(All photos taken by sweetondean)
The highlight of the con was, as usual, the panel with Jared and Jensen on Sunday. Both stars were in fine fettle, happy and relaxed, and played off each other with their usual aplomb and impeccable timing. For those fans who waited until the very end of the day, which was scheduled to close with a panel hosted by Richard Speight, Jr. running while the J&J autograph session was finishing up, first Jensen and then Jared joined Richard on stage for a last few funnies.
Asked about roles they each regretted taking and ones they wanted but didn't get, they guys laughed and said they bet they could answer the first part for each other. Jared joked about devouring something, while Jensen laughed about doing it in a New York minute. Jared asserted he really doesn't regret anything. Jesting about potentially (but not really!) missed opportunities, Jared teased he should have taken a role in Twilight while Jensen laughed that he wouldn't have turned down the Bourne movies if they'd been on offer!
Asked about their views of the comparative vision of the three Supernatural show runners, Jared said he still particularly loved Kripke, simply because – more so than Sera Gamble or Jeremy Carver either had or will have the chance to do – he was able to take his vision and run with it. He and Jensen agreed that everyone was ecstatic about Jeremy being back on the show.
When a fan began her question by saying it was about the season 7 finale, Jared immediately teasingly agreed that he apologized for Dean's performance in it – and then broke up to realize he'd said “Dean” instead of “Jensen”! The fan eventually got to ask her question, which involved first her disappointment that we hadn't gotten to see Dean driving the Impala with Sam beside him, and segued into asking who had been with Meg in the Impala, since we'd seen two people inside on the road but only Meg getting out of the car after crashing it through the Sucrocorp sign. The guys threw the question to first assistant director Kevin Parks – affectionately known as “Parksapedia” for his encyclopedic knowledge of Supernatural – who was standing with his wife Jill in the back of the room. Kevin said the passenger beside Meg had been a dressed up doll, used to fool the Leviathan into thinking both Sam and Dean were in the car.
Asked whether he had named his son for Thomas Kinkade, the subject of The Christmas Cottage movie, Jared said Thomas wasn't named for Kinkade; that he and Gen had just like Thomas as a good, strong name. He added that he'd been honored to be onscreen with Peter O'Toole and Melissa Gay Hardin, saying they inspired good performances in everyone around them because, as Jared said, “They expected you to be good.”
Observing that the brothers had worn many costumes while pretending to be other characters, one fan asked – to much laughter! – what it would take to get them into Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniforms, pretending to be Mounties. Jensen immediately used his Dean voice to say, “I'm not putting on a cop uniform!” while Jared noted pragmatically that since the Winchesters were in the U.S., not Canada, they had no reason to pose as Mounties.
Asked which character on the show they empathized with more than the one they played, they both chose to go against the obvious choice of the other brother, although they both acknowledged that the other Winchester was definitely the closest connection for each of them.
Jensen: Obvious answer is Cass, given his friendship with Dean. There's a lot in that relationship I'm partial to. Of course, Sam is the first obvious choice, and the brothers will always be closest with each other first.
Jared: Being a dad myself, probably with John. But there are so many characters with real human qualities in this show.
Asked their favorite deaths among the ones their characters have experienced, and how they would like the brothers to go out in the end, Jared passed on choosing, but Jensen immediately laughed that bad tacos had been the best way to go. Carrying the question forward, Jensen said that he and Jared have often talked about how the show should end, and their general consensus was to have the brothers barreling together toward a sea of monsters, presumably to go down swinging, but to have the camera cut away after they shared a wink and before their deaths could be shown, leaving open the option that they might still escape. (Perhaps into a movie? *grin*)
Asked about Dean eating a lot in season one, but less of that happening recently, Jensen said Dean's penchant for eating was his fault because he'd chosen to play it up the first time food showed up in a script, and he quickly regretted that because the writers picked up on it. Jensen said he felt the joke wore itself out over time.
Asked the one thing they'd once had, but now missed the most, Jensen had no answer. Jared said that while he'd been boating on a lake in Austin with a friend, the friend – teasing him – had started hitting his hips and legs, and then tackled him out of the boat into the water. Jared said he had surfaced shouting, “My phone, my phone!”, and his friend had been perturbed because, as he said, “But you didn't have it on you – I checked!”, explaining his pat-down before the tackle. Jared said his friend had missed the phone because Jared was wearing cargo pants with pockets low-down on the legs, and the phone had been secured in a lower pocket. Jared had two months of baby photos on the phone that he hadn't uploaded to his computer, and those photos were lost. He said his friend felt horrible about it, and while Jared wished it hadn't happened, he said he had lots of pictures of Thomas.
When a fan asked what would happen if Castiel was a woman for one episode, Jensen immediately deadpanned, “You mean he isn't?” He and Jared riffed on the theme, but Jensen concluded very quickly that it wouldn't change anything in Castiel's relationship with the Winchesters. He pointed out angels didn't really have gender, instead taking on the physical nature of their vessels while being – as he put it – junkless themselves. And with a few helpful reminders from Jared and fans, he finished by noting that Castiel had already been female, when the angel had inhabited Jimmy's daughter in the episode The Rapture, and it hadn't changed a thing.
Asked their favorite places in Canada besides Vancouver, Jared immediately said he loved Vancouver, and thought Kelowna was pretty awesome. Jensen said he loved Tofino in upper Vancouver Island.
Asked if they would share any embarrassing stories from their weddings or bachelor parties, both of the guys seemed briefly disconcerted, but Jared contributed the report that he'd gotten scrapes on his back while wrestling on the rough carpet at his bachelor party, and that rug burn was bad enough that it scabbed over and the scabs cracked open when he moved the next morning. He said he had to get his back taped up so he wouldn't leave little blood spots on his white wedding shirt! Emboldened by Jared's story, Jensen said that he and Daneel had engaged a very talented photographer named Bjorn to document their wedding, but it turned out that he talked like a dockworker, with profanities and curse words in virtually every sentence. Jensen said he was worried about the impact of that language on his poor grandmother, but as he put it, “The shots look effing great!”
When Jensen was asked if his wife or father would ever be seen on Supernatural, he provided the sole tiny spoiler of the night, saying we'd see his father in a small role in the episode he directed. He laughed that his father had been hesitant to accept the role, saying he didn't want to come up to Canada and embarrass Jensen, and he'd used his stern voice, ordering “Dad, get on the plane!” Jared teased that Jensen's father really just didn't want to take his direction!
Someone asked who would win a “funny face” competition, and Jared immediately ceded the title to Jensen!
Asked what were their favorite weapons or ways to kill a monster, Jared started off by saying this wasn't his answer, but he thought the Colt was really cool, and so was the demon-killing dagger. He said that he would have to go with flamethrowers, though. Jensen said the pump action shotgun that Jo gave to Dean was cool, but that a new weapon Dean has this season is his favorite. He wouldn't give away what it was, but said we would see it.
I don't recall precisely how this came up, but Jensen and Jared pointed out production designer Jerry Wanek and cinematographer Serge Ladouceur sitting in the front row on the side, and Jensen announced that Serge is going to direct this season for the first time, as Jerry had done last season! He said that Kevin Parks would also be directing for the first time, and both those announcements made everyone cheer!
When they were asked how they influence the writing, Jensen opened by saying, absolutely deadpan, that he didn't think the writing was organic at all, that the writers were chemically treated every day. That brought down the house! Jared added that at first, the writers wanted the words delivered exactly as written, but over time, trust developed more freedom. Jensen added that after a season or two of watching them, the writers were writing for them because of how they spoke, and Jared agreed they wrote to their strengths. Jensen said they didn't do any radical ad-libbing, that sometimes they would feel something didn't quite feel right, and then they'd put their heads together to make it more conversation or more 'Sam'n'Dean'. They talked about unscripted things they'd added with the approval of directors, like Dean punching Sam at the end of the possession in Born Under A Bad Sign, and Jensen said Dean's scared scene in Yellow Fever wasn't meant to be that over-the-top.
Pulling a really funny switch on the usual way questions ran, one fan said she really liked Jared and Jensen, but wanted to know what Mark Sheppard was like! After a brief moment of hilarity while the entire auditorium reacted, Jensen said, absolutely seriously, that he had never met an actor who loved to be on set more than Sheppard. He said most actors would only come to set when they were due to be there for scenes they were in and would spend down time between camera set-ups in their trailers, but Mark loved being there watching what went on even when he wasn't directly involved.
A fan's question led to Jared asking Kevin Parks just what had happened to the 'real' Jared and Jensen in The French Mistake, when Sam and Dean had replaced them. After a little back and forth, the conclusion was that the 'real' J&J had traded places with Sam and Dean, and being untrained cowards totally unequipped to deal in a world without their minders and makeup artists, rapidly died in hunter reality!
Asked their favorite bloopers so far, Jared picked his inability to stay on set during the scene when the snake crawled over Jensen in Yellow Fever. Jensen picked “Eye of the Tiger.”
I don't recall the full question or response, but Jensen said that his toughest transition from playing Dean was doing “A Few Good Men” on stage.
At the very end of the panel, Jared auctioned off one of his wedding gift packages, for the amazing amount of $8,000, all going to charity! Check Part 3 of SweetOnDean's report for a delightful account of the auction and its aftermath!
Richard Speight, Jr., plus J&J
That was it for the programmed panel, but after the guys finished their autographs, they came back to the stage for a few final minutes with Richard Speight, Jr. Being first in the interview line, Jensen finished first, and when he came on stage, they had some fun with Richard's mustache, with Jensen teasing him and Richard responding, “Reach out and scratch my 'stache!” Talking about getting their respective starts as actors, Richard said Jensen just rode into Hollywood, and while pantomiming first riding a horse and then working a Foley sound stage, Jensen laughed that he didn't have a horse, just two coconuts to make the sound of hoofbeats. Richard described his first appearance on stage as a child in “The Trojan Women” and having to play dead. When Jared finished up his autographs and arrived on stage, he took one look at Richard's mustache and proclaimed, “It's like an Old Spice commercial on your face!”
With that, Jared and Jensen left the stage to Richard, who finished things up with the Band Of Brothers story I mistakenly included at the end of my account of his panel with Matt the day before (sorry about that!). Details I missed recounting included Richard's opening explanation, in response to a question, that it was much easier to do a made-up character rather than real one, because doing a real person involves losing yourself and truly becoming someone else, not just throwing yourself passionately into a role you imagined. The Band of Brothers producers gave him the phone numbers of two men from the company. He called the man who'd been the best friend of the man he was going to play in order to ask what he had been like, and the man started sobbing and hung up. That made Richard realize this was real and much deeper than he thought. He called back and worked on being more considerate. Along the way, learned that Muck – the man he portrayed – wasn't from Florida, as the script said, but from Tonawonda, NY. Eventually he got in contact with Muck's niece, who never even knew what her uncle had done or how he had died. Richard sent copies of the book to the niece and other members of the family, they read it, and then began a two-way exchange in which the family shared letters, the telegram that notified them of his death, and more. In addition to changing the line in the script to mention Tonawanda instead of Florida, Richard – with the blessing of Graham Yost – created the speech he delivered as Muck in the foxhole from one of the letters he'd gotten from the family. The woman who'd been Muck's real life girlfriend heard her name in the movie in that scene, and sent back to the family Muck's jump wings, which he'd given to her while celebrating his graduation into a paratrooper. Richard and the Band of Brothers producers backed the family in their request to get all of Muck's medals reissued, and the Department of Defense obliged.
And for all you folk attending the Chicago convention, here's a heads-up to look for some very special guests: Richard will be bringing some real-world Band of Brothers family members to the Chicago con!!!
And with that, VanCon 2012 came to an end. But it's not quite the end of my reports: I've still got the location tour to recount, complete with photos, and maybe even a video or two … Stay tuned!
Here are more photos from sweetondean from the panel and the breakfast. Pretty alert!