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Supernatural's Jensen Ackles explains why he didn't tell Jared Padalecki about Winchester spinoff series
"For those who know me know that I’m extremely superstitious."
Last summer, Deadline got wind of a Supernatural prequel series centered around the relationship between the parents of Sam and Dean Winchester. Jensen Ackles — who developed the spinoff alongside his wife Danneel Harris and will serve as its narrator — had reportedly failed to give his co-star Jared Padalecki a heads-up on the announcement, which caused a small rift between the two actors.
Luckily, the beef was quickly squashed as Supernatural's final episodes aired on The CW back in the fall. Padalecki addressed the misunderstanding while in conversation with The New York Times, but until now, we haven't really gotten Ackles' side of the story. During a recent guest appearance on an episode of Michael Rosenbaum's Inside of You podcast, Ackles went into detail about why he kept the news a secret, chalking it up to Hollywood superstition.
"For those who know me know that I’m extremely superstitious when it comes to a few things. And this is probably something that a lot of actors share is [that] we don’t talk about auditions until we’ve got the role," he said. "I learned that very quickly when I’d call mom and dad back home and they’d be like, ‘What are you working on?’ I’d be like, ‘Oh, well, I’m going out for this one audition and I’ve got this other audition for this show…’ My mom is like, ‘Did ya hear about Peal Harbor? Did ya get it?’ And it’s just like, ‘That was 15 years ago, Ma! No! It’s not happening!’ People who aren’t in the industry may not understand, but it is an unwritten rule that you don’t talk about sh** until it’s a done deal. Until the ink is dry. This was my first venture into producing and creating content and I didn’t want to jinx it at any cost."
While everything was on a need-to-know basis until further notice, Ackles did always intend on telling Padalecki when the time was right (aka when all the production stars aligned). "I definitely had people that I was excited to tell, Jared being number one on that list. Mom being number two…sorry, mom," he continued. And then it was getting close to getting to the point where it was like, ‘Oh, this is really happening.’ The studio had signed off on it; now the network was getting involved ... This was back in February or something. It was very early on. We had a concept essentially and when you start getting the studio and network involved, you start getting a lot of eyes and a lot of ears. There’s assistants, there’s publicists, there’s executives, and people talk."
As many of us presumed was the case, Deadline somehow found out about the spinoff ("they’ve got moles everywhere," Ackles said) and planned to run a story about it with or without the network's approval. Ackles was on set in Toronto at the time — presumably for Season 3 The Boys — and found himself caught between a rock and a hard place.
"I get a phone call. They’re like, ‘Hey, Deadline caught wind of it and they’re throwing something out this afternoon.’ I was like, ‘What?!’" he recalled. "So I quickly had to write up a little something and I’m getting calls from network and from studio, head of PR at Warner Bros. and my agent and manager. I’m like running back and forth to set — and I’m on a new set and they don’t cell phones on this set. And they also stay on set; they just sit there all day long, the actors, and they stay off the social media and the phones and stuff. So if you need to make a phone call or you need to check something, you gotta go back out to the trailers. Sometimes they’re far, but it’s also slightly frowned upon. I’m the new guy and I don’t want to ruffle feathers. I’m a guest in these peoples’ house, so I’m gonna play by their rules."
He quickly whipped up a short statement and sent it without considering that a number of people in his inner circle (like Padalecki, for instance) would be discovering the news with the rest of the world. "I run back onto set. Now I’m working, now that’s out of mind because I’ve gotta be present in the scene that I’m doing, so I’m not even thinking about it," he continued. "I get back out to my trailer at a certain point to check and make sure that went ok and it was like emails of congratulations, text messages of congratulations, and then it all just kind of turns off. I had a long text from Jared and he was really bummed out and I remember my heart just sank … In hindsight, that could’ve been a step that was avoided, but he did it and it happened and we dealt with it. He and I, we’re great."
With that said, Ackles would have preferred that Padalecki reach out to him first rather than airing their dirty laundry on social media. "I wished he had just called me and said, ‘Yo, dude…what the f***?’ 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.’"
Ackles confirmed the prequel will be set in the 1970s "when dad got back from ‘Nam" and that a first draft of the pilot has already been submitted. "I’m super stoked," he concluded.
All 15 seasons of Supernatural are now streaming on Netflix.