Interview with Jensen Ackles, Danneel Ackles, Drake Rodger, Meg Donnelly, JoJo Fleites, Bianca Kajlich, Demetria McKinney, Nida Khurshid and Robbie Thompson of “The Winchesters” on The CW by Suzanne 10/4/22
This was a very interesting panel. I loved “Supernatural,” and I enjoyed the first episodes of this new spinoff, which is a prequel. I was very happy to see Jensen Ackles there on the panel. You don’t want to miss the new shows, especially if you’re a fan of the original show. This was a very long panel, and I didn’t get to ask a question. That’s fine…it was great just to be there. Note: The transcript is from the network…it has mistakes in it.
THE CW NETWORK
Robbie Thompson (Exec. Producer), Jensen Ackles (Star/Exec. Producer), Danneel Ackles (Exec. Producer), Meg Donnelly “Mary Campbell,” Drake Rodger “John Winchester,” Bianca Kajlich “Millie Winchester,” JoJo Fleites “Carlos,” Demetria McKinney “Ada Monroe,” Nida Khurshid “Latika”
HOST: Good afternoon and welcome to The CW’s virtual panel for The Winchesters, a prequel of the hugely successful show Supernatural. Before Sam and Dean, there were their parents, John and Mary. Told from the perspective of narrator Dean Winchester, The Winchesters is the epic, untold love story of how John Winchester met Mary Campbell and put it all on the line to, not only save their love, but the entire world. The hunt begins on Tuesday, October 11 at 8pm.
HOST: Please welcome executive producer and star, Jensen Ackles, Executive Producer Danneel Ackles, and executive producer Robbie Thompson and the cast of The Winchesters. We’re so excited to have you all with us, thank you so much. As a reminder to the press, if you would like to ask a question, please click the “raise your hand button” and we’ll put you in the queue and call on you when it’s your turn. If you have a two-part question or a follow-up, please let us know at the top of the question. Also, as a reminder, please, no photography or screen grabs or sharing of anything from this event on social media.
Question: Thank you. Hi, everybody. Ado-, it was sort of a two-part question. After 15 seasons of Supernatural, how did the decision for a prequel come about? And we know that Supernatural spinoffs has been in the talks for quite some time now. What made this one stick? So, two-part question, please. Thank you.
JENSEN ACKLES: I’ll dive in. This was a, obviously something that, that, like you said, has been long talked about, how to expand this world, what that would look like, how it would be done. There have been two, two attempts prior to this one that, that, unfortunately didn’t, didn’t make the cut, but here we are. We’re very excited, I guess, third time’s a charm. And it really came about as the show was wrapping up and the pandemic hit, and my lovely wife and I were forced to sit together and figure out how to be creative within the confines of our house, we started kicking around ideas and this one was, was one that we talked about for quite a while. And, and then we really kind of workshopped it and, and thought about how, what this would look like.
And, and that’s when we, we kind of threw it to the studio and, and threw it to the network and said, “Hey, what do you guys think about this?” And they were very quickly interested. Obviously, they, want to expand this world. And so, so that’s when we’re like, Well, I know the guy to write it, so let me call him and make sure that he’s even available or even interested. And luckily he was, and, and here he is today, and he has created an, I think, an incredible world within the world, and that’s not an easy thing to do, and I think Robbie’s just crushed it. And I think that the cast that we have has just absolutely crushed it.
Uh, so it’s, it’s, it’s exciting. It’s very exciting to, to see this. I was not ever ready to kind of put this to bed. I was ready to take a break, but I was never ready to put this world to bed. And so I’m very, very happy that it is it is extending and it is in the very capable hands of the wonderful people you see before you.
Question: Hi, My question’s for Meg. Does fight choreography have a lot of parallels to dance choreography? What are the big similarities and differences?
Question: Well, yes. I think there is definitely a lot of similarities. It’s been really hard, though, because with stunt choreography, it doesn’t have to look really pretty and put together because, you know, you’re technically beating someone up. So there is that, like, memorization wise, it is very similar, but it’s been really hard to get out of the whole dancing technique, if that makes sense. Yeah.
DEMETRIA MCKINNEY: While we have this moment, thank you so much, CW, for allowing us to have this opportunity, share this story, extend the story, build the family, find the beginning, and we’re, we’re really enjoying it. Thank you.
DRAKE RODGER: Took the words right outta my mouth.
DEMETRIA MCKINNEY: You would not say that.
DANNEEL ACKLES: What a professional.
Question: I’m sorry, Meg, I have a two-part question for you. Meg, how important was it for you, this role to be so different from everything else we’ve known you before, that we’ve known you for? And secondly, has there been discussion as how, how soon pregnancy will come into this character’s life?
MEG DONNELLY: Oh, um…
DEMETRIA MCKINNEY: Oh my God!
MEG DONNELLY: Well, I mean, knowing the story of John and Mary, it does happen eventually. I have no idea.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: Uh, that’s a spoiler for season question mark. I can’t tell you that yet.
MEG DONNELLY: Um, but, you know, I’m so grateful for everything that Disney has given me. But, you know, coming into this new franchise and these amazing new characters, and it’s so dark, it’s been a really amazing honor to kind of step into Mary’s shoes and, and it’s very different from everything I’ve ever done. So I’m really grateful.
Question: This is for Robbie and the Ackles. So, a spinoff of Supernatural was very important to Pedowitz. And I’m curious how yesterday’s announcement landed with you. Did you panic? And how are you feeling about your future?
ROBBIE THOMPSON: Look Marc is one of the greatest champions of, just television of the last, I don’t know how many years, and was an enormous champion of Supernatural. Um, and we, we had a note on the pilot. I don’t know if you guys remember, it was so granular like, I thought I was at a supernatural convention. When I say he watched every episode, he watched every cut. And as a writer, that’s an executive you dream about, because he’s fully invested in the show. So, honestly, all I thought about yesterday was, what a privilege I’ve had as a writer to spend a huge part of my career working with such an, a dedicated and smart leader. So, yeah, it was no panic. It was more just feeling of gratitude.
JENSEN ACKLES: Yeah. I’ll, I’ll echo what Robbie said there. You know, Pedowitz came in, the show was already established, and he really…it was, I mean, it was kind of [LAUGHS] it was kind of put, it had been put on Friday nights to kind of go away and die. We somehow found a way to survive. He came in, he recognized it, and he said, “Well, let’s move these guys to some better real estate.” And, and when we did, we quickly took off. And he was always a champion for the show. He continues to be a champion for this show and for everything that we do. You know, Jared and I used to always like to refer to him as the other Winchester brother. I think that, that he will certainly continue to champion the show from wherever he wants to. But I’m just so thankful for what he did, not only for the network itself, but for, for this this world specifically. He’s a true mentor of mine.
Question: Okay. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Um, this is for any of the producers. I’m wondering, when the show was first, you know, the idea came up, the show was pitched you form, you know, started formulating how, what you wanted to do, what stories you wanted to tell. Is it a situation where you have, you know, Season 1 planned, or is it something where you kind of look ahead and think, you know, I have, this is what I want to do in Season 2, Season 3. I mean, you know, Supernatural ran for 15 seasons, there’s obviously an audience for this, and I think, you know, there’ll be an audience again. So are you prepared for another 15 years? And I’m wondering how many episodes were ordered for the first season?
ROBBIE THOMPSON: I think our initial order is for 13, if that’s, I’m sure someone from Warners and CW here will correct me on that. But to answer your question, you know, at the end of every playback, I’ll go, Okay, that was great, guys, 326 more to go. You know, we, we would love to see this go, you know, the distance. You know, as, as, as writers and then as producers, we want to give ourselves flexibility so that we can be nimble as things change and adapt and, you know, getting to know… you guys are seeing them on best behavior right now. These kids are [OVERLAPPING] We have the anti-chemistry problem that most shows have, which is like, usually like, come on guys, like, get together and like, maybe get to know one another.
Like I, during the shooting of the pilot, it was the closest I’ve been to being in a dorm room in 20, 25 years of my life. (You’re not wrong) It was amazing. So we wanna give ourselves the freedom to, to be able to pivot where we need to pivot. Um, someone asked about pregnancy in case we want to get to that sooner rather than later. Um, but, you know, we, we do have a plan and, and we’ve talked I mean, I’ve heard, individually from all of these, you know, where these actors, where they would like to see their characters go. And I, I try to, to keep this, to be as open a collaboration as possible. Uh, Jensen and Danneel and I talked about an ending, oh gosh, it’s in two years we’ve been working on this almost. And then just completely organically, Drake pitched a, a very, very similar ending. So it was, it was, it was really cool to see how we were all kind of on the same page. Yeah. This guy, Yeah, go on, get him. He’s super shy, guys. They’re all super shy. If you start playing music, they will all start singing and or dancing.
Um, no, we, you know, it was exciting because it’s a similar feeling that you get in the writer’s room where it’s like, Oh, we’re all kind of headed in the same direction. The, the analogy I was always given as a young writer was, it’s this, this show is a road trip, and, you know, our destination was go from LA to New Orleans. We may stop in Austin and spend two weeks. We may get there and say, actually, you know what, we wanna spend two years there. Um, we always know where we want to get to, though. Um, and I hope, I hope we get the chance to go, to go the distance.
Question: Hi. So, with 15 seasons of Supernatural, a lot of characters came and went throughout the years, some of whom would’ve been alive in the 1970s. Are there any plans for us to see any of them? Like Bobby Singer, perhaps?
ROBBIE THOMPSON: Um, 100% yes. I don’t think I can spoil exactly who, but we have some very familiar faces that are gonna be coming up in an episode we’re gonna shoot in a couple of days. Uh, and then some more after that, and then some more that I can’t even reveal. Uh, hopefully someone that’s on the Zoom as well, at a certain point [LAUGHS] I’m looking at you, Ackles. Um so yeah, we, we, we have plans for that. And we also have plans you know, not just to bring back some of our familiar faces, but as you’re pointing out, younger versions of the characters that maybe we haven’t, we haven’t seen yet.
Question: Hi. Thanks for talking to us. My question is sort of in that vein, it’s for the producers. Is there anything that you did kind of to purposely, I guess, separate the way this is from the original as the show goes on? Or is it more gonna just feel like we’re in the same world we were before for the fans?
ROBBIE THOMPSON: That’s a, that’s a great question, and it was the first question I had when I talked to, to Danneel and to Jensen. They had this idea about the love story between John and Mary. And I think the extent of those first conversations were a lot of, Okay, how do we do this, and not undo anything, and not rewrite or, or anything like that. It was a bit like what is the expression, “physician do no harm.” You know, we don’t, we can’t recreate Supernatural. You can’t, like, there’s lightning in a bottle time many different… to Jensen, Jared, Kim Manners, Eric Kripke, everybody. We had to find a way to kind of carve our own path. We do have a plan for that. We’re not gonna totally reveal all of it today. But our plan is to sort of pull that curtain back in our 13th episode.
And to the point that you’re that you’re raising, which is how do we differentiate ourselves. It’s always the challenge in a show like this, you know, we used Better Call Saul a lot as a sort of creative North Star, which is, that’s a show that obviously predates the events of Breaking Bad, but it, it exists in its own, in its own little bubble, in its own little universe. You can watch Breaking Bad, and in fact, it’s insane to me, but I know a lot of people who have never actually seen Breaking Bad. Because we are a show that deals with the supernatural and paranormal, we have a few more tricks up our sleeves that we can kind of take advantage of. And we’ll be hinting at that throughout the season, and then really pulling it all back in Episode 13 to, to really let the audience in on, on, on what we’ve done.
JENSEN ACKLES: No, nope. Robbie, Robbie’s got all the, he’s got it all upstairs. And, and you just, I just hope that he’s somehow able to, you know, file it properly. That’s it. Just like the old school Dewey Decimal system up there. That’s, that’s what we got.
NIDA KHURSHID: I see what you did there.
JENSEN ACKLES: No, I got, I got the same thing in my head too, so it’s fine.
NIDA KHURSHID: Yeah, you know, same person, right?
JENSEN ACKLES: No, not at all.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: I’m just excited to finally meet Jensen. This is amazing. It’s been, this is the closest we’ve been. I, I, this, this is thrilling for me.
HOST: Up next, we have Damian Holbrook, followed by Vlada Gelman.
Question: Hey there. Um, so this is for Danneel. Hello. Danneel, so while you’re stuck in COVID in a lockdown with Jensen, and you guys are formulating this idea, having been part of the world, did you find yourself having to remind him of certain things that the show could touch on throughout the 15 seasons of Supernatural? And also for both of you, being actors as well, how involved in casting these people were you?
DEMETRIA MCKINNEY: Oh, this is interesting. We all wanna know this one.
DANNEEL ACKLES: Okay, I… no, because Jensen is actually really, really good at remembering every single detail about Supernatural. He, You are, you’re really, really good. I mean, you can, you can pick a scene. You can, if I, if I give you a scene, you can tell me exactly what year, what episode, what you were doing, where you were living, all of that. You…
JENSEN ACKLES: I don’t need people to know that about me. I don’t…
DANNEEL ACKLES: We, remember one time we thought about doing a game show, Supernatural game show, like quiz thing. You would’ve, you would’ve nailed that. Um, but to the casting question, yes, we were very involved in casting, and we had a lot of fun. Jensen and I and Robbie had a blast casting. And everyone that’s sitting before you, we have a really special story about, I think. Drake, we saw you day one, and that was it. I like, you know, I had like all these pictures up. I was like, I had you up there. And I was like, “Yep, it’s him. That’s him, for sure.” So…
ROBBIE THOMPSON: She still has those pictures up too.
JENSEN ACKLES: Yeah, those pictures are still there, which is just odd. Um…
DANNEEL ACKLES: We cast… but we did, we started looking for, for you first, I think that was the first role, right?
ROBBIE THOMPSON: It was, it was very clear. Yeah. Uh, we had a text chain and it was, it was very clear. There was a lot of hydration in that, that, that I think the second [OVERLAPPING] he drinks a lot of water. He stays hydrated. Uh, there may or may not have been, can I tell this story? [OVERLAPPING] Okay. There may or may not have been a beer at one point as well, which was, I mean, I wasn’t expecting him to go full method, but I, I thought it was a commitment, you know, to the bit. Um, but just to touch back for a second, and then we can talk about casting, but Danneel is being very, very humble here. One of the great things is, these two have the story of Supernatural in their brain. But there’s also, like, you know, Jensen lived it for, I think he’s still living it. I think those are actually Dean Winchester’s clothes that he’s wearing right now, guys. I wish I was kidding, but he hasn’t taken them off.
And I, obviously worked on the show for five years. But we need, you need something in that sort of like, balance for someone to be able to have, you know, a fresh set of eyes who knows it, but didn’t, like, wasn’t like, it wasn’t like obsessed, you know, that level… By the way, that was, that was our ghost that was in our stage by the way. I don’t know if you guys noticed that. That was amazing. Um, but it was really invaluable. And, you know, they have a partner that they’ve worked with, with their company Renee Reef as well.
And it was really great to kind of almost have like a balance there, of, of people who were giving the, the, the story its due, again to the point of finding new viewers. So I’m, I’m grateful to, to both of them, you know, for that, because it was really integral to, to the, the development of it.
JENSEN ACKLES: There was also…
ROBBIE THOMPSON: We cast, we cast all these wonderful human beings on a, on a hilarious text chain, which I will delete from the internet forever.
DANNEEL ACKLES: Oh, yes. God!
JENSEN ACKLES: Yeah, we can’t have, we can’t have that out there. Uh, Damien, I, I’ll add one more thing to uh, about Danneel is, you know, she didn’t, obviously wasn’t as close to, to Supernatural as, as I was. Um, but what she, she embodies, and I’m convinced that she is, that she was born in the wrong era, because I, I feel like she ha- she continues to embody the sixties and seventies. Um, so when that was the idea, she kind of dove in and, and took control of the steering wheel. And I was like, Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait…. I, I, I know a thing or two. Um, and…
ROBBIE THOMPSON: First email I remember early on was you sent a playlist. Danneel put together a playlist. (Oh yeah) And the first song is the first song in the pilot.
JENSEN ACKLES: That’s right.
NIDA KHURSHID: That’s dope.
DANNEEL ACKLES: I was like, we have to set this to music. We have to, you know, we have to cast it to music, everything. And I love that you were into that. That was really fun. Well, your wife’s a DJ too, right? Wasn’t she a big DJ?
ROBBIE THOMPSON: My wife, my wife was a DJ, that’s right. Yeah, she was.
DANNEEL ACKLES: His wife is super cool.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: She also dressed me today.
Question: Hi everyone. Thank you so much for doing this. Uh, so sort of also on the casting note, Jensen, on Supernatural, you worked with every version of Mary and John, played by Jeffrey, Samantha, Amy, Matt. So what was it about Drake and Meg that kind of evoked the spirit of those characters and those performances?
JENSEN ACKLES: Um, great question. I, you know, obviously there’s a…
DRAKE RODGER: Where do you wanna start?
JENSEN ACKLES: Obviously there’s a version of, of these characters that lives very um, very prominently in, in my head. Um, you know, and when, when we were going through the casting process, Drake really jumped off very quickly as somebody that almost seemed like a hybrid of Dean and Sam, not necessarily a replica of, a previous John Winchester. So that was really interesting to, to all of us was just the because this isn’t, this is, this is pre John turning into the person that we really knew and, and obviously the, that Jeffrey Morgan played. Um, this is pre that. So there was a kind of an innocence, a youthfulness and a thirst for life that Drake brought to this character that was really unique and, and refreshing.
But it also just, it, it reminded me of somebody that could very easily be the father of those two brothers. Um, and then with, with Meg, she’s just such a pro that any kind of like subtle thing that we said, “Oh, what if you tried this? Or what if you tried that?” she just knocked it out every time. And it, it was, there was a, there was a look and there was a, a confidence. And there, there…
DANNEEL ACKLES: Look at her!
JENSEN ACKLES: I mean, Yeah, I mean, look at her. How do you, how do you, not just…
DANNEEL ACKLES: Well, Jensen, to be fair, to be fair, we, we knew Meg very well, because Meg’s movies played in our house every day for like years. Well, every day through COVID, we watched her sing and dance. And we were…
BIANCA KAJLICH: Do you have a chicken named after Meg? (No!) Cause we do.
JENSEN ACKLES: Well, Bianca, Challenge accepted. Yes, Danneel’s right. We, we were very familiar with, with Megan her work. Um I, I am probably shouldn’t say this, but I could probably sing just about any song that she sang.
DANNEEL ACKLES: Not probably, not probably. He can definitely do it.
DEMETRIA MCKINNEY: [INAUDIBLE]
JENSEN ACKLES: Don’t test me. Cause it’ll, I’ll never live it down. Um, so yeah, Meg was Meg was certainly, um somebody who just, she exuded something that we were all very interested in immediately. And she, yeah, there was, there was really no question… she’s, she’s so strong and she’s, and she has this this fantastic, It almost, it, to me, it reminded me kind of, kind of going back to what I said about Drake. Was there was almost a Dean-esque quality to the way that she was playing Mary, which I felt the role really needed. And, and she was really the only one that was bringing that. And, and it just kind of caught us all. It caught all of our attention. So that was yeah, it was, it was easy. We didn’t have to do too much convincing.
DANNEEL ACKLES: But every, everybody on that stage was a first choice. It, it’s kind of, and I know that doesn’t happen very often, but like, everybody was exactly who we wanted, you know, And we found out through casting that you don’t always get what you want, but we did.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: And to just touch on what Danneel said, she’s absolutely right. Like, and it’s a huge credit to Robert Ulrich and his team. (Yes) They put forth a murderer’s row of a lot of young talent. And then when we found the, the, this crew, this, this motley crew… it was amazing. Uh, and, and, and just to touch on what Jensen was talking about, it’s true what he’s saying about the, the, the Sam and Dean that you kind of see in both of them. And it was really apparent in their chemistry read, which I hope we can put on the DVD for, for hilarious reasons. [OVERLAPPING] We, we would a, we would actually say, “Hey guys, give us a second.”
And we would pause, but they would keep talking, not knowing that we were still watching. And there’s some adorableness in there that hopefully the rest of the world can see at some point. It was clear that these were, this was, this was Mary and this is John.
JENSEN ACKLES: I think that’s when, that’s when Beergate happened, wasn’t it?
DRAKE RODGER: That’s when Beergate happened. That’s also when she asked me out on a date.
MEG DONNELLY: I did not.
JENSEN ACKLES: That’s true, that’s true.
DANNEEL ACKLES: Yes, you, you definitely asked him to (OVERLAPPING) see Times Square with you.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: You asked someone out on the date, and I’m pretty sure it was him.
MEG DONNELLY: I just said like, like, we should go to New York sometime if we…
JENSEN ACKLES: That’s a date!
ROBBIE THOMPSON: Like you do.
NIDA KHURSHID: Casual.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: Let’s meet in Paris. It’ll be fun.
MEG DONNELLY: [INAUDIBLE] so it worked.
Question: Hi everyone, It’s Xandra Harbet. Thank you so much for sitting down and doing this in the show is so amazing. This is a two-parter. So, Danneel and Jensen, you’ve worked with each other a few times over the years, often in an acting capacity. What has your working dynamic been like on the production side of The Winchesters? And what were some of the core things that you wanted to hit on, and what were some of the things you wanted to avoid while developing the series? Especially given the passionate, supernatural fan base that’s already in place?
JENSEN ACKLES: M’lady…
DANNEEL ACKLES: Well, I, for one, loved working with you. Jensen, Jensen and I, Yes, no, we have a really good working dynamic. I do the work and Jensen watches. Yea, and he’s, yeah… no. It was, it was, it was fun. We do well together.
JENSEN ACKLES: I would say that the, the producing aspect has been a little different than from what acting with her. I mean, acting with her is, is she’s, she’s great, but we’re playing different characters in front of each other. So, so that’s a little different than, than producing when we’re just being ourselves and trying to get things done. It feels a little bit more like…
DANNEEL ACKLES: It’s a lot less polite.
JENSEN ACKLES: Well, it’s more like, it’s more like our marriage where, yeah, like she said, Danneel handles everything and I just stand on the sidelines going, “Let me know what I can do.” (Yeah) And try not to get in the way.
XANDRA: And what were some of the core things you wanted to hit on and avoid?
JENSEN ACKLES: Well, certainly trying to recapture that heart that I feel Supernatural really had. You know, at the end of the day, the show was about the relationship between these two brothers. You could, you could paint as many ghosts and demons and vampires and, and ghouls and as you wanted on that canvas, but at the end of the day, it was, it really came back to the relationship that these two, these two guys had. And, how they fought, not only for, for the greater good, but they fought for each other.
And I felt like if we could, if we could tell that with, with John and Mary, but also have this love story be… you know, the kind of the, the kicker, I just felt like that was really important. That’s something that Robbie and Danneel and I talked about at length, was making sure that this, this truly had the heart that a show needed. That you can dress it up with all the frills and, and thrills, but it, it’s gotta have that relationship and it’s gotta have those cast of characters that you really want to keep coming back week to week to watch.
And I feel like we, I feel like we, we, we have that and we’re doing that. And the people before you now are the… I, I keep coming back and wanting to watch them. I keep reading intently the next, the next story arena and wanting to know what’s gonna happen. What’s gonna happen with Carlos?. I don’t know. Every week he surprises me. They surprise me. It’s just insanity. I love it.
XANDRA: And was there anything you wanted to avoid?
JENSEN ACKLES: Um, rewriting history? Um, I think that was a big important thing. And that’s obviously something that has been a topic of discussion with, with fans and, and critics of how we’re going to navigate what has already been established. We’re not looking to have, you know, we’re not looking to, to, to have the, Robbie and I use the, the Back to the Future reference quite a bit. We don’t want the picture of Dean and Sam to start being erased. This is not what we’re set out to do. This is something that we’re trying to, trying to preserve everything that we possibly can on the mothership. I think Robbie and his crack team of writers have come up with the way of doing that in a way that is servicing this show just as much as it’s serviced or will be servicing Supernatural.
Question: For the cast: How does it feel to be part of the franchise that means so much to many people?
JONATHAN FLEITES: It truly is an honor. I am just so grateful to be a part of this legacy. It’s absolutely insane. I never thought I would be a part of anything like this in my life. I mean, this is the biggest surprise and shock and most amazing thing to be a part of, especially with this group of amazing artists. Um, not to mention that I’m so proud of the inclusivity that’s involved in this show, and the diversity that we’re bringing onto this show. Um, and the space that I’ve been given as an LGBTQ identifying person on this show. Uh, not to mention also non-binary. I just feel so supported and I feel so seen, and I am just so incredibly grateful for Jensen and for Danneel and for Robbie and everyone opening… I’m so sorry. I’m having issues with my headphones. I’m just so grateful for this time and for this opportunity, and that’s all I can really say. So, thank you so much.
DEMETRIA MCKINNEY: It’s, if I may check onto that, it’s just a really cool challenge, getting to be with these younger people, because I’m not old. I refuse to accept it. Getting to be with this group of young people, telling this story that is so beloved by so many people in its beginnings and in its infancy. And getting to tell a journey that is so profoundly new within a space that is so familiar to people. It’s a really cool challenge. You know, they talk about not wanting to undo history, rewrite anything, but still keeping everything really fresh and organic. And I feel like just as hard as they’ve worked in the inception, you know, each time they’ve tried and then getting into this space where we’re doing it now, in the writing room, each idea they come up with, having the conversations that we’ve all had about the individual characters and then getting together and having the conversations about how we relate to each other.
It’s just been a daily challenge that seems so fun and invigorating and fulfilling. So you know, while we know everybody loves what was, we’re really excited about the challenge of them loving what is to come.
Question: So you’ve kinda touched on some of this Jensen, some of what you said, Robbie, what you said about Episode 13. There are obviously big twists here about what’s going on. We know this isn’t the version that the brothers were told, and it feels to me, just from the pilot, like it might not even be the version that John and Mary as we knew it remember. We also know in the world of Supernatural there’s like a lot of capability for like cosmic level trickery, which, you know, the final arc of Supernatural kind of depended on the arc Robbie started by revealing Chuck as God, stuff like that.
Question: Uh, we know there’s a lot of options for what could be actually going on here with the Winchesters, but we don’t really know when, you know, we might get a look at the answers. And I’m asking you this in kind of like the nicest, most supportive, good faith way, cause I know it matters to you guys. How long should we expect to wait in terms of clues about what the deal is? Or rather, how did you approach the job of maintaining fans trust regarding the twists and changes? Like, did you talk about a lot about what the right moment to show some cards? Or like, what was going on with the big picture?
ROBBIE THOMPSON: We, we, we’ve been talking, that’s a great question and we’ve been talking about it literally, since I think the first conversation that I had with, with these two and, and Rene. Um, it was crucial to us to kind of have an understanding of where we were going and why we were going. Um, but to your point, we have a lot of options was what we discovered, and a lot of different misdirects of, of where we’re going. And it’s one of the reasons why we, we are keeping our cards close to the vest now. Um, but we will, there’s, there’s some hints in, in the pilot and then there’s some hints in subsequent episodes.
Um, and as we get into this sort of… we have a, a little run at the end of these, this first 13 where we’ll start to turn over some more cards as well. But I promise we’re, we’re gonna turn ’em all over in, in 13. That’s, that was always the design that we came up with, with our partners at the studio and network. I can tell you this, like, it’s very rare to get to work with partners like Warners and CW, where they’re as invested as we are, and the integrity of what came before us, and, and what’s to come. So we, I totally understand where the question’s coming from. I won’t totally answer it.
Question: I’m super pro-, I’m super pro, but I was just curious about like, you know, I know that Jensen is obviously always at conventions answering a million questions about tiny details and a lot of expectations about that kind of thing.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: And, and part of that was what was exciting about this, you know. For me as a writer on Supernatural, I, I found my comfort zone was getting out of my comfort zone. Uh, the example I always gave is we did a musical episode and I was like, they came in there like, “we’re doing a musical.” I was like, “Oh God, that’s terrible. Can I write it?” Like, cause it just seemed very daunting and frightening. I’d never written songs before and it felt like we always had a, a thing, Kripke started it. And then, you know, great writers like Sarah Gamble, Jeremy Carver, Ben Edlund, they, they bent us, almost to the point of breaking. And you’re always at that point of like, Oh, is this gonna break? But that’s kind of our sweet spot.
And when Jensen and Danneel came to me with this idea, I was like, Oh, we’re starting in the sweet spot. Uh, that’s really exciting to me. Uh, and then get to, getting a chance to create, you know, these characters with this group of, of, of extremely well-behaved, almost suspiciously well-behaved actors right now. Um, Yeah. See that the voices are coming out and they. There it is, okay. Um it was, it was just really, really exciting. Um, but it’s I, I totally understand where you’re coming from and, and it was literally the first question out of my mouth as well.
Question: Jensen, Danneel, do you have anything on that? Cause I am very curious about it.
JENSEN ACKLES: Yeah. It, this, this, obviously this has been a, a, a topic of, of conversation like you said at, at conventions and, and it’s, you know, I, I would love to have an answer that that puts everybody at rest and say, Oh, okay, okay, we can breathe easy. Um, but in order to do that, I would, I would spoil half the season. (Yeah) And so without, without spoiling the, the half the season, I will say that like Robbie said, the, the integrity of, of the mothership is certainly something that is of, of vital importance to us that we do not want to tamper with.
Um, that said, we also want to make sure that this show has a, is given its space to be what it needs to be and what we all want it to be. Um, and doing so requires some you know, some, some tricky writing. And Robbie has, has come up with ways to facilitate that, that I think are, are not only acceptable, from my perspective, but exciting from the world from of a, as a fan of this world and of this show. And, and, and so I’m, I’m excited for when we can actually talk about it and dissect it.
Question: Yeah. Sounds ex-, it sounds like you’re keeping a lot like really excited to, to let it in on the secret eventually.
JENSEN ACKLES: Absolutely. Can’t wait.
DANNEEL ACKLES: I’ve never liked, I’ve never liked my mute button better. I’m like… not gonna talk about this.
Question: Hey everyone, thanks for doing this. Um, this question is for the producers. Two-part question. Um, the first part was obviously Jensen, you’re doing narration for this, and there’s always a question of, do we do that? Do we stay independent? You know, how much of that is involved? Is it just a booking-ending element, or is it something that could expand? Um, was, is that a conversation that came up about the rules of narration for that? And then number two, it’s dovetailing off of the creativity that, that Supernatural is really known for, as you were talking about a moment ago. It has never been afraid to really rock the boat in terms of format, structure, genre. Um, this is a first season so you certainly want to establish a world, but at the same time are, are you going to have episodes that will kind of honor that legacy and show your version of it in this world?
JENSEN ACKLES: Robbie.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: I’ll go in reverse order. Um, we, we kind of want to establish a little bit more of a foundation before we go crazy. But if you looked at probably most of the episodes of Supernatural that I wrote, I like crazy. So we’ll get there, I promise. Um, and I know that these… you need, you need partners for that. One of the reasons we were able to go a little crazy on Supernatural was we had a great cast that was game for it. Like Jensen told the story the other day where Andrew called him up and was like, “Can you dance?” He was like, Yeah. And then you’re doing like a tap dance number, you know, two, a month later or whatever it was. Um, and being able to have that, you know in your arsenal. We have a lot of… I think, kids who can play here, and, and people who can sing and dance.
So we’ll, we’ll get to that, I think, you know down the road.
Um, and then the, the first question was about narration. Um, that was a big selling point to me when, when they, when they reached out to me about it. Was the, the idea of it was very interesting, but I’ll just be completely honest and say the option to write some more dialogue for, for Dean Winchester, aka Jensen Ackles, or maybe that’s in reverse, I don’t know, was, was extremely tempting to the point of, of being a pretty big selling point. In fact, we were on these stages shooting our first scene, and it was, Megan did it in the van in the pilot.
And so I’m having this surreal moment of like, Oh my gosh, here we are, we’re doing it. And then Ackles sent me the first temp recording. And so I stepped into the other stage and listened to it, and he’s doing the, he’s doing the Dean voice, guys, he was doing it. It was down here. And it was like, Oh my God, it’s Dean Winchester in my ear holes. And I, I got goosebumps. I get goosebumps telling that story right now. Um, and it was, it was huge.
As far as like, you know, how, how do we go with it? You know, we, we talk a lot about, we did not want this to be wall-to-wall narration. A light touch, you know, was, was what we wanted. Um, you know, and it’s a real treat when you’re working on a script and you can say like, Gosh, what would Dean Winchester say? And then you text Dean Winchester, and then he tells you. And it’s been just a great dance. Like, we as writers will, will work on a, on a draft of the voiceover, I’ll send it to Jensen. He and I will get on the phone and like, “How about this? How about that? We, we said this one last one.”
And, and then, then I would say you kind of do like a final sort of pepper pass in the actual booth. Um, cause it’s gotta feel, that’s the part to me, I was like, this has to feel extra, extra… There’s our ghost again. Um you know, we have to do extra, extra due diligence. And it’s always, it’s always a fun phone call.
Question: Hi guys. Um, this is for Jensen, Danneel and Robbie. Um, is there a lesson or something that you three have learned from your time working on Supernatural that you use as executive producers on The Winchesters?
JENSEN ACKLES: Um, wow. Well, yeah, I mean, I think that that’s, that was kind of… that’s our, that’s our mind. That’s where we source a lot of, of inspiration. That’s where we source a lot of, of doing things, trying, not trying to recreate, but certainly utilizing… I, I’ll give you an example. You know, Robbie and Danneel and I talked extensively about the, the, the atmosphere on set. Uh, something that’s very important to us to have a, a fun, creative, exciting energy on set where people are, are able to, to come in and to, to create and to, to… You know, that was something that, that Jared and I did all the time, was we, we came in, we la-… I never laughed as much as I laughed when I was on that set.
And there was a reason why we stuck around for 15 years, and it was because we truly enjoyed doing what we, what we got to do. And, you know, I often say that we, we don’t have to do this. we get to do this. And it’s, it’s, it’s something where there’s, there’s, there’s no room for ego here. There’s no there’s, there’s no putting up walls and, and being, walking on eggshells and, and making people feel uncomfortable. It’s, it’s an all-inclusive, all captivating type of situation where we, we want this to be a fun space to create a fun show.
Um, if you’re not having fun, We, Kim Manners kind of set that tone early on in Supernatural. He said, “Listen, if you’re not enjoying your time on the set, we spend entirely too much time together to not enjoy it. So if you’re not having fun, find something else to do.” And I feel like that’s, that was really important to us to, to set a tone on this set that was, that was fun and exciting and that people enjoyed coming to work and, and playing with these, playing in this sandbox.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: I think, just to touch on that too, something that we carried over from the mothership, um… John Showalter, who’s our, our producing director, and obviously directed more episodes of Supernatural than I can count, and I can count pretty high. Um I mean, I’ve been teaching my son, he, he’s up to 30, guys. English and Spanish. Um, but he, he is really impressed upon us something that we did. And again, it’s about having trust with, with your partners that are telling the story with you, which is our amazing cast, is to let them play a little bit.
Um, you know, we used to always say to our producing directors that would come on Supernatural, like, “Give the boys another take, let’s see what happens.” And it always ended up in the movie and it’s something that we really wanted to, It’s, it’s, it speaks to what Jensen’s talking about, about like creating an environment where people can play. And, and, and I can tell you my favorite moment in every single episode comes from these people individually being alive in the scene, listening to one another, reacting to one another, and, and being present in a way that’s, it’s, it’s really, really inspiring as a writer. And look at, they’re doing it right now. You guys, this is, this is an organic, this, this is not scripted. Um…
JENSEN ACKLES: You can’t write that, you can’t write that.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: You’re actually freaking me out.
BIANCA KAJLICH: Can I, can I add something onto that too, which I know this is for the producers. But as a cast, I just want to acknowledge how true this is for us. And I think it starts with Jensen. Because, to have an actor who played a role for 15 years, continue to address this subject matter with such enthusiasm, it is a ripple effect down into all of us. And, you know, Demetria and I talk and, and try to tell these younguns (younger, younger ones). It is so rare to have the deal that we’ve got here.
We get to play, we get to show up, we get to ask for things. As an actor, after 25 years of doing this, I’ll tell you, that’s unheard of. And these guys walk the walk. So, it’s honestly the, the joy and the comradery and all of that that’s existing here. The, the drama too. It’s all real cause we get to be our pure vulnerable selves in this.
JENSEN ACKLES: Thanks, B.
Question: Yeah, starting with Bianca and then Jensen and Danneel. Have you ever had a metaphysical experience? Something you could not quite explain?
BIANCA KAJLICH: Yes. (Tell us) Um, well, I don’t, I don’t really wanna cheapen it, because it was such a beautiful experience. Um, but I had, in two different very traumatic experiences in my life, something show up that I could visually see. Um, and that presence showed up before both of the traumatic situations happened. And for me it was a nod to, that everything was gonna be okay.
JENSEN ACKLES: Uh, sorry, something cut out. Could you repeat the question?
Question: Yes. Have you ever had a metaphysical experience, something you could not quite explain?
JENSEN ACKLES: Uh, my marriage. (No!) Oh, no? Okay…
ROBBIE THOMPSON: Thanks, everybody. Thanks very much.
JENSEN ACKLES: Um, you know, this is something that Danneel and I have talked about quite a bit, and [OVERLAPPING]
DANNEEL ACKLES: It happens to us all the time. We have a million of these, except Jensen thinks that, I think, because of all your years of Supernatural, you’re like, Oh, that’s not what that was. No, no, no. That’s something else.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: I mean, Dean Winchester would know.
DANNEEL ACKLES: Yeah, I know. That’s what I’m saying. But…
JENSEN ACKLES: There’s, there’s something that we, and, and I don’t know that this to be true or not, but Danneel I feel like is emotionally available for those kinds of happenings. And I, I might not be.
DANNEEL ACKLES: Willing and ready.
JENSEN ACKLES: Yeah, and it, it might be because I spent 15 years playing a character that kicked the shit out of ghosts and demons. And so I just figure like, no, that’s not, because if it is, they picked the wrong house. Um, and so it might have given me some sort of false sense of security. It’s, it’s almost like, listen, I played a doctor on TV for 15 years, give me the scalpel. I, I know that that probably isn’t what would happen if something, something like [LAUGHS] if a ghost walked in here. I, I don’t know how I would react. But I do feel like [OVERLAPPING]o
DRAKE RODGER: I feel like I’m getting yellow fever, my friend.
JENSEN ACKLES: Probably, probably, it would be, yeah, it would be more like that. But I, I do feel like I tend to jump to the, “there’s gotta be some sort of logical explanation for why that window just flew open,” or…
DANNEEL ACKLES: Why that hammer flew across the [OVERLAPPING] whole tool belt at [OVERLAPPING]
JENSEN ACKLES: Yeah. Danneel is much more, is much quicker to think that, that there’s an entity or there’s some, some sort of presence.
DRAKE RODGER: There is a whole conversation after this.
DANNEEL ACKLES: There’s just a reason. There’s an, there’s a house, we own a brewery together, and there is an old house on the brewery. And there’s a reason why the construction there has completely stopped. And so one day we’ll talk about that, maybe.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: That’s episode uh, 14 of Season 3. [OVERLAPPING]
JENSEN ACKLES: I will give you, I’ll give you one quick little story. Uh, I don’t remember what season of Supernatural this was, but we used to shoot at this, this decommissioned insane asylum in in Vancouver called [OVERLAPPING] River, Riverview. Demetria, you’ve been there?
So there, there were, there were four floors in a basement. And we generally filmed either in the basement or the first two, two floors. Uh, the third floor wasn’t really utilized, and the fourth floor was off limits. And one day I got the liaison of the, of the building of the property there to take me up to the fourth floor. And I said, I gotta know what’s going on. And she walked up and she said, “Well, this is the staircase that I was pushed down.” I was like, “Who pushed you?” She’s like, “I don’t know, I was alone.” Uh, then she walked into, opened this one door and she’s like, “and this is not the room. This is a room I will not go into.” And it was a, it was a single room that was floor to ceiling tiled. And in the center of the room was a drain, and there was a bathtub, a clawfoot bathtub just sitting in the middle of this room.
And, and I just, I don’t know, I was just walked right in and then laid down in the bathtub. And there was a moment where I was like, this, there’s nothing wrong with… And then I just felt something. I felt like a pressure on my chest and I was like, I’m gonna get up and get outta here. So you know, we get asked a lot, “Were there ever any, any things that happened on Supernatural that were unexplained?” And I was like, Yeah, but we don’t talk about it much.
Question: This is for Drake. I was just curious, how much did you watch Supernatural? And did you find anything in there that you said, you know, I wanna bring this to this show? (Yeah) Was there a [INAUDIBLE] for you at all?
DRAKE RODGER: Was there pie? Yes. There’s [OVERLAPPING]
Question: No, with your tie? T-I-E.
DRAKE RODGER: Oh, a tie. Pie is tie.
Question: Pie is good though too.
DRAKE RODGER: Pie is a tie, I’ll have you know, if you watch the show. Um, No, yeah, I watched Supernatural [OVERLAPPING] No, yeah, I grew up watching the show. Uh, I started on, I think Season 4 or 5, and then progressively watched through 12 until whoever started directing the last couple. Um… yeah, when I got the audition for John it was, it was something like, it meant a lot that Jensen actually said it. Um, but I, I tried, I tried my best to incorporate as much of Jensen and Jared as I could into the performance.
DRAKE RODGER: I figured this is the only opportunity where I have 15 years of material that I can steal everything from, and everybody will think that I created it, and they’ll think that, you know, Dean and Sam got all their mannerisms from me. So yeah, as much as I can, as much as I can, I go through and I steal all the brilliance that they had over 15 years.
ROBBIE THOMPSON: Drake, Drake will, and I, I, we’ve had many conversations about this character when the character’s going and he will cite chapter in verse of various episodes, you know, the title, all of it. Um, and it’s been, he’s been an amazing partner. Um, and everybody up here has, they’ve all, they’ve all done an incredible job of sinking their teeth into the source material. But as Demetria put it brilliantly, carving their own space as well.
DRAKE RODGER: I had this this interview recently, and I asked my PR team afterwards, I was like, Hey, is there anything that I can do better or like, you know, be more efficient? And she’s like, “Well, if you want to quote an episode, that’s fine, and if you want to even name the season and the number, that’s great. But she’s like, You don’t have to go to like the minute number of the scene that you’re talking about.” Um, she’s like, she’s like, “You could probably leave that.”
Question: Could you give an example? Can you give an example of something that we could look at and say, Oh my God, yeah, that’s something that he did.
DRAKE RODGER: Oh, oh everything. I mean [OVERLAPPING]
ROBBIE THOMPSON: There’s a bit in Episode 4 where I, I don’t know if I want to spoil it, but like, if you watch it, I think Showalter was saying, Showy was saying, was like, “Oh, I, I haven’t seen Jared in a while.” And it was like a mannerism that, that was some of the comedy chops that we were like, Oh wait, and, and yeah, it was, if you look for it in the first handful, but I’m pretty sure there’s one in Episode 4 that is, is um, is a great callback.
HOST: That’s all the time we have for today. Thank you to all the press that joined us, and thank you for everyone behind the scenes who made this happen today. We appreciate it. Don’t forget, The Winchesters premiers on the CW Tuesday, October 11th at 8:00 PM, 7 Central. Thank you so much everyone.
MORE INFO: Trailer
“Gotham Knights,” “Walker: Independence” & “The Winchesters” All Head to Series
The CW is moving forward with all three of its drama pilots to series. Each of said trio is based on a previously existing property.
DC Comics-based “Gotham Knights” was formally detailed back in December: “In the wake of Bruce Wayne’s murder, his rebellious adopted son forges an unlikely alliance with the children of Batman’s enemies when they are all framed for killing the Caped Crusader. And as the city’s most wanted criminals, this renegade band of misfits must fight to clear their names. But in a Gotham with no Dark Knight to protect it, the city descends into the most dangerous it’s ever been. However, hope comes from the most unexpected of places as this team of mismatched fugitives will become its next generation of saviors known as the Gotham Knights.” Chad Fiveash, James Stoteraux, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, David Madden and director Danny Cannon executive produce for Warner Bros. Television with Natalie Abrams as a co-executive producer. Anna Lore, Fallon Smythe, Misha Collins, Navia Robinson, Olivia Rose Keegan, Oscar Morgan, Rahart Adams and Tyler DiChiara star.
“Walker” prequel “Independence” is “set in the late 1800s. It follows Abby Walker (Katherine McNamara), an affluent Bostonian whose husband is murdered before her eyes while on their journey out West. On her quest for revenge, Abby crosses paths with Hoyt Rawlins (Matt Barr), a lovable rogue in search of purpose. Abby and Hoyt’s journey takes them to Independence, Texas, where they encounter diverse, eclectic residents running from their own troubled pasts and chasing their dreams, all while becoming agents of change themselves in the small town.” Seamus Kevin Fahey, Jared Padalecki, Anna Fricke, Dan Lin, Lindsey Liberatore and director Larry Teng executive produce for CBS Studios. Also starring are Gabriela Quezada, Greg Hovanessian, Justin Johnson Cortez, Katie Findlay and Lawrence Kao.
And finally, the “Supernatural” prequel “The Winchesters” is “the epic, untold love story of how John (Drake Rodger) met Mary (Meg Donnelly) and how they put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world.” Robbie Thompson, Jensen Ackles, Danneel Ackles and director Glen Winter are the executive producers for Warner Bros. Television and CBS Studios. Bianca Kajlich, Demetria McKinney, Jojo Fleites and Nida Khurshid also star while Jensen Ackles narrates as Dean Winchester.
SERIES PREMIERE – Before Sam and Dean, there were their parents, John and Mary. Told from the perspective of narrator Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), THE WINCHESTERS is the epic, untold love story of how John Winchester (Drake Rodger) met Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly) and put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world. When John returns home from fighting in Vietnam, a mysterious encounter sparks a new mission to trace his father’s past. In his journey, he crosses paths with 19-year-old demon hunter Mary, who is also searching for answers after the disappearance of her own father. Together, the two join forces with young hunter-in-training Latika (Nida Khurshid) and easygoing hunter Carlos (Jonathan “Jojo” Fleites) to uncover the hidden truths about both their families. Their investigation leads them to a rare book emporium, whose owner Ada (Demetria McKinney) takes an interest to the occult and could provide the missing pieces to their puzzle. But secrets run deep for both the Winchesters and Campbells, and despite the best efforts of John’s mother Millie (Bianca Kajlich) to protect her son from pursuing a dangerous life of demon hunting, John and Mary are both determined to work together to uphold their families’ legacies while beginning to form a family of their own. Glen Winter directed the episode written by Robbie Thompson (#101). Original airdate 10/11/2022. Every episode of THE WINCHESTERS is available to stream on The CW App and CWTV.com the day after broadcast for free and without a subscription, log-in or authentication required.
Teach Your Children Well
FAMILY MATTERS – John (Drake Rodger) and Millie (Bianca Kajlich) are on different pages about his new interest in hunting and Ada (Demetria McKinney) tries to bridge the gap. Mary (Meg Donnelly) follows a trail from her father that points to the disappearance of a teenage boy in Topeka. Meanwhile, Carlos (JoJo Fleites) has a heart to heart with Mary as Latika (Nida Khurshid) dives into her books to identify the monster. John Showalter directed the episode written by Robbie Thompson & David H. Goodman (#102). Original Airdate 10/18/2022. Every episode of THE WINCHESTERSis available to stream on The CW App and CWTV.com the day after broadcast for free and without a subscription, log-in or authentication required.
You’re Lost Little Girl
- 1 103
FACE YOUR FEARS – When Mary’s (Meg Donnelly) next-door neighbor mysteriously goes missing, she and John (Drake Rodger) start digging into the disappearance. During their investigation, John unexpectedly reunites with someone from his past. Carlos (JoJo Fleites) and Ada (Demetria McKinney) bond as they stakeout a potential lead for the demon’s partner. Meanwhile, Latika (Nida Khurshid) taps into old folklore passed down from her family in hopes it helps Mary and John. Claudia Yarmy directed the episode written by Gabriel Alejandro Garza (#103). Original Airdate 10/25/2022. Every episode of THE WINCHESTERS is available to stream on The CW App and CWTV.com the day after broadcast for free and without a subscription, log-in or authentication required.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda