By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/11/22 – Before Sam and Dean, there were their parents, John and Mary. Told from the perspective of narrator Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles, “Supernatural”), THE WINCHESTERS is the epic, untold love story of how John Winchester (Drake Rodger, “The In Between”) met Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly, “American Housewife”) and put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world.
When John returns home from fighting in Vietnam, a mysterious encounter sparks a new mission to trace his father’s past. In his journey, he crosses paths with 19-year-old demon hunter Mary, who is also searching for answers after the disappearance of her own father. Together, the two join forces with young hunter-in-training Latika (Nida Khurshid, “Station 19”) and easygoing hunter Carlos (Jonathan “Jojo” Fleites) to uncover the hidden truths about both of their families. Their investigation leads them to a rare book emporium, whose owner Ada (Demetria McKinney, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne”) takes an interest to the occult and could provide the missing pieces to their puzzle. But secrets run deep for both the Winchesters and Campbells, and despite the best efforts of John’s mother Millie (Bianca Kajlich, “Legacies”) to protect her son from pursuing a dangerous life of demon hunting, John and Mary are both determined to work together to uphold their families’ legacies while beginning to form a family of their own.
A prequel to The CW’s long-running hit series “Supernatural,” THE WINCHESTERS is written and executive produced by Robbie Thompson. Jensen Ackles and Danneel Ackles executive produce via their Chaos Machine Productions. Glen Winter directed and executive produced the pilot. David H. Goodman joined the creative team as an executive producer for the series. McG serves as an executive producer. The series is from Chaos Machine Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Studios.
We were able to see the pilot and let me tell you, you will be hooked. Great characters that will have you wanting more and even great laughs to go along the way. So glad we are finally learning the story of Sam and Dean’s parents. Demons and all. This episode has a great script thanks to Robbie Thompson and you will definitely be wanting to see the next episode, as we all!
During CW’s fall TCA press panel, which included Robbie Thompson (Exec. Producer), Jensen Ackles (Star/Exec. Producer), Danneel Ackles (Exec. Producer), Meg Donnelly “Mary Campbell,” Drake Rodger “John Winchester,” Bianca Kajlich “Millie Winchester,” JoJo Fleites “Carlos,” Demetria McKinney “Ada Monroe,” Nida Khurshid “Latika,” The Hollywood Times started off the conversation with this question:
The Hollywood Times: Thank you. Hi, everybody. After 15 seasons of Supernatural, how did the decision for a prequel come about? And we know that Supernatural spinoffs has been in the talks for quite some time now. What made this one stick? Thank you.
JENSEN ACKLES: I’ll dive in. This was a, obviously something that, that, like you said, has been long talked about, how to expand this world, what that would look like, how it would be done. There have been two, two attempts prior to this one that, that, unfortunately didn’t, didn’t make the cut, but here we are. We’re very excited, I guess, third time’s a charm. And it really came about as the show was wrapping up and the pandemic hit, and my lovely wife and I were forced to sit together and figure out how to be creative within the confines of our house, we started kicking around ideas and this one was, was one that we talked about for quite a while. And, and then we really kind of workshopped it and, and thought about how, what this would look like.
JENSEN ACKLES: And, and that’s when we, we kind of threw it to the studio and, and threw it to the network and said, “Hey, what do you guys think about this?” And they were very quickly interested. Obviously, they, want to expand this world. And so, so that’s when we’re like, Well, I know the guy to write it, so let me call him and make sure that he’s even available or even interested. And luckily he was, and, and here he is today, and he has created an, I think, an incredible world within the world, and that’s not an easy thing to do, and I think Robbie’s just crushed it. And I think that the cast that we have has just absolutely crushed it.
JENSEN ACKLES: Uh, so it’s, it’s, it’s exciting. It’s very exciting to, to see this. I was not ever ready to kind of put this to bed. I was ready to take a break, but I was never ready to put this world to bed. And so I’m very, very happy that it is it is extending and it is in the very capable hands of the wonderful people you see before you.
The Hollywood Times: Beautiful. Thank you so much.
Meg Donnelly was asked does fight choreography have a lot of parallels to dance choreography and what are the big similarities and differences?
MEG DONNELLY: Well, yes. I think there is definitely a lot of similarities. It’s been really hard, though, because with stunt choreography, it doesn’t have to look really pretty and put together because, you know, you’re technically beating someone up. So there is that, like, memorization wise, it is very similar, but it’s been really hard to get out of the whole dancing technique, if that makes sense. Yeah.
Demetria McKinney had this to say: “While we have this moment, thank you so much, CW, for allowing us to have this opportunity, share this story, extend the story, build the family, find the beginning, and we’re, we’re really enjoying it. Thank you.” and Drake Rodger responded with “took the words right outta my mouth and Danneel Ackles said, “what a professional.”
Another great question for Robbie Thompson was “Supernatural ran for 15 season, there’s obviously an audience for this, so are you prepared for another 15 years and how many episodes were ordered for the series?”
ROBBIE THOMPSON: I think our initial order is for 13, if not, I’m sure someone from Warners and CW here will correct me on that. But to answer your question, you know, at the end of every playback, I’ll go, Okay, that was great, guys, 326 more to go. You know, we would love to see this go the distance. As writers and then as producers, we want to give ourselves flexibility so that we can be nimble as things change and adapt and getting to know… you guys are seeing them on best behavior right now. We have the anti-chemistry problem that most shows have, which is like, come on guys, get together and like, maybe get to know one another.
During the shooting of the pilot, it was the closest I’ve been to being in a dorm room in 20, 25 years of my life. (You’re not wrong) It was amazing. So we wanna give ourselves the freedom to be able to pivot where we need to pivot. Uh, Jensen and Danneel and I talked about an ending, oh gosh, it’s in two years we’ve been working on this almost. And then just completely organically, Drake pitched a very similar ending. So it was really cool to see how we were all kind of on the same page.”
Jensen Ackles talked about his main characters: “Obviously there’s a version of these characters that lives very prominently in my head. When we were going through the casting process, Drake really jumped off very quickly as somebody that almost seemed like a hybrid of Dean and Sam, not necessarily a replica of, a previous John Winchester. So that was really interesting to all of us, just because this isn’t the pre John turning into the person that we really knew and obviously that Jeffrey Morgan played. Um, this is pre that. So there was a kind of an innocence, a youthfulness and a thirst for life that Drake brought to this character that was really unique and refreshing.”
“But it also reminded me of somebody that could very easily be the father of those two brothers. Um, and then with Meg, she’s just such a pro that any kind of like subtle thing that we said, ‘Oh, what if you tried this? Or what if you tried that?’ she just knocked it out every time. And it, it was, there was a, there was a look and there was a, a confidence.”
The Winchesters premiers on the CW Tuesday, October 11th at 8:00 PM, 7 Central