Jensen Ackles is going behind the camera once again to direct a Season 10 episode of “Supernatural,” and according to him, the episode turned out better than he hoped it could.
“I just wrapped episode 1 which I directed, but it’s not the season premiere. It will air third,” Ackles tells Zap2it. “But it was the first one that we shot, since they did me a very nice favor in moving the episode I’m directing to be filmed first so that I could prep without actually having to act in another episode. Otherwise I would have had to be working on episode 2 as an actor, trying to prep for episode 3 as a director and that would be very, very difficult.”
Ackles is very thankful to the cast and crew for switching up the schedule just to accommodate him. “They bumped mine up to the front of the list to allow me to come back from the hiatus, do the prep, do the shoot, and we’re starting our season premiere today,” Ackles says. “They kindly wrote Jared [Padalecki] and I out of the first day so we could come and spend the day with you [at the 2014 Summer TV Press Tour].”
After nine years, Ackles says the best way to prep for a new season — and to direct the first episode back — is to go back and re-watch some early episodes.
“I went back all the way to the pilot and started picking off some episodes from Season 1, Season 2, some of the big arc episodes, the ones that really moved the mythology and the story along, and I wanted to get fired up again,” Ackles says. “It inspires me to go back and see how far we’ve come and what we did back then. I remember calling Jared after I watched the pilot again, and he hadn’t even come up to Vancouver yet since he was still on his hiatus, and I’m like, ‘Hey man, I watched the pilot last night, and it still holds up! Good job man, I’m just calling to pat you on the back.’ He was like, ‘Aw, thanks!’ And then I was like, ‘Now get your a** up here and let’s shoot.'”
Ackles credits his success as a director to mentors like “Supernatural” directors Bob Singer and Kim Manners. “They have been an amazing mentors to me,” Ackles says. “It’s not in like a certain style or way, it’s really just in the small little subtleties. Kim used to always preach that the scene is in the nuances. You may not see it always right there on the page but it’s the stuff that’s between the lines that really make a scene come to life. I try to find those moments as an actor and a director.”
He continues, “Bob has the same sort of advice when it comes to that stuff, and he also gives me really great technical advice. ‘Drop back, use long lenses, use your focus, use your transitions to your advantage.’ That was film school 101 for me and I couldn’t have asked for better teachers.”
Like his new role offscreen, Ackles is also about to tackle a new onscreen: Playing a demon.
“I’ve only had one episode to do it so far, and it was the one I was directing so my mind was a little scattered,” Ackles admits. “Luckily I was over-prepared as a director so I was able to concentrate on the performance of Demon Dean. It was fun for this episode, but the next two episodes I believe are going to be even more entertaining. Like devil-may-care, I would say that it’s ramped up to a very high, truly devil-may-care, so we’ll see how that plays out. Hopefully it comes across right.”
Something else that’s new in Season 10? Having both Misha Collins (Castiel) and Mark Sheppard (Crowley) as series regulars.
“It’s simply the beginning of the end,” Ackles deadpans, before laughing. “No, [Mark’s] on as a contract player now, we’ve got Misha fully contracted now, and I couldn’t be more excited. Personally, I think it’s something we could have done a couple years ago because I think they’re integral to the story and to the boys moving forward, and it definitely is going to make for some interesting storylines and arcs this year, having them both available to us full-time. We’re not going to have to share Mark with another series or having to share Misha with something else, so the fact that they’re both on full-time is welcome to us.”
And Ackles couldn’t let the interview end without thanking all the “Supernatural” fans for helping them get to Season 10. “Thanks for keeping us in the game for 10 years, to all our fans and everybody,” Ackles says. “It is truly a job that we love and cherish. It’s a show we love to work on and it’s a story that we still love to tell. So deep thanks from the bottom of our hearts.”
“Supernatural” Season 10 premieres Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.