Jared Padalecki – Before Supernatural

September 2005 By Philip Berk

In person, the 6’4”Jared Padalecki is as loose limbed as a gazelle. And as charming as a chipmunk.

When I interviewed him last year, he was somewhat upstaged by his buddy Chad Michael Murray, who had just married his One Tree Hill costar.Their paths had crossed repeatedly from the time they were both signed to play love interests in The Gilmore Girls. Each graduated to something bigger.Chad won the leading role in One Tree Hill. Both of them starred in House of Wax.

But now Jared has a hit TV series of his own. It’s called Supernatural. In it he plays the younger of two brothers (Jensen Ackles  plays your older brother) who drive around the country confronting ghosts, evil forces, and unexplained phenomena, in search of their missing father . 

How would you describe the relationship?

“My character is more the reluctant one. He’s Luke Skywalker, Neo from the Matrix. He doesn’t know why he’s able to do what he’s able to do, and he doesn’t know why he has to, but he has this ability. It’s not anything magical or supernaturtal but he’s compelled to do it. It’s a spooky show, and it’s scary.”

House of Wax was also a scary movie. So what’s your relationship to that genre? I ask him.

“I’ve always loved them.  Nothing or no one could scare me.  My friends and I would love to go camping and tell scary stories, read scary books, and just scare each other. I mean there’s something fun about it.”

Growing up in San Antonio Texas he seems to have had a happy childhood. So what can you tell us about your family?

“I’m from San Antonio Texas. I was born July 19th 1882, so I’m 24.  My mommy and daddy still live down in San Antonio. My mom is a teacher and my dad is a tax accountant. I have a brother; he’s 25 and he’s married to a wonderful lady named Veronique. They live in Houston; he’s a fifth year med student and he came out last August to live with me for a month while he did a rotation here. It was a great visit; we’re very close. My sister is doing architecture at the University of Texas at Austin; she’s 23, so we’re all like a year apart.”

In high school I understand you had a great drama teacher, who inspired you?

“Yes, he was a fantastic acting coach, and whereas other high schools were doing Christmas pageants and stuff like The Cat in the Hat, we were doing Neil Simon and Eugene O’Neill and William Saroyan and William Shakespeare and Chekhov. And Ibsen. He was really pushing the envelope. We were studying the Moscow Art Theatre. The Group Theatre. He wasn’t building just a high school program where we could waste time on weekends, wear berets and be kooky. He was really trying to build fine actors. And in fact the year I graduated two kids in my class went to Julliard, one to NYU, another to the Tisch School. And the year before he taught a lady by the name of Sherry Stringfield (of E.R.) And because of him I continue to take classes. I keep learning everyday.”

But instead of going to college you jumped on a bus and came right to Hollywood. How come?

“I was working on a tractor in the summer when my dad rode up and told him I had won a nationwide search to be a trophy presenter at the 1999 Teen Choice Awards. I’d attended the auditions at Planet Hollywood in San Antonio; so I was flown to Los Angeles and just stood to one side of the stage with a surfboard while Freddie Prinze Jr won an award for Best Kisser or Best Hot Spunk or something. But then I was approached by an agent and within a year I had the role of Alexis Bledel’s boyfriend in Gilmore Girls.”

Wasn’t acting always your ambition?

“I was actually enrolled at UT Austin to be an engineer, but I thought, UT Austin can wait, I’m going to give this a shot and then Gilmore Gils turned from two episodes into four into eight into twelve and into 66, so yeah.”

After five years in Hollywood, what’s your social life like? Do you have a girl friend?

“I have a girl friend, who I’m crazy in love with. Her name is Sandra McCoy. We did the movie Cry Wolf together.”

Did they fall in love on the set?

“We actually sort of fell in hate on the set. It was one of those independent movies; we were filming it for a month for about a million dollars. We were staying in corporate housing. We had nothing else to do. You know, Richmond, Virginia, which as far as we were concerned, didn’t hold too much for six twenty-year olds to do. So we just hung out with each other, I went from shooting Cry Wolf to shooting Flight of the Phoenix in South Africa, and when I got back in town — the way I tell the story — I checked my messages and she had called me a few times. The way she’ll tell it — the true story — I called her when I got back to the States and asked her if we can get together sometimes and do some stuff, and here I am two years later crazy about each other even though we’re not married or engaged and we don’t have any kids or anything.”

But you have dogs?

“Oh yes, I got dogs. I love my dogs and she loves them too.”

Was there any resistance to keeping the name Padalecki?

“When I came out here, they were talking about using my middle name Tristan, but Padalecki is my mommy’s name, it’s my daddy’s name, It’s my brother’s name, and my sister’s name. I want to represent my family; so I’m Jared Padalecki, whether it’s hard to pronounce or not. DiCaprio isn’t easy, neither is D’Onofrio or Depardieu.”

He and Chad roomed together in Australia when they filmed House of Wax there. Are they best friends?

“In this business it’s difficult to say, but I did get to go to his wedding. I’ve known Chad about five years which is a long time. We started out together on the Gilmore Girls but then he went off to Dawson’s Creek and later One Tree Hill. But when I found out we were both doing House of Wax, we arranged to live together, and I was there the day he proposed to his wife, and I showed up later that night to wish them congratulations and go sleep a bedroom away from them so it could be a pretty exciting experience for the two of them.”

When asked about the breakup he wished both of them well.

Was Sandy able to join him when he was filming in Australia?

“I was lucky enough to have some time off so Sandy came out ad we went to the Great Barrier Reef and went scuba diving. We also went to the world’s longest sky ride; so we really had a good time.”

Do you miss being on Gilmore Girls?

“I miss it because I had a great time. It was an incredible journey. I was so comfortable there. I was there for five years and I had a great relationship with Amy. I could literally call her when I’d be in town. I’d be like, ‘Amy, I’m in town for the next two months,’ and she’d be like ‘All right Jared, you’re going to be in the next two episodes,’ It really felt like family. I started my career there. I went from a young actor who had done absolutely nothing to having 40 or so episodes of television experience. It meant a lot to me and I was always happy to go back and do a few episodes,  but now I have Supernatural which has taken off so I doubt if I’ll be back,”

Is he having as much fun on Supernatural 

“It’s more of a  challenge because the creators of the show really wanted Jensen (Ackles) and me to appear like we knew what we are doing. We’ve been through a lot of training, martial arts, boxing, self-defense, and sparring with like the world’s strongest man. The guy is a bull. It’s a good thing because lately we’ve been doing fifty yard sprints through the woods carrying backpacks. After about six takes you come to appreciate the months of training that came before it.”

For the record Padalecki is a Polish name, but he doesn’t speak the language. He admits to knowing one Polish phrase.

“It means, ‘Your butt smells!”

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