Are you ready to uncover John and Mary Winchester ‘s story in a new exciting Supernatural prequel series? The Winchesters is coming to the small screen on October 11 – Let’s give it a first exclusive look!
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 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.
‘The Winchesters’ Stars Tease the ‘Supernatural’ Love Story of the Spinoff
“When Danneel and I came up with this crazy idea,” Jensen says, “we would have been hard-pressed to find another set of characters that made more sense in spinning Supernatural off. Whether Mary and John are beloved or hated, the audience has an emotional attachment to them.”
Jensen, as the irrepressible Dean, also appears in and narrates the series. Dean is on a hiatus from Heaven — with his 1967 Chevy Impala — to track his future parents’ lives and chronicle them for his younger brother, though he is heard more than seen due to Ackles’ role as Sheriff Beau Arlen on the ABC drama Big Sky: Deadly Trails.
While Supernatural was about familial bonds, at the center of the spinoff is a budding romantic relationship, something which the mothership series didn’t get to focus on too much.
“It was pretty clear in the Supernatural canon that things weren’t always rosy between the two of them either,” Thompson says, “and so being able to dip into that has just been really fun, to be honest with you, and it was the thing that was the most exciting to me because it felt really challenging.”
Thompson notes that even though The Winchesters is presenting a different story of how John and Mary met, the characters still have the same essence of the ones viewers got to know on Supernatural
“John is still somebody who’s troubled by his past, and some of that is the recent past of his experience in Vietnam, and then some of that is, from his perspective, losing his dad at a young age, or at least his dad being out of the picture from a young age,” Thompson shares. “And Mary is still dealing with the fact that she was born into a world where she was sort of drafted into a war she had no choice to be a part of.”
Wisely, The Winchesters covers both sides of its horror and family-drama roots in its first two scenes.
Filmed in and around New Orleans, the action opens in a spooky cemetery where a fearsome creature chases Mary’s father, hunter Samuel Campbell (originally played by Mitch Pileggi; his face is unseen here as the role has yet to be cast). Without revealing the outcome, the mood quickly shifts, showing fans the memorable tale of how John and Mary met, literally bumping into each other in front of a movie theater in their Lawrence, Kansas, hometown.
Casting the 19-year-old Mary and John, portrayed by Samantha Smith and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in Supernatural, wasn’t easy. “Because this is a legacy show, it was important to find actors that would care about that,” Danneel notes. Her husband agrees. “It was an asset that Drake and Meg had reverence for [Supernatural] and understood the gravity of stepping into those iconic roles.”
The spinoff, however, strays from the canon
John begins monster hunting right after he and Mary connect. In serieslore, he was ignorant of the supernatural world until more than a decade later, only to become a hardened killer when he finds Mary, his wife and Sam and Dean’s mom, gruesomely murdered by the yellow-eyed demon Azazel (Fredric Lehne), the first major adversary of the mothership.
To be fair, inhabitants of both Heaven and Hell have meddled with timelines before in the franchise. “So, if you happen to have a character like Dean, who has the opportunity to go back and alter some things to see if it might work out a little bit better for his family,” muses Jensen, “what would that look like?
Driven by a mysterious letter from his long-disappeared father Henry, John finds out his dad is presumed dead. And that he was part of a secret society that monitored the supernatural, the Men of Letters. Early in the hour, John battles a demon, learns magic is real and finds out Mary is a hunter — who is also seeking her missing father.
They hit the road and search for answers together, paralleling Sam and Dean’s trip three decades later. Against his mother Millie’s (Bianca Kajlich) wishes, John joins Mary — and later her hunter friends, the skilled Carlos Cervantez (Jonathan “JoJo” Fleites) and newbie Latika Desai (Nida Khurshid) — to find rare book dealer Ada Monroe (Demetria McKinney) in Texas.
Expect sparks between Mary and John, though the timing couldn’t be worse for romance. “Mary’s thinking, ‘When I find my dad, I’m done with hunting!’” Donnelly explains. “When she meets John and he’s getting into the hunting world, she’s torn.”
Smallville Veteran Tom Welling Cast As Mary’s Father Samuel on The Winchesters
The Winchesters is staging a reunion of sorts with its latest bit of casting news: Tom Welling is joining the Supernatural spinoff. It was announced during a panel at New York Comic Con on Sunday.
Welling will recur as family patriarch Samuel Campbell (originally played by Mitch Pileggi in Supernatural), Mary Campbell’s father, and Dean and Sam’s maternal grandfather. Welling starred as Clark Kent in The WB/CW’s Smallville. A series in which The Winchesters executive producer/Supernatural co-lead Jensen Ackles starred for 22 episodes.
“Samuel taught Mary everything he knows. Gruff and pragmatic, he’s a veteran Hunter who prefers actions over words — and it’s always his way or the highway,” reads the official character description. “But when Samuel teams up with Mary and her friends to save the world, he won’t only have to defeat the most dangerous monster he’s ever faced. He’ll also have to mend his broken relationship with his daughter”. Welling will make his debut in Episode 7.
Jensen Ackles and The Winchesters team promise to carry on Supernatural legacy: ‘Trust us’
Mary Campbell has a problem. Her dad’s on a hunting trip and he hasn’t been home in a few days. But unlike Dean Winchester — her future son — she doesn’t have a younger brother to help her find him. She does, however, have an almost equally as tall partner that she meets on her journey. He might not know as much about the lore, but his last name is Winchester.
Narrated by Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), The Winchesters is a Supernatural prequel following the lives of John Winchester and Mary Campbell in the 1970s. Long before they get married, have two kids, and — spoiler alert! — Mary ends up on the ceiling of Sam’s nursery. Of course, fans know the story of those two kids extremely well. As the adventures of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean were chronicled over 15 seasons (and 327 episodes) of Supernatural. But in 2020, as Supernatural came to an end, star Ackles found himself, much like all of us, trapped indoors with his family and in desperate need of a creative outlet.
“It was full pandemic lockdown 2020. Danneel and I with three kids in a house and we’re like, uh, we need to do something creative.“ Ackles, who executive produces The Winchesters, tells EW.
You remember the time: John Krasinski was hosting Some Good News, everyone was baking, and Patti LuPone gave us all a tour of her basement.
“Almost every celebrity was doing something ridiculous in their house, and I’m like, well, I don’t want to embarrass myself by trying to make a sourdough loaf,” says Danneel Ackles, who appeared in later seasons of Supernatural and also serves as an executive producer on The Winchesters.
So instead, Jensen and Danneel decided to start a Supernatural rewatch show: They’d film themselves watching fan-favorite episodes and share their thoughts. And the idea was a hit! After shooting a pilot on their iPhones, the CW wanted to bring the series to broadcast. But when Jensen and Danneel realized that creating 10 episodes in as many weeks wasn’t realistic, the idea died about as quickly as a demon during an exorcism.
But that experience had sparked something. “That kick-started Danneel and I workshopping ideas and it also put us in the Supernatural world,” Jensen says. “Then we asked: What would be a story that I would want to see outside of the show?”
It’s not the first time someone’s pondered whether there were more Supernatural stories to tell.
Over the course of the series’ long run, the show tried more than once to launch a spin-off, first with Bloodlines — which followed monster families in Chicago — and then again with Wayward Sisters — which followed Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and Claire Novak (Kathryn Newton) as they led a group of women through the hunting life. Neither idea took off. So, what was left? “If you’re going to spin off from this world, it’s gotta be about a main character, it’s gotta be about a Winchester,” Jensen says. “I think it was Danneel who was like, ‘Well, it’s your mom and dad.'”
With the launch of their new production company, Chaos Machine Productions, in October 2020, Jensen and Danneel called Robbie Thompson to see if he’d be interested in serving as The Winchesters‘ showrunner.
Thompson worked on Supernatural from season 7 to season 11, and penned some fan-favorite episodes, including the 200th episode, “Fan Fiction,” and one of Jensen’s favorites, “Baby.”
“I remember very vividly [executive producers] Bob Singer and Jeremy Carver coming in and saying, ‘The 200th episode is going to land this season and we want to do it as a musical in a high school where kids are adapting the Chuck Shurley books,'” Thompson says. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh my god that seems so terrifying, I really want to do it.’ I had the same kind of reaction when Jensen and Danneel pitched this to me.”
Because what could be more terrifying than creating a prequel that doesn’t mess with the mythology established by Supernatural, while still giving viewers something that feels new and unexpected? If Sam and Dean thought saving the world was hard, they should try rewriting it.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Hang on, are you changing the lore? Is this like Back to the Future, where Dean and Sam are going to start to disappear in the picture?’ It’s not,” Jensen says. “We obviously don’t want to change anything that was experienced on what we lovingly call the mothership.”
“It’s a big ask, but we are asking the fans to go on this journey with us and trust us,” Danneel says. “Everybody who’s involved in this project loves this show. We have lived this show for 15 years; it’s a family member. So just trust us that we’re going to take care of it.”
Thompson adds, “The Supernatural fandom’s extremely passionate, but I consider us part of that. How do we do this but keep Supernatural exactly the way it is? That was the intriguing challenge to me.”
For starters, you have to cast the right people. And you have to find them on Zoom.
With the help of Supernatural casting director Robert Ulrich — and an estimated more than 30 hours of chemistry reads — they landed on Drake Rodger and Meg Donnelly. Rodger plays a young John Winchester, a bit goofier than fans remember him, just back from Vietnam and about to be introduced to a world where, as Dean once put it — or will later put it? — “Unless it’s Godzilla, it’s real.”
Donnelly is a young Mary, someone who’s all too familiar with the life of saving people and hunting things.
They’re characters we know, characters we’ve seen played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Matt Cohen, by Samantha Smith and Amy Gumenick. But they’re also completely different. (For one, I doubt we’ll be seeing Mary in a pink nightgown anytime soon.)
“We talked about that contrast a lot. There’s the Jeffery Dean Morgan John, who is amazing and complicated and dark, and then there’s Matt Cohen’s John, who was the kid who was abandoned by his father at four, at least from his point of view, and who went off to Vietnam early,” Thompson says. “With Mary, it was who is the kid who, much like her own children, got handed a knife at such a young age and was told that the monster under her bed was not only real but here’s how to kill it?Being able to dive into that and stay true to who they are but also show this different slice of their lives and different perspective on them has been a blast.”
“She’s not very vulnerable,” Donnelly says of her Mary. “She doesn’t like to show vulnerability, because she’s gone through so much, especially as a hunter her whole life. She didn’t choose to be in this world, and she’s trying to look for ways to get out.”
Although Donnelly admits she didn’t watch Supernatural when it was on — “It was definitely too scary” — Rodger was a huge fan, and even watched the show with his brother. That’s why he wasn’t sure he’d want any part of a prequel. “When I came in for the pilot, I was like, ‘Okay, cash grab. Let’s see what we’re doing.’ I was so skeptical,” Rodger says. “And then once I read the pilot, I realized pretty quickly that there’s actually a story to be told here.”
Unlike the show that came before it, this isn’t a story of two brothers against the world. John and Mary find themselves more consistently working with other hunters.
In the pilot, fans are introduced to Carlos (Jojo Fleites) and Latika (Nida Kurshid), friends of Mary who help them on their search. “We are embodying a lot of what Supernatural did, at the same time, Supernatural was a two-hander,” Thompson says. “That family expanded as characters like Castiel [Misha Collins] and Bobby [Jim Beaver] and others came in, but we’re starting with a larger family. Robert [Ulrich] did an amazing job of putting together some incredibly talented kids who have now all bonded and come together to form their own thing.”
Together, they will take on monster after monster. Put another way, they’ll take on monsters of the week. “A touch point for us was those early seasons of Supernatural. We will have a big bad for the season but we’re going to do some classic monsters of the week,” Thompson says, with Danneel adding, “That’s the scary stuff. And we’re gonna be scary.”
For those working on the show, the scary part comes with legacy. Because joining the Supernatural universe isn’t just about learning exorcisms and getting used to an endless supply of fan-made Gifs.
It’s about joining the Supernatural family, one of the most passionate fandoms out there. “There’s such a unique relationship between the cast of Supernatural and the audience of Supernatural,” Thompson says. “The actors are extremely aware of the legacy that they are stepping into.”
And if anyone can help prepare them for that legacy, it’s Sam and Dean. At this point, Rodger and Donnelly have had a couple “Welcome to Supernatural” talks over dinner with Jensen and over lunch with his former costar Padalecki, who isn’t a producer on the project but has shared his support. “When we were in New York, Jared sat down with Drake and I and was like, ‘If you ever need anything, I’m always here for you,'” Donnelly says.
Recalling what he said to the new leads, Jensen says, “There was probably a small pep talk. This isn’t just coming on to a new thing, this is something that has 15 years of intense storytelling and you guys are a representative of this thing that we built, of the family. And there’s a big population of people that are very protective of the story and of these characters and you are the new stewards of this and you need to understand the weight of that and you need to understand how important it is to treat this with care and respect.” He then adds with a laugh, “Because I’m like, listen, I didn’t work my ass off for 15 years to have you kids come in here and f— it up.”
(Donnelly admits she’s already gone to Jensen for help with picking locks and the more complicated matter of dealing with a height difference between you and your costar. Jensen’s an expert in both.)
So, with a support system in place, there’s nothing left to do but dive right in.
“You can’t recreate Supernatural, you just can’t,” Thompson says. “What we wanted to do with this show was shine a light on new corners of the Supernatural universe.”
And they’re doing just that. Production is underway in New Orleans as they introduce a new John and Mary, before they created the two men destined to save the world. So, what’s their story? That’s what Dean wants to know. And if anybody’s good at getting answers, we hear it’s that guy.
When asked whether they’d like to bring some of the Supernatural family to the new show, executive producers Jensen and Danneel Ackles both said a very quick “yes.”
Although, Danneel immediately shut down the idea of Sister Jo — the character she played — coming back. “From my understanding, her vessel lived in the 2000s,” Danneel says. “But we have a lot of people who were immortal. Ruth [Connell] could definitely come back. Who else?”
Jensen’s immediate response is Chuck (and we already know Rob Benedict is ready and willing). But he continues. “[Showrunner] Robbie [Thompson] and us have talked and if there is any opportunity to bring anybody back from the mothership, we will absolutely do so. We will write to that. We have names that are on the table of like. ‘How can we get to this [person in a way] that makes sense?'”.
And yet, if it doesn’t make sense to bring a certain character back, there’s one other way the show could still get some familiar faces to come play. “I think the fans will be cool if we bring an actor that played a certain famous character on the show to come and do something different,” Jensen says. “We were recycling guest stars by the dozens after season 8 because Vancouver’s only so big and there’s only so many people in the talent pool. I think if we do that with fan-favorite actors that played fan-favorite characters, I feel like we’re safe there.”
Danneel adds, “Why else do you make a show if you can’t work with your friends? If that is at all possible, it’s happening.”
Bridget Regan has booked a recurring role on The Winchesters
Bridget Regan joins the cast of The Winchesters as Rockin’ Roxy and will appear in multiple episodes. Her character is described as a “honey-voiced pirate radio DJ” who has hijacked the airwaves of Lawrence, Kansas to “broadcast a wicked new sound. Not surprisingly, being the world of Supernatural and all, Roxy’s listeners aren’t all of the human variety….
Jensen Ackles would like Jeffrey Dean Morgan To Appear on The Winchesters
Jensen Ackles has a dream: he wants Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Matt Cohen to appear on the Supernatural prequel, The Winchesters.
Ackles is serving as the narrator and an executive producer of the prequel series, which will tell the story of how John Winchester (Drake Rodger) first met Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly).
In a new episode of the Supernatural Then and Now podcast, Ackles joins his television father Jeffrey Dean Morgan to look back on the season 2 premiere. Morgan was the first actor to portray John Winchester, the dad of Jared Padalecki’s Sam and Ackles’ Dean, on the long-running series.
On the podcast, hosted by Supernatural stars Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr., Ackles and Morgan discuss John and Dean’s relationship.
Could Morgan make an appearance?
“In my mind, we all know what happened with the Spider-Man recently,” Ackles says, referencing Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland all starring in Spider-Man: No Way Home. “That’s what I would like to see at some point: All the Johns.”
In fact, Morgan wasn’t the only actor to play John Winchester. Matt Cohen also starred in the series as a younger version of John.
“I’m not a writer, I don’t know how to write that kind of stuff, but I certainly have planted that seed,” Ackles says. “So we’ll see what happens.”
Jensen & Danneel Ackles Tease Dean’s Voice Isn’t the Only We’ll Hear
Jensen Ackles (who played Dean on Supernatural and returns onscreen in the role) is an executive producer (as well as narrator) along with his wife Danneel Ackles (who played Sister Jo). While we will hear from Dean every week, “seeing him is a bit of a tricky thing because I don’t know if you noticed, but I don’t really look like Dean and I’m also playing a completely different character onscreen on a different show, so the onscreen element will be a little bit more few and far between,” Jensen tells TV Insider in the video interview above.
Furthermore, he teases, “There are plans to have other voices being heard alongside Dean’s at times, so I’m excited to see that as well.”
The series is promoted as the “epic love story” between John and Mary
According to Jensen, “Danneel was very adamant when we first started this journey that this was not just going to be a sandbox to live out my Supernatural wishlist. This was a love story and it had to be at the center of this whole show and this whole journey.”
Jensen agrees. “Supernatural, given all the ghosts and the goblins and the demons and the car and the music and the dark alleys and the vampires, all of that stuff is great fun but it’s all being painted on the canvas of the relationship that the two brothers have and if you can always bring it back to that and make that the engine of the show, then I think that’s realty the winning formula.”
Explains Danneel, “The reason that people love Supernatural is because it’s a love story between two brothers. It’s a story about a family. I wanted to tell that part of the story, the more grounded, real part of the story, because I think people are going to be very attracted to that like that they were attracted to the love between Sam and Dean and Castiel and those friendships and those bonds.”
The Winchesters premieres October 11 on The CW
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Source: SPOILER TV / EW/ TVLine