Supernatural star Jensen Ackles on playing Dean again in The Winchesters finale: 'It was a mixed bag'
Warning: This post contains spoilers from The Winchesters season 1 finale.
Once again, Dean Winchester saved the day.
In the season 1 finale of The Winchesters, Dean (Jensen Ackles) finally revealed (some of) who he was to John (Drake Rodger) and Mary (Meg Donnelly), with the big twist being that this show exists in an alternate reality to the one Supernatural fans lived in for 15 seasons. Dean explained that his decision to meddle in this world had everything to do with keeping the Akrida away from his world, where Sam (Jared Padalecki) is currently living out the rest of his days after losing his brother.
EW spoke with Ackles, who also serves as an executive producer on the series alongside his wife, Danneel Ackles, about what it was like to once again put on Dean's boots and finish out what hopefully isn't The Winchesters' last season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: If your return wasn't exciting enough, you guys also brought in Bobby (Jim Beaver) and Jack (Alexander Calvert), and it feels like you really managed to pull off that surprise.
JENSEN ACKLES: Yeah. People were like, "Are we gonna see more faces in the finale?" And I was like, "Of course you are, but I'm not telling you who." [Laughs] There's a treasure trove to choose from. And moving forward, God willing, there's been plenty of interest by folks that are deeply rooted in the Supernatural lore who were like, "Hey, why didn't I get a call?" I'm like, "Wait till season 2." Hopefully we can bring those familiar faces. We want to make the most entertaining show we can. That's what we set out to do in the beginning and what we hope to continue to accomplish.
Eliot Brasseaux/The CW Jensen Ackles on 'The Winchesters'
Let's talk the alternate universe twist, which is a great way to sidestep canon.
That's the thing. Everybody's like, "I can't believe you're gonna mess with the show's lore," and it's like, "Hang on, just trust us." And in fact, it plays right into it. You've got Bobby, you've got Jack, you've got the fact that Sam is still on Earth, and here's Dean, literally in heaven trying to do things to protect the life his brother's living. So it furthers the lore.
And then it opens the door to other characters, a different Sam and Dean, etc.
Right. It would've been a fool's errand to try and box ourselves in with what had been created on Supernatural. We would be boxed in by that. In order to get our two heroes together and make it make sense in that timeframe, it had to be messed with. And the only way to really mess with that was just to make it a completely separate, alternate thing, which luckily the mothership had established with Chuck [Rob Benedict] when he was like, "I've made multiverses, and you guys are my favorite." So we knew that there was still stuff out there. And then also to tether it to the fact that, oh, if this was a fail safe that Chuck created, how many other fail safes does he have?
Obviously you played Dean in the pilot, but you didn't have any dialogue. You've been doing the narration. But what was it like to really be back playing him again in this setting?
It was a mixed bag. It's weird because we're in a different city, filming with a different crew. I'm working with different actors. Having Jim there and having Calvert there, it was almost like we were brought in from another team to come and show these new recruits how to play baseball. [Laughs] Like we weren't on our home turf. But it was a position that we were all very comfortable with jumping into and, how could you not be with playing those characters as long as we all have? It was like Dean was on location.
You really threw fans for a loop with that turtleneck and peacoat look.
[Laughs] Kerry Weinrauch from Supernatural is our costume designer on The Winchesters. When Kerry and I started talking about, "Well, what's that gonna look like when Dean hands the letter to his dad?" I was like, "What if he tries to pass as a sailor or somebody that's in the Navy? People wouldn't bat an eye if they saw somebody that looked like he just got off a boat." I was like, "I don't know, maybe peacoat?" [Laughs] She's like, "Yeah, we can get you peacoat." And then she had a turtleneck and she was like, "I mean, if we're gonna do it, let's do it." [Laughs]
It was also Dean with facial hair!
Without giving away too much, I'm supposed to do another character, and I needed that kind of facial growth and that hair to stick around. I didn't know if I should cut all my hair off and shave my beard. And [showrunner] Robbie [Thompson] was like, "Well, then don't." I think they did a good enough job of making it look like I've been in heaven for a while. In fact, Jim Beaver actually added a line in that scene in the train station where he's like, "I'm gonna go get the cavalry." And, I think I say like, "What do you mean?" He's like, "Well, you know, we gotta get some help." And then just before he walks away, he goes, "Nice try with the beard though." I think we were just running long on time and we had to shave every little bit of stuff away, so unfortunately that that didn't make it. But we got to have a little fun.
I'm assuming that was your Baby?
Yeah, that was number one, Dean's original car. It was funny. As I arrived on set, they were doing the the car screeching to a halt, the shot of it coming through the portal. Our stunt driver is a local stunt guy there in Louisiana, Tyler, he's one of our assistant coordinators. I walked up and I stood by the monitors for one take and they all cut and I'm like, "That's it! Get out of my car!" [Laughs] Tyler's like, "Dude, I saw you over there and I got really nervous."
You also had to show up and deliver so much exposition in what was also a really emotional scene for Dean.
I know. And the funny thing is, for the last like six seasons [of Supernatural], we hired guest stars to come on and deliver the exposition. [Laughs] Jared and I didn't have to do any of that s---. And here I am coming in as a guest star and having to deliver like, the biggest piece of exposition the show has ever seen. I'm just thankful it was Robbie's writing. His writing just slides right off the tongue.
Safe to say you guys opened up so many potential stories with that ending!
I'm hoping. We're in such a weird time right now with the network kind of changing guard and not knowing quite what the new format's gonna be and how that's all gonna pan out. I know that everybody did everything they could to make the best show that they could. I know I'm really proud of it and everybody involved is really proud of it. Hopefully we land on our feet in some capacity, but I don't know what that's gonna look like.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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