When last we tuned in to WB's freshman frightfest, Supernatural, bogeyman-busting brothers Dean and Sam Winchester had fended off the insanity of an old, shuttered asylum only to come home to a phone call from their perpetually MIA father. The action picks up right from that instant with this week's new episode (airing tonight at 9 pm/ET). Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean, shared with TVGuide.com a preview.
TVGuide.com: Were you happy when Supernatural got picked up for a full season so early on?
Jensen Ackles: Yeah, it's always a crapshoot with the whole television thing in general, so the fact that we had a nice little buzz and had the powers-that-be pushing for us gave us the confidence we needed to move ahead and put us in the frame of mind we needed to be in for the remainder of the season.
TVGuide.com: Especially since there is so much mythology to delve into. You must have been like, "This could be a really awesome show if...."
Ackles: If we get the right support and it's done right. And so far, I think everybody has made every effort they can to really get this show off and running the way we all want it to be.
TVGuide.com: I have to wonder, does it get lonely being just you and Jared [Padalecki, Sam] in every damn episode? Do you corner the writers and go, "Can't we get a bartender buddy or something?"
Ackles: [Laughs] Oh, trust me. When [Warner Bros. Television president] Peter Roth and I had dinner about a month ago, he said, "So, the show's doing really, really good, everybody's really happy.... How do you think we can make the show great?" "Add. More. Characters." is the first thing I said. [Laughs] But that's what we signed on for we knew it would be just Jared and I, and that it would be a very demanding schedule, and it definitely has been. It hasn't let up. I think I've had one day off since July. The cool thing about it is that Jared and I really get to work hard and, in the same breath, we get to meet and see and work with new people each week. It's a new town, a whole new story, new people, so in a sense that's something kinda cool that we have that a lot of shows don't.
TVGuide.com: Do you guys never film during the day, or does the show just do a great job of simulating darkness and murkiness?
Ackles: Everything that you see inside is generally done during the day and then, of course, our night shoots are either cheated a bit or we wait until the sun drops. But we shoot in Vancouver, where the sun goes down quite early. It will be 4:40 in the afternoon and it's dark already.
TVGuide.com: I thought my ears spied Canadian accents on some of the guest stars. I was watching "Asylum" and that blonde girl.....
Ackles: What, did she throw in an aboot?
TVGuide.com: Something like that. I was like, "A-ha, I see we're shooting in Canada."
Ackles: It's funny, I've actually had to grab the script supervisor who is Canadian, so it doesn't register to her the way it does to me and tell her, "You've got to watch these accents, they're starting to kick up," and then she'll go tell the actor. There are only a few of us who can really catch it, and if we're not around....
TVGuide.com: What bogeymen are left to tackle this season? Can you tease anything about what's coming up?
Ackles: I know that there's some good stuff coming up with the father....
TVGuide.com: At the end of "Asylum," he's on the other end of the telephone.
Ackles: Exactly, so that's going to start becoming much more relevant. There's such a pool of these [bogeyman] stories that Erik Kripke, the writer and creator, has come up with....
TVGuide.com: And you don't want to burn through them all in Season 1.
Ackles: And we're not, either. Erik is just this mad genius in L.A. who kind of locks himself in the writers' room and comes up with all of this awesome stuff. I have every confidence in him in the world.
TVGuide.com: What did you and Jared get for a Christmas bonus? Your own '67 Chevy Impalas?
Ackles: [Laughs] That would have been nice! I think that's maybe the fifth season, if we get there.
TVGuide.com: You got some wimpy Supernatural wall calendar, didn't you?
Ackles: We all got jackets and stuff... and we also got a couple of days off earlier than we were supposed to.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about your three previous extended runs on television: Dark Angel, Smallville and Dawson's Creek.
Ackles: I kind of felt like a bit of a pinch hitter on those shows. They were already established, and I was just kind of coming in to do whatever they needed to be done.
TVGuide.com: It was almost a "prolonged screen test" until the day got your own show, wasn't it?
Ackles: Yeah, exactly. [Laughs] They were just kind of "using and abusing" me to make sure I could handle the pressure and the whole situation. But it was good. After Dark Angel, [Fox] made me the lead of a series called Still Life. We shot the pilot, they picked it up for seven episodes, and then they decided to shelve it. There was a big change in command, and [the new entertainment president] cleaned the slate of anything that was pending, so we got lost in the shuffle.
TVGuide.com: They should put the seven episodes out on DVD, cash in on your Supernatural buzz.
Ackles: Hey, that'd be the smart thing to do. But who knows what the suits are thinking these days?
TVGuide.com: Getting back to Supernatural, do you ever worry that Dean is too quippy? That maybe his attitude undercuts the tension?
Ackles: That's a very delicate balance you've got to find, because at the end of the day this is a horror show, and you really have to make it believable. To do that, you have to really be scared and you have to really react to these things. The only difference between Dean and anybody else reacting to it is that this is what he's been living, breathing, eating and sleeping for most of his life.
TVGuide.com: Plus, the humor is probably a sort of coping mechanism.
Ackles: He's definitely got the cocky facade covering up a lot of what's going on underneath. That's a cool thing about him he's a bit of an onion, and in each episode you start peeling layers and layers off. Sometimes I really have to think, "OK, I'd like to make this nonchalant and funny, but I don't want to miss the point that this is a very serous issue I'm dealing with." It's a delicate balance.
TVGuide.com: Have you ever been to the funky official Supernatural website?
Ackles: Yeah, that's cool as hell. I pop around in the trunk, the glove compartment....
TVGuide.com: I was just there for the first time and it's crazy!
Ackles: It is crazy. In fact, I do these things every now and then where I'll go and record a voice-over or an outgoing [phone] message, or a message to my dad, that they'll play on the webpage. They're really going to make that an integral part of the show. I know they've set up an actual phone number and an e-mail address that are used on the show, and people are calling and leaving messages and e-mails. People at Warner Bros. are going through them. It's been a really cool response.
TVGuide.com: Is your girlfriend too scared to watch the show?
Ackles: I'm currently a single guy, so the only women in my life are my sister and my mom, and yes, they definitely watch the show and yes, they definitely get scared!