Still filling in the blanks

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Like fans of the hit TV show Supernatural, actor Jensen Ackles is curious as to what Season Eight holds

JENSEN Ackles plays Dean Winchester in the Warner Bros Television show, Supernatural. With the eighth season about to air, we catch up with him to get some insider secrets on storylines, new characters and his directorial experiences on the hit show.

What can fans expect from
Season Eight?
I believe a year has lapsed since the end of Season Seven and Dean is out of purgatory now. There are going to be a lot of flashbacks to fill in the gaps of what happened during that year. We’ll find out what happened while Dean was in purgatory and what happened while Sam (played by Jared Padalecki) was without Dean — but that information will be slowly leaked out during the season.
I’m waiting with bated breath to see what happens because I don’t know exactly where we’re headed yet.

How did Dean cope in purgatory?
I don’t think it was a day at the spa for him. Obviously, it wasn’t pleasant. Every monster and every villain we’ve thrown back to the pit was essentially waiting there for him, but Dean has now come back with a sense of clarity.
He understands his purpose better after spending all this time in the pit with everything he hunts and kills. He understands that he’s on Earth to right those wrongs and that he’s there to police the situation. Sam has had a year off, but Dean is motivated to get back together again to hunt the unknown.

What has happened to Sam since we last saw him?
There’s a flashback in episode three which shows how Sam dealt with the year and it’s completely different to what I assumed it would be. You’ll get glimpses of what happens throughout the year, but I’m not giving anything away here. It’s going to be great, though.

What can you tell us about the mythology of Season Eight?
An underlying mythology is going to be introduced, but I can’t tell you anything about it because they haven’t told me yet. I’ve got a loud mouth when it comes to spilling the beans. It’s probably best that they don’t tell me things because I’ll tell the Press. If they want to keep things secret, don’t tell Jensen!

Will the mythology be ongoing or will we get new monsters every week?
You’ll get both. There are going to be some stories introduced at the beginning of Season Eight that will continue throughout the year and you’ll also get one-off monsters.
The third episode, which I directed, is a one-off. I like that. It’s the original format of the show, so it’s fun to get back to basics. You know what? It’s nice to be on a show long enough to say there’s an original format! It gives us a bit of a breather rather than if it was just mythology all the time.

You’ve directed a number of episodes of Supernatural. What’s it like to be a director on your own show?
It’s great, but it doesn’t get easier. I wasn’t on screen much during the first episode I directed, but I’ve been on screen a lot more in the third one.
Last year, I think I was only in for three days out of the eight days. This year, I’m in all eight days, so it’s a little difficult. It’s fine when I’m working on scenes with Jared (Padalecki) because I can block out the scenes myself, pick my camera shots and then he and I do our business as usual. I don’t have to worry about those scenes.
However, it’s a little more difficult when we’re shooting scenes with guest stars who need or want direction. When that happens, I’m in the scene, so I’m trying to be Dean, but I’m also trying to keep an eye out for what they’re doing so that I can give them notes on their performance after we yell cut. It can get confusing, but it’s a challenge and I like a good challenge.

Would you like to direct other shows?
I’ve had conversations with Tom Welling of Smallville about this. It’s very difficult for directors to get hired to do episodic television. If it pans out to something else in the future, then great — but let’s see what happens.
For now, I’m on Supernatural and I’m very happy here. I have a lot of advantages in directing this show because I know the cast and the crew and the story very well. It would be a whole different monster if I didn’t.

How does it feel to have worked alongside Jared Padalecki for eight years?
It feels great. We joke about the fact that we’ve spent more time together than with our own wives, which is a little strange — but it’s cool. That’s the nature of what we do. I don’t know if the show would’ve worked if we didn’t have chemistry on camera and a friendship off camera. It’s been great to go this far with somebody you consider a great friend.
Thankfully, our friendship transcended to the screen and the fans have enjoyed and believed it for seven years. Hopefully, there will be many more years, too.

Do you listen to fan feedback?
To be honest, I don’t get time to see the feedback that the writers get. They spend a lot of time looking into fan feedback and they listen a lot more than we do because we get the next script and we’ve got to go right in and start production.
We work solidly for nine months and then all of a sudden somebody says something like, “Hey, guess what? You won the People’s Choice Award.” You think to yourself, “What? I didn’t know that.”
However, we don’t get to go to the awards ceremony or anything like that. It’s straight back to work for us. We’ve got blinders on throughout the season because that’s where my focus lies. I trust the writers know what they’re doing. I trust the producers know how to run a show. I show up and I do my job.

How do you keep secret
storylines under wraps?
There’s a shock collar around my ankle that blasts me with electricity if I say anything I’m not supposed to say. That’s how we keep everything secret. I focus on what’s in front of me rather than what’s in the future anyway. I don’t find out about storylines until I get my script and then I deal with it. That’s how I work.

Can you tell us about any new characters?
There is a character introduced in the first episode of Season Eight, which helps explain how Dean gets out of purgatory. However, the character doesn’t just go away. It sticks around and, of course, cause problems — but because Dean is indebted to this character for his exit, it makes his situation sensitive and very volatile.
That’s how the onion gets peeled back, through this crazy relationship with this new character. It’s going to be a fun ride this year. I’m really looking forward to it. 

Ackles with Padalecki as Dean and Sam in the show.


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