris Schmelke showing off some different skills – playing bass!
We also got some Station Breaks, and Jason Manns and Rob singing ‘Come Together’ beautifully. ‘She Waits’ made me reach for the tissues, and then Matt Cohen got us all on our feet for ‘Mama’s Jam’.
Rob did an acoustic version of ‘Fare Thee Well’ again, which I’ve come to love a great deal, and then everyone joined him onstage for ‘Purple Rain’.
And then it was a few hours of sleep, before Sunday – usually J2 day, but in Chicago? J3 Day!
Jared and Jensen were in a great mood (as usual) – they thanked the fandom for putting them on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and were clearly moved by the support. I think we dumbfound them sometimes, with our tenacity and passion and ability to win them whatever honor we think they should have. This is the most extraordinary fandom ever, let’s face it. And they know it.
Jared: If you’re under 18, cover your ears. A big fucking thank you for the EW cover!
There was, as always, a lot of kidding around. But there were serious moments too. Jensen talking about how his father supported him when he wanted to act, and how he’d support his child. Jared talking about the difference between acting and being famous.
Jared: I’ve had a lot of joy and pain being in the public eye. You don’t have to be on TV to act.
We had a surprise Winchester family reunion during the gold panel, when Jeffrey Dean Morgan came onstage. There is something so special about all three of them being together – it’s clear how much they enjoy each other, and it always makes me long for Papa Winchester to come back to the show. If the universe is listening, can it please happen? Please?
Jeff’s panel was awesome – he is a delightful mix of self deprecating and ridiculously handsome, which is very compelling indeed. He also takes the whole answering questions thing quite seriously, often asking the fan if he did a good job answering their question.
Apparently he’s not much of a singer. A fan asked if he’d sing.
Jeff: Fuck no!
He offered to take his pants off instead, which I thought was a very fair deal.
Jeffrey also confessed that he always wondered when someone was going to say that he was too young to be Sam and Dean’s dad (which of course he is). Nobody else could play John Winchester at this point though, clearly.
Someone tried to make me use up my tissues by asking what John would say to his boys if he had a chance.
Jeff: He’d tell ‘em that he loved them. He was never very good at expressing his emotions.
He’s given a fair amount of thought to the character he played, I think, and he doesn’t sugar coat it.
Jeff: I don’t think he did it on purpose, but John really fucked up his kids.
There was a hilarious sequence when a fan asked him a question about the Men of Letters, which he clearly had never heard of.
Jeff: What the hell are you talking about?
He loves this fandom though – and we love him back.
Jeff: I feel like I’m part of the two greatest fandoms ever.
I think he gets us.
Jeff: As crazy as y’all are, you’re the sweetest and kindest people in the world.
When Jensen and Jared returned for their afternoon panel, we had a moment of silence since it was 9/11 – and you could literally hear a pin drop. Richard had asked for a moment earlier and it was the same. For a room full of thousands of people, that’s pretty amazing.
There was one amusing moment when Jensen jumped off the stage to give a fan who was having a coughing fit his water.
Half of the audience: starts coughing…
Jared had to do an imitation of Jensen coming back up the stairs to the stage a few minutes later.
Jared: and here’s Jensen waving his bottom…
I’ve started a tweet series called “Quintessential J2” because there are certain times at every con that are just exactly that.
This sort of counts too. Jared drops the mic and it lands in his crotch. He collapses over his chair. Jensen smirks, then when Jared doesn’t raise his head right away, he goes into ‘family always has your back’ mode, leaning over to console poor Jared.
There was also an entire segment when they started plucking hairs off each other’s heads. As you do. And fake tried to bite each other as they did.
On a more serious note, they talked about difficult death scenes – Jensen knowing it was going to be a bad day at work when ‘your wardrobe comes with plumbing’ (that was for the hellhounds scene).
And Jared saying that Dean’s Mystery Spot death was very difficult because he took that death seriously, ‘like my brother was really dying.’
Jared also talked about reaching out and asking for help when he needed it, for depression and anxiety.
Jared: I had family and friends to help me, including this short haired guy here.
Me: more tissues?
On a lighter note, Jensen talked about how uncomfortable it was to be buried for ‘Lazarus Rising’ and Jared did an amusing imitation of Jensen crawling his way out of that grave. With Jensen cracking up beside him.
Earlier, I had asked Jensen what was most challenging about this season so far, and he said that the return of Mary was a challenge. There’s an awkwardness to it, because he and Jared know Sam Smith, but Sam and Dean don’t know their mother. Sam has been on the show several times, but as a ghost or in flashbacks, not as their mom in real time. So there’s no precedent for knowing how to play a reunion with your mother who died when you were too little to really remember her, but is back and now essentially the same age as you. I mean, that just doesn’t happen all that often in real life!
So of course it’s an acting challenge, with nothing to pull from. Jensen compared it to how difficult it was for him to play Dean and Soulless Sam too, because he’s so close to Jared in real life, and none of that could come through.
I love when they talk about acting.
There was also a surprise visit from Robert Duncan McNeill, who directed ‘Skin’ way back in Season 1 – he was next door at the Star Trek convention! SPN Family is everywhere.
He talked about fangirling Jared, and then Jared and he talked about fangirling Jensen on Dawson’s Creek, which made Jared jump around squeefully – which was adorable.
One of the highlights of this panel was a young fan who exclaimed emotionally about how Jared and Jensen “just pick me up”. She meant emotionally, but they took it literally, sweeping her up into their arms, much to her great delight. That look on her face? At that moment, she’s all of us.
The last question (first time it’s ever been a guy, I think!) gave Jared and Jensen a chance to talk about the possibility of doing a feature film of Supernatural once the show is off the air. I mean, IF the show is ever off the air…
It also gave Jensen a chance to sing ‘Last Question’ with Rob.
And then it was time to say goodbye.
We ended the day with a Kings of Con panel, which is a very nice way to end a con indeed. The more I hear about it, the more excited I am for Kings of Con!
Until next time!
Big thanks to @mamaprior for watermarking.
To sign up for free updates for ‘Family Don’t
End With Blood’, go here –