Jared Padalecki was a teenager working a summer job as a ranchhand in Texas when his family showed up to tell him he’d won a nationwide search to be a trophy presenter at the 1999 Teen Choice Awards.
“I’d tried out at Planet Hollywood in San Antonio. They ended up picking me and I flew to Los Angeles and just stood up there with a surfboard while Freddie Prinze [Jr.] won for like ‘the best hottie’ or ‘the best kisser,’ or whatever,” Padalecki says, laughing.
Padalecki’s now a star himself — the co-lead in the WB’s “Supernatural.” He also has the same manager as Prinze.
Possessing the appeal sought by youth-oriented networks, the 23-year-old actor previously played Rory Gilmore’s boyfriend, Dean Forester, on the WB’s “Gilmore Girls.”
In “Supernatural” (9 p.m. ET Tuesdays) Padalecki plays Sam Winchester, the youngest of two brothers who drive around the country confronting ghosts, evil forces, and unexplained phenomena as they seek their missing father and try to uncover the malevolent force that killed their mother.
Jensen Ackles, whose previous credits include the WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” and “Smallville,” plays the older Winchester brother, Dean.
“Supernatural” co-executive producer McG (the “Charlie’s Angels” director) says the co-leads’ previous association with the WB is “interesting” but wasn’t essential to casting. “It was really a stand-alone decision ... we just felt like these were the two best choices.”
‘Classic reluctant hero’Padalecki describes Sam as “a classic reluctant hero. He’s Luke Skywalker. He’s 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 kinda has to, but he has this ability. Not anything magical, or anything supernatural, but this understanding and ability to help others, so he feels compelled to do so.”
“It’s a spooky show, with tons of archetypes and tons of mythology,” Padalecki says of the hour drama.
Much of what’s spooky on the series is produced with the aid of computer-generated imagery, and that demands special acting skills.
“Like in the pilot,” Padalecki explains. “I see Jesse (Sam’s girlfriend) on the ceiling burning. Obviously she’s not on the ceiling burning, but still I had to lay down and look up, start yelling and screaming, and they set fire around me and had me run out of the room.”
The 6-foot-4 actor also trained hard for the fight sequences.
“Sam and Dean have been fighting and training to fight much of their lives,” he says, “so it’s important when we do a fight scene it not look stupid, cheesy, or not professional and efficient.”