The Winchester brothers are in familiar territory when season 7 of Supernatural begins — and by that I mean they find themselves in a world of trouble. But come hell, highwater, or Jefferson Starships, they always find a way out…right? Well, EW hopped on the phone with star Jared Padalecki to ask exactly that for our Fall TV Preview issue, out now.
In our chat, he previews the boys’ big battle against an “absolute power,” Sam’s struggles, the upcoming lighthearted moments, and, addresses a question that seems to plague fans’ minds at the beginning of every season (even though we all usually hate to admit it).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, Sam and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are kind of up a creek this season.
JARED PADALECKI: They are. We’ve done so very much on this show and put Sam and Dean in so many strange positions, and now here we are in season 7 and we’re going, “Well, what can possibly happen to them now.” But what’s been wonderful and a real blessing from the character’s perspective over the last few years is that we’ve accumulated these friends and this angel who can get us out of tight spots and all these little home bases that have really been a boon for our hunting business, so to speak. And now we’re gradually losing touch with all of these. Hunters are being killed off, we lost this angel on our shoulders. So now we see the boys in a position that they’ve been in before, but usually they’ve had more artillery at their disposal.
Being that Castiel was so close to them, how are they dealing with his new power? And how concerned are they with him being so powerful — even though they have no idea how to deal with it?
Well, it’s very intense. We certainly don’t take it lightly. One of the writers mentioned how power corrupts, and we see Castiel with absolute power. We don’t take it lightly what he can do. So we try to go full steam. Sam and Dean sort of don’t half ass things. If they see something they don’t like the go full steam ahead.
But that must be hard to do with Sam’s wall being crumbled. How is he dealing with that?
Sam and Dean don’t know what could possibly go wrong now. One of the things that has really remained a constant with Sam at least is that he’s tried to remain strong. Sometimes there’s a downfall, like when he had the demon blood thing going on. He’s always thought he was doing the right thing, and he remained very headstrong. But now, with Sam’s wall coming down, we see this guy who has always been strong who kind of now is just losing it. He doesn’t know if he can trust himself and he has such self doubt that it’s crippling. It’s difficult on Dean; it’s difficult on Bobby because he can’t be a help to them if he can’t be a help to himself. At least in the past, he’s always been able to go in guns blazing and provide some sort of help. But now, with Sam’s not sure who he is and where he is, it’s like Dean and Bobby have to take care of me as well.
You’re breaking my heart here…
[Laughs] We certainly also have a few laughs, too. Usually, from what I can extrapolate from past seasons, we usually kind of get the storyline up and going for the show and then throw in some fun ones around midseason. [Usually, it’s] right around when everybody is going, “Man, I don’t know if I can deal with another dark and dying and death [episode].” Here, at the beginning, we’re definitely setting up this new route that we’re taking. And there is no lack of laughs. Dean’s always got this tongue-in-cheek humor, and Sam’s got his reaction to this guy that I call my brother. So we’ll have a good time in the end, but we don’t have a super goofy one yet. But I was thinking about that the other day. It’s great to be part of a fun, crazy sci-fi show that’s dark and deals with mythology and then we do something where we play ourselves. It’s nice for the fans. They appreciate being a part of it and laughing with us.
At this point and time, we’re not doing American Idol numbers where 30 million people watch every week and it’s a no-brainer that [they’ll] go forever. We have this core group of followers who are a part of it and enjoying being a part of it. So it’s nice to have that confidence in our viewership that we can do something like that and not jump the shark. Actually, we’ve had an episode called “Jump the Shark.”
Now, this might sound silly, and it is. But I get this question more than anything, so let’s just put it out there. What’s going on with Sam’s hair this season?
[Laughs…for a good while]Well, it’s probably more similar to season 6 than season 1. It’s taken on a life of it’s own. I think one day my hair and the Impala are going to have re-negotiations for season 7. But I guess we pick up season 7 where season 6 left off. So it’s most similar to that. I get a lot of people who liked my hair in season 1. I think, literally, we’ve had times in the past 6 or 7 years when I’m like, “Man, I want to cut my hair really short.” Or Jensen’s like, “I really want to grow my hair out. It gets cold here.” And I suppose they won’t let us because that’s just who Sam and Dean are. One’s longer-haired and one’s short-haired. And now that Sam’s older, they definitely style it more than let it be floppy and frumpy. I think back in season 1, I was just this 23-year-old kid but I was also 6′ 4”. I had the body of a man but a face of a boy, and they wanted me to be more a boy than a man. So they gave me the original Bieber look. Maybe Bieber stole it from me — the whole hair-in-the-eyes, “I think I’m too sexy” attitude. But now I’m adult Sam ‘do.
Lastly, Supernatural has a bit of competition on Friday night. Along with Fringe, NBC’s Grimm, which is in a similar wheelhouse, is also starting up. What do you make of this? How is Supernatural going to fare?
Maybe I should be worried about it, but I take it as a compliment. A lot of these supernatural shows come and go. And I do watch Fringe and Josh [Jackson] is a buddy. I guess you can say, bring it. We’ve been on seven years. Good luck catching up. [Laughs] But I’ll take it as a compliment. When Supernatural came out, there were a lot of procedurals and you were either a doctor or a cop or lawyer, otherwise the show didn’t stay on TV. And then we came around, and I don’t want to say we were trailblazers, but we found our niche. And, like I said, we’re not getting 100 million viewers every week, but we have some people who are passionate and passionate about the genre.
For more on Supernatural and your other favorite television shows, pick up Entertainment Weekly‘s Fall TV Preview, on stands now.