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A full house of Supernatural’s famously rabid and enthusiastic fans packed Saban Theater on Sunday afternoon as the show’s creative team and stars answered questions from moderator and AOL’s TV critic Maureen Ryan.
The PaleyFest panel was marked both by fun banter and anecdotes from the panelists and by serious talk about the show’s epic myth-arc.
The event kicked off with a scene from the show’s anticipated upcoming Western-themed episode and an extended compilation of bloopers from the recent meta episode, “The French Mistake” — which arguably went beyond breaking the fourth wall and broke some kind of fifth mirror, so to speak.
Stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were on hand to discuss the CW drama at the panel session, which began with an extended discussion about “The French Mistake.” “It was the first time ever we had gotten called into the conference room to literally listen to the pitch of the idea,” Ackles revealed.
“We were like, ‘I love the idea, but can we not play Jared and Jensen?,’ ” Padalecki said to a full house. “Yeah, that was the biggest concern I had, because I was like, ‘I’m not interesting,’ ” Ackles continued. “He’s not,” Jared joked, provoking expressions of mock offense by his co-star.
Ben Edlund, who penned “The French Mistake,” spoke of creator Eric Kripke’s idea to bring Jared and Jensen in as characters: “That was such a great, mind-breaking, nightmare thought; I was immediately on board.” (Kripke revealed to THR on the carpet that The Sandman TV series was currently “not in the works.”)
Executive producer and showrunner Sera Gamble noted, “I don’t know where you go beyond this though,” to which Kripke quipped, “This is an episode right now!”
With the Season 6 finale more than two months away, there was plenty more the panel revealed as the panelists looked forward to upcoming episodes and back though the past six seasons of the CW’s horror staple.
Here are 15 things we learned on Sunday:
1. Ben Edlund’s a director! The beloved writer and producer has also taken on the role of director on Supernatural, as he helmed the upcoming episode “The Man Who Would Be King,” which he also wrote. “The episode is actually very emotional,” Edlund revealed. “To me, it’s the fruition of some serious relationships.” Actor Misha Collins said of the Castiel-centric hour, “One thing that’s a lot of fun about having somebody like Ben up there directing is you have a director who knows the whole arch of characters and connections and can really talk to you about what’s going on with your character. A lot of times directors are more like guest stars.”
2. Jim Beaver was cast because of another beloved actor’s scheduling conflict. The oft-asked question, “Where’s Missouri Moseley been?,” prompted a surprise anecdote about casting Bobby Singer that was news even to Jim Beaver. Kripke revealed that it was Missouri’s – not Bobby’s – house the boys were supposed to go to in the Season 1 finale. When Loretta Devine was cast in a movie, she couldn’t commit to returning to Supernatural. Kripke started thinking, “Let’s see what a male looks like in that role,” and the father figure Bobby was born.
3. Misha Collins regrets giving Castiel a deep voice. When Collins joined the show in the Season 4 premiere, he felt pressure to live up to Castiel’s introduction as an ear-splitting voice that can break windows and explode TV sets. “And so I, incontinent guest star that I am, thought, ‘Oh I’m gonna do this really gravelly, kick-ass, window-breaking voice,’” Collins said. “And I am maybe running into medical problems. It’s been brutal on my voice. So yeah, I regret that.”
4. Soulless Sam was Robert Singer’s idea. “When Bob pitched Sam coming back from hell without his soul, that was really helpful,” Gamble said of first developing Season 6 with executive producer Robert Singer. She explained that bringing Sam back without a soul and having Dean settle down with Lisa and Ben for a year was “certainly a weird, uncomfortable place to put both of them to start with, and when you do that to characters, it’s like pulling a rubber band back. You get a lot of sling-shot.”
5. Padalecki relishes playing soulless Sam. Reminding the crowd that he loves exploring the darker side of Sam, he said, “I do miss soulless Sam. I really, really enjoy playing soulless Sam. I’ve not been shy about saying I enjoy playing the darker Sam.”
6. But Ackles is relieved the old Sam has returned. Ackles revealed the challenges of acting opposite Padalecki’s soulless Sam: “It was difficult to build a relationship with not only the actor but the character for five years and then to have that relationship severed but then still have to work with that person. … I just didn’t have those tools to use any more that I’d had for the past five years, so I was very pleased when I read the episode when he got his soul back.”
7. Kripke wanted Beaver’s character to be named Bobby Manners. Kripke originally gave Bobby the last name of not executive producer Singer but of the late producer Kim Manners. He wanted to name the Winchesters’ surrogate father after “the two people who were really my father figures, Bob and Kim,” he said. But when the show’s legal department pointed out that there is a real Bobby Manners who lives in South Dakota, Kripke lent the character Singer’s full name. “And Bob, to his eternal chagrin, wasn’t in that day,” Kripke revealed smugly.
8. The writers still haven’t dashed hopes for the amulet’s return. Fans can’t count on seeing Dean’s amulet anytime soon, but the writers haven’t completely ruled out the possibility that it’ll be back. Kripke said during the event, “Currently there are no plans to return it.” Gamble told THR on the red carpet before the panel, “We play so fast and loose with realities on the show that there might be some reason we bring it back, but not before the end of the season.” (Actually, if fans want to see the amulet prop, they can find it on the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour in the costume museum.) Kripke could be counted on to turn the fans’ mourning for Dean’s trashed amulet into an opportunity for laughs, joking about “contract negotiations with the amulet. … That amulet is a diva. It’s actually doing a guest stint on One Tree Hill. We wish it well.”
9. There’s no limit to oddities on Supernatural. While discussing “The French Mistake,” Ryan asked where the lines are that signal if the show has gone too far. Ackles answered, “I don’t know that there are lines. I thought there was until I was standing in ski boots on a Japanese game show. And then I realized that there’s no lines,” referencing fan-favorite Season 5 episode “Changing Channels.”
10. Don’t trust a demon. Gamble warned, “At the end of the day, they’re charming and enjoyable and they can have their moments helping you, but I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to pull off [a supposedly good demon] to the extent we did with Ruby again.”
11. The writers love their weird mix of interests. Kripke revealed his love for the Supernatural writers room is largely due to their conversations that have “an amazing mix of high culture and low. … In the same breath, we’ll talk about the true nature of a soul, and we’ll segue right to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then go right from there to pornography and French philosophy, and then ‘Remember the movie My Bodyguard?’ … We’re real well-read people, but at the same time, nothing’s cooler than Evil Dead II.”
12. [spoiler alert!] “You will meet an angel named Rachel who is Castiel’s trusted lieutenant. We’re sort of opening that story more about the civil war,” Gamble told fans.
13. [spoiler alert!] The season’s end will prove that Death’s “call it 75 percent” wasn’t enough. Padalecki told THR this: “The wall does break down. I’m really excited about that. I love playing deep dark Sam, so I love that we’re gonna finally see the wall break.”
14. The end of Season 6 will bring answers, but a cliffhanger too. Kripke said during the panel that the last two episodes of the season – penned by Gamble and Kripke, respectfully – have “so many mythology threads we need to tie up.” He told THR on press line: “It ends on a cliffhanger, so fans should prepare to pull their hair out all summer, cause we leave all our characters in the worst possible situation and then fade to black and ‘Hey, see you in September!’ ”
15. There is a coda for the show. The Season 5 finale may have covered a lot from Kripke’s originally-intended five season-series arc, but the creator enticed fans with this mysterious tidbit about the show’s ultimate fate: “There’s a very specific coda that we had in mind at what point all the characters end up, and we didn’t use that [in the Season 5 finale]. We didn’t go near that.” Gamble joked that “it’s locked in a safe,” before Kripke interjected with an Inception reference to conclude the event, “and if you open it, there’s nothing in there but a spinning top!”
The show returns April 15 with “My Heart Will Go On” and airs at 9 p.m. on the CW.
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