'Supernatural's' Jensen Ackles at PaleyFest: Is Dean's happy ending Butch and Sundance or Thelma and Louise?
Zap2it caught up with Jensen Ackles behind the scenes to talk about what's to come for the final stretch of Season 6 -- but before we got the dish on future episodes, we wanted to get Ackles' reaction to the much-buzzed about meta episode, "The French Mistake," in which Sam ( Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Ackles) suddenly found themselves living in the real world, in which they're better known as Jared and Jensen.
Ackles knew it was a groundbreaking episode when, for the first time, the writers decided to run an idea by the actors before breaking the story. "For the first time ever we had a conference call up in the studio at 'Supernatural,' and we had [Eric] Kripke on the phone, Sera [Gamble], we had Bob [Singer], and we sat around the table, Jared and I, and they literally pitched us the idea, which was the first time in 127 episodes," he says.
The pitch was met with some hesitation. "I gotta be honest, at first I was like 'You wanna what? Oh, I don't know,'" he says, grimacing. "Just because that was really whipping the veil back. But when they said 'Listen, you will never have to play Jensen,' I was like okay, that's good, because I'm not interesting. But the fact that I got to play Dean was fun."
One of our favorite parts of the meta madness was when Sam discovered some video clips of Ackles' previous work. An actual snippet of Ackles' work on "Days of Our Lives" (YouTube it, kids, you'll be forever changed) was featured in the scene.
"I didn't even recognize myself when I saw that," Ackles laughs. "I was like 'Is that... no!' They had it on set when we filmed that scene." He's not embarrassed by his soapy roots, though -- nor should he be! "Hey, I'm here as a result of everything that I've done prior to this moment, so I don't regret it."
"The French Mistake" was a good laugh, but as we saw from the subsequent episode, "...And Then There Were None," the tone of the show will be darker as we approach the Season 6 finale. In one highly anticipated upcoming episode, Sam and Dean travel back in time to retrieve the legendary Colt - way back in time.
We asked Ackles if getting to head back to the Old West was the fulfillment of a dream for himself and Padalecki. "Absolutely. For a couple of Texas guys? I sent my father a photo of me in my western getup, and he just simply wrote back in a text message, 'Well, you've been rehearsing for that scene since you were six!"
Ackles and Padalecki head back to Vancouver to continue working on episode 6x21, which is a Dean-centric episode. "Twenty-one I know is going to be a big one for me. Twenty-two is a big one for Jared's character. The stakes are raised, the emotions are high."
Aren't they always? Last season's finale, "Swan Song," was one of our favorite "Supernatural" episodes ever, tying in the brothers' history with each other and the war between heaven and hell.
"I don't know that we can outdo that," Ackles says. "That's Kripke's 5-year plan, and he stuck to it, and I give him kudos for that. This will be a little different, but it'll still be tough." He's referring to the physical and emotional toll that those last few episodes always take on the actors. "Jared and I have done 21 episodes - it's like running a marathon all season, and then at the very end they ask you to sprint the last two miles. It's exhausting. But at the end it has a good payoff."
We're all hoping for a Season 7, and as far as ratings go, chances are good that The CW will bring "Supernatural" back for another ride down the highway. We can't help but wonder when the show does finally end, hopefully many years from now, how Sam and Dean will fare. We asked Ackles what he envisions as a happy ending for Dean.
"Probably a Thai massage parlor?" he jokes. "No, I'm just kidding. Eric's gonna write that in now, I know he is. I think it'd be [Dean] and his brother kind of taking off in the Impala and having things back to Season 1, just doing what they do best and just doing it until they can't do it anymore. Souls intact, everything intact, going out guns blazing." He pauses. "Maybe it's a Butch Cassidy and Sundance thing, maybe it's Thelma and Louise. Who knows."
If you're not familiar with "Thelma & Louise," you should be -- but basically, the movie ends with the two friends driving their car off a cliff into the Grand Canyon. Ouch.
After the interview, Ackles came back to add: "Actually - no Thelma and Louise. We have to save the Impala. The Impala can't be damaged in Dean's happy ending."
Watch the video below of our interview and stay tuned to Zap2it for tons more "Supernatural" scoop from the PaleyFest event! Meanwhile, don't forget to leave a comment. What do you think about Ackles' idea of Dean's ultimate happy ending? Did you dig the meta episode? Sound off!