'Supernatural' star Jensen Ackles on Dean Winchester's post-Purgatory mindset: 'He just spent a year in the trenches'

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spn-803-jensen-car.jpg "Supernatural" has never shied away from taking risks. We've seen the Winchesters on the set of "Supernatural," we've seen them as unwilling participants in a television pilot, we've seen them trapped in a multicam sitcom. This week's episode, "Bitten," is another one that strays outside the box: It's told mostly through "found footage" shot by a handful of college kids who, unbeknownst to the Winchesters, have caught Sam and Dean on tape.

It's one of the lighter episodes for Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, relying more on guest stars Leigh Parker, Brandon W. Jones, and Britni Sheridan for the bulk of the work.

"It was awesome," Jensen Ackles joked when Zap2it visited him on set this week. "We got some time off, got to enjoy our summer, it was brilliant. Make sure everybody writes in and says 'We want more found footage episodes.'"

It's definitely a new storytelling device for the show. "It's a very cool concept, and the way that they shot it, we had actors actually being the camera operators," Jensen says. "For lack of better reference, it's 'Cloverfield.'"

When we asked if it was akin to the "Ghostfacers" episode we saw in Season 3, executive producer Jeremy Carver said, "It feels more like your 'Paranormal Activity' or your 'Blair Witch,' which you could say are close cousins to 'Ghostfacers.'"

"This is from a completely different perspective," adds Jensen. "These are kids that just happened to catch these FBI guys investigating a story. ... It's really from an outsider's perspective as to the way Sam and Dean come into town and take over."

In the midst of major angst going on between the Winchester brothers, it might be refreshing to see things from a new perspective. In last week's episode, which Jensen directed, we saw things grow even more tense as Dean discovered that Sam plans to go back to school after their current hunt is over. There's been some conversation amongst fans as to whether Sam's actions after Dean went to Purgatory were justifiable or even in character, and we were curious to hear Jensen's take on the whole thing.

"Obviously, Dean has issues with him," he says. "We've already seen that. I think that he is almost kind of sloughing it off as 'I don't know why you did that. You're weird. You've always been weird to me; I've never fully understood you, but I'm back, so get your ass in gear. Let's do this s***."

supernatural-805-dean-vertical.jpgGiven the knowledge that Sam has no intention of sticking with him after they find the tablet and banish the demons, Dean is still stubbornly refusing to believe that Sam will follow through on ditching the life they've led for so long. "I think that he doesn't necessarily want to validate what Sam did by acknowledging it. ... Dean's a very healthy guy when it comes to emotions," Jensen jokes. "You've also got to remember that Dean has just spent, basically, a year in the trenches. He was off at war."

In his own way, Dean, too, is struggling to find his own footing in their old life. "There was reference to this a few seasons ago, but I don't think it was as spot on as it is now. In the movie 'The Hurt Locker' when Jeremy Renner's character is back stateside and he's like standing in a cereal aisle with a wall of choices of cereal, and he's standing there going 'This is not normal.' Because what was normal to him was mortar sounds and gunfire and being in the trenches and having to wake up every day wondering if you're going to live to go to sleep that night," Jensen recalls. "Dean has just basically come back from essentially, that. He was at war in Purgatory."

It looks like Dean will deal with the reality of Sam leaving only if Sam actually leaves.  "As of right now I think Dean is kind of sweeping it under the rug and not wanting to deal with the fact that his brother was a pansy for a year," Jensen laughs.

"Supernatural" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW. In the meantime, check out the first part of our video interview with Jensen below. He talks about about his process as an actor and as a director, and whether he's got plans to direct anything other than "Supernatural" in the near future.
Photo/Video credit: The CW