Supernatural Panel at Paley Festival, Part III

The Supernatural Panel at the prestigious Paley Festival was truly an entertaining and informative event.  Kudos must also be given to the moderator of the afternoon’s festivities, Maureen Ryan, lead critic of AOL’s TV Squad.  She kept the discussion flowing, gave all the panelists equal opportunities to answer questions, and came prepared with knowledgeable, in-depth, intelligent questions to present from both, herself and from fans.  And if the discussion veered too far off track, she reined it back in again gracefully.  Part I covered the introductions, and details of a clip shown corresponding to the upcoming western-themed episode. We left Part II with the creator of Supernatural, Eric Kripke, talking about the many forms discussions take in the writers’ room.  This third part will cover comments from Eric about writing the season finale, his view on exposition, Castiel’s voice, Bobby’s scene with demon Crowley, Jared’s view on soulless Sam, the amulet, and much more!  There were also so many times that the facial expressions and actions were so completely hilarious, that I hope The Paley Center for Media releases the DVD of this panel as quickly as possible.  Again, please do not hesitate to support the Paley Center so that they can continue providing such wonderful panels.  And I won’t torture you any further.  This part completes the panel summary/transcript report in a marathon run to the end, and includes a highlight video released by the Paley Center. 

 MAUREEN:  Is it correct that you are writing the season finale? [cheers]

 ERIC:  Yes, I just turned it in to the mercy of Sera and Bob on Friday… or Thursday. And they’re going to go through the editorial process.  Bob is up there (Vancouver) right now directing an episode. They start shooting the finale… next week.

MAUREEN:  What I hope for the next few episodes and I think I speak for a few fans… are we going to see more of Castiel?

MISHA:  [jokingly] There’s going to have to be some major reshoots then!  But that storyline is definitely getting tied up and played out and hashed out.

MAUREEN:  And Castiel…

BEN:  He adopts a very cute orphan.

MISHA:  Castiel is taking a line from Angelina Jolie. [much laughter]

ERIC:  Sorry, it’s Will Smith’s kid.  But it’s got a certain something!

SERA: Actually, you will meet an angel named Rachel who is Castiel’s trusted lieutenant.  We’ll start opening up that story as it goes beyond the Civil War, and most importantly what is going on with Castiel.  Such as when he gives them that look that he’s got to be somewhere else, we’ll find out what he means by that.

MAUREEN:  Jim, do you miss Crowley and all your romantic times together? [wolf calls]

JIM:  After 42 years in this business, on my tombstone it will say “he kissed Crowley.” 

MAUREEN: How did that go?

JIM:  [dejected] I’ve had better… until, recently.

MAUREEN:  Now Jared, you were soulless—

JARED:  [surprised]  That segueways to ME?!  [shifts uncomfortably, laughter]  Speaking of soulless…

MAUREEN: Do you miss soulless Sam, or are you glad that’s over?

JARED:  Actually both.  I DO miss soulless Sam.  I really, really enjoyed playing soulless Sam. And I’m sorry if y’all disagree.

ERIC:  It was great! Totally chilling. We love what you did with it.

JARED:  Well, I had great material to work with.  I haven’t been shy about liking to play a little bit darker, a little bit disturbed.  I’ve had a wonderful time with Sam — and he’s disturbed enough! I did have a fun time playing with what the writers have been playing with in terms of ‘what is a soul? where does it reside? what is its influence on your personality and your decisions?’  I’m happy to be back, but [pouty] I do miss the little guy!

MAUREEN:  I have to read this next question because it’s one of the best phrasings ever, and we talked a little about this backstage.  Jensen, do you think that Dean is finally getting back to his usual self now that Sam is all soulful Care Bear again?

[Jensen shakes his head in embarrassment.  Jared pats him on the knee.  And in an emotional little voice jokes “Mr. Care Bear.”]

JENSEN:  Yes I do. And it was kind of a relief for me because the first half of the season 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 to still have to work with that person, was very difficult, for me as an actor. And it’s a testament to how great Jared and he was doing great as soulless Sam.  But he wasn’t playing a character that I’m used to working with.  So I struggled with it as an actor.  In fact I called down and talked to these guys (indicating Sera, Eric, and Ben) about it.  I was feeling way out of my comfort zone and I didn’t know what was going on, and I just didn’t have those tools to use anymore that I had for the last five years.  I was  very  relieved when I read that episode that he was getting his soul back and that now I could go back to playing Dean that way that I’m used to playing Dean.  It was difficult, but it was a good storyline.

MAUREEN:  Speaking of Dean, what’s up with The Amulet?

ERIC:  Currently there are no plans to have it return.  [a few cheers, among many hisses and boos from the audience.  Sera motions ‘wait a minute’]  Especially now that we’re in contract negotiations with The Amulet.  All I can say is… “diva!”  It’s actually doing a guest shot on One Tree Hill.  [an audience member called out ‘we’ll do a fundraiser!’ Much hilarity followed]

MAUREEN:  You guys are so open about discussing the show and the process of making it.  Is there anything you wish you could go back and do over?

ERIC:  I’ll start this one.  My mother used to say ‘food is never as good when you cook it’.  All I actually see are things that I wish we had done differently.  It’s very rare — and there’s a handful of them — that I’ll be able to watch a complete episode and think ‘wow, we really nailed it!’  There are moments in every episode where I can recite moments I hate.  Like  Red Sky at MorningBugs,  and Route 666.

Just this past week I was talking with Bob and he mentioned watching TNT and The Pilot episode was on.  And I remembered that scene where they were walking to the Impala– and I’m talking about the writing of it, since the guys really nailed it in their performance– but there are scenes where you just don’t have the time.  Just to bring back that scene (as an example), where Sam and Dean are walking to the Impala.  And they’re talking about nothing that two human beings would ever talk about, but we had to establish the franchise of the show.  [going into a mock actor voice, miming his two hands speaking to each other] “but when dad raised us to be hunters ever since we were three years old”… and the other one was all “I know”… “and then he always had us hunting after that creature that took mom”… and “he never raised us properly”…  I always wanted to have the other one answer back “I KNOW!! who do you think you’re talkin’ to?!” [the panel and the audience breaks into laughter]  “you don’t need to tell me, ‘cuz I already know all this information! Who’s the third party that you’re giving all this exposition to?!”

The thing is, you’re never happy, at least from the writing standpoint.  I mean, it is now six years later and you can tell, I’m still not over it.

JENSEN:  It’s good to know that those expositional scenes are that hard to write because they are equally hard to act.

ERIC:  Humphrey Bogart used to say that in those scenes, even when he had them, he would wish they would put something like camels humping in the background so that it would give the audience something to look.  [panel laughs, Jared takes a drink from his water bottle at the exact same moment and amazingly the laughter didn’t make him spit it out]  But exposition can be brutal!

JENSEN:  I have to applaud you, in fact, that you started giving those (lines) to guest stars. [Jared applauds and everyone laughs]  After four seasons.

MAUREEN:  Any one else want to give a do-over?

MISHA:  Sure, I have one.  In the first episode where Castiel shows up and he’s trying to communicate with Dean and in so doing his angelic voice is exploding television sets and breaking windows… I, being the consummate guest star that I am, thought that I would do this really [demonstrates voice] deep, gravelly, commanding, kick-ass, window-breaking voice. [normal voice after slight hesitation]  I may be running into medical problems now.  It has been brutal on my throat.  So yeah… regret.  What would be nice is if somehow Castiel has a tank of helium with him, and he [inhales] and then he talks like I do normally.

JENSEN:  I remember when we filmed that scene and it was the first time he came in and I worked with him. He went into…  this voice and this spiel.  After the first take, I turned to our camera department and [incredulously] ‘what is he doing?!’  [draws in a breath through clenched teeth feigning disbelief] ‘did he audition?!’  [laughter]  But he knows that, I’ve told him about this.

JARED:  Yeah, he said the same thing to me, ‘cause I didn’t have a scene with (Misha).  I asked, ‘hey, how’s the new guy?’

JENSEN:  Really nice!  But what the hell is he doing on camera? 

JARED:  He’s strange!  He’s not a bad actor, obviously… he’s just … really strange.  And so we walk past him and (Jensen) is [acting out a nudge on the arm] ‘I think he’s in character, look, look’  [the panel and the audience go into uncontrollable laughter; Jared turns to Misha to ask if he was in character at the time, but Misha shakes his head unable to remember]  I remember specifically one moment that he was standing behind the grip truck eating something, must have been yogurt or granola or something.  We walk past going from Stage 3 to our trailers and Jensen (taps the arm) says ‘there he is’ and we both sort of do this [acting out avoidance]

JENSEN: There’s the freak.

JARED:  And Misha has a very pensive look about him, even when he’s relaxing. “Yeah, yeah, looks like he’s thinking or something.”

JENSEN: And / or on the toilet.  But I will say that his consistency in that character has been–

JARED: –his saving grace! (chuckles) 

JENSEN: It’s really grown on me.  [reaching over and patting Misha on the knee, in all seriousness]  Nice job, buddy!

MAUREEN:  In terms of things that have happened on the show, is there something that the writers presented that was perceived in some other way than it was intended based on online commentary or reactions?  [the panel hesitated in answering, while Jared urged Jensen to respond, and Jensen passed it off to the writers]

BEN:  This year there was a very strange “Fight the Fairies” trending based on when Jensen yelled “fight the fairies” (in episode 6×09: Clap Your Hands if you Believe).  I’m not exactly sure how that functions, but it became a Twitter trend thing — [wild cheers] Yes! Twitter!

JENSEN:  yeah, I remember reading that.

BEN:  And that created a counterweight from the legitimate gay community asking “what the hell?!” [Ben added something that was indiscernible through the chuckles]

JIM: [interjects] Some of our best friends are fairies!  [quickly, before anyone finds offense, he uses his hands to indicate something small and pantomimes something flying away]

 

MAUREEN:  We’ll take some fan questions now.

QUESTION:  Since the season finale this year is going to be two hours consecutive, did you take that into consideration when you wrote the episode?

JARED:  [shocked] The season finale is going to be two hours??  [some explanation followed that since Smallville is airing its finale in a two-hour block, it moved Supernatural to a week later airing as a two-hour block]

ERIC:  Sera and I are writing the last two episodes.  I think in the beginning stages there was some discussion along the lines of ‘we should make this into a  movie !’ [animated] Movie! Movie! Listen to me, it’s gonna be great!  But these stories kind of take on a life of their own, there’s so many mythology balls in the air right now and so many things we need to wrap up, it ended up feeling very episodic.  In #21 there’s so many mythology threads we need to tie up.  And in #22 there’s so many  other  mythology threads, so it was hard to actually combine them.  We were a little worried.  Somewhere in the middle of writing it I thought ‘aw shit, this is going to air together… can we put a title card here saying one week later?’  So it doesn’t feel seamless, it feels like two separate episodes, each with their own story.  [jokingly] But it will be awesome in re-runs.

QUESTION:  One of the cool things about the show was the way you handled Ruby.  You never really knew if she was good or bad.  Which leads me to two questions.  The first, will you ever again play with the bad/good aspects of demons, such as Crowley — who is great.  The second, will there ever be a female main character that’s a positive force?

SERA:  Demons are pretty bad, at the end of the day. The thing with demons is that they can be charming and enjoyable, and they can have moments of helping you, but I don’t know that we’ll be ever be able to pull that off again.  I think we’ve played that card out.  In terms of having anyone be a force for good, male or female… we kill a lot of people on our show, and it’s not really gender-specific.  With the exception of Castiel, the characters that we like to hang onto a little longer are antagonistic.

[The next question was more a statement and request. A fan explained that she was at the end-stage of renal failure and wanted to know if it would be ok to present some gifts after the panel in recognition of what Supernatural has meant to her.  She stated that she saw everyone as her surrogate children.  And since she was mostly unable to go out and interact with people, all she had was what she was able to watch on TV.  She wanted to let the panel know how much the show has given to her]

QUESTION:  Jared, is it true that you’re really 6’6” (height)?

JARED:  Are you calling me out?  No, I’m 5’8”!

QUESTION:  Also, why don’t you guys get bungee cords for your weapons, ‘cause it seems like you’re always dropping them!  [laughter]

ERIC:  We agree that they should get bungees for their weapons.  But the real answer is that then there would be no drama.  The crew has asked that question many times.

JARED:  Probably because it just wouldn’t look as cool.  Like umbrellas.

ERIC:  I remember one scene from season one where we were still figuring out the show.  And it was an episode that Kim (Manners) was directing. We were thinking about him the other day.  The first time we ever did any public panel for Supernatural was the Paley Fest here in our first season and Kim was with us.  We weren’t sure if anyone was watching the show, then we saw a crowd like you guys here.  But anyways, he put Jared and Jensen carrying umbrellas and I called him and said ‘I never want to see umbrellas ever again.’  I mean these guys fight monsters and they slit throats, so I can’t see them [in a girly voice] ‘oh no it’s sprinkling.’  They’re just not characters who are going to worry about getting wet.

JENSEN:  Unfortunately for us.  But rain really doesn’t read on film, and it was pouring!  I stepped out into a puddle that was this big [indicating about a foot with his hands].  It was torrential.  And Kim was worried that they would have to dry our clothes off after every take.  So he ordered “get them umbrellas!”  Because it was raining that hard.

JARED:  That’s also when I started wearing boots.  For the first few episodes I had tennis shoes, but then I was standing in water, so we had to get boots.

QUESTION:  We’ve had Dean, Sam, and Bobby centered episodes.  Are we ever going to have a Castiel-centered episode?

BEN:  It turns out that the one I directed is very much focused on Castiel’s point of view and the Civil War in Heaven.  [many cheers and applause, then adds in a somewhat joking manner]  We hear moments from Castiel’s childhood.

QUESTION:  There’s an episode where you guys use the word ‘dick’ a lot.  Any chance of upping the stakes a bit like  SouthLAnd  and have the guys include more profanity?

JARED:  Which episode?

ERIC:  Seriously though, there’s Network Standards and Practices and we’re not allowed.  [Sera interjects, “We try”]  One thing that’s really funny, which doesn’t answer your question, but it’s funny… you can use the word “dick” as long as you’re not talking about an actual dick, and you can say the word “crap” as long as you’re not referencing taking a crap, and you can say the word “balls” as long as you’re not referencing balls.  Such as in the generic way that Bobby says “Balls!”, you can say it.

MISHA:  Sporting equipment!

ERIC:  But you  cannot  say “I found a mole on my balls.”

JARED:  And now we know how Supernatural is written.

JENSEN:  [mimicking being a writer]  Okay, let’s take the mole away!

QUESTION:  One of my favorite characters that disappeared and we never saw again was Missouri Mosely  [huge cheers]  If we are blessed with a seventh season, is there a possibility of seeing her again?

ERIC:  [cryptically] Possibly.  Now there’s a reason why this audience should give thanks that they haven’t seen Missouri; I’ll tell you this small anecdote.  Loretta (Devine), who played Missouri, is an amazing actress who kicked butt.  As I’m writing the finale to season one,  Devil’s Trap,  and the way the finale opens in the first draft I wrote was that John’s been kidnapped, and the guys need a place to hole up and get help, so they go to Missouri Mosely’s house.  And she’s there, then Meg comes in, they catch her in the devil’s trap to interrogate her.  At that point, we got word that Loretta had booked a movie and was totally unavailable.  Kim was directing that episode and we were just starting the prep for it.  We discussed what we could do and we knew we needed another character.  So we thought, let’s see what a male would look like in that role, an old friend of John’s who is grizzled and cool and has some bad history with him.

I’ll always be indebted to Bob, who at that point indicated there’s this guy named Jim Beaver… “he’s the guy”.  Especially since the amount we’ve used Jim and how integral he has become to the universe of the show, it was obviously one of the great blessings. And it all came about because of a scheduling conflict for Loretta.  [Jim feigns slumping down in his chair as if passing out to indicate a “whew”]  It’s interesting how a show comes together… all those little moments…

SERA: Didn’t you originally say he should be fatherly and resourceful and then you went and wrote it—

ERIC:  Yes. For me, the character was avuncular, paternal… and crusty!… and at that point of the show I was sort of  this young lieutenant in homicide, vomiting in the corner.  The two people that were like father-figures and showing me the ropes were Bob (Singer) and Kim (Manners).  Actually the character’s name originally was ‘Bobby Manners’.  But when the name went through legal clearance they said that there was a real ‘Bobby Manners’ that lived in South Dakota. And if legal finds things like that, you have to change the name.  So I made it ‘Singer.’  And Bob, to his eternal chagrin, wasn’t in that day.  And when he came back he was all ‘what the hell is this?!’  At that point it was a done deal. And that’s how Bobby Singer got his name.

QUESTION:  In other shows like  Bones  and  Psych  where there are two main stars, they become Executive Producers of the show, and since it has now been six years I was wondering why— [eruption of cheers and applause; both Jared and Jensen stood up to applaud her, nodding, then looked over to Eric]

ERIC: Listen lady, you’re doing a great job as their agent, but–  [more laughs]  But ultimately it’s a Warner Brothers decision, being that we’re all under their servitude.

MAUREEN:  I think we have time for just one more question.

JARED:  No, no, that’s a good way to end it!

MAUREEN:  [indicating an audience member to whom others around him are pointing enthusiastically]  Ok, they’re all pointing to you, right there.

MISHA:  How’d  you  get in here?  [laughter]

QUESTION:  You have all made an amazing show and I thank you for that.  Since you’re already ended the series once before, is there any conceivable way to end it in a way that you’re satisfied?  [hesitation] You brought it to a close before with season five’s  Swan Song  and you wrote that in a way to end the series.  If you end it from  this  point, how do you envision that?

ERIC:  Well, we sort of … figure it out.  The longer a series runs there’s no doubt that a lot of the plot elements that I always visualized were going to be the series finale I put into  Swan Song  because it was gearing up to the war between Michael and Lucifer and averting the Apocalypse, and it was obviously hard to delay that.  So we played out all that.  And as we’re building the Apocalypse all of a sudden we’re… ‘wait, you want another  what?!’

But I will say that there’s been a very specific coda that I’ve always had in mind from the very beginning… at what point all the characters end up.  And we didn’t use that, we didn’t go near that.  So that’s still there and I’m sure at some point when we get there Sera will — fifteen years from now — [loud cheers]

JENSEN: I’ll still be yelling, “Sam, help!”  [miming pushing the wheels of a wheelchair]

ERIC:  –Sera will go to the finale.

SERA:  It’s in a locked safe!

ERIC: Yeah, and if you open it up there’s nothing in it but … [ominous voice, referencing the movie  Inception ] …a spinning top! 

And with that great comment, the event came to its conclusion.  Maureen then thanked everyone for coming and announced that the actors could not stay for autographs since they needed to catch a plane to Vancouver right away to continue filming the next day, Monday.  There were so many wonderful moments that simply cannot be put completely into words.  If the Paley Center for Media makes the DVD available, as they did with the first panel held in season one, it will definitely be worth including in your collection. To support the wonderful Paley Center for Media, either through membership or purchase of other great items, please visit their website: http://www.paleycenter.org/

3 thoughts on “Supernatural Panel at Paley Festival, Part III”

  1. Eric telling us about the pilot and what he would rewrite was ADORABLE! 😀 And how awesome is it that TNT shows Supernatural? Even the writers watch it. Lol

    I just want to add that Sera said that when Castiel gives us that look of ‘I really wanna take a nap but I can’t’ (I loved Sera acting as Cas 😀 ) and that we would find out what he means by that look. I’m only mentioning it because it was such an adorable moment (watched it on a youtube video).
    Thank you so much for writing this amazingly long transcript of the panel! *hug*

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