‘Supernatural’ Star Jensen Ackles Describes How the Pandemic Changed the Series Finale

Had there been no coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, Supernatural fans would have already said goodbye to Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki). Hollywood productions shut down in March, and Supernatural had not finished its final season. They are back at work now, and The CW will air the last seven episodes this fall.

Jensen Ackles Supernatural
Jensen Ackles | Michael Courtney/The CW

Ackles was a guest on Michael Rosenbaum’s Inside of You podcast on Sept. 8. He shared how the Supernatural production had to alter its final two episodes to follow coronavirus safety protocols. Supernatural returns Thursday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

Jensen Ackles is back in Vancouver for ‘Supernatural’

Ackles was in the home stretch when the pandemic hit. Now he’s back in Vancouver to finish filming.

“So I am officially back up in Vancouver to finish the last two episodes of Supernatural which is crazy,” Ackles told Rosenbaum. “15 years and we had two left. The virus hit so they pulled the plug and said, ‘We’ll let you know.’ So they just let us back up. I think we’re the first Warner Brothers show back on its feet from the big pause. So we have to fly up to Vancouver which is where we film.”

Supernatural: Jensen Ackles
Jensen Ackles | Katie Yu/The CW

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Ackles is in the midst of a mandatory two week quarantine.

“That means literally not leaving the threshold of your house,” Ackles said. “You cannot go outside for anything. I’m here figuring out how to use Instacart, figuring out how to use SkipTheDishes and every other delivery service I’ve never needed to use before.”

‘Supernatural’ can’t film all the scenes they intended for the finale

Coronavirus protocols go further than quarantine. On the set, they still have to social distance. For a show with lots of fight scenes, that means some things will have to change.

“Now it’s going to be so different,” Ackles said. “They had to rewrite a bit of the last two episodes because of the quarantine and because of the pandemic. There are some things we can’t do that we were going to do.”

The last two episodes will take longer to film too

Television typically goes at a breakneck pace. In order to follow all the protocols Supernatural will necessarily have to slow down. 

I believe the way it’s going to look is all of these different crew, there’s going to be little pods. You’re going to have grips and electrics in one. You’re going to have camera and sound in another. You’re going to have actors, hair, makeup, wardrobe in another and they’re not allowed to comingle. They have to stay separate which is going to be a very difficult thing. I can tell you how many times I’m sitting there on set rehearsing and I’ve got a grip or an electric over my head tweaking a light. It’s a very tightly interacting group of technicians. That’s going to add God knows how much time to production.”

Jensen Ackles, Inside of You podcast, 9/8/2020

Lunch break is going to be longer too. 

“They’re also adding I think an additional 60 minutes to lunch so it’s hour and a half now, 90 minute lunches just the social distance in the line,” Ackles said. 

Supernatural: Winchester brothers
L-R: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles | Colin Bentley/The CW

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The good news is, Ackles won’t have to work 14 hour days anymore. 

“Maybe they figured working past 11 hours your immune system starts to deplete,” Ackles said. “So now they want 10 hour camera days. Silver lining for everybody who doesn’t like to work 14 hours. I love they just figured out that oh, maybe there’s a compromise in the immune system after 10 hours being on your feet locked in a soundstage with atmospheric smoke.”