In honor of "Supernatural's" upcoming tenth season, The CW brought showrunner Jeremy Carver and stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki to the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour to reflect on the show's milestone anniversary and the future of the cult hit.
While stars Ackles and Padalecki conceded that they're not getting any younger when it comes to stunts -- "it has become more difficult, and we're by no means senior citizens right now; I'm 32 and Jensen's, what, 48?" Padalecki quipped -- neither has any desire to end the show, at least for the foreseeable future.
"I think we're all on the same page -- we still get excited about it. That hasn't tarnished in 10 years. I remember getting the season finale and I got all giddy about it; I was excited to see what happens in season ten," Ackles admitted. "As long as there's that fulfillment and excitement, we'll keep going with it."
Still, they don't see the show going on indefinitely. "If the show quality diminishes, if it ever reaches a spot where we get a phone call [from Jeremy]... 'we feel we've said what needs to be said...' [that's fine]," Padalecki said. "I truly do care deeply about this show and Sam Winchester -- I don't want him to be broken down and beaten down into something I end up not respecting... I think we know the show enough and know our characters enough to know: If there's an end coming, I think we'll all see it."
For now, though, Carver is confident in their trajectory heading into the tenth season. "There's so much story left to tell, which is remarkable given we're in season 129 already," he laughed.
As is the show's tradition, season nine ended with one hell of a cliffhanger -- quite literally, since Ackles' Dean was resurrected from the dead as a demon. "We'll see demons and angels, ghosts and werewolves, and demon Dean," Carver teased of the new season. "We'll be staying with demon Dean for more than one episode -- you'll probably be seeing a different side of demon Dean than you might expect, which we're all pretty excited about." In season ten, the series will also introduce a new character who is as interested in Dean's change in perspective as Sam and Crowley are. "While Sam is on the hunt for his brother, there's another mysterious character on the hunt that causes problems for the boys," Carver added. "[And] Castiel is very much in the picture, we come back with him where we left off; his grace is fading, he's in danger of dying if he doesn't figure out a way of dealing with it."
Ackles and Padalecki demonstrated their decade-long friendship on the panel, admitting that the secret to the show's success is in their camaraderie in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
"We have spent probably more time with each other than any other human on the planet over the last 10 years," Ackles noted. "He is a brother, on and off screen, and we'll forever have a friendship that's a lot different than most. It's been an amazing ride and I'm glad we're still trucking along."
Padalecki agreed, "I feel like I'd be doing a disservice if I tried to put into words what I've learned from Jensen and with Jensen; we've literally grown up together... it's hard to quantify with a few short sentences what that encompasses."
After the panel, Ackles continued to praise Padalecki in a smaller group interview with reporters: "I truly do get along with Jared as well as anyone could ever hope to get along with a coworker. That really makes for just a fun place to work. We laugh with our camera crew, with our sound guys, with electrics and grips and everybody, it's just one happy dysfunctional family. I think the fact that we have these relationships is probably the greatest thing that's happened to me since the start of the show."
Ackles was also effusive in praising co-stars Misha Collins (Castiel) and Mark Sheppard (Crowley), who are series regulars in season ten. "[Mark's] on as a contract player now, we've got Misha fully contracted now, and I couldn't be more excited. Personally I think it's something we probably could've done a couple years ago, because I think they're integral to the story and to the boys moving forward," he said. "It definitely is going to make for some interesting storylines and arcs this year, having them both available to us full time, not having to share Mark with another series or having to share Misha with something else. The fact that they're both on full time was welcome to us."
Ackles is also directing the third episode of season ten, which filmed first to allow the star to prepare for the added workload. "They bumped mine up to the front of the list to allow me to come back a little early from my hiatus, do the prep, do the shoot, and now we're starting our season premiere today -- they kindly wrote Jared and I out of the first day so that we could come and spend the day with you," he explained. "In preparing to direct the episode that I just directed, I went back and started picking up some episodes. I went all the way back to the pilot, watched a couple more in season one, season two, some of the big arc shows, the ones that move the mythology, the story along... I just wanted to get fired up again and it inspires me to go back and see how far we've come and what we've done."
Playing Dean as a demon while directing was a particular challenge, Ackles admitted. "I've only had one episode to do it, and it was an episode I was directing, so my mind was a little scattered, but luckily I was overly prepared as a director so I was able to concentrate on the performance of demon Dean. It was fun for this episode, but the next two, I believe, are going to be even more entertaining."
On the panel, Carver discussed a potential ending for the show at some point down the line. "I know that Eric Kripke always had an ending in mind -- which he hasn't yet shared with me -- and I have an image and the like, but I always want to keep room for happy accidents as well," he said. "The show is continuing on beyond any of our wildest dreams, so I don't think we want to limit ourselves. Just because I have the perfect image in my head, doesn't mean one of these guys couldn't come up with something okay. I think we have images in our heads but our minds are wild."
Following the panel, Ackles agreed, "The end is -- like Jeremy said -- it's still up in the air. They have an idea, I have some ideas. I have dreams about the way the show is going to end, so I try to log all that and keep it contained, because I don't want to have any expectations just yet. I still get wowed when I read these guys' scripts. I still get excited, I still get inspired, and I never want that to change."
"Supernatural" season ten premieres Tues., Oct. 7 at 9 p.m.
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