Catching Up On Cons: Supernatural Jacksonville 2017
I’m seriously behind on everything, including my con coverage for 2017. Between trying to finish up the new book (which I’m ridiculously excited about – have you pre-ordered your copy yet??? If you do, you get free goodies and can win even more free Supernatural stuff! Check it out at https://www.familydontendwithblood.com/!) Anyway, with that and starting off a new semester of teaching and Supernatural episodes returning, there aren’t enough hours in the day. So here, belatedly, are some of my favorite moments and photos from the first con of the year.
The 2017 Supernatural con tour kicked off in sunny warm Jacksonville, Florida. The sunny and warm part was definitely relevant to me, coming from cold and rainy dreary Philly. I love my hometown but Januarys are hard! So I was pretty euphoric just being able to walk around in my flip flops and lay by the pool in the sun for a while.
Friday we were treated to some time with Alaina Huffman, who I love even more after spending some one on one time with her a few cons ago. If you’ve haven’t read our epic interview, it’s here – https://fangasmthebook.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/alaina-huffman-on-supernatural-directing-social-change-and-fangirling-nichelle-nichols/
We also had a visit from Death, which sounds wrong anywhere but in the Supernatural fandom. Julian Richings was his usual irrepressible self, even though he just had an unfortunate encounter with a glass bus stop enclosure – as in, he was running for a bus and ran right into it! Despite whiplash and a concussion and a lot of blood at the time (he showed the photo to Richard and the gang the night before and apparently it was gory enough that Richard couldn’t sleep), Julian bounded back and forth across the stage and tried his best to answer every question.
Julian: The hardest thing about playing Death was that I had to stand still!
Julian had some very nice things to say about the show and the cast.
Julian: Supernatural has gone on this long because Jared and Jensen are good actors, solid actors, it’s not about being famous for them.
He does believe that Death will be back on the show. What will it take for him to forgive Dean for killing him?
Julian: A very big SORRY. And a very big feast.
We all know Dean can handle the latter.
Gabriel Tigerman filled in for Emily Swallow, who had to film, and had the entire audience in stitches with his hysterical stories. I haven’t heard the ‘world’s biggest groundhog’ story in years, and it was as funny as ever. Actually I think it gets funnier every time! Gabe’s initial exuberant enthusiasm and curiousity being squelched as he finds out that a) the groundhog is not alive and b) it never was – it’s a statue – makes for a priceless story. Add to that the 5 and 6-legged cows who really did exist and were very much alive, and Gabe and his friends’ horror when said cows decided to rush the fence and swing their extra appendages at them – I can’t get to that part without crying I’m laughing so hard.
Someone asked if Gabe had been pranked by Jared and Jensen, mentioning that some other actors got a foot in the crotch to distract them. Gabe said he was a little disappointed that he never got a foot there, and speculated that maybe they don’t like him enough. Jared did, however, step on his feet while he was trying to deliver his lines. That was early seasons, so clearly they’ve worked up to more distracting over the years.
Gabe also told one of the stories that is in ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ – about the first time he read fanfiction about himself. Unfortunately he happened to be at his mother’s at the time, trying not to let her read a story about him ‘performing an act’ on Chad Lindberg while she leaned over asking what he was reading. Even more awkward was later meeting Chad at a convention.
Gabe: It was like ohhhh, you’re the guy…
Gabe ended his panel with an impromptu ‘who’s taller’ contest with Rob.
Rob: I think he’s got an inch on me.
Krista from the front row: That’s what she said.
Ba dum dum.
Rounding out the day was Jason Manns, who gave his traditional ‘quoncert’ with songs and questions interspersed. Jason has become a fabulous story teller over his years at the cons – some of them are sweet but a lot of them are funny. Like thinking he was cool with his boarding pass on his apple watch, only to have it not work as he tried to get on the plane. Because he was trying to board the wrong flight. Oops.
He also expressed gratitude to the SPN Family, both the cast and the fans, giving them credit for his songwriter and performing career.
Rob and Billy joined Jason for some Station Breaks songs and they also sang ‘Hallelujah’ which never fails to make me emotional.
I went out to the Town Square after a tour around the University of North Florida with my friend and fellow professor and fangirl Linda, for a delicious meal at J. Alexander’s. Then it was back for karaoke – the circus theme for 2017 has really brought out the cosplay love in both cast and fans!
Saturday kicked off with a hysterical (and also surprisingly touching) intro from Rich and Rob, with Richard talking about how different the Supernatural Family is from much of the current world climate, with its inclusion and lack of judgment and supportiveness. I think that a large portion of the audience was ready to elect HIM as president afterwards!
Jim Beaver was the first guest – he came out to a spontaneous standing ovation as fans showed their appreciation for him and for Bobby, and how much we want him back on the show. Jim seemed very appreciative – he too really wants Bobby to come back to the show. He said it meant something to him to be on every season, but he’s losing hope for S12. But he did say he believes that Bobby WILL be back, that he can’t imagine that he won’t. Hope you’re listening, Dabb and Singer!
Jim: I played Bobby 58 times. An insufficiency in my mind.
A fan asked Jim what sort of acting method he used to get into character during Bobby’s death scene.
Jim: Jared was twisting my toes the entire time. Makes it a little different to go all method…
Another question was what would Bobby have to say to Mary if he returned.
Jim: Hey, how’s our boy?
He paused, a twinkle in his eye.
Jim: I’ve been reading fanfiction…
Look for Jim in an upcoming episode of Timeless – where he has a colleague named Singer. (ETA: We just said goodbye to Jim’s character on tonight’s Timeless…)
Jim: With Eric Kripke, there are no coincidences!
Mark Pellegrino was up next. He was in a mischievous mood and engaged the audience in a spirited Q & A which everyone really enjoyed. Someone asked how he prepared to play Lucifer and he said he let himself be extra mischievous in real life – much to his poor wife’s dismay. One of the things I love about Mark is that he’s a legit Supernatural fan, as passionate as the rest of us.
Mark: One of the things I love about the boys [Sam and Dean] is that they’re willing to say “F you” to anyone in order to save their brother.
Me too, Mark. Me too.
Mark has a deal with his management similar to the one Osric told us about – if Supernatural calls, he gets to go!
He also talked about the SPN Family as a different and better way of being, especially with its lack of judgement (for the most part). When a fan asked how she could explain to critics about liking the show, Mark said you don’t need to explain. Don’t be ashamed of what brings you joy, pursue it!
I think that’s pretty much the message of ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ – and of the upcoming ‘Family Don’t End With Blood’ too!
Mark also shared that he (unfortunately) has had plenty of stuff to deal with in his own life, grief and loss and feeling like an outsider, so that he can tap into that for the characters he played.
Mark: When you’re playing an angel, you don’t know what that’s like, but you may know what it’s like to be a son or a brother or a lover. We can all understand a son scorned by his father.
He also had a lot of props for Misha’s portrayal of Lucifer. Mark said he’d be watching the show and go “ooh that’s good – I’m gonna steal that!” Pretty high compliment, Misha!
Mark Sheppard spoke passionately about fandom too, especially the Supernatural fandom. Someone asked him if he had expected this when he got the job on Supernatural
Mark: I was hired as a guest actor to do a few episodes. Now it’s 8 years later!
He’s not complaining. It’s clear that he loves the show, his fellow actors, and the fans – and these conventions, since they give him a chance to actually interact with the people who are usually just out there watching on a screen. He also had something to say about the importance of fantasy – that the more difficult life gets, the more important fantasy can become. Not in a pathological sense, but in that healthy sort of escape that happens for an hour or so every week when you watch your favorite show, or create some fan art around it, or spend some time reading or writing fanfiction. That’s the positive part that we’ve written about in all our books. In the new book, other people also write about the positives of being a Supernatural fan or of working on the show – one way or another, being a part of the SPN Family.
Everyone, Mark included, is getting a lot of mileage out of the new Kings of Con shirt.
Mark to fan who steps up the mic: You love KOC?
It might get old eventually, but it hasn’t happened yet.
The R2M panel was notable for everyone teasing Matt Cohen for his karaoke costume – he was a strongman wearing basically a red leotard which was quite….revealing.
Rob: You needed a dance belt!
Matt: A what?
Richard eventually christened the aisle in front of the stage as the ‘mooseknuckle’ alley and things pretty much went downhill from there. Poor Matt, such a good sport.
God bless the fan who got Richard to tell the infamous Jared-stops-all-the-trains-in-Europe-including-Mark-Sheppard’s story, which never fails to crack me up even after hearing it multiple times. This cast, I swear.
They all did imitations of each other, and then talk turned to Kings of Con. They had originally just tried to get the rights to use Bernie Kopell’s picture, but he wanted to come on – and ended up being hysterical. If you haven’t seen the Kings of Conversation episode when Bernie won’t let up on poor Rob, you have to watch it. Seriously.
Misha was looking very very nice in that red leather jacket that I love. He came onstage to a standing ovation – most of us knew that he had been at the Women’s March in Jacksonville that afternoon, and I think we all wanted to show him our love, appreciation and respect for always being unafraid to fight for what he believes in. The entire weekend was inspiring, with all the guests making their support for the Women’s Marches clear, but it meant a lot to many of us that Misha also attended one.
For his part, Misha made a grand (and rather unusual) entrance – he mounted Richard Speight, who then shuffled forwards with Misha clinging to him like a very attractive spider monkey. Misha later joked that he was fervently hoping that Richard’s back wasn’t bothering him.
Misha: Not all is darkness in the world – Supernatural was renewed for a 13th season!
Everyone: (cheering wildly)
Misha mistakenly tried couples counseling on a man at the mic and what turned out to be his 16 year old daughter, resulting in the facepalm of all facepalms.
He also ran down into the audience and ended up in a who’s taller contest, which for the life of me I can’t recall why.
Misha also had some inspiring things to say about Random Acts. When we first started writing books on Supernatural, we sat down with Misha to talk about his new experience with being ‘famous’ and what he planned to use that fame for. Random Acts was eventually born from his determination to harness the creativity and passion of fandom to make the world a better place.
Misha: I had seen fan art, so I knew you guys could pull off some crazy shit.
Ain’t that the truth. I’m thrilled that with the new book, Family Don’t End With Blood, a portion of royalties will benefit the important work that Random Acts does. It seems like things coming full circle, harkening back to that long ago conversation.
Misha: When we’re taking care of others, we take better care of ourselves. It’s not about me – this fandom takes care of each other.
Misha wrote an essay for Family Don’t End With Blood which talks about that very same thing.
Not all his panel was serious, of course. Including putting his hapless mother in law on speaker phone while everyone laughed in the background.
Mother-in-law: You’re crazy.
That was pretty priceless.
He also divulged the story of Jared introducing 2 year old West to sugar – by feeding him multiple sugar packets when they were all in Rome!
Vickie: He’s YOUR friend!
There were a few Cas questions too. I’ve been frustrated and confused this season about Castiel’s lack of powers, and someone asked him about that. Misha said that Cas does have his powers, except for teleporting since he doesn’t have his wings, or time travel. To the fan’s somewhat skeptical expression, he then added:
Misha: Just don’t pull the threads…
Saturday evening I joined a table full of fangirls at the handy dandy snack bar on the hotel’s second floor, where they had inexpensive burgers and hot dogs that hit the spot (and the wallet). A spirited game of Cards Against Humanity, Supernatural version, was the perfect way to pass the time waiting for the Saturday Night Special.
This was a special Special, since Misha was taping the entire concert to livestream it as a Random Acts benefit. Not only did they raise some $60K plus online, but the actors passed the hat in the ballroom too and collected another almost $10K. Jim Beaver and Mark Pellegrino were our lovely ushers, and everyone seemed blown away by the generosity of the SPN fandom – rightly so. There was a raffle for some great prizes, but everyone felt good about giving what they could too.
The SNS was even more high energy than usual (which is really saying something), perhaps because of the live stream. Or perhaps because of Misha’s intermittent leaps onto the stage to give us an update and cheer everyone on. Or the fact that Matt Cohen ended up shirtless.
And I think this might have been the best actor kazoo chorus to date. They really put their hearts into it, with Rob exuberantly conducting and leading them on.
Sunday was J2 day – Jared and Jensen were exhausted but managed to be thoroughly entertaining anyway. Jared had worked until 4 am and then their flight ran into crazy weather so they were both a bit bleary at the start.
Jared: I filmed until 4 am last night…
Jensen: You look like shit.
They were in a good mood though, and happy about Supernatural winning yet another People’s Choice Award.
Jensen: That didn’t get announced…
Hey, we’re used to it. This has been the Little Show That Could since day one, and yet we’re still here, still going strong. And we still won it. (Of course I firmly believe they should both televise it and announce it!)
Fans were happy to hear that Jensen and his brother in law are opening a brewing company in Austin which is already well underway – called The Family Business Brewing Company. Naturally.
Fans were also happy to see that Jensen was wearing a very nice pair of tan jeans. And Jared a very nice vest. That left his arms bared. Just saying.
As often happens, there were questions about Jeffrey Dean Morgan reprising his role of John on Supernatural. Now that he’s been signed for a bunch of upcoming cons, it seems even more possible! Come on, CW, make it happen!
Jensen: It would be interesting having Dad back now that Mom is back. Of course, he’d have to put down the bat first.
Or would he??
At one point, Jared tried to be serious, saying that one of the reasons that Supernatural resonates with fans is that it has universal messages, like Harry Potter.
Jensen: (looking at Jared incredulously) What??
The boys gave a nice shout out to Kings of Con, reprising their hysterical roles as Justin and Jaden and attempting to explain the origin of the ‘Squishy Bear Hug’ in photo ops. If you’ve ever been silly enough to tell Jared and Jensen that you want a squishy hug, you know that it’s a dangerous thing to request. Seriously, my friend Laurena did that once and I let out an involuntary squeak – not because I was fangirling, but because those two pairs of bulging biceps were literally compressing me! Ouch.
They both answered the question of whether Sam might have a love interest with a no.
Jared: I don’t think Sam having a love interest fits the story line.
Jensen: I think the brothers want to steer clear of anyone who would be a liability.
I have no idea what the question was, but somehow they started talking about surprising things that have been sent to them.
Jared: We got a Supernatural panty party pack… (lifts Jensen’s shirt to see if Jensen is wearing them…)
Jensen: (surreptitiously starts googling them on his phone…)
Jared: Don’t play any of the videos…
Their kids are enjoying the Supernatural coloring books apparently, periodically exclaiming “Daddy! Uncle Jensen!”
One of the best stories was how when Jared really wants to break but he’s trying not to laugh, he just ends up going HMMMMM. Which invariably cracks Jensen up. This became a running theme of the panel, with one or both of them every now and then succumbing to HMMMMMM and the other laughing.
They both value the Supernatural set being a fun place to work, and love hearing that from guest actors and crew.
Jensen: He and I work hard to set a tone on set, and when someone says that it’s a fun set, that means something to us.
We were treated to another Jim Beaver panel – which is in fact always a treat.
Then Jared and Jensen kicked off their afternoon panel – in a rather unusual way. Rob ran into the audience during his intro song for them, as he often does. He came running back up the aisle toward the stage – with Jared and Jensen sprinting close behind him! I was on the aisle, which made that quite a dramatic sight indeed. Yes, their idea.
After that, Jared was profusely sweating, and Jensen kept calling for a towel for him. He finally got one and proceeded to towel Jared off, which led to some wrestling and finally to Jensen prevailing and wiping Jared down. Boys.
We also got to witness Jensen being possessive about Dean’s Baby. Apparently his stand in drove the car into a ditch the other day. So now…
Jensen: NO ONE DRIVES THE CAR BUT ME
The two of them were in rare form, constantly kidding around and cracking each other up. Downright giggly, which was adorable.
Jensen: This is what life is like on the set every day.
Directors, crew, everyone is apparently always trying to get them to be serious, with crew going “Guys, guys, we’re rolling”. Nina, who is clearly one of their favorite directors now, has apparently given up and just starts yelling “Action!” to trick them into…you know, acting.
Jensen: It’s sometimes difficult to get things done. We’re like big children, but it’s always a lot of fun.
Considering every single guest actor we’ve ever interviewed raves about just how awesome the Supernatural set is to work on, I’d say they’re doing something right.
On their wrestling names, they somehow came up with Flying Squirrel for Jensen and Nude Moose for Jared. At least that’s what I heard. When you’re live tweeting you can never be absolutely sure you heard right, but in this case, I’m sticking with Nude Moose. I mean, why not?
If they could have an episode written to their specifications, Jared said he’d want a full on Gone in 60 Seconds car chase, a real badass Baby episode. Jensen would take the show on the road for real.
Jared: To where?
Jensen: The Grand Canyon.
Me: I’ve definitely read that fanfic…
Jared shared that he was surprised when he went back to set early and Jensen was home with the twins, to get a phone call.
Jensen to Jared: So….you guys need anything? Need me to come in?
I can only imagine how challenging it is to have twins – one baby at a time was challenging enough for me! (All the props in the world to Danneel right now)
Jensen talked about an unscripted moment, which is one of my favorite things to hear about. I’d actually asked him about this particular one a while ago – Dean and Sam and the grenade launcher in the Hitler episode. As I’d suspected, that whole sequence wasn’t scripted. That was Jensen knowing Dean and knowing how much he’d be dying to use that, and Jared knowing Sam and how gentle he’d be with Dean in that circumstance. It was one of my favorite moments, because it stood out – as their unscripted moments often do – as organic and genuine. Dean and Sam get each other; Jensen and Jared get Dean and Sam. And it shows.
Jensen: That was the director letting us play.
We also got some inside information on the early Busty Asian Beauties magazine – the actual prop, that is. At first it used to have actual porn inside, until a young actor who was a guest star happened to open it up and look inside. Oops.
Jared totally confessed to the anecdote that Misha had shared – that time in Rome when Jared gave Misha’s then two year old son West packets of sugar. Poor Vicky just stared at Misha like, he’s your friend, make him stop!
Misha’s kids call Jared ‘Uncle Jared’ too, which was all kinds of awwww.
One of my favorite moments was Jared saying that his proudest professional moment is being a part of something that has inspired people to be better people. He also said that the ‘I Am Enough’ campaign was created out of something he was working on with his therapist.
Jared: I’m not afraid to say it. Now more than ever it’s important to spread love and acceptance.
Damn right. That’s what his chapter in our new book, Family Don’t End With Blood, is all about. In fact, that’s what everyone’s chapter is about – and we all hope that everyone who reads it will feel just as inspired to be unafraid to speak their own truth.
Jensen: And I just follow his lead.
I love that about them. They follow each other, just like Sam and Dean.
Other favorite moment for an entirely different reason?
Jensen came into the make up trailer the other day and Jared couldn’t figure out what was different about him. He kept saying, “you look weird, man, something is different…”
What was different is that Jensen had parted his hair on the left instead of the usual right.
Jensen to Jared: Hey, I dress left. *wink wink*
Me: Is it hot in here?
Jared: (pushes his hair to the other side)
Jensen: (aghast) It’s like I don’t even know you anymore…
I also enjoyed Jensen mocking Jared using finger quotes.
Jared: I don’t even have to look at him to know what he’s doing.
And that, I’m sure, is absolutely true.
Another fun fact? ‘Pudding’ was actually Sam’s line in the script. Jared and Jensen changed it.
Jensen: It’s a Dean line!
They know their characters, and I love that they do.
The last question was a good one – what was it like fighting Lucifer in the cage? Jensen said it was terrifying, because Mark Pellegrino is a trained fighter and he came THIS close to actually connecting. Which Jensen helpfully demonstrated on the lucky last question fan, who was just about overcome by it. In a good way.
The boys sang an impromptu happy birthday to bodyguard Clif Kosterman, complete with cake, before they left the stage.
Later that day, I got to see a few new photos of the Ackles twins, who I think look remarkably like their respective gender parents – and not very much like each other! Misha came by as I was chatting with Jared, coming up behind him to run his fingers through that lovely Padalecki mane and then giving Jared a little bit of a shoulder massage (of course as he walked away he had to wipe his hands off in mock disgust). Boys.
Mark Sheppard ended the day with another panel. He’s always a bit softer on Sundays, and had some heartfelt things to say about fandom, and this fandom in particular.
Only Rob and Stephen were left to sing ‘It’s the End of the Con as we Know it’ but they did a lovely job, Rob giving the audience some love as they left the stage.
And so wrapped up the first Supernatural con of 2017 – with many more to come!
Pre order Family Don’t End With Blood at
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