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SYFY WIRE Supernatural

Jensen Ackles' 'Supernatural' prequel series has found its young John and Mary Winchester

Ackles, who played Dean Winchester on the main show, will narrate and produce.

By Josh Weiss
Meg Donnelly Supernatural Header GETTY YT

Momma and Poppa Winchester are finally coming back home, folks! The CW's Supernatural prequel centered around Sam and Dean's parents has officially cast its two main leads for the pilot, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Monday. Meg Donnelly (High School Musical: The Musical - The Series) and Drake Rodger (The In Between) have been cast as Mary Campbell and John Winchester, respectively. "Beyond grateful! So excited!" Donnelly wrote on her Instagram story, tagging Rodger alongside a ghost emoji.

Mary is described by THR as "a 19-year-old who’s been fighting the forces of darkness for most of her life. After losing someone close to her, she considers quitting the family business — until her father’s disappearance and the arrival of newcomer John Winchester forces her to lead a new team." John, on the other hand, is characterized as a "selfless and clear-headed" Vietnam War vet, who "finds a new mission back home, where traces of his father’s past lead him to a secret organization and a whole new war as a hunter."

Of course, the two characters end up falling in love, though romance is only half the battle when the fate of the entire world is at stake. This is the second bit of casting news to be announced in the last week since Nida Khurshid (Station 19) and newcomer Jojo Fleites boarded the spinoff as a pair of mysterious demon hunters. 

Jensen Ackles, who played Dean on the main series will narrate the project (currently titled The Winchesters). The actor is also executive producing the show alongside his wife, Danneel Harris. Robbie Thompson, a seasoned writer and producer of the Supernatural universe, is on board to write and executive produce the pilot, which was officially picked up in early February. 

While speaking with Michael Rosenbaum for a relatively recent episode of the Smallville actor's podcast — Inside of You — Ackles confirmed the story does pick up in the 1970s "when dad got back from ‘Nam."

First announced last summer, The Winchesters led to a brief rift in the relationship between Ackles and his co-star, Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester). Luckily, the "feud" didn't last very long and the longtime screen partners were able to bury the demonic hatchet. Ackles went into depth about the minor spat during his conversation with Rosenbaum.

While the deal with the network wasn't finalized by that point, Deadline had somehow gotten wind of the news, and was planning to run a story with or without an acknowledgement from those involved. Ackles, who was in the middle of filming a project up in Canada at the time, quickly released a statement without any forethought of catching his loved ones off guard. Padalecki took it as a personal affront and immediately took his grievance to the court of public opinion (aka Twitter).

"I wished he had just called me and said, ‘Yo, dude…what the f***?’" Ackles said. "And I would’ve been like, ‘Oh! Ok, yes! I’ve been working and this has been happening and it’s way early in the process. It’s not even a done deal, we don’t even have an outline. I just didn’t want to talk about it or tell people and jinx it.’ And he totally got it; he understood and he was like, ‘I probably shouldn’t have tweeted. I was surrounded by people and it was late at night and I’d had a few drinks and I kind of lashed out.’ I got it. I was like, ‘Yeah. Look, man, your feelings are totally valid and I messed up. I should have at least clued you in before the world found out and that’s on me.’"

Supernatural aired its final episode in November 2020 after a total of 15 seasons. Ackles' next small screen appearance will be in the third season of of The Boys on Prime Video as Soldier Boy (the first three episodes debut June 3).

The fully-grown John and Mary were famously played by a pre-Walking Dead Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Samantha Smith. In addition, Amy Gumenick played a younger version of Mary for a two-episode story arc involving time travel.