Jensen Ackles on Harnessing the Power of the ‘Supernatural’ Fanbase, Dean’s ‘Dire’ Decisions

jensen ackles supernatural season 10
Image courtesy of The CW

The stars of “Supernatural” are no strangers to supporting charitable causes, with Misha Collins even co-founding his own non-profit organization to facilitate Random Acts of kindness, but in the tenth season of the beloved horror series, lead actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have become even more involved in raising money and engaging with their passionate fanbase — launching several T-shirt campaigns through

After debuting solo projects, the duo have joined forces for a joint T-shirt design, and Ackles spoke to Variety about why he felt that now was the right time to harness the energy of their socially-conscious fans for numerous good causes.

“I did the first campaign and that was more testing the water — I know [‘Arrow’ star Stephen] Amell has done one, Mark Sheppard has done one, Misha’s done one, and I didn’t have a cause that I was really fighting for, so it was more like ‘okay, well, I’ll see how much the fans want a t-shirt that I helped design, and then I’ll just put the money into a fund and use it for charity down the road,'” Ackles explained. “So that started the idea of creating a fund that fans could either donate to or we could raise money for that we could then utilize, and then we could get involved with more than one cause or charity — we could start spreading the wealth a little bit. That essentially gave us the idea for the second campaign.”

The new project utilizes the same message as Padalecki’s first campaign, “Always Keep Fighting,” which he felt inspired to start after losing a friend to suicide after a battle with depression. “He’d had friends that have dealt with depression and he’s even had a couple of bouts with it himself and been more than happy to talk about it, so it was like a perfect storm, so he jumped on that and I’m glad he did, because it really inspired a lot of people to see just how powerful the ‘Supernatural’ fans can be when that energy is harnessed and that movement and inspiration is harnessed,” Ackles said. “That inspired us to be like ‘you know what? Why don’t we see if we can get together and do something — instead of just for one particular cause or one particular charity, let’s see if we can’t raise money and then throughout the year get involved with multiple charities, multiple funds, and maybe alongside Random Acts at times as well — start joining forces with them as well since they have such a big, strong reach and such a well-established program over there.’ We thought that it would just be foolish not to at least harness this and start using this for as much good as we can.”

With their powers combined, the two have sold over 53,000 T-shirts through the new campaign so far (they started with the modest goal of selling 1,000), and according to Ackles, “We’ve established the fund and it’s in its infancy right now, and once the campaign is over and the funds start getting transferred, we’ll get a website up telling you what causes we’re getting behind, what charities we’ve vetted and we’re using this money for. It was just a way of collecting this power and energy that the fans have created and spreading it around.”

And while Padalecki and Ackles are fighting to make the world a better place off-screen, their characters are currently engaged in one of the most personal battles of their lives on “Supernatural,” with Ackles’ Dean still trying to resist succumbing to the Mark of Cain, a tenacious spell that is slowly but surely sapping his humanity.

In the run up to the May 20 finale, Ackles teased, “In true Dean fashion — because this is a product of his own choices — he’s being good old-fashioned stubborn Dean and wants to handle it himself, because he doesn’t want to hurt anybody else or be hurt by anybody else. He wants to go it alone and deal with it the only way he feels like he can, and unfortunately, that’s not gonna last very long, because he can’t deal with it. This is a power that is not something that he can control; it’s not something that he can fight back — as we saw with Cain [Timothy Omundson]. At the very end of that big fight sequence with Cain and Dean, when Dean [says], ‘please tell me that you can stop?’ and Cain says ‘I will never stop,’ it was just the verification that Dean needed to know that this is not something that he’s going to be able to control. So at this point, it’s like this slow decline in his will to survive.”

But Sam (Padalecki) isn’t about to give up on Dean — a decision that Ackles said will have major repercussions once Dean finds out the lengths his brother has been going to in order to try and free him of the Mark of Cain. “It obviously comes to a head; Dean figures out what’s going on behind his back and confronts Sam about it, in a way that only Dean does,” he admitted. “It’s kind of the final straw — Dean knows that even if he forces Sam to stop helping Dean fight this, Sam’s not gonna stop, and Sam’s going to put himself in danger by not stopping… that unfortunately forces Dean to make some pretty dire decisions.”

“Supernatural” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW. Come back to Variety next week for more from Ackles on the Season 10 finale.

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  1. Liane says:

    Oh I hope that line about “maybe doing something alongside Random Acts” was fanservice and to get the craycray destiel people off their backs. Something about Misha’s charity stinks. I don’t think they want to step in that pile of poo.

    • Tawrens says:

      Nothing about Random Acts stinks. You’re one of the rabid JP fans who has to trash everything not JP.

    • Olivia says:

      I’ve seen several comments made on tumblr and twitter saying the same thing about ‘ Random Acts”…and whenever I ask why they say that, I always get an angry “you minions are so stupid…etc etc” or a sarcastic reply.
      I am in fact NOT a minion; I have a Busy life without adding celebrity worship to it, thank you very much. But I really want to know why it’s, as you say “a pile of poo.”?

  2. Sara says:

    I hope that Dean’s “dire decisions” mean that he will still be at the center of the myth-arc in the supernaturally-connected role as we head into S11. I’ve loved him in that role in S9 and 10 and frankly, the show strongly needed to be shaken up in this way, IMO. My only complaint is that they didn’t focus on the DemonDean and MoCDean storylines enough-too many lame side stories, and I’m STILL! waiting to see Dean wield those red demon powers that Cain had. I’d like to see the awesome Mr. Ackles use that part of his acting arsenal for once.

    Love the charity work that all the actors are doing. Bravo.

  3. Jenna says:

    I love Jensen Ackles, he’s an amazing actor and person! He is a sweet man (to use Jim Beaver’s complimentary description), with a huge heart. He’s been wonderful this season in his portrayal of Demon Dean and as Dean with the Mark of Cain. I appreciate the subtly and nuances he conveys.

  4. Naika says:

    the only decent actor in the spn universe is misha. jensen can’t do anything but smirk and give some (badly aging ) Blue Steele to the camera. Jensen is an AWFUL actor, but as bad as he is, Padalecki is worse. My god, sometimes I have actually laughed at the screen it’s so bad. plus, i don’t care at all for jensen’s political stance on gays, women and immigration. here in the UK it is very common knowledge that he is a conservative. If you are a fan and in favor of that militant sort of thing, well, then, carry on. As for me, though, no thanks.

    • Tawrens says:

      Naika you wouldn’t know acting if you’re life depended on it. How do you know his political stance? Do you mean because he treats gays like normal people? Unlike certain bigoted types. Either you’re a troll or a moron but considering they’re the same thing.

    • Cal says:

      It is really distasteful to presume to know someone’s political opinions in this way, and even worse to dump your bile over an article that’s mostly talking about charity fund raising. Also please refrain from intimating that the whole of the UK is as ignorantly rude as you, we are not. It is clear that you are one of those who believes Misha farts rainbows and this somehow translates as everyone else on the show being dead to you. How can you even bare to watch the show if Jensen and Jared’s acting is so appalling to you?
      There are those of us that love our show, and appreciate all our guys, both characters and actors. The only thing I strongly dislike with Supernatural is the large number of people like you who can’t seem to just enjoy what they like without constantly feeling the need to talk a lot of trash about anyone or anything that isn’t their personal favourite. Putting the others down doesn’t make Misha look any better it just gives a bad impression of you.

      • Tawrens says:

        Cal I loved Jensen Ackles from Days of our lives through Dark Angel and Smallville. I’ve come to like Misha Collins both actor and character. The problem I have is Carver the show runner since season 8. Carver has destroyed the mainstay of the show, family. Whatever the guys did they could always depend on each other until Carver showed up and as an article quoted him saying he wanted to turn horror/fantasy show SN into a soap opera.

      • Nel says:

        You have got to be kidding with you comment to the article ! Don’t believe everything on Social Media.
        I have seen in person, myself, how Jensen treats and respects gay people. At more than One SPN convention. There are may Gay men at the conventions and photo ops. He hugs them and puts his arms around them like all his other multitude of fans. This is not orchestrated. It comes naturally. You can tell by just looking at him interact with all his fans. I am just tired of people like you putting a good person down. He is not Homophobic. All this started back when a fan asked if Dean or Jared where gay. All he said was no because the Eric Kripke ( creator of SPN ). Never intended on the brothers being gay. If the brothers where in any type of relationship Gay or straight SPN would be over because there is no room for any relationship. Then Destial came along. Same thing happened. Angels do not have any gender. Dean just took Cas under his wing and protected and taught him the ways of being human. This is called Bromance. There are so many hugs and even a smooch on the check or head on SPN convention stage with fellow men actors and band members. Would a homophobic man do this ? It’s gotten to the point where gay bashers are coming to the convention just to destroy a wonderful experience for the rest of us. No matter what the actors say or try to say everything is taken out of context so now they are not allowed to reply anymore. Why is he personally being targeted ? I don’t understand why Gay people who have come to the conventions or people who know speak up.
        To me it looks like they are trying to add fuel to a fire that doesn’t exist.

        As for Ackels acting skills, it’s your opinion, but I like many people think you are blind. Along with other shows, I like SPN. Ackles is an underrated amazing actor who only needs to act with his facial expressions. If you hate SPN so much why do you even watch it ? Or have you ?

        Jared and Jensen are two amazing people with heart and soul. So IMO, if anyone here is cruel and heartless it’s you and people like you. Before you comment know the true facts like I do.

    • T. says:

      You must be kidding with so much ignorance in your comment.

      Just so you know, your “very common knowledge” is wrong. For starters, he spent Christmas with his aunt and her partner, who are homosexual. Jensen isn’t homophobic. This is just a lie that Destiel fans throw around just because he doesn’t support their ship.

  5. Mary O'Keeffe says:

    Season 10 has been awesome! Can’t wait to see how it all ends. Please don’t let Dean do something to Sam that would kill me and all of the fans.Can’t believe I’m still watching the boys all the time on local station TNT…now in
    season 1 again. Watching for the 4th time…never gets old. Terrific to see the relationship develop over time.
    Would love to know how tall the boys are

    • Cal says:

      Jared is around 6’4″ and “the short one” approx. 6’1″ :)
      I was trying not to worry too much about the season finale but Jensen’s perspective has just kicked it up a notch or ten. It’s fifty-fifty worrying about what Dean might do to someone else and now, what he might do to himself. Bye, bye fingernails.

  6. What a great interview with Jensen, and glad to see one show up before the finale! He’s done an amazing job this season w/ Demon Dean and MOC Dean. Now, he seems to be blending the two together and I just love the layers and nuance he’s brought to Dean this season.

    From the interview it sounds like Dean may try to go off on his own after he finds out about all the secrets being kept. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all goes down — I’m sure it won’t be pretty!

    And love that Jensen & Jared are doing w/ their campaign. Very cool.

    Thanks for the great interview… look forward to part 2.

  7. Chiefraz says:

    Always nice to see people put themselves out there to help others.

  8. Sara says:

    Thank you for this interview with Jensen Ackles! I love reading his thoughts on his character and the show. He puts such thought and passion into the character and his acting. It’s because of Jensen that Dean is an iconic television character.

  9. Diane Flynn says:

    It is inspiring to see Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles work this hard at fund raising. We usually hear all the bad gossip and it is great to see these young actors giving back to worthy charities. Misha Collins also works very hard for his Random Acts. So the three of them together combining their time and effort will be awesome. Thank you for a great show, Supernatural and all you do for your fans.

  10. Rigoberto says:

    It’s difficult to find well-informed people about this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!


  11. Arthur says:

    “and maybe alongside Random Acts at times as well ” I’d love to see Jared, Jensen, and Misha all work together for their charity fundraising – those three really inspire people, and Misha’s already done such great work, that three of them could REALLY accomplish some amazing things.

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