‘Supernatural’: Samantha Smith on Mary Winchester Hunting Vamps with the Men of Letters

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Sam (Jared Padalecki) and mom Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) kicking a little butt in 'The Raid' episode of 'Supernatural'

After burning to death while pinned to the ceiling by the Yellow-Eyed Demon in Supernatural’s pilot episode a dozen years ago, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) mom Mary made an occasional guest appearance in flashbacks. She went dark after Season 5, but since her resurrection by God’s sister Amara in the season 11 finale, Mary has been a major part of the show.

Samantha Smith, who’s played Mary Winchester since the beginning (Amy Gumenick was the younger Mary in several flashbacks), previews Thursday’s episode, “The Raid,” and the appearance of another long-unseen character, as well as her thoughts about life on Supernatural as back-from-the-dead Mommie Dearest.

What was your response when you were asked to return to Supernatural as Mary Winchester after so many years?
Samantha Smith: At first I thought the show was ending and I was in the series finale! When they said, “You’ll be back next year,” I was stunned. Then they said, “You’re a hunter again, and we’re giving you fight training.” It was completely unexpected, and I was completely overjoyed because it’s the funnest job I can imagine. It’s also great to play the role because of all the secrets and twists and turns.

Your training must have worked. You look pretty good playing a bad-ass hunter with shiny new monster-killing gadgets. Had you played an action hero before?
Bless you, but never. We have an amazing stunt coordinator [Lou Bollo] who holds my hand through all of it, and Jensen and Jared both are crazy experts, so I can always ask them for help. It’s been a wonderful challenge and, yes, incredible fun.

It’s not always easy to read Mary. Can we trust her? Should we?
We can trust her. I love and understand Mary. She creating a little discontent amongst the fandom, but Sam and Dean both earned the faith and trust of the fans, and they’ve messed up and have been secretive. Mary is no different; she hasn’t earned their faith and trust yet, but she will. She’s new at this, and is not making the most popular decisions, but she’s doing what she thinks is right. She has to figure out who she is in this new world before she can be a solid part of any team.

She seems to revel in hunting, maybe a little too much. She’s a scary person with a weapon in her hand.
That’s the debate. Does she love it or is she just aware that she’s really good at it? Mary’s world is upside down. It’s only been a few months since she’s been alive again and she’s still off balance. She has to find her way, and  the grounding element is doing what she knew: hunting, fighting, and saving people. As she finds her footing in the world, she’ll be able to bridge that gap  with her boys much more easily.

You don’t think she ran away from her sons pretty quickly after she returned? That’s why some fans are angry.
I don’t think that at all! She found her boys hunting, which is the last thing she wanted. She wants to make things right and give them a life where they can be safe. She’ll do what she has to do, in my opinion, to get that done as expediently as possible.

So she’s decided to ally with the British Men of Letters, who, among other things, tortured Sam. Isn’t she just a pawn for them to reel in Sam and Dean, the most coveted U.S. hunters?
The initial purpose was to get any of the Winchesters they could. Sam and Dean are definitely the prize, but they figured they’d start with Mary, and yes, they think she might be able to lure them over. But Mary sees how organized and disciplined they are, and their methods seem to work. England is devoid of monsters. So to keep her sons safe, she picked the people who seem to have the most effective way of going about things. It’s that black and white for her: What is going to work, and work the fastest with the least amount of peril to everyone?

On the March 2 episode, “The Raid,” Mary is all in with them going after a nest of vampires. Do Sam and/or Dean join her?
Sam is there. Dean is not. What she really wants both of them to do is see her perspective that she loves them and is doing this for them.

Diyah Pera/The CW

How does hunting with those know-it-all Brits work out?
I think the shine will come off when the hunt goes awry! They have a very specific way of doing things with military precision, detailed and planned but not always correct. If one thing goes south, the whole game can unravel. In all their confidence—even arrogance— I’m not sure the British Men of Letters have the ability to think outside of the box. Maybe the flexibility of the Winchester style of hunting has value after all.

Why does killing a nest of vamps unravel? Sounds pretty straightforward for hunters.
The Alpha Vamp shows up! [Note: Rick Worthy returns as the deliciously arrogant bloodsucker patriarch.] If you remember, killing an alpha is not like killing a regular vampire. They’re all-powerful, one of the original creatures. And his arrival was not anticipated. Trying to figure out how to defeat the alpha is a big piece of the puzzle.

Assuming Mary gets out of this, will she meet Lucifer (once again played by the creepily charming Mark Pellagrino)?
I hope so! That would be a very interesting meeting with all the history that he has with Sam and Dean, Sam in particular. He’s crafty, and like I told a panel in Nashville the other day, “You need to treat the devil with all due respect. It’s prudent to watch your P’s and Q’s.”

Is Mary prudent enough to survive the season?
I’m not allowed to talk about that. [Laughs.]

Supernatural, Thursdays, 8/7c, The CW