Jared Padalecki on Latest ‘Walker’ Tragedy: ‘It’s Heartbreaking All Around’

Walker + Jared Padalecki
Spoiler Alert
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Walker Season 1, Episode 13, “Defend the Ranch.” If you haven’t seen it yet, go have a drink at The Side Step and catch up!]

Was Cordell Walker (Jared Padalecki) born under a bad sign or something? Because death seems to follow this guy wherever his boots lead him. First, it was the murder of his beloved wife Emily (Genevieve Padalecki), and tonight, Cord lost his best bud — and worst influence — Hoyt Rawlins (Matt Barr) during a run-in with the Rodeo Kings, the crime ring previously brought down by Walker’s undercover alter-ego “Duke.”

A lifelong presence in the Walker family, Hoyt was a ne’er do well trying to do better who was beloved by Walker matriarch Abbie (Molly Hagan), and still smitten with high-school sweetheart Geri (Odette Annable). His loss is sure to leave a mark, especially since Walker and Geri started to heat things up while Hoyt was in the clink.

Since this hour was supposed to be the season finale (read on for more), that means there’s a whole lot left to come following this fatality. So we went straight to the star of the show for some insight into what’s next and really, just to check in with Jared Padalecki, because, well, he’s the best.


Jared Padalecki: How the hell are you?

Doing great. But you’ve got to be tired though, man.

Tired was a month ago. This is like delirious. This is just a few steps past tired. [Laughs]

You’re wrapping up the season in a couple of weeks, right?

Yeah. We wrap, as of now, we wrap on the 18th, whatever that Friday is. And I was supposed to have today off, but we had this massive thunderstorm in Austin yesterday, and we had to push a couple of scenes till today. It’s just something every day. [Laughs]

Every day, right. This is why your name is on top of the title.

There you go, yeah. I know that. I know that.

So let’s talk…this season’s been so great and you must love the challenges that you’re being given.

Oh, big time. After so many years on Supernatural of doing some really difficult work in a country that my family didn’t even live in, I certainly didn’t want to sign up for a cakewalk. I wanted to sign up for a storyline that I love. You know that I wanted to retire after Supernatural. And then when this idea kind of came up, we started talking about it and I was like, “God, I’d love to help tell that story.” And so now that I have the ability and the privilege to help the story, I’m super excited. It’s a lot of hard work and that’s kind of how I operate the best.

Walker + Jared Padalecki

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And it’s allowing you to play some beats that, even after 15 years on Supernatural, you maybe didn’t get to play as far as the protective father. And while Jensen Ackles was your sidekick, your partner and your brother, here you get Micki (Lindsey Morgan) and it’s a totally different dynamic. It’s a different relationship.

Absolutely. It’s fun. I played a little brother for 15 and a half years, 327 episodes, and so to play a big brother and play a father has been a really awesome experience and exploration. I am a big brother in real life. I’m a little brother as well, but I have a little sister. I am a father now. And obviously, when Supernatural started, I was not. And when I’m not on camera, that’s been the main theme of my life…I’m a father and I’m a spouse.

How much richer is this experience because you get to go home to family?

It’s pretty crazy. It’s what I’ve wanted. It’s why we were willing to say goodbye to Supernatural because Jensen and I wanted to meet our wives and kids. So it’s great to come home to a family that loves you and is happy to see you. I can come home and I’m exhausted, it’s been a long day, my back hurts and my brain hurts, and I have a big day at work tomorrow…but it’s great to come home after a long day of hard work and have the kids come run up and go like, “Hey, Dad. Let’s go play!” [Laughs]

And it helps also with Walker, seeing what he knows he was missing. Because life imitated art for a little bit: I was off in Vancouver working, and Walker was off undercover working. And then you come home and go like, “Man, I should’ve been here all along. I can do work I’m proud of, I can tell a story, I can play a character and see my family.”

Gen is already on the show, so I’m waiting for the kids to kind of play in the background.

[Laughs] Now that would be great! I think when the COVID protocols and stuff get removed or whatever, hopefully we can have that done.

Maybe just get to play like young Cord and Liam (Keegan Allen).

I love it. I love it.

Walker + Jared Padalecki + Matt Barr

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Now, this episode that you came back with, I’m so bummed because Hoyt is such a great character and Matt is so good. The show needs somebody like this, the relationship that exists between Cord and Hoyt. And then you went and killed him off!

Oh, believe me, we all yelled at Anna [Fricke, showrunner]. We were all like, “What are you doing?!” And she was like, “I’m crying too.”

These people have been through enough. I only just got over Emily.

[Laughs] It’s one of those things. It was very similar to when Bobby Singer, who was played by Jim Beaver, died on Supernatural. It was like, what? What are we doing? But then you ultimately have to remind yourself, well, we’re telling a story and this is really good TV.

True. It does cause new drama. With the Cord-Geri stuff, you now have an added layer of grief…

And guilt.

And then you’ve got Abeline (Molly Hagan). She’s going to be devastated.

Of course. We’re all devastated. And even Bonham (Mitch Pileggi) came around and realized, with his tough love and grit, that Hoyt loved the family. He was a bit wayward, but he would have done anything for the Walkers. And ultimately he does make the ultimate sacrifice for them. And so, for me, I’m like, “Dammit, no, don’t do that.” But the producer in me is like, “Dammit, that’s good television.”

It was so brilliant to set it all up with the Rodeo Kings arriving at the ranch, and then almost hit the pause button for the flashback episode to Emily’s death. Of course, we were all wondering is Liam has just been bleeding out for the last five weeks.

[Laughs] Yeah, that was a great way to kind of let the audience know, hey, here’s what’s going on in real time. Now we’re going to go ahead and spend a little bit of time explaining exactly how we got here. And it’s heartbreaking all around.

And this was supposed to be your season finale, right?

Not anymore. [Laughs] We were originally picked up for 13 episodes. And then when we got the season 2 pickup, they added five episodes. So this episode stayed the same, this originally was our season finale and it’s easily our biggest, baddest episode yet. It’s huge. It was kind of a three-part finale culminating in episode 13. And when we had those five episodes added, we didn’t subtract anything from this episode. We kept it all.

And how does this spin you out? Because normally we get to the finale and then they’d have all summer to write the pickup and what’s going to happen. But you get five more episodes.

Well, we find out in this episode that the deception and the criminal activity spreads beyond just the Rodeo Kings. We find out that something else is rotten in Denmark. That puts Walker into another situation where he’s forced to grieve loss yet again, but has a really important job to do at the same time.

It’s so cool how this is just not the show a lot of people expected it to be. It’s funny and emotional and layered and really beautifully shot. It’s not just action for action’s sake. I’m also obsessed with Duke’s Texas Rangers baseball cap.

Isn’t that great? That thing is awesome. They found an old school one and aged it. It’s such a cool cap. I’m going to be stealing that, for sure.

Walker + Jared Padalecki

Rebecca Brennen/The CW

It’s the perfect piece for the show because it also kind of ties into that whole old-school Walker history and the design is amazing.

Yeah. I frickin’ love that. I’ll have to steal you one as well.

So what are your plans for the summer?

Well, we shoot until the 18th. So I think probably for a week or two, I’m just going to hit the pressure-release valve, pretend it’s a pandemic again and not answer my phone and not go anywhere. Just hang with the family. It’s awesome to see the family every day, but I’m half-elsewhere [when shooting]. So I think for the first week or two, I’ll just be playing with the kids. Our daughter is still in preschool and our boys are in school, so we’ll just spend some time together. And then my birthday is next month.

Oh right! It’s so weird to not have Comic-Con happening live, which was always over your birthday weekend.

It’s is so weird, I know, right? It’s so weird to not be filming or Comic-Con-ing. But we’ll do something fun. It’s my last birthday before the big four-zero, so we’ll do a road trip or something.

Well happy birthday in advance and we’ll definitely be talking later.

Can’t wait, man. Have a great one.

Walker, Thursdays, 8/7c, The CW