With the fifteenth and final season of 'Supernatural' currently airing on Neon, Jensen Ackles (who plays Dean Winchester in the show) shares some of his thoughts...
Q: How involved did you want to be in terms of the character arc of Sam and Dean Winchester in the final season of Supernatural? Did you want give your own personal input into the show’s final storylines?
JENSEN: I think it was less about having involvement in the arc and more about, “Let’s figure out where we’re going to end up.” How we get there is up to the writers. They can figure that out, but we were interested in the ending. When we went to go and see the writers in LA about a month and a half before we started to shoot the final season, they had a pitch for what they thought the ending of the show should be. It was intense to have a discussion with everybody who crafts the show, but I had trouble with the ending. For some reason, it didn’t go down easy with me. About a week later, I was like, “Man, why am I having so much trouble digesting this?” So I called an old friend and I told him what the plan was, and I said I needed some clarity. He gave it to me. After that, I called [executive producer] Bob Berens and I talked to him a little bit about it, and he gave me some more clarity. Now, I’m actually pumped up about it. I think the ending is going to be great. I think it’s going to be very emotional.
Q: How are you going to handle your last day on set?
JENSEN: I believe we’re already planning to schedule the final scene and the final day of production. I believe it will be an added day, just for that one scene. It’s going to be really tough. It’s going to be really, really tough to hang those keys up.
Q: Is there a sense of sadness on set knowing that you’re filming the final season of the show?
JENSEN: That hasn’t really kicked in yet. Right now, it’s business as usual. We’re back in. I mean, I think one person said, “Oh, it’s the last first day.” I was like, “Shut up. We’ve got nine more months on the show. We will be sick of each other by the end of the season!”
Q: Do you think you’re in denial about the end of the show?
JENSEN: I guess I am a little bit. Yeah. But I don’t want to start going down that road because then there will be nine months of sadness, so we’re going to stay focused. We’re going to keep our eyes on the prize and get it done. However, once we get into the final stretch of those last episodes, which will be just past the holiday season, I’m sure it’s going to be pretty heavy. Once we turn the corner and we come down to that last stretch, it’s going to be tough.
Q: What did you think of the fan reaction to the news that season 15 was going to be the final season of Supernatural?
JENSEN: I’ve been really, really stoked at how the fans are digesting the news. It’s bittersweet. Of course, there are people who say, “Oh, I don’t want it to end.” Listen, I get it – but the show can’t last forever. I didn’t want us to stick around for so long that the show started to suffer. I don’t want to be in the car when it runs out of gas. I think we’re going to go out at the right time because I think 15 is a good number. There will be 327 episodes by the end of season 15, which the best small block engine that they put in the Chevy Impalas back in the ‘60s. That’s a little fun fact for you.
Q: How did it feel on set during the first day of the final season?
JENSEN: I wish I could say there was some sort of big emotional stir, but I was directing the first episode, so I had a lot more on my plate than just coming in and playing Dean. I can play Dean in my sleep because I understand him so well now. Not because I’m phoning it in, but because I can literally snap into Dean very easily.
Q: Has that changed over the years?
JENSEN: Recently, a reporter asked me, “How hard are the emotional scenes to get through?” I was like, “Early on, they could be a little tough. Maybe I’d have to think about something in my personal life to get me to a really emotional place for Dean.” I don’t have to do that anymore because if I think about the fact that Dean is losing his father figure, that gets me emotional because I love this character so much. I know he’s not real, but he’s the best imaginary friend I’ve ever had. And to hear him have to deal with those kinds of situations; well, that alone gets me emotional, so I can snap into Dean very quickly. That being said, walking onto the set for the first day of the final season, I was strictly in director mode, which is a completely different headspace for me. It’s very different to when I show up and play Dean. I haven’t had that moment of weighty emotion yet and I’m going to try to push that off for as long as I can.
Q: What can you tease about the first scene you shot as a director this season?
JENSEN: It was a scene with Rob Benedict, who plays Chuck/God. It was a moment where he runs into a character who hasn’t been around since season seven. We’re bringing a fan favourite back who is not even in the business anymore.
Q: Do you feel like Dean has crept into your personality and will always be a part of you? Does he ever come out when you’re not on set?
JENSEN: I used aspects of my own personality to create Dean, so Dean has always been a part of me. There is a lot of overlap and it’s great to be able to play somebody like that because I can be bold when Jensen wants to be timid and I can be brave when Jensen wants to be scared. I can also be funny when Jensen can’t think of a joke. It’s the best of both of worlds, so he is certainly a part of me. There are certain things that I have learned from him and there’s many things that I’ve taught him, too.
Q: In the early years of the show, you would use your hiatus to work on movie projects. Why did that stop? And are you going to return to movies now that the show is coming to an end?
JENSEN: I decided I was never doing that again during the hiatus; especially when my family started to expand. In the hiatus, I realized that I wanted to have a little bit of time at home to recharge and get ready for the next season. But now that I don’t have another season to get recharged for, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do know that I told my wife, “Well, it looks like we can go on that long vacation we’ve always wanted to go on. We can take some time off.” Her response was, “You’re not taking time off. You’re going to go right back into it.” I was like, “Into what?” And she responded, “Into whatever it is. We’ll figure that out.” We’ve got nine months to shoot the final season, so we’ll see what new avenues open up at the end of that time.
Q: When you first started to shoot the show in Vancouver, did you have any idea how long you’d be spending there?
JENSEN: I’ve spent an enormous amount of time in Vancouver. Not only have we shot Supernatural there, but I was in Vancouver when we filmed a show called Dark Angel. And I was there during Smallville. I also did a little show called Still Life that ran for about six episodes, but never aired. The majority of my career has been spent filming in Vancouver, so it has been very good to me. I always say my only complaint with Vancouver is that it’s not actually my home. But I had no idea I’d be there for this long. It’s going to be strange to say goodbye.
Seasons 9 to 15 are available to watch on Neon - click here for more information.