After 10 years of attending Supernatural conventions in Chicago, the excitement on Sunday morning for “J2 Day” hasn’t waned in the slightest. The early wake-up call for Jared and Jensen’s gold ticket holders’ private panel is a tough reminder of those extra years that have passed since my initiation to this exclusive event, but no matter. This is what it’s all about. Jared and Jensen on stage together, talking about Supernatural, their lives, their friendship, their careers, their families, their foibles, their triumphs… and whatever else fans ask them to talk about. The boys’ chemistry is palpable. Their ease with their fans is like a warm embrace. The love in the room that fills your heart to bursting is what keeps them, and us, coming back for more. It’s about the joy, their radiant smiles, the shared history…and their good looks. There’s always their good looks.
I try to live tweet a few gems from the gold panel for fans around the world who can’t be with us in the room. It’s really hard to look at my phone, though, when ever fiber of my being is screaming to soak in each second of the fleeting 30 minutes we have with these superstars of our screens. My priorities are:
1. Live (in the moment)
2. Look (at every facial expression and body movement)
3. Listen (to every word)
4. Record our time together to relive it later, via as many pictures as I can take (without making a nuisance of myself to the people around me).
Watching the full panel on YouTube is always an option for fans, but the speed of live action doesn’t capture unique moments or special expressions. Those have to be appreciated in photographs that freeze the perfect breath, smile, laugh, look.
So here are my favorite shots from that morning. I hope they convey even the smallest portion of the fun of being in the presence of these boys.
Although anticipation was high, this particular panel seemed to take a long time to get going in earnest. There were more shout outs from the audience than usual (excitement?) with individual’s responses to the boys’ opening greetings coming at them from every direction. This audience participation segment was the “some patience required for more exuberant attendees” moment of the panel because most of us could only hear a voice over voice cacophony.
Jensen soon took charge, though, by relating that he started his day with a win – solving a Wordle puzzle with his first guess!
The extemporaneous audience reactions continued, but in response to one shout out, Jared admitted that he plays a long list of word puzzle games every day – Wordle, Quordle, Squaredle, Quordle Sequence and a whole lot more than I even knew existed – while hiding from his kids in the bathroom!
The panel finally hit its stride when the boys’ answered a “Crossover to another TV show?” question. Jensen initiated the hijinks, but before we knew it they were both ad libbing an imaginary scene from The Walking Dead. Either they had acted out this bit at a previous con or Jared instantly understood a seemingly invisible cue from Jensen, because they simultaneously sprang into a hilarious scene of Dean Winchester being mind-numbingly bored by the slow motion “attacks” of TWD zombies! This segment of the panel is worth seeing on the video!
Since they were talking about The Walking Dead, when asked what actors or characters they would have liked to have had on the show more often, Jeffrey Dean Morgan was the first name that popped into their heads.
Jared also mentioned Sully (Nate Torrence), while Jensen chimed in with Benny (Ty Olsson). Of course, they would have wanted Charlie (Felicia Day) back as much as the producers would have allowed!
What other episodes would they have wanted in the series? Jensen had an answer ready for this question!
Rather than an episode, we would have wanted to add one specific scene to the Supernatural series finale. Right before entering the barn for their showdown with the vampires, he would have liked Dean to have put on a big, bulky backpack.
Think about it…
Yeah, I don’t think Jensen liked killing off Dean one little bit. I’m right there with you, Jensen.
Jensen then reenacted the scene with that one, tiny addition:
Sam: “Wow, that could have been bad!”
Jensen: “or maybe it could have gone right under Dean’s armpit…”
Dean (looking under his arm): “Ahhh! See that?!” gesturing with a smug, victory kick!
An audience member shouted out the suggestion of a gender swap episode.
Jensen, laughing: “Deana, Samantha… and Cassandra?”
They thought about that for a moment but Jared concluded it would have been hard to have carried that off with sensitivity to all viewers.
That’s the way these panels can go. Laughing hysterically one moment (over a tragic death scene, of all things), to being thoughtful and caring about their fans, to near tears in less than five minutes.
The tear jerker moment came in response to a gentleman’s question about their favorite interaction with their fans. An innocent enough question. Jared took the lead by saying he loves hearing about connections and new relationships that have been made because of their shows. Jared’s answer gave Jensen time to think.
He remembered a tender interaction with a dying fan’s dad that Jensen said brought him to tears. He prefaced the story with a warning that he might not be able to get through it without tearing up all over again. Suddenly, all the boisterous shout outs and laughter went silent, as everyone gave Jensen the space he needed to share this memory.
It was during a Make-a-Wish visit to Supernatural‘s set when a brawny, fire fighter dad thanked them for making his young daughter, who was losing a battle with a terminal disease, smile and forget about her situation for a while.
Jared acknowledged that he remembered that day too, suggesting that he was similarly touched by it. As dads, it’s hard to admit that sometimes you need help with your family’s business.
But just as unexpectedly as that serious moment washed over our hearts, it was swept away in shared relief by the next question:
“What Muppet would you be?”
Jared didn’t hesitate. “Big Bird!”
Jensen: “Dean would be Oscar, the grouch! Trash can life for him!”
The last question could have been just as silly, but the boys answered it more seriously. If they could go back to school, what would they study? Jared reflected that, with the current actor strike, they have a lot of extra time on their hands, so he just might consider enrolling in a course or two. He said he’s always been interested in history, and what we can learn about ourselves from those who came before us.
Jensen started off flippantly, saying “Mechanics class.” It wasn’t immediately clear to me if he was talking about his own interest in classic cars, or if he was perhaps channeling a bit of Dean just then. But he soon got more introspective.
He said he’s recently been interested in neuroscience, and learning how the brain works. Or maybe astrophysics, to learn about the universe. Jared said Jensen had kept them up way too late into the night discussing the mysteries of the heavens and their implications for humanity. Laughing, he commented, “And that is why you don’t want to be friends with Jensen Ackles!”
From joking about death (Dean’s unfortunate encounter with rebar in the back) to being stopped in your tracks when faced with death’s reality. From Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to Stephen Hawking. You never know where these panels will go, so you absorb every moment you can. After all, the memories have to last until the next time you’re together – if you’re lucky enough for that to ever happen.
With that, let me close with a few more frozen moments with these best friends who brighten our days.
I’d love to hear your unique Supernatural convention moments below!
Enjoy more of Nightsky’s convention reports by clicking on the byline above, or the “WFB’s Convention Reports” link at the bottom of every page! The panel’s full video can be seen on YouTube.