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From Boy to Man

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Chapter One: Day One in Vancouver

The Supernatural writers, Eric and Sara, agreed that Jared brought exuberance to the character of Sam. He bounced off the walls with his energy. A self-conscious, boy, who just turned 22 in July, Jared was as insecure about his body as a teenager. Yet in spite of his inhibitions, Jared was nonetheless himself. He lived out loud, unable to suppress his personality.

Jensen was slightly older, and a more experienced actor. Elder than Jared by four years, Jensen's maturity level exceeded Jared’s. Acting and modeling since childhood, Jensen behaved professionally. He was serious for his age, in part from acting on a soap opera with an older cast. He never initiated pranks. Generally, he ran his lines and got into character while waiting to film his scenes.

Initially, working with Jared exhausted everyone. He was so talkative, and needed constant verbal engagement with others. He gave voice to every thought in his head. He was a great actor, and his dailies looked really good. The director, Bob Singer, felt Jared was emotionally high maintenance, but he was young, and would grow out of it. Plus, the results on film were worth it.

The writers and director Eric, Sara and Philip, saw the toll Jared’s needs took on Jensen, how exhausted Jensen was at the end of each day’s filming. They discussed it among themselves. They knew the boys would find a balance, Jensen engaging more, and Jared calming himself. It would take time for them to find a norm that was comfortable for them. The director and writers agreed to keep a close eye on the dynamic to ensure balance and avoid burn out.  

“The boys”, as they were called on set, were equally enthusiastic about co-starring in a new show. Being a co-lead in a new show could make an actor’s career. Jensen tended to be subdued about showing his emotions. Rather than jumping up and down, he might say, “I’m honored to be cast in this role, and to have the opportunity to play Dean Winchester on Supernatural,” whereas Jared demonstrated his enthusiasm by bounding around the set gleefully, jumping, and touching, engaging, warmly smiling with his mouth and twinkling eyes, and talking to everyone in his vicinity. Both boys were well liked.    

In the hair and makeup trailer, Jared would talk incessantly as his hair was styled. Tricia did makeup and Jeannie did hair. He talked about his folks, his brother, Jeff, the orthopedic surgeon, his sister in high school, Megan, his home state of Texas, and his 2 dogs, Sadie and Harlie.

Jensen, on the other hand, was calm in the mornings, content to relax quietly in the chair while his makeup was applied, his scalp massaged, and his hair styled. He made a good audience for Jared.

Jared was a big eater. At 6’4”, he consumed a lot of calories every day in the form of both food and sweets. He loved candy, both chocolate and the junky kind. It’s a wonder he maintains such beautiful, straight, white teeth, Jensen thought.

There was a little awkwardness between Jared and Jensen naturally when they first started filming together. They were cast as brothers, but as humans who were just getting acquainted, it could be awkward to maintain the constant eye contact required during some of the brothers’ scenes. The dialogue was intense. Also, some of the dialogue Dean delivered was stern. After the scenes Jensen would check in with Jared, just to make sure Jared was not taking anything personally.

“I apologize for some of the lines I have to deliver” Jensen said to Jared. “Dean sometimes barks orders and takes a hard line with Sam. It can feel awkward to me because I like you Jared, and I would never speak that harshly to you if not in character.”

“I understand” replied Jared. “I know what you mean. I feel it a little too. There is an intimacy in the dialogue since we are playing brothers, yet we hardly know each other.”

“I’m sure we will move past this stage eventually. I just wanted you to know. Nothing personal.”

“Gotcha.” Jared replied.

 __

Jared loved the intimacy of the dialogue on set. He loved having a fake brother. Set could be lonely, and Jared got a built-in best friend in this job.  Off set, they had not gotten close yet, but they were constant companions during the long workday.

Jensen learned from the crew that Jared was an early bird, he arose from bed without hitting snooze. He would take his dogs out for a morning jog before the day began. Whereas, Jensen was grumpy in the morning and a sleepy head. He hated to leave his bed in the morning. Nonetheless, he was a disciplined professional, and arrived on set on time.

The network arranged for press to come to set to interview the male leads to create publicity for the show during the final month of filming. It was April, the last month of filming season one.

“Jensen, tell us a little-known fact about your costar” the reporter asked.

“Why does Jared sweat so much? That is what I want to know.”

Stung by Jensen’s question, Jared’s jaw dropped. His eyes widened in surprise and watered slightly. He fought back tears at the unflattering observation Jensen announced on national television.

When the reporter turned to ask Jared the same question, Jared was tongue tied.

“I want to know how many hours a day Jensen spends in front of the mirror practicing his model face.” Jared sucked in his cheeks and puckered his lips while gazing into the camera with sultry eyes in imitation of Jensen’s model face. This was the meanest thing Jared could think of to say. 

Thinking it hilarious, Jensen’s face lit up and his head tilted back. He released a hearty laugh.

Pain. Jared felt pain in his heart. His feelings were hurt. His coworker’s view of him was that he sweated a lot. That was harsh to hear. Jared had an affection for Jensen. He also respected Jensen, and looked up to him as an older, more experienced actor. Jared had a high opinion of Jensen, and concluded from Jensen’s remark that his high opinion was not reciprocated.

How could he offer that observation about me? Is that the only characteristic of me worth noting? Is that what stands out about me after 9 months of working together?

Jared replayed it in his mind. He felt humiliated and hurt. He ruminated and ruminated about it, causing him to feel badly about himself, and sending him into a mild depression.

---

The next morning, Jared called in sick to the set. Phil, the Director went to Jared’s trailer to check on him. He found Jared laying on his bed in his trailer brooding. 

"You sick?"

"No?"

"What’s the matter then?"

"I’m feeling down."

"You want to talk to someone? A professional?"

"Yes."

---

The psychologist, Dr. Cheryl Mack, visited Jared in his trailer. He related the interview to her.

“I want to know why he sweats so much was Jensen’s burning question about me after 9 months of working together. I feel hurt. I feel embarrassed. I like Jensen and care what he thinks of me. How could I have made that impression? That is not the impression I was hoping to leave on Jensen. Am I a joke? a freak? I’m super tall, and I sweat a lot. Maybe my physique comes across well on camera, but in real life I’m very skinny and freakishly tall. I’m not 100% comfortable with my body. I’m so embarrassed. I don’t feel lovable. I don’t feel like leaving my trailer.”

“Is your relationship with Jensen important to you?” asked Dr Mack.

"Yes"

"Important enough that you would rather work through a rough patch than walk away from it entirely?"

"Yes"

"Do you think Jensen knows how you feel about what he said?"

"No"

"Do you think Jensen would care if he knew your feelings were hurt by his disclosure?"

"Yes"

"Would you feel better if you worked out an understanding with Jensen about what personal information it is okay for you to share about each other with the national media?"

"Yes"

"Do you think you can have a conversation with Jensen about this?"

"It will be awkward and uncomfortable. But I think I can do it."

"Do you think he will incorporate the feedback and be more sensitive about his disclosures in the future?"

"Yes"

"Do you think he meant to hurt you?"

"No"

"Do you think he cares about you?"

"Yes"

"Why is Jensen’s opinion so important to you?"

"I love Jensen."

"You love Jensen."

"Yes, I love Jensen."

"So the man you love told the world you sweat a lot?"

"Yes"

"Tell me more about your feelings about Jensen."

“It really hurt my feelings. I took it as a dis-affirmation. I mean I love him. I have not told him in any words, but I definitely radiate love to him every day. There is no way I don’t because I feel it every minute, and I am so happy to be around him every minute. His statement about my sweating, I took it as a rejection of me, as if I confessed my feelings to him and he rejected me. That’s how I feel, rejected by Jensen.”

"Do you think saying “you sweat a lot” is equal to saying “I don’t love you?”

"No"

"Do you think saying “Jared sweats a lot” is equal to saying “Jared is not lovable?”

"No"

"Is it possible for someone who sweats a lot to be lovable?"

"I guess..."

"Do you even sweat a lot?"

"I’m always moving and sometimes we wear heavy costumes in the warm weather, and work under hot lights. Plus I'm a pretty big guy, I generate a lot of body heat."

"Do you think you can talk to wardrobe about that?"

"Yes"

"Okay good I think we are getting somewhere." 

"Anything else you want to get off your chest?"

"I’m gay."

"Does Jensen know?"

"I never told him. I’m not hiding it. I just don’t bring it up."

"How do you feel about coming out to Jensen?"

"I wouldn’t want him to feel awkward around me or pressured in his workplace.  I’m not embarrassed by it. We have not talked about dating and relationships so I just keep it to myself. It’s not like I’m hiding it, but I would rather wait until he brings up the subject."

"How do you feel about confessing your love to Jensen?"

"I feel like he is not going to return my affections, and I am going to be crushed when I hear the No. So I would rather put it off."

"Do you think if Jensen does not love you romantically that your world will go on?"

"Yes"

"Do you think you will fall in love with someone who loves you in return one day?"

"Yes"

"Do you think you’re lovable?"

"I guess so."

"Jared, First love yourself. Then you can love others. Feeling worthy is crucial to your happiness. That’s what we will work on next time.

"How about we do this once a week?" Dr Mack suggested.

"Yeah"

"OK see you next week. And I recommend you speak to someone once a week while you're on hiatus in Austin." 

"It's a deal. Thanks Dr. Mack"

"My pleasure Jared."