Farewell to ‘Supernatural’ Day 9: Oral History, Part 2
Hey there, SPN fans! Join us in our 15-day countdown to the series finale of Supernatural, featuring a look back with the cast (and guest stars!) at 15 seasons of demon-hunting and apocalypse-preventing, as well as exclusive content, sneak peeks, and more.
The below is the second of a three-part oral history with series creator Eric Kripke, stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, and more of the cast and crew of Supernatural from TV Guide Magazine‘s November 9 issue. Stay tuned for Part 3 in the days to come — and pick up a copy of the magazine, on newsstands now!
And if you missed it, read Part 1 here.
2007: The Fourth Wall Falls
Supernatural’s fan-favorite yearly meta episodes, which poked fun at the industry, the fandom and everything in between, began in its sophomore season.
Kripke: In “Hollywood Babylon” [April 19, 2007], the guys were investigating murders on a horror movie set. [Actor] Gary Cole was the TV executive, and every note [in the script] was a real note from The CW [Supernatural had moved from The WB the year prior], word for word. They never noticed!
Exec Producer Robert Singer: [Season 5’s] “Changing Channels” [November 5, 2009] was originally about the Trickster [Richard Speight Jr.] throwing Sam and Dean into an alt-universe where they’d be in a soap. I asked, “Why don’t we go through all of the TV tropes?”
Richard Speight Jr.: I’d played the Trickster in several one-off episodes, but the reveal in “Changing Channels” [that the Trickster is actually the archangel Gabriel] is when everything shifted.
Ackles: To be honest, most of us were very nervous about breaking the fourth wall and almost making fun of ourselves.
Kripke: The last meta episode I was involved in was “The French Mistake.” [In Season 6’s February 25, 2011, entry, Sam and Dean arrive in an alt-universe as actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles…who play demon hunter brothers.] Ben [Edlund, SPN writer] and I decided we were going to make the single most meta thing in all of TV history.
Ackles: The producers told us, “We want Sam and Dean to get thrown into an alternate universe where you’re playing yourselves.” I remember going, “That’s a terrible idea.”
Padalecki: I thought we may have jumped the shark. The fans loved it.
Exec Producer Andrew Dabb: [Season 13’s animated crossover] “Scoobynatural” [March 29, 2018] might be the one [meta episode] that I wouldn’t change anything about.
2008–09: Religious Undertaking
For years, Kripke insisted that, despite having demons aplenty on the show, there would be no angels. That changed in Season 4 with the addition of no-nonsense Castiel (Misha Collins).
Kripke: Between Seasons 3 and 4, I was brushing my teeth and [realized] we really needed angels. What occurred to me was, our angels could be just as big d–ks as the demons. Neither side cared about humanity. Once that clicked into place for me, it actually brought a lot of balance to that universe.
Misha Collins: [When I auditioned,] the script team didn’t want to spoil that they were introducing angels. I was reading for the role of a demon. After eight takes, Eric said, “OK, that looks good, but do it as an angel.” I think I had a blank stare and gave a performance that was a bit robotic, which ultimately ended up being Castiel.
Singer: Castiel had one of the best entrances we’ve ever had. He just shows up in the barn, and the visual effects guys did this great spread of wings against the wall. It was really dramatic.
For Season 4’s Heaven vs. Hell plotline, the series brought back seductive demon Ruby (introduced by Katie Cassidy in Season 3). During the show’s first apocalypse, Ruby returns from Hell, looking different in a fresh “meat suit,” and played by actress Genevieve Cortese, who would eventually become the real-life wife to Padalecki.
Genevieve Cortese Padalecki: On my first day, everyone was in great spirits because they had just come back from the writers’ strike. [The 2007–08 hiatus shut down production from November to February.] I met Jared on the day we were shooting our first scene. Because of a last-minute wardrobe switch, I was in my underwear. Jared walks in like this golden retriever and says, “How are you doing?”
Padalecki: The implication in the scene was that she and Sam have been doing naughty things. [Genevieve] didn’t want anything to do with me! I really loved Sam’s arc in Season 4, but that entire year is colored by my memory of falling in love.
Ruby and Sam’s bad romance ends with her manipulating the younger Winchester into drinking demon blood, thus freeing the Devil (Mark Pellegrino) in the Season 4 finale, “Lucifer Rising” (May 14, 2009).
Mark Pellegrino: When [writer] Jeremy Carver inquired whether I’d be interested in playing Lucifer, I said yes, sight unseen. I didn’t read any scripts or audition. I like to look at Lucifer as a chocolate chip cookie: He’s hard on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. [The writers] humanized him.
Alternatively, humanizing Cass was a challenge.
Collins: When Castiel first appeared, one of our producers said, “Castiel is around human beings for the first time in thousands of years, and they are strange, almost alien entities to him.” It shaped how Castiel came into the human landscape. Over time [Collins was promoted to series regular for Season 5], simply by exposure [to humans]—he spent so much time with Sam and Dean—he got to know them and they got to know him. And right up to the very end, he still has his idiosyncrasies.
2009: “Hello, Boys”
Season 5 brought the wily crossroads demon Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard), later the King of Hell, who served as the Winchesters’ frenemy in more than 70 episodes over eight years. In his intro, “Abandon All Hope…” (November 19, 2009), as part of an attempt to banish Lucifer, he passed off the Colt—a legendary revolver that can kill anything—to the boys.
Mark A. Sheppard: I was good friends with Kim Manners [the X-Files vet was one of the original directors-producers], and he told me I had to do his show. Right after Kim passed [in January 2009 due to lung cancer], this role came up. I saw it as a cosmic joke. In my first scene, [to seal the deal for a soul,] I had to kiss another actor. The poor guy kept fighting me when it got to the kiss. It was monstrously funny.
This, of course, was echoed later on with the Bobby and Crowley kiss [“Two Minutes to Midnight,” May 6, 2010]. Poor Jim [Beaver] said, “I’m a reasonably accomplished actor, and all I’m going to be remembered for is kissing Mark Sheppard!”
2009–10: Chuck Shurley…God?
Just before Lucifer entered the picture, viewers got Season 4’s “The Monster at the End of This Book” (April 2, 2009) and another major player: Chuck Shurley (Rob Benedict), the prophet and author behind a series of poorly selling Supernatural books. In the Season 5 ender, “Swan Song” (May 13, 2010)—also Kripke’s final episode as showrunner before passing the baton to Gamble for Seasons 6 and 7—Chuck, dressed in white, evaporates into thin air. The scene sets off years of speculation on whether Chuck is the show’s absent God. (Spoiler alert: He is.)
Rob Benedict: Toward the end of Season 5, Eric called me and said, “You are God, but I want fans to have their own interpretation about what you might be.”
Dabb: We knew Chuck was God in Season 5, but it didn’t come out until Season 11. It was established that Chuck was a writer and Eric asked, “Are we going to be the jerks that make a writer God?” And we were like, “Yeah, we’re gonna do that.”
Kripke: Chuck was the stand-in for the writers. His pen name was Carver Edlund, for [writers] Jeremy Carver and Ben Edlund. We were increasingly aware that the writers were the gods of [the Supernatural] universe.
This was Part 2 of our three-part oral history. Check back for Part 3 on November 13, and stay tuned for more Supernatural fun as TV Insider counts down to the November 19 series finale.
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