At Supernatural’s party promoting 300 episodes in Vancouver last week, we spoke with Jensen Ackles, Danneel Ackles, and Genevieve Padalecki about how the show has shaped their families and what it’s afforded them the opportunity to do with their voices.
While we’re all very excited to see what the 300th episode of Supernatural holds, the milestone is also a moment to pause and reflect on how this show’s longevity has affected its stars offscreen.
Texas natives Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki started their Supernatural tenure in their early 20s. Fourteen years later, they’ve both married and had children, eschewing the Hollywood lifestyle in order to raise their families in their home state, commuting between Austin and their adopted home of Vancouver for work.
“They’re best friends in real life, they’re really brothers, they treat each other like brothers, and they push each other,” executive producer Phil Sgriccia reiterated, when speaking about how Supernatural’s legacy relies on these two and their unique bond, and it’s universally understood that Ackleses and Padaleckis are a package deal, forged as one big family unit thanks to the way Supernatural has structured their lives.
J2, as fans have dubbed them, were both joined by their wives for the 300th party press call, which was fitting in more ways than one — not only have both ladies have been heavily involved in the community outreach that the Supernatural fandom is so famous for, but both are actors who have appeared in the series in significant roles.
Supernatural is actually responsible for one of its stars’ marriages — Jared Padalecki met Genevieve Cortese when the Supernatural cast returned to set in 2008 to begin filming season 4. Gen appeared as the demon Ruby in new vessel — a brain-dead girl about to be taken off life support, slightly less morally decrepit than forced possession of a functioning adult — and Ruby’s allyship with Sam blossoms into a hot-and-heavy partnership, a toxic romance where Ruby facilitated the use of Sam’s psychic powers with demon blood.
Speaking on the red carpet about the impact of the show on her family, we asked Genevieve just how all-encompassing the Supernatural lifestyle actually is. “It is very consuming. My husband, it’s his day-to-day life, and his day-to-day life obviously affects my day-to-day life life, it’s how we met and how we came together, it’s become a family for us — we’re so in it that I don’t know what life is like without it!”
Genevieve and Jared started dating — much more happily than Ruby and Sam! — about four months into filming together. They married in 2010 and they have three children — sons Tom and Shep and daughter Odette. The Padaleckis live near to the Ackles family in Austin, where the children all attend school together while their fathers are filming Supernatural.
The junior Padaleckis are still a little young to watch Dad kill demons, but Genevieve enjoys catching up on the show after the kids have gone to bed, and her favorite part of the whole experience as a viewer really highlights the way that the show has integrated into the normalcy of its stars’ home life.
“What I really love,” she explains, “is when Jared and I will be talking and he’s, like, happy, or whatever it is, and we’ll check in and I’ll say ‘What happened? How’d your day go?’ and he’ll tell me about discussing a scene or he and Jensen sat down and had a conversation with a writer, or for instance the other day we were going to a parent-teacher conference and Jared and I are in the car, and he’s on the speakerphone with Andrew Dabb and Bob Singer and they’re going over some episode. And I don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about, but I can hear it, hear them discussing character, motives, and stuff — and then to go watch it, and see what they’re talking about, that for me — it’s just super fun, in knowing him, and as an actor [myself.]”
Genevieve writes a lifestyle blog called Now & Gen, where she shares her thoughts and tips on food, family, fashion, fitness and more, and she sits on the board of directors for Random Acts, the non-profit founded by Supernatural co-star Misha Collins, alongside her “sister-in-law” Danneel Ackles.
Born Elta Danneel Graul and credited before marriage as Danneel Harris, Danneel is best known for starring as Rachel Gatina on One Tree Hill. She and and her spouse were friends for years before they started dating. They fell in love while making the comedy Ten Inch Hero, and like the Padaleckis, they married in 2010. The couple have two daughters and one son, oldest daughter JJ, 5, and fraternal twins Arrow and Zeppelin, nearly 2.
During season 13, Danneel finally appeared on Supernatural as faith healer Sister Jo, really a fallen angel named Anael. The episode “Devil’s Bargain” marked her return to acting after the birth of her children, and she has since appeared in two further episodes, including a showdown with her husband as the archangel Michael in the season 14 premiere, a scene which Ackles asked special permission to tease us about at San Diego Comic-Con.
Sister Jo’s story doesn’t seem complete, so we hope to see her again soon on Supernatural. Danneel hopes so, too. “There’s a couple of writers here, I might, like, give ’em a couple of drinks, pitch ’em a couple of ideas,” she quips, when asked if we’ll see her again this season. Outside of Supernatural, Danneel will soon be seen in The Christmas Contract, a Lifetime holiday movie in which she’ll reunite with some old friends from One Tree Hill.
Despite never having acted on her husband’s show before 2018, Danneel has always been heavily involved with the Supernatural community off screen, including her involvement with Random Acts. Alongside her brother, parents and husband, she also founded a local craft brewery — aptly named The Family Business Beer Company — and they’re set to open a satellite location in downtown Austin during 2019.
Jensen Ackles, an actor who has always seemed like someone who’d rather be known as a craftsman than a celebrity, clearly relishes his brewery as a chill creative outlet, and the Ackles family has welcomed many Supernatural fans at their Dripping Springs location since it opened to the public. The actor is always happy to talk beer — and we did! — but I had something rather more all-encompassing in mind in terms of what the Supernatural lifestyle means for Ackles’ comfort in the spotlight.
Supernatural began in a very different era of television, where what was expected of TV stars looked nothing like the landscape we see today, and on the red carpet, the star thoughtfully voiced his perspective on what the changing scope of his role as a public figure has felt like over the past decade and a half.
“It’s changed drastically. I think that it’s like somebody who’s never been onstage before all of a sudden being on stage. After 14 years of doing that, they get a little bit more comfortable and they’re able to open up a little bit more. I think it’s made me much more comfortable with fans of the show, with people, with the attention that the show gets. I will say that it is not ever something that I was hoping for, but it has been a nice added bonus to doing what we do, is the support and the gratitude that we get from the people who support our show.”
“It’s helped us do incredible charity work, its given us a voice to try to do good, and you know, I think that that’s an important thing in our society today, is finding ways to give back. And as long as we can continue to do that, then I think it’s just going to make a better planet, and a better world, and all that.”
The two families are unabashedly progressive — in the lead-up to the recent mid-terms, both the Ackleses and the Padaleckis went to bat for Congressional candidates Beto O’Rourke and MJ Hegar, with both of the “Winchesters” giving speeches alongside Mayor Steve Adler at a Democratic rally in support of getting out the vote in Austin.
Speaking publicly about actual politics, not just social causes, is new ground for Ackles, and something I later thanked him for stepping forward about, but the stars are well-known as crusaders and contributors both to their local communities and online campaigns, using their platform to raise funds and draw attention to honestly too many social and charitable causes to exhaustively list, ranging from Planned Parenthood to hurricane relief to soup kitchens to cyberbullying, in addition to movements that they’ve spearheaded themselves, like Always Keep Fighting and the IMAlive Online Crisis Support network, often partnering with Random Acts to distribute funds efficiently.
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Thank you to all who rode with us yesterday @soulcycle 🚲 We were able to raise 28k for @outyouth and @randomactsorg These two organizations are very dear to our hearts and we are very honored that you chose to support them as well. We had such a good time meeting and laughing with all of you yesterday. Your energy and positivity was overwhelming!❤️🌈 A big THANK YOU to the staff #SoulCyceDomainNorthside We love you guys! And another big THANK YOU to our instructor @christopherjacobchandler and his husband Brad for helping to make this a truly special day! #randomacts #soulcylecrew #outyouth 📷 5pm class
The Supernatural fandom is famous for moving needles when it comes to crowdfunding or making change in all different kinds of ways. Part of the reason for that success is that the omnipresence of the internet has brought communities and causes closer together — the tyranny of distance no longer applies.
“When Supernatural started, social media wasn’t a thing,” Danneel Ackles elaborated, on the same topic. “We were all kind of left to our own devices in Hollywood, or Vancouver Hollywood, or whatever it was, and as the world started becoming smaller through social media, we started to see needs. We started to see that the fandom we loved so much was hurting. There were a lot of people who turned to the show from pain, and anxiety.”
“Luckily, we have good people, like Misha Collins… I mean, if someone asked me what the best thing of this show is, I’m like, ‘Well, it’s Random Acts,’ you know? It’s incredible. It makes me cry and that’s the best part of this family, that we’ve been able to actually reach our fanbase and inspire all of us to be better people, you know? I’m a better person for my children because of what this show has done for our lives. It’s been pretty monumental in every aspect, in every way possible,” Danneel concludes, reflecting on the impact of Supernatural on her world.
As pictured above, Jensen and Danneel Ackles recently hosted a SoulCycle charity ride in support of Austin LGBT organization OutYouth, which is a perfect example of their whole approach when it comes to maximizing the good they do with their platform, because this mini-endurance experience was just a part of a necessary training regime, the appetizer in the lead-up to this week’s main meal — running a marathon.
On Sunday, November 25, a number of the Supernatural cast and various cohorts will attempt the Amica Seattle Marathon as a part of Endure 4 Kindness, the annual Random Acts campaign that focuses on fundraising via sponsorship for various types of endurance activities of the participant’s choosing.
The focus of the cast’s marathon fundraiser is childhood hunger — in the U.S. alone, 1 in 6 children don’t know where their next meal will come from, and E4K will be combating this crisis in some of the poorest counties in all 50 U.S. States, and in many regions across the globe.
This challenging endeavor has been dubbed “The Bad Idea Tour” by its participants, and from what we’ve seen so far, the show’s three leads are struggling a little. To be frank, they may not survive the race. I mean:
Those of us running for #TheBadIdea tour this weekend are putting our money where our sore legs are. We're matching your donations up to $100K to help fight childhood hunger. Watch this BTS video of how we train for the @Amica @SeattleMarathon. https://t.co/p51kG8E1vi pic.twitter.com/xxrqiJ5lp7
— Misha Collins (@mishacollins) November 21, 2018
Despite the odds, we still believe in them, and if they die, well, they’ve had a good run (no pun intended) — at least it shall not have been in vain.
The Supernatural stars have already raised over $50,000 so far and they promise to match donations up to $100,000. Amica Insurance is pitching in with the SPNFamily by donating a dollar for each like or retweet of this particular tweet, up to $26,200 — that’s a thousand bucks for every mile of the race.
Local fans coming to watch the team run can also help out on race day by bringing canned goods to the Random Acts table at the marathon expo — all physical donations will be distributed to food banks across North America by non-profit Move for Hunger.
Fans worldwide can, of course, sponsor the Bad Idea Tour team, which includes Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Jared and Genevieve Padalecki, Rachel Miner, Ruth Connell, Rob Benedict, Jason Manns, and Adam Fergus — on their fundraising page, and use the Amica Seattle Marathon runner tracker to keep up with their faves on the big day.
As the event approaches, moans and groans about the marathon were a running joke at the 300th party. “I got a little nervous, so I’m running a half,” Genevieve Padalecki laughs, and of course, Random Acts executive director Rachel Miner will be participating in a wheelchair, an exemplary show of strength and personal sacrifice, but Jared Padalecki promised that no matter what, she’ll be kicking all of their butts.
Harking back to her family’s life in the public eye, Genevieve offered a firm and beautiful missive about why today, more than ever, it’s crucial to use whatever audience you have to enact as much change and as much good as possible, be it charitably or politically.
“I think we also lived in a much calmer time,” she considers, referencing the changing shape of society from 2005 until today.
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Y’all may have already heard, but the #spnfamily is getting behind our badass candidate for the Texas 31st district @mjfortexas in a big way… She’s an incredible fighter for issues that matter to all of us (not to mention a combat vet) and Congress needs many more women just like her. Please consider checking out the link in my bio to learn more about MJ and support her race if yall can spare anything at all… she needs our help urgently. The #SPN cast will be matching all donations up to our $40,000 goal. And if you happen to live in the area… VOTE MJ !!! Thanks y’all!!!🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
“I personally feel to have a platform, that it is a responsibility,” she continues. “And I have the responsibility to speak up — I can’t speak for everyone else, but I assume they feel the same way — but I think when you’re in a situation like this and we have children — our kids are going to inherit the world that we give to them. I think it’s very important to speak up and say something and make changes that don’t seem right. So I am very grateful for this opportunity to say something, and use it. In my opinion it’s for the greater good, that’s how I feel, so I am very vocal about it, and I do really think I have a responsibility to do so.”
Hypable spoke to more of Supernatural’s cast and executive producers about a wide range of topics, and you’ll be hearing more from us over the coming days and weeks about all the goodies from the show’s massive 300th episode party! The show returns next Thursday, November 29, after a Thanksgiving break.
Ackles and Padalecki portraits by Phillip Chin/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Header image by Natalie Fisher for Hypable.
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