Supernatural in The Big Easy – Nolacon 2017!

I love New Orleans. I’ve been there a few times and every time has been memorable for one reason or another. The first time I tried beignets at Café du Monde. Making the entire bus tour stop at Anne Rice’s house because I wanted to fangirl, and all the senior citizens on the bus making sure we stayed there until I’d taken ALL the pictures. Taking Chad Lindberg to Bourbon Street for the first time with the filmmakers of My Big Break and having an absolute blast (and ending up with lots of beads). The vampire tour during which the vampire tour guide took a liking to my young daughter, much to my consternation. But this was the first time I’ve been there for a Supernatural reason – so of course it was amazing!

Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict and Louden Swain kicked off Friday morning, and then Gil McKinney was first up.

Gil’s excited about Wayward Sisters and would definitely be open to making an appearance if the spin-off happens. He also told the story of being in the Impala with Jensen and Jared when Jensen took her for a spin – and did a 180 in the middle of a road that Gil didn’t realize was closed!

Jared: Need some new underwear?

Gil: And I did.

And then there was that time Jared pranked him with a picture of a very large (ahem) naked man on a laptop screen while Gil was on camera. Looked a lot like this…

He also thanked fans for making his first EP so successful. (If you haven’t heard it yet, what are you waiting for? I absolutely love ‘How Was I To Know’, the first song he wrote about his last time with his dad, who passed away last year).

Next up was Julian Richings, who was his usual excitable and energetic self. He went out with the rest of the cast last night, and they had gumbo. And hush puppies, which were something new for Julian.

Julian: I thought that was a kind of shoe!

Julian had some lovely things to say about working with Jared, Jensen and Misha, and also about how privileged he feels to be a part of the Supernatural family and the conventions.

Death and God walk into a bar…

Jason Manns did his customary ‘quoncert’, including some Station Breaks and Wagon Wheel with Richard, Rob and Billy. He also joked that yes, of course he has been on the Show.

Jason: I play the part of ‘voice on the radio.’

He also got stopped by the security guard on the way in, who kindly informed him that he could purchase a pass at the Creation table. Lol

Jason’s second installment of CD’s With Friends will be out soon. He recently had the same striking realization that I’ve had – literally everyone they cast on Supernatural can sing!

Alaina Huffman talked about how much she enjoyed being directed by Misha, and how much she enjoyed seeing how the entire crew had his back to be sure he would succeed. Even Jared, who also wanted to prank him.

Jared: I’m deeply torn. I want him to succeed, but I also want to prank him…

And yes, Alaina would LOVE to be the big bad on Wayward Sisters!

Oh, and an important bit of trivia – it was actually scripted that Abaddon ripped Dean’s shirt off! WHAT?? Who made that edit??

Alaina also talked a bit about letting her daughters know that they can speak up if someone touches them in an unwanted way. And as for her sons?

Alaina: And I teach my sons to keep their f—king hands to themselves.

I went out for a delicious dinner on Friday night with some friends to Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street for gumbo and jambayala and of course to sample some gator – you can’t be in New Orleans and not have amazing food and drinks.

Besides, I really needed it. I brought Family Don’t End With Blood to the vendor room at this con, but ended up selling out of books by Friday afternoon! Oops. That meant lots of disappointed people and a panicked Lynn. With the help of my intrepid fellow fangirl Alicia, who helped me out at the table all weekend, I managed to order one additional box from Fed Ex, which I paid extra to be guaranteed delivery by noon the next day. As people came by the table on Saturday morning, I let them know that they could stop by at about 1 pm and I’d have 44 more books to sell.

That meant that by noon, there was a line of 40 plus people at the table, all waiting to be sure they got one of the 44 books. Awesome, right? Not awesome. At 12:45, 45 minutes after the promised delivery time, no books had arrived. I kept jogging back and forth from the convention center to my hotel, hoping against hope each time that the box of books would be there. In desperation, I called Fed Ex, who kept assuring me they were “on the truck”. I kept assuring the line of 40 plus people, who were now understandably upset at being stuck in a line when all sorts of other fun things were going on. I was upset too, because I really wanted to say hi to Danneel, whose table was right across from mine – but I was too busy trying to figure out where the hell my books were!

Finally at 1:40, I got the call from the hotel – books had arrived! By this time I was on my own, so I raced down the street with a borrowed hand truck and heaved the very heavy box on. Then I dragged it over curbs and cobblestones and up ramps back to the convention center. By the time I burst through the doors to the giant vendor room, I was panting out of breath and sweating and looking frighteningly disheveled. As I stepped into the room dragging the hand truck of books, the entire line of 40 plus waiting people broke into applause and cheering. That meant the entire vendor room (hopefully not Danneel too…) all turned to see what the fuss was about. I’m sure I was eighteen shades of red! But the 44 people in line got their books and went on their way, so yay. Of course that meant I sat at the table for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday apologizing for being sold out of books. I hope everyone managed to order one online!

I did, however, miss out on Danneel. The next day when I had a chance to chat with Jensen, I told him how disappointed I was that I didn’t get to say hi.

Jensen: She’s on her way back to the vendor room right now! Go go, run, go over there right now!

That’s probably the only time I ran AWAY from Jensen Ackles, but his wife is worth it. I wasn’t even sure she’d remember me, it’s been so long, but she gave me a big hug and we ended up reminiscing a bit about our first meeting. Danneel was actually one of our very first interviews when we were writing ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’. There’s a chapter in that book that’s all about that interview, which was plagued with one technological difficulty after another, but marked by Danneel’s unflagging sense of humor and kindness. This time we chatted about ‘Family Don’t End With Blood’ and I gave her a copy, which she assured me she’d read right away. I know she’s an avid reader and has read our other books, so I’m thrilled that she can now read FDEWB too. We might have also joked a bit about Jensen and getting things done. Just a little.

Danneel to her brother Gino: Jensen actually wrote a chapter for Lynn’s book!!

And a heartfelt one at that.

So nice to catch up with you again, Danneel. Happy reading!

Anyway, Friday night after dinner, we all went to karaoke. I don’t always stay until the end, but this time I did because it was epic! Halloween karaoke, with the cast painted to look like skeletons and zombies and David S. Pumpkin (that was Rob, who was seriously adorable). DJ Liz did an incredible job keeping the music going and the cast had a blast.

Ruth was Dead Rowena, which meant she walked around the ballroom with her parasol held high and refusing to break character for even a second. I was a little afraid of her, NGL! Meanwhile, Alaina was dressed as a beautiful butterfly, absolutely breathtaking. The whole night was magic. And so very New Orleans.

Rob, Matt and Alaina
Emcee Richard Speight Jr
Gil and Alaina
Dead Rowena

Saturday kicked off with Richard and Rob proposing marriage to the entire city.

Rich: Washington is busy worrying about who can marry who? We’re gonna marry this whole city!

Gil McKinney and Alaina Huffman, who are good friends in ‘real life’, did a panel together to start the day. They both reminisced about their death scenes.

Gil: I died in Sam’s arms looking into Dean’s eyes. Not a bad way to go.

Alaina: But I got to tie Sam up…

They also had some nice things to say about Jared and Jensen, and how they make you feel so at home on set (and also make sure you have fun). Alaina said they always give you what you need emotionally, but also make sure that the scene gets filmed the way it needs to.

The R2M panel began, as always, with Matt’s leap from a chair. This time, Liz (aka DJLiz) taped the chair down, which made it at least a little bit safer.

Richard, sporting those glasses that I definitely think befit him, got a few questions about Band of Brothers. I always love hearing him speak about that project, because it’s one he’s so passionate about. Getting to know the real people who the characters were based on was clearly a life changing experience for those actors.

Mark Sheppard had some kudos for Misha Collins, especially his performance as Lucifer.

Mark: Misha Collins doing an impression of Mark Pellegrino doing Lucifer was the best. He was so, so good.

He really was.

Mark managed to find a baby in the audience, and of course the baby loved him (as all babies seem to).

He also told an adorable story about how he and Misha Collins giggled their way through the “Agent Beyonce” scene on Supernatural, especially as they watched Jensen Ackles’ reaction.

That afternoon, I managed to catch the Louden Swain acoustic performance in the vendor room, always one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I love how much the band enjoys it, fans all gathered around sitting on the floor and singing along.

And Danneel Harris and Gino Graul in the background at the Family Business Beer booth too!

Ruth Connell gave away wristbands for following the charity she supports, My Hope Chest.

She also gave away some lovely Misha Collins calendars. Who can resist this sort of offer?? Expired? Who cares!

Ruth had some kind words for Jensen’s performance in Regarding Dean, an episode she loved (and I am so with her!)

Despite being roasting, she was too shy to take off her jacket for about a third of the panel, but eventually crouched behind the podium to partially disrobe. And she started the trend of wearing a Family Business Beer shirt that many of the guests sported at some point in the weekend.

Ruth came up to the mic to ask a question of the next panelist, Misha Collins, much to his amusement.

Misha: I hear you have some provocative Misha Collins calendars…

I invariably laugh my way through Misha panels, and this one was no exception. Especially when he decided to demonstrate the hand massage character with an accent that freaks his children out. He tried it out on a fan and I’m pretty sure it freaked her out too.

A fan who clearly isn’t quite caught up asked if he would be working on other projects while he wasn’t on Supernatural.

Misha: (awkwardly) Um, should I tell her?

He said that Alex Calvert (Jack) really does look like he did at that age, which makes the parallels between Jack and Castiel all the more striking.

And perhaps my favorite line of his panel?

Misha: When I was on Charmed, I was so new that when they said, stand on your mark, I said “Who’s Mark?”

Ba dum dum.

He also gave a little gift to Mishalecki fans.

Misha: I happen to know that Jared watches all my Stage It panels. And tells Jensen all about it, like “shut up, Jensen”.

I’m sure he’s right.

The panel had its serious moments too. Misha always gets emotional when he talks about how West wanted to give his (fake…) treasure to homeless people, and it never fails to make me emotional too.

Misha had props for J2 too.

Misha: I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Jared and Jensen are giant assholes. If Jared isn’t on camera, he’s tickling your balls with a broomstick. (Or his foot). He has long legs, and he’s flexible. That’s why the ideal shot has everyone in it, so they can’t f—k with you!

Saturday night meant another delicious dinner with another awesome group of friends.

Interesting Supernatural-related menu item – is that how you spell Rougaroux?? I think I’ll pass considering the definition…

And then it was time for the Saturday Night Special! Louden Swain rocked the house, as usual – with an extra added celebratory vibe because, New Orleans.

Jason Manns held the impossibly long note for an impossibly long time – one of these times, I swear he’s gonna faint!

Alaina Huffman sang for the first time and absolutely slayed with ‘You’re So Vain’. She leapt into Rob’s arms afterwards, clearly nervous beforehand and clearly joyous by the time she was done. I love watching a cast member take the plunge for the first time because they trust Rob and Louden Swain and this fandom. Love it.

Matt was a rockstar with his own song, and when he came out for Mama’s Jam, Rob was overjoyed and it was wonderful to see. Matt outdid himself cheerleading, having so much fun he literally could not contain himself. The entire audience was on their feet with him too.

Rob did Fare Thee Well and She Waits, and fans held up glowing hearts to show their love right back.

Gil McKinney made me cry with ‘How Was I To Know’ and thanked the fandom and Jason for making it happen for the very first song he’s written.

Ruth Connell slayed with ‘Bang Bang’, the dancing as well as the singing.

Richard Speight Jr. and Rob sang ‘Copperhead Road’ and rocked out.

Tuning with Billy Moran

The finale was Medicated, with an excellent kazoo chorus all around.

And then it was Sunday. Also known as J2 Day!

Jared and Jensen thanked fans for the special Supernatural Entertainment Weekly covers, saying that it was entirely because of the fandom – last year’s cover was a best seller, so that gave them the chance to do more.

Jensen: thank you, guys. That’s all you.

They both agreed that voice acting is in a way harder than “face to face” acting, which they prefer. Jared said it’s like “shadowboxing”, you don’t have the other person there to react to, which is something they both value.

Though Jensen did say the thing he loves about it is he can just “stand there with a cup of coffee all day in my underwear.”

Which? Okay.

Jared and Jensen both had a lot of positive things to say about Alex Calvert (Jack) – which, if you read my episode reviews, you know that I’m also a big fan of his acting this season. They also appreciate having a new person to mess with on set, but Calvert seems to be holding his own. Creation, when are you gonna book the new guy for a con? We’d love to meet him!

Jensen said Alex has been asking what conventions are like, in fact.

Jensen: (puts his arm around Alex) Oh, come here…

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation??

A fan asked if Sam would go see the new “It” movie.

Jared: NO!

I’m with Sam, Jared. Too scary for me. And that’s saying something considering my favorite show is Supernatural.

And I have no clue why, but when asked about the brothers’ middle names, Jensen came up with Dean “BooBoo” Winchester. Which does have a nice ring to it.

Jensen said he wishes that Dean could curse sometimes (it would be about a million times more realistic, that’s for sure), but Jared said he sort of enjoys the artistry of avoiding certain words to keep the message universal.

And then there was the joke. The one that snagged Jared and Jensen provocative and critical headlines in multiple online websites and fractured the fandom. The question was asked by a nice young woman who happened to be sitting right next to me, cosplaying as Daphne from Scooby Doo. She actually asked the question about pick up lines for Daphne playfully and in character, so it set up the context as a sort of shared play space. I won’t rehash all the details, because they’re everywhere, but Jared and Jensen were reluctant to answer. There were no’s, there was Jared’s ‘no, all my jokes are offensive’, there were “oh come on, there’s no one here under 18, go ahead” goads, but the goading was playful. The first line of the joke itself is a well-known one, and maybe that’s the problem – we are all familiar with that first line. If only the first part had been said, it would have elicited a lot of groans and rightly so. But the second part made it into something else – instead of ‘oh hey wouldn’t that be a funny thing to do haha shoulder slap haha’, which no question, would have been so not funny – instead of that, I felt in the moment like the punch line “No, Mr. Cosby” made it more like social criticism. It’s the sort of joke all the late night comics made when Cosby was accused of doing similarly horrible things, with the criticism squarely focused on the alleged perpetrator and the action. Adding that phrase to their shared joke, I thought, made it a biting anti-rape commentary. That is, only someone who was (allegedly) doing awful things would ever think that was an okay thing to do – which is quite true. And which is undoubtedly how Jared and Jensen actually feel. I was surprised when the first line was thrown into provocative headlines without anyone analyzing the entirety of the joke. By all means, call out people if they make hurtful and damaging jokes that imply that rape is in any way okay – but I was sitting right there and it didn’t seem to me like that’s what happened. That joke, in its entirety, seemed to say just the opposite.

At the time, the gold panel ended and everyone went on their way happily, because I think if you were there you didn’t miss the context – and you listened to and watched the whole exchange instead of just reacting to that first part, so the social criticism came through. I think that’s why it didn’t dampen the mood of Sunday, or at least that’s how it felt to me.

After an intro from Rich, Rob and the band, it was time for Samantha Smith.

Rich: Raise your hands for the woman who gave birth to perfection…

Samantha said that she made the choice to portray Mary as more annoyed by Lucifer than afraid in the AU, because that would be more interesting. Death doesn’t scare her either.

Samantha: She thinks she saved the world and her boys from Lucifer, so what’s he gonna do, kill her? She’s already been dead!

Only on Supernatural does that sentence make complete sense.

Someone asked her, since she’s worked with Jared and Jensen since the very first episode, how have they changed?

Samantha: Not at all. It sounds like I’m kissing ass, but they’re just the same. If the people at the top weren’t great people, the show couldn’t go on for 13 years.

And perhaps the funniest behind the scenes tidbit of the day – they had a papier mache of Mary in the pilot, and they used to call her “Crispina”. Lol

Samantha also gave props to both Jared and Misha for that scene where poor Misha had all the black foam coming out of his mouth as Cas almost died. Samantha is constantly fidgeting and moving around, so she kept getting in Misha’s light – which might have meant having to do the scene again (and more disgusting black foam in his mouth). So Jared kept subtly and gently moving her out of Misha’s light so he wouldn’t have to re-shoot the scene. Awww.

Then it was the J2 afternoon main panel, for which there was a ton of energy in the room. Jared told a hilarious story of being on Bourbon Street last night (where his phone died so he was wandering around trying to navigate the old fashioned way). He walked into a restaurant and someone said to him “oh, you’re dressed up as that character from Supernatural! Sam Winchester!”

Jared: I play him.

Person (less impressed): Oh, so you dress like him too?

Jared: Who dresses as themselves??

Jensen: Points to Jared.

Halloween weekend in New Orleans, folks!

Jared and Jensen both want a full episode length gag reel, and so does everyone in the entire universe, so COME ON CW!!!!

Poor Alex Calvert has been messed with so many times, he was afraid they wouldn’t bring him back.

Jared: Don’t worry, your bosses all know we’re assholes.

They joked about Misha getting to film his scenes in ‘the Empty’ in his bedroom.

Jared: They took out all the toys.

Everyone: Oooooh, do tell?

Jared: Kids’ toys!!

Jensen said what he always says when people ask what monster he’d like to be.

Jensen: A wendigo, because then I’d be taller than this guy!

Jared: I’d be a shape shifter. Oh no, I shifted myself…

Jensen tried so hard not to crack up, but totally lost it anyway. They spent a lot of time laughing at each other’s responses to questions and it was frankly glorious to watch. My face ached from smiling so much.

Jensen talked about Dean’s emotional state in S13 – he’s grieving, and he’s in a turbulent state, very angry, which is a stage of grief. He did say that Dean would start to change his feelings toward Jack, though, which was a relief to hear. We’ve already started to see the beginnings of that in episode 4, which I loved.

Jared said that Sam’s reaction to Jack, on the other hand, is impacted by how much Sam relates Jack’s situation to his own. He wants to believe Jack can be good, because he wants to believe he is good. (Which you are, Sammy!)

They also told (and partially acted out) that time that they were shooting the scene when Dean trashed a motel room. When they had filmed the first part, they had to pick it up again and so everything had to be exactly the same for continuity. But a picture hanging on the wall had ended up straightened instead of crooked as it was supposed to have been. Jensen threw the first thing and it hit the picture and restored it to the exact angle of crookedness! Bam!

(Yes, he really is Batman…)

Jared: How funny would it have been if instead, you had just casually stopped and reached up and fixed it?

One of the best questions was about how they prepare for emotional scenes. They both agreed that they don’t have to delve into their own emotions anymore.

Jared: We’ve lived with these characters for so long that it’s just…

Jensen: (whispers to Jared) Instinctual.

Jared: Instinctual. We naturally get emotional.

They really do finish each other’s sentences, and it makes me smile all over again.

Jensen said they prepare differently too. Jared reads his script over and over, while Jensen goes into it more viscerally.

Jared added that plays into Sam’s and Dean’s personalities too, with Sam tending toward research and Dean more reacting.

Someone asked about Kim Manners, bless them, and Jensen said that he set them on the road to success, setting the tone for the entire show. Jared added that he really cared about others. Whenever they talk about Kim, it’s so clear how much he meant to them – and how much they miss him.

Jared also talked about something that I thought was very important – normalizing going to therapy and getting help when you need it. It’s one of the messages in ‘Family Don’t End With Blood’, including in the chapter that Jared wrote for the book. If we can’t talk openly about taking your kids to therapy to help them cope with Daddy being away a lot, we’re never going to have kids who grow up to be adults who know that’s an option when life throws crap in your way. I know some fans were critical of Jared sharing that, but that misses how important it is – especially when you’re a “celebrity”, and able to challenge the damaging norm of silence around mental health that’s so prevalent in this country. Talk about it – be proud of it! I give the Padaleckis a lot of credit for being proactive and making sure their kids feel loved and are able to express their feelings and be validated for them.

Jensen talked about teaching his children acceptance, saying that’s one of the most important lessons in their family.

Then it was back to laughter. Randomly, every time the baby in the audience made noise, Jared’s eyes went wide and somehow it was hysterical.

J2 also had a mock fight about the pronunciation of “gif”.

Jensen: Jif is peanut butter. Gif is on your phone.

Jared said the best thing about being a celebrity is being able to send gifs of yourself. He’s sent that L’oreal one (which is awesome) tons of times. Oh Jared, I love you.

All too soon, it was time for the last question and the boys said their goodbyes, with thanks.

After the boys, we were treated to another Ruth Connell panel. She gave out more bracelets for My Hope Chest, which helps women who want it have breast reconstruction after surgery.

Confronted with Ruth up close and personal, a fan exclaimed: You’re more beautiful than the boys!

Ruth: Have you seen Jensen Ackles?

Ruth told a story about being in an apartment and waking up unable to move or get out of bed (known as a hypnagogic hallucination btw or a night terror). She then found out the apartment was actually haunted, and her room was the most haunted of all.

Ruth: Am I turning into Chad Lindberg??

While we now know (happily) that Rowena will appear on Supernatural again, Ruth was asked about her reaction to Rowena’s death. She said it really impacted her, being offscreen and so violent, because real women were killed as witches.

On Rowena’s relationship with the Winchesters and Cas:

Ruth: She likes having someone who can play on her level. And she’s fascinated with Castiel.

Would Rowena be on Wayward Sisters?

Ruth (open-mouthed) YESSSSSS! I think she’s pretty f—king wayward!

Agreed.

Ruth also led us in a rousing chorus of “Ye Canne Shove Yer Granny Off The Bus” recorded for Tim Omundson as a get well message as he recovers from a stroke.

The day closed out with a Kings of Con panel, which was a perfect ending.

Rob: What should we talk about? Maybe what does Richard love about Rob?

Rich: First question?

They both were adorable pondering a detailed show question about why the angels were so powered down this season.

Rob: Rich…

Rich: Rob…

Lol

A fan asked if Rich and Rob’s relationship was as close as J2?

Rich: Nope. Not nearly as stable.

Awww, don’t believe him, Robbie!

They both reminded us to keep talking about Kings of Con, keep the buzz going – because we all want a season 2! Stay tuned to here for my chat with Rob Benedict about Kings of Con, Supernatural and Louden Swain coming up soon!

I ended the con with – you guessed it – more delicious New Orleans food and drink. And beignets and coffee at Café du Monde with my buds Liz and Kristen the next morning, where we found ourselves participants in an ESPN documentary. If you see us please ignore the powdered sugar I managed to get all over myself. Totally worth it though.

–Lynn

Read the powerful and personal chapters that
Jared, Jensen, Misha, Mark, Rob, Ruth, Gil
and many others wrote in Family Don’t End
With Blood – links on this page!

3 thoughts on “Supernatural in The Big Easy – Nolacon 2017!

  • Lynn, always enjoy your columns on the cons-almost like being there. My ability to get around has decreased so much that I doubt I will ever be able to attend another con so I kinda live vicariously through your columns and pictures. Keep up the good work.

  • I absolutely loved reading this, it’s such a great insight into your NOLA con experience, and your photos are amazing as always. I especially like your take on ‘the joke’, as I also feel it was taken out of context, and those being so critical of Jared – and Jensen to some degree – didn’t listen to the whole thing. I thought the fan cosplaying as Daphne was great, and I hope she hasn’t had too much hassle from asking ‘Daphne’s’ question. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

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