The CW's Supernatural (Thursdays at 9pm/ET) is the little horror show that could. In a two-part interview, Jensen Ackles, who plays the ruthless but somehow adorable older bro, Dean Winchester, speaks with TV Guide about the "thrill ride" of a third season, details an off-the-set scuffle and even opens up about his usually deep-undercover personal life.
TV Guide: Because of his deal with the Crossroads Demon to bring Sam back from the dead, Dean only has this year to live. That must suck. How will he be handling those dwindling days?
Jensen Ackles: He'll keep going out and having fun, calling old flames to see if they want to go Round 2.... He's not wasting any time. [Laughs] But at the same time, he knows there are people out there who need help, so he keeps in the reality of hunting.
TV Guide: Will Sam keep trying to save Dean, even though he knows he'll die if he does? That's a bad bind.
Ackles: Right. I have to stop Sam from doing that. But he's still trying. In each script I read, I'm getting a little bit more nervous.
TV Guide: Don't you know what's going to happen?
Ackles: I don't. They won't tell us.
TV Guide: You seem to have evolved into a real sci-fi/action guy. You've done Dark Angel, Smallville, some movies and now Supernatural. Is that cool with you?
Ackles: It wasn't planned at all. I guest-starred on Dark Angel as Max's brother and died. I went out for a pilot that didn't get picked up, and I went off to Europe where I got an e-mail that they wanted me back full-time. Then I auditioned for the role of Clark Kent on Smallville. It got down to Tom [Welling] and me, and they ultimately went for Tom, which was the right decision. Two seasons later, they called and said, "We've been thinking about you," and pitched me the role of Lana's boyfriend. I said, "Yeah, that sounds cool."
TV Guide: Were you happy with the way the role worked out?
Ackles: It got a little tough in the middle of the season. And then it took some odd turns when I got the call from Supernatural. I had a whole other year left on Smallville, so that drastically changed my storyline. I ended up turning evil a little ahead of the plan!
TV Guide: Would you like to parlay all of that into one of those big-budget sci-fi/comic-book movies?
Ackles: I'm not against it by any means. Comedy, drama, Westerns, sci-fi... it's all fine if the story's compelling and the character is interesting to me. I do like action a lot. The other night there was a big stunt and they brought in my stunt double. When I saw what the stunt was, I was like, "No, no, no. I'm doing this." They'll usually let me do it, unless it's big stuff like a wire-jump off a building — that could be a catastrophe. But [costar] Jared [Padalecki] and I would much rather have a day of action and stunts than a day of the two brothers sitting in a motel room pouring their hearts out. [Laughs]
TV Guide: You realize you have a lot of female viewers because of that emotional stuff, right?
Ackles: This is true. "It's a necessary evil," we like to say.
TV Guide: After all your sci-fi roles, are you used to the passionate and obsessed cult fan?
Ackles: To a degree. They're very avid, those fans. They're very passionate about the show and those characters. I like that they're very protective of those characters. I get protective of the characters as well. If I read something on the pages that I don't agree with, I'll call [series creator] Eric [Kripke] and say, "Eric, what are you doing here, buddy?" We're lucky enough to be able to do that.
TV Guide: There are Samoholics and Deaniacs out there. You each have your own coterie of fans, don't you?
Ackles: What's funny is the network always talks about how we skew to a younger audience, but at the events we go to, the ones who show up at the set are usually women ages 30 to 50. It's actually pretty cool.
TV Guide: There are so many shows filming up in Vancouver — Smallville, Kyle XY, Bionic Woman.... Do you hang out?
Ackles: We don't have a lot of leisure time, but I do play golf with Tom [Welling] and see Michael Rosenbaum every now and then. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan, when he's up here.
TV Guide: Out of habit, do you ever slip into the role of the "older brother" with Jared in real life?
Ackles: There's definitely that dynamic between the two of us on and off screen, but I'd say for the most part we're pretty evenly on par and we get along like a couple of good buddies.
TV Guide: I hear you good buddies hit golf balls together. Who's better?
Ackles: Well, I definitely play a lot more than he does. In fact, I introduced him to it just a few months ago. I got him out there and I bought the biggest box of balls you could possibly find and he ended up losing every one of them, which was funny. He might beat me at hoops, because he's taller than me.
TV Guide: You're not so short yourself, it's just that Jared's sort of a giant.
Ackles: Yeah, I'm 6'1" and he makes me look like a midget! It lends itself to an interesting situation between us on set and the brothers on the show. Dean's such a short-tempered hothead, but he's also not nearly as big as Sam is. [Laughs]
TV Guide: Is it true that you and Jared had a bonding experience when you were attacked by some rowdy Canadians?
Ackles: You mean when Jared, his buddy Jordan and I were jumped by seven or eight guys? There had been this fight at a bar and these guys got kicked out. They were pretty tanked. This one girl sees me walking by and says, "That's the guy," meaning she knew me from the show, but they thought I was some guy she had been fighting with. They started swinging at me and it was an all-out brawl.
TV Guide: How'd you do?
Ackles: We got away and put two of them in the hospital. I got away first, then I turned around and saw three or four guys teaming up on Jared. I was like, "Oh, man!" I ran back in and I was fly-kicking at some kid, hit another guy, grabbed Jared's shirt — of course, I ripped his favorite shirt — and I was yelling "C'mon, let's get out of here!" We were pretty tight after that.
TV Guide: What does it say that the CW put you up against Grey's, CSI, The Office and even Kitchen Nightmares?
Ackles: I understand the pairing of us and Smallville, the only show on the network we can really combo with. Yes, it sucks. It's very, very strong competition. They're all top-10 shows. The network's excuse for it is, "That's not your audience, it's an older audience." I disagree. The same age range watching those shows are tuning in to our show and buying the DVDs and watching them. It's hard being on a new network, a smaller network.
TV Guide: Do you feel supported?
Ackles: Somewhat. They have a lot of other shows they're trying to launch, and they probably figure that once we're up and running, we can survive on our own. We've hardly had any promotion this year. My feeling is, "Take a little time with this show. You've gotten us to this level, why not put the extra energy into it and get us to an even bigger level?"
In Friday's Interviews & Features, Part 2 of our Q&A: Jensen Ackles talks about the two new gals in Supernatural town, opens up (a bit) about his own real-life romance and shares his plea to Eric Kripke.
Find some super clips of the demon-hunting brothers in our Online Video Guide.
Get an exclusive sneak peak at the CSI/Without a Trace crossover event in the Oct. 29 issue of TV Guide. Plus: The truth behind Oprah's health scare. Try four risk-free issues now!
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