So I went to LA a few weeks back to attend a two-day ‘Supernatural’ convention. In case you blinked, my Friday 28th and Saturday 29th March coverage is here. So, The Soupdragon proudly presents ‘Sunday Convention Shite’, starring none other than Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. Here we go…
Sunday 30th March, 9am. Leaving the hotel to make the short hop to the other Marriott. Queuing up for photos with The Boys (A.K.A. Sam and Dean Winchester). I’m pretty blasé about this now, cos I’ve done my fair share of meet-n-greet with a few famous bods, but I was surprised by both Winchester actors. Jensen Ackles was first, waiting patiently and perching on his stool, taking endless shot after shot with people whisked on to stand with him, then whisked off against to allow the next person their Touch Of Fame. What surprised me about Mr Ackles is that he was quite nervous, or self-conscious, or perhaps just not understanding why so many people were lining up to take photos with him in particular. I appeared to surprise him by simply saying “thanks for making the trip down from Vancouver [where they’re currently filming the end of season three] and hello from Hong Kong”. I got a double eyebrow-raise of surprise, coupled with a sudden appreciative if little-boy-lost smile, and a “Hong Kong? Well that pisses over my flight from Vancouver, huh?” which made me giggle like a small child, and then a “Thank YOU for coming here”. Then it was over and I joined the queue for Jared Padalecki shots.
Little did I know, my sister had already been through Jensen, said the same thank you (except she was coming from Blighty) and got pretty much the same surprised response. She had also got her ‘Winchester Sandwich’ photo too (her and both actors). Then it was Jared Padalecki for me and I stepped up to the plate willingly. Conversation forbidden to keep the queue short, I did manage a “hello from Hong Kong”, to which I got a shocked face, and “you’re kidding, right? Wow! That’s amazing!” and a large humble grin. A quick photo flash and again I felt it only polite to thank him. Again I got a surprised “er – no, that’s fine – thanks for coming all the way over!”
What was very interesting about the two exchanges is that they showed that both the lads are markedly different from the characters they play on TV. Anyone will tell you that this is true of just about any actor. But I was surprised just how much. Jensen Ackles is Mr Shy and Retiring Cos I Don’t Know You, whereas Jared Padalecki is Mr I Can Boom Out A Conversation With Anyone. It’s a reversal I hadn’t expected.
Anyway, we barely had time for a sandwich and a Coke (still no tea anywhere!) before we took our seats for the main event – The Boys on stage.
So we sit down and Mr Padalecki is first. He’s funny, full of anecdotes and one-liners, and bemoaning the fact that his mother is an English teacher and is going to whup his ass later for the incorrect object pronouns he’s just used, and for making up the word ‘miserablosityness’. Nice word, Jared. He had announced earlier that morning that he had proposed to, and become engaged to his girlfriend Sandra McCoy (the Crossroads Demon, last seen in the season three episode ‘Bedtime Stories’, ironically enough when you remember what happened to her character therein), and was duly congratulated by his adoring fangirls (who also congratulated Sandra McCoy later on). He spoke about being Sam, how hard it was to film ‘Mystery Spot’ cos he basically had to be teary and angsty for an entire week while shooting, and did some great anecdotes. He even did one of his best Sam one-liners ever – “I lost my shoe!” to the raucous applause and wolf-whistles of the assembled fanbase.
When asked his favourite “cuss-word” he went with ‘starts with S and ends in Hit’, and managed to look very little-boy cute when admitting to it, too. Awww, bless. And when asked what he wished Sam could have a chance of saying in an upcoming season or episode, he went with “son of a bitch!”, making us all laugh, and then “Dean? My ass!” (in a ‘yeah right / my foot’ kinda way). A look of abject mortification cross his face as he realised what a million fangirls (and boys) would make of this quote for the years to come. Very, very funny.
He was trying to wind down his set when a familiar voice called, “What a bunch of crap!” The room went nuts as Jensen Ackles got to the stage and ousted Jared from his stool. Jared promised to be back later and waved a gracious goodbye to the applauding fanbase.
Jensen Ackles propped himself on the stool and we found he was quicker on the draw, much quieter, and very sarcastic in a spectacularly witty way. He seemed more serious and quite frankly, a little scared of being trapped on that stool in front of five hundred adoring fans all watching him so intently. However, he answered all of his questions easily enough and did get his own little quips in there. I noticed the foreign contingent, mostly English including our row of visitors, instantly processed his brand of brittle-dry sarcasm for what it was and it sounded like we were the first to laugh – perhaps others weren’t sure whether he was joking or not. Perhaps I was just paying him far too much attention and ignoring the crowd. When asked his favourite “cuss-word”, he opted for “Shit – not too offensive, and always gets your point across” in a very big man being a gent cos it’s in his nature kinda way.
He was joined on stage by Jared Padalecki after his set, and suddenly he came out of his shell more. Perhaps it was the arrival of moral support, perhaps it was knowing his Best Mate was there too, which also halved the number of eyes studying him. For whatever reason, he seemed much more relaxed to be there.
Mr Pep, Jared Padalecki, fielded some of the questions and they proved to be a very funny double-act of show in-jokes, sarcasm and buddy-humour. When asked the ubiquitous ‘body-swap’ episode question, Jensen obligingly got up off his stool and did a very accurate yet hilarious send-up of how he’d pretend to be Sam in Dean’s body. When asked to perform his ‘Blue Steel’, he was completely mystified as to why people went nuts for it. “It’s just a face! It’s a rip-off of a film! What’s so special about it anyway?” Cue lots of banter between the two of them, Jared claiming that if Jensen had known the fandom response (and that they’d end up having a fandom one day) Jensen never would have agreed to do it in the episode, or the Nick Nolte ad-lib afterwards.
All too soon time was up and they had to go to prepare for autographs. We howled and stomped on the floor to show our appreciation, and I’m sure that’s why they left so quickly.
Autographs were strange – Jensen seemed almost embarrassed to be important enough that people queued to get his scrawl. I got in a thank you and then he appeared to be keeping his head down as much as possible and simply getting through it. Poor lad. Jared Padalecki was Mr Sparkly, giving everyone eye contact and big smiles. He completely stage-frightened one of our party, Weenie Deanie Groupie (as she’s become known) by asking her for her name. Her trembling response earned her a “that’s a purdy name”, and she gratefully ran off to find Mum. (And yes, Weenie Deanie Groupie, in twenty years’ time I will still be teasing you about that moment!)
An SPN and sci-fi show auction later, during which I donated a substantial amount of money to Doctors Without Frontiers by buying a large ‘Serenity/Firefly’ promo still signed by all the cast, and everyone was thinking of a hot cup of tea and a refuelling, food-wise. While the rest of our party retired to the hotel room, I stayed to see Steve Carlson answer some questions on stage and sign some autographs. When asked his favourite word, I thought of my mate Granny W and her favourite, ‘serendipity’. And yay, he said it! How bizarre, how bizarre. When asked his favourite swear word, again I thought of Granny W and our in-joke about The C Word. And you know what’s coming next, right? Yeah, The C Word. Weird how you just have something in common with people you’ve never even met.
That changed when I got to the autograph table. He elevated himself to deity status by virtue of being left-handed too. So let me see – that’s Jason Manns, Steve Carlson, and me, all left-handed. Must be a genius thing. Anyway, one tiny moment at the autograph table has been one of the most memorable of the entire weekend, The Boys on stage notwithstanding. I asked him one question about writing his stuff and the answer I got has done more for me than any other piece of advice and/or views on writing than anything else in my entire life. For this I will be eternally grateful.
That evening was filled with mixed emotions – we’d done everything we’d wanted to, seen some amazing times, “been there” at important moments, and basically loved it. Satisfaction, excitement, hilarity, the freedom of being on holiday and that basic but thrilling fun of being on a different continent. And then you feel it all catching up with you and you’re tired. Then the realisation that it’s all over and you won’t be needing your pass or your wristband any more sets in, and you start to come down from your three-day high.
But you’re in LA, right? So the next day you go out to Universal Studios and do the tour, the shops, the whole experience. And then that same evening everyone else in your little party goes home. You go back to your hotel in El Segundo (without a monkey) and try to come to terms with everything you’ve achieved in the past few days. It’s a tall order: personal photographs with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, autographs from Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Frederic Lane (Lehne), Chad Lindberg, Eric Kripke, Jason Manns and Steve Carlson, and auctions, Q&A with so many delightful, funny, friendly, warm people from a show you love to watch.
It was just such a spectacular experience – I think we’ll do it all again next year. That’s assuming season four doesn’t kill off purr wee Dean Winchester. If it does, there’s going to be Trouble…
That’s it, I won’t bore you much longer. I promise that’s the last I’ll bang on about the weekend!
So peach and lube, everyone – lots and lots of lube – and I’ll see you all again very soon… After ‘Doctor bloody Who’ on Sunday (for me), methinks…
* many thanks to my sister for all the pics used today *
Supernatural ~ convention ~ LA ~ Sandra McCoy ~ Jensen Ackles ~ Jared Padalecki ~ Steve Carlson