The Winchester brothers have been fighting off evil since before they could walk or talk — just ask Sam, who met his first demon when he was six months old. But when Supernatural returns for season 11, there’s a new kind of monster in town: the Darkness, which enveloped the brothers at the end of season 10. From what we know of the Darkness, it’s a prebiblical entity that will appear to the brothers in the form of one person, and more than likely, that person will be a woman. We also know that the “prebiblical” element of the Darkness could lead the boys to need God’s help. For everything else, we asked what you all wanted to know, and then took your questions right to stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. Here’s what they had to say about what lies ahead (or beneath or whatever):
What will the dynamic of their relationship be like this season? —@kitty_kat2015
JENSEN ACKLES: Once again we find Sam and Dean in the threshold of some earth-shattering, catastrophic, apocalyptic event. This is a story that predates the bibical Revelations, so it’s something they have never dealt with. What that does as far as the dynamic goes is it puts them back in the car on the same team together, having one target and being unified in that mission.
JARED PADALECKI: I think a lot of the fandom is going to be happy to learn that we’re finally accepting the fact that we’re stronger together than apart. And this far into the season, they’re certainly acting on that and I like it, personally. I am a brother and I have a big brother and Jensen is a brother, so I like the dynamic and I like the story that we’re able to tell with the brothers working together.
Does this season remind you of any past seasons? —@TVDSweetness
ACKLES: It’s a bit of a throwback to maybe season 1 or season 2, when the brothers were fighting less with each other and fighting more for humanity as a team. Because over the years there’s been a flip-flop of Sam being afflicted and Dean doing everything he can to save his brother, and then the next year, Dean makes some terrible choice like the Mark of Cain and then it’s Sam trying to do everything he can to save his brother. We’ve done that now. The brothers have been saved; the Mark is gone. And now they’ve kind of unleashed this unknown entity and they’ve got to team up and pool their resources and figure out how they’re going to deal with it.
PADALECKI: It feels season 4-ish, where we’re fighting against something that’s so much bigger than we are. The boys are always fighting against something so grand and something so beyond themselves that I guess it has a little bit of a lot of seasons, but maybe even season 5. It’s the boys realizing that they can’t do this on their own, and they’re going to have to reach out to get all the help they can get.
Will Dean be bonded somehow with the Darkness since he was the bearer of the Mark? —@AcklesUniverse
ACKLES: Because of the time that he spent with the Mark, there is certainly an imprint left on Dean. It certainly pulls on some sort of strings inside him that he doesn’t understand why. He’s not necessarily drawn to it or affected by it but there’s something that resonates with Dean regarding the Mark because he was afflicted with it for so long that it did leave an impression on him. So now there is that kind of connection that only he can have and he can understand, so that is going to be something that he’s going to find himself faced with and struggle with. Continue reading
“Supernatural” star Jared Padalecki has headlined the hit CW series for 10 seasons alongside Jensen Ackles, and, like many public figures, has used his name recognition and fervent fanbase to help support a number of charitable causes throughout his career, including A Dog’s Life Rescue and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Now, Padalecki has launched a T-shirt campaign through Represent.com to benefit nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), which supports people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.
The CW’s actors are a philanthropic group, with Padalecki’s “Supernatural” co-star Misha Collins founding nonprofit organization Random Acts to promote and facilitate good deeds across the world, and “Arrow” star Stephen Amell continuing to raise money for F— Cancer through his own Represent T-shirt campaign. Padalecki credits Amell with inspiring him to launch his “Always Keep Fighting” shirt, which is on sale at Represent through March 17.
Variety spoke to Padalecki about his passion for the cause and his personal experience with depression. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity, but formatted to allow Padalecki to share his story in full.
Variety: How did the campaign come about?
Padalecki: I, for a long time, have been passionate about people dealing with mental illness and struggling with depression, or addiction, or having suicidal thoughts and, strangely enough, it’s almost like the life I live, as well. These characters that we play on “Supernatural,” Sam and Dean, are always dealing with something greater than themselves and I’ve sort of learned from the two of them that they get through it with each other, and with help and with support. And I, in the past, have had my own struggles of not [being] so happy with where I am in life, which is strange and I think it goes to show. … Maybe a lot of people don’t know this, but Season 3, we were shooting an episode and I went back to my trailer to get changed and just kind of broke down.
A doctor came to set and talked to me for about 30 minutes, or 45 minutes and said, “Jared, I think you’re clinically depressed. I think I should write you a note and we can shut down production for five days and then we can take it from there.” And it kind of hit me like a sack of bricks. I mean, I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense, is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.
Luckily, two of my great friends, Jensen who everybody knows very well, and my friend Kelly who I work with, came to my trailer to check in on me and talked to me for probably an hour or so and then, I was like, “all right guys, I’m going through a tough time right now. I don’t know what it is, but I’m just going to keep my legs moving. I’m going to keep fighting.” They let me go that day. They were like, “Hey buddy, go home. Call your family, and you’re off work. Come back to work tomorrow.” So I went home and the next day I showed up for work and just kind of gradually got better, but it’s something that I’ve been passionate about for a while. Then, Mr. Amell himself did a T-shirt campaign to raise money for F— Cancer and as soon as that happened, I think I saw him over the summer, he came to visit me in Austin and he was like, “It’s incredible. The fans have rallied around this great cause and are helping raise awareness.” Continue reading
Both as Supernatural’s Sam Winchester and in real life, Jared Padalecki hopes to save lives. The actor, 32, has recently taken part in a campaign for To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit organization which aims to help those struggling with depression, addiction and suicidal ideation.
“Always Keep Fighting” is the slogan for his T-shirt campaign which has far exceeded its goal of 1,000 sold thanks to the cause’s message and thanks to his passionate fanbase (his face emblazoned on the front of the shirt probably hasn’t hurt). In an exclusive chat with PEOPLE, Padalecki revealed why the campaign is so important to him as well as what’s coming up for his character on Supernatural, how he and costar Jensen Ackles mess with each other on set and whether you can expect to see him take part in a Gilmore Girls reunion.
I Tweeted that I was going to talk to you and somebody reached out to me and wanted you to know that, as someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, they appreciate everything that you’re doing. What’s it like to have that kind of positive effect on your fanbase?
It’s really hard to put into words. It’s been amazing. Hopefully it’s helping to destigmatize these issues, because it’s all around us. It’s ubiquitous, and people hide it. If somebody has cancer, they’re not embarrassed to have cancer – they know it’s no their fault. They know it’s a struggle. But, for some reason, if someone says they’re depressed, they assume that people are going to look at them like they have three heads. Hopefully, this is helping to start a conversation.
Why did you decide to start the “Always Keep Fighting” campaign?
All of the cards fell in the right place. Specifically, [Arrow star] Stephen Amell did a few fundraisers through F— Cancer, and he approached me and told me that it’s remarkable how supportive the fans are and how much money and awareness they’re able to raise for these great causes. A month or so after we started talking about it, I received a phone call on New Year’s Day and I learned that my friend of 10 years had lost his battle with depression. I’m not alone, here, and there are so many people out there who have experienced the same thing. I have friends and a life and people I work with and I get a lot of love and support – this campaign is more about those who don’t have as much of a support system as I do.
And why did you choose that slogan?
I used to work with somebody who had been sober for 20 years, and he told me that it’s a daily struggle – that he wakes up every morning knowing it’s going to be a battle. We were talking about maybe going with “Never Give Up,” but that just puts somebody on defense, like their only options are to get beaten down or to quit. It’s a proactive approach, and that’s what was important to me – if you think it’s just going to go away, it’s not going to. We need to take these things head-on and treat it like a fight. People who are dealing with depression or addition or suicidal thoughts or mental illness … they’re strong. You’re strong because you’ve been in this fight and you wake up thinking you’re going to beat it again today. Continue reading