jared padalecki comic con 2012 'Supernatural' at Comic Con 2012: Jared Padalecki on Sam's year without Dean and moreWhen Zap2it broke the news that Sam (Jared Padalecki) would have a new
recurring love interest this season on “Supernatural,” we did so with a
degree of trepidation. Female characters and love interests typically
haven’t fared well on “Supernatural.” Still, new showrunner Jeremy
is kicking off the season by introducing new character Amelia (Liane Balaban) as an
important part of Sam’s life.

At San Diego Comic-Con, we sat down with Jared and asked him what makes
this love interest different from the ones we’ve previously seen on the
show. “Sam and Amelia’s relationship was not at the expense of Sam and
Dean’s relationship, because it wasn’t Sam spending time with Amelia
instead of Dean,” he explains. “Dean wasn’t around, so we’ll see what
happens, and I know we’re going to see more of Amelia currently. She’s a
lost soul and has her own issues as well… It’s never going to be a
soap opera about Sam and Dean’s girlfriends and wives. We’ll touch on
that and how it concerns Sam and Dean’s relationship.”

When Dean disappeared at the end of Season 7, Sam was pretty hopeless.
Season 8 jumps ahead one year to a time when Sam has abandoned hunting
— partly out of necessity, since he was left with no contacts and no
leads last year, and partly because he thinks he’s earned it.

“Sam actually got out of the life,” Jared confirms. “Without Bobby,
without Cas, without Dean, with no Kevin in sight and Crowley taken him
God knows where — Sam finally went, ‘You know what? Everybody I know is
dead. I’m gonna leave. I have nothing anchoring me back.’ He didn’t have
a voice in the back of his head saying ‘Find this,’ or ‘My brother is
in Hell.’ He didn’t know [Dean] went to Purgatory. He was just gone.”

In Season 1, Sam still had hope that he would one day lead a normal
life. In Season 8, he finally gets there. “We see in flashbacks that he
enjoyed himself,” Jared says, noting that while Sam is happier than
we’ve seen him in a while, he did grieve. “Happy has an
asterisk because he lost everybody. It wasn’t lollipops and candy canes,
but he was moving forward. He was moving forward outside of hunting.”

Unlike the last time Dean died, Sam doesn’t degenerate into a life of
anger and alcoholism. “It wasn’t like an ‘I Know What You Did Last
Summer,’ tortured, alcoholic existence. It was kind of like, trying to get
his s*** together.”

As he told us back in May, Jared liked the idea of exploring Sam without
Dean for a while. “We almost talk about it like three characters.
There’s Sam, there’s Dean, and then there’s Sam-and-Dean. Sam-and-Dean
is really number one on the call sheet,” he says. “It’s about two
brothers and what they do together; that’s the lead in the show… but I
really always wanted to flesh out Sam. I think it makes Sam-and-Dean
stronger. I think it makes Dean stronger. We didn’t see a lot of Dean in
Hell, but we will see a lot of Dean in Purgatory.”

When Dean returns, he’ll be a little bit resentful of Sam’s clean break,
and a little bit surprised. “Dean’s kind of like, ‘You didn’t see all
this stuff in the papers? You didn’t look for our kind of stuff?’ and
Sam’s like, ‘Well, of course I noticed strange disappearances, but there
are other hunters out there,'” says Jared. “He’s trying to be level-headed, and not
put the weight of the world on himself. He thinks he’s given enough.”

Check out the video below for more from Jared — including, obviously, a very important conversation about his sideburns. The show returns October 3 at 9 p.m. EST, but in the meantime, you can catch more of Zap2it’s “Supernatural” coverage here.