Jared Padalecki is well-known for his prankster antics on the “Supernatural” set, but when Zap2it visited last week, any of his off-camera time was spent showing off photos and videos of his seven-month-old son, Thomas. Thomas in the airport, Thomas at the park, Thomas in Texas — it’s very clear that his priorities have shifted. (That said, we can promise he’ll still provide plenty of gag reel fodder, and he definitely still made time to contest a couple of Jensen Ackles‘ Words With Friends moves.)
“It’s pretty awesome,” Jared says of fatherhood. “It’s a stupid way to say it, but I really don’t know other words. I’m not a poet by any means, most of my life I live saying somebody else’s words, so I can’t create the words.”
We think he does a fine job articulating how he feels about his son: “The best part of being a dad is — he does this smile thing, when he sees me sometimes. I’m used to Gen kind of holding him, so I’ll get behind Gen, and I’ll have my face over here over her shoulder and I’ll be like ‘Where’s your daddy?’ and I’ll walk to the other side … he kind of just goes from one side to the other, and he always does this smile, where he can’t make noise … and then he just bangs his head into Gen because he gets so excited he can’t do anything, and it’s the cutest — it really melts me.”
Jared and Jensen have enjoyed a more manageable schedule in Season 8, thanks to flashback scenes and recurring characters that have taken some of the burden off of them — but while their lives are stabilizing off-screen, their characters’ lives are as tumultuous as ever.
There was no shortage of controversy among “Supernatural” fans (us at Zap2it included) when the season began and we learned that Sam had not only given up on looking for Dean and abandoned hunting, but he’d even quit checking his cell phone, which put Kevin in some considerable danger. Given the number of times Sam and Dean have fought tooth and nail to bring each other back from the dead, Sam’s resignation seemed a bit out of character and surprising.
Jared doesn’t deny that it was an unexpected move. “The way I kind of had to work it out — A, it was nice to have something different, after [around 150 episodes] it was nice to come in and show that different side. I’ve been saying this from the beginning, I love seeing the brothers when they’re not around each other. Sam and Dean are great and I love Jensen and filming with him, and I love the relationship between the brothers, but I love exploring the other sides,” he says, reiterating what he told us back in May when he recalled episodes like “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Free To Be You And Me.”
Whether or not he was right, Sam felt like he had no avenues to explore to try to get Dean back, and he didn’t know where he was or whether he was alive. “It wasn’t like ‘Here we go to Purgatory!’ He could’ve been in Missouri having a burger. Sam had no one to turn to and nowhere to even start. He had nothing, so he took it as his cue — and he kind of touches on this in the premiere — saying, ‘The family business and us looking for each other is what’s gotten everyone we know and love killed, so I kind of took this as my cue.'” In Jared’s view, Sam was trying to avoid collateral damage by making an attempt to return to the life he’d been starting when we met him in the pilot.
Right now, Sam is looking into going back to school — a desire Jared himself can definitely relate to, particularly since he’s moved to Austin, where he once planned to attend college. Since Jared and Jensen just signed on for a potential Season 9 and 10, it’s unlikely that Sam is going to end up back at school any time soon. (Though we’d totally watch a show where lawyer Sam attempts to defend all the people who have been framed by monsters and demons. Maybe there’s a “Good Wife” crossover in there.)
The question is, will something terrible happen to redirect Sam’s attention and keep him on the road with his brother? In the pilot, it took seeing his girlfriend gutted to get him back in the car, and even after that, he entertained plans to return to school after her death was avenged.
“What’s kind of been the catalyst to get him back into it as of yet … has been the incentive of something huge,” Jared says, referencing Kevin’s plan to seal away demons forever. “It’s not just the classic ‘Hey, we’re going to go hunt. We’re going to read obits and sleep in motels and eat gas station food forever.’ It’s like ‘Okay, if I can do this now, I have penance. I started an apocalypse and I drank demon blood … so if I can maybe do this one amazing thing … then I can put that feather in my cap and sleep better at night knowing that I’ve done a lot of good.”
Even though we’ve now seen that Sam is capable of finding happiness outside of the hunt, Jared’s not particularly interested in ever seeing a happy ending for his character. “I don’t think Sam’s going to go be a co-ed somewhere in a school with a desk and a trapper keeper and pocket protector,” he says. He’s still hoping for a bloody series finale somewhere down the line.
Tune in to “Supernatural” Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. EST on The CW. In the meantime, keep checking back with Zap2it — we’ve got more from Jared’s interview on the way, plus Jensen talks directing and Dean’s perspective on the Winchesters’ year apart. Watch Part 1 of Jared’s interview below.