Day One in Vancouver
Jared showed up in Vancouver exuberant over the fact that the Supernatural pilot was picked up as a series. The writers, Eric Kripke and Sara Gamble told Jared they liked the belligerent energy he brought to the character of Sam. Jared arrived on set weeks after his 22nd birthday feeling confident in his ability to succeed because of his experience on Gilmore Girls. You got this, he told himself.
On the other hand, he felt a little insecure being in Canada, far from Los Angeles, and his native Texas. Plus he never had to carry the series as the Leading Man before. He had top billing on this show, and when he thought about that fact too much, the pressure psyched him out.
He was glad he was not a one man show. Even though he was the lead, he had an older and experienced co-star in Jensen Ackles. Jensen was a solid and serious professional from day one on set. Jared had a lot of confidence in Jensen's acting because he seemed to need less rehearsal time compared to Jared.
Jared read the script multiple times, did a table read, rehearsed, and tried saying his lines in a variety of ways. Jensen didn’t like to over rehearse. He could be happy with a shoot after one take.
God Jensen, Jared thought, what a great costar. He was a rock solid actor, especially for someone so young. He was older than Jared by four years and had more experience acting than Jared. Jared knew that Jensen was featured on a number of WB shows before Supernatural. Also he appeared for several years on a soap opera and won a soap opera digest award for best newcomer. Jensen brought a quiet confidence to the set that helped to settle Jared’s nerves, which Jared really appreciated.
But what struck Jared the most, when he met Jensen at their audition, and now on set, was Jensen's stunning good looks. He had a striking face. It was a subtly babyish, innocent with long eyelashes, he batted to his advantage. He was always flashing that eye twinkle and white toothy smile as if he was on a toothpaste commercial. And he had chubby lips that evoked sexual thoughts from even the most unsuspecting church ladies. And he backed it up with attitude. He was sweet and nice, but he new what he had, and how to wield it. And no one was spared, directors, costars, crew. He collected hearts with every conversation. All over set Jared heard, "Jensen, Jensen." People instantly liked him, and wanted to be his friend.
Jensen was definitely more mature than Jared. Jensen ran his lines, and got into character while waiting to film his scenes. He was not a bundle of nerves as Jared tended to be.
Jared arrived on set very early every morning to prepare, mostly to stew in nervousness over his scenes, but not Jensen. Jensen operated on more of a just in time type of mode. Jensen arrived on time, but not early. He usually hastened onto set, having slept in that extra five minutes asking, “am I late, am I late?” but he never was. Everyone rushed to reassure him and pat him on the back and enjoy the light of being in his sphere.
Jared was obsessed with observing Jensen when they worked together. Jensen had a face that the camera loved, unique green eyes, a perfect nose, and cheek bones that looked like golf balls, they were so high and rounded. His hair was dark blond. They cut it short and spiky for the show which made him seem so young and edgy. Jensen could play a lover boy, or a tough guy, either way he was dreamy.
Jared’s nerves on set were not helped by the fact that he was gay, and Jensen was tormentingly gorgeous. Owing to his obsession with Jensen's looks, and a stealthy attraction to him that he knew he must never reveal, Jared was always a little off whenever he was around Jensen. The nerves he felt in his stomach from the pressure and excitement of the acting were only inflamed by this attraction he felt to Jensen.
The tough thing about being gay on Supernatural was that Jared worked so closely with Jensen. They were together in almost every scene, such that Jared constantly worried that Jensen could figure out that Jared was gay.
Jared focused on the character he was playing. They were brothers, that helped Jared maintain the right mindset.
Jared knew he was high maintenance too. He was so talkative, more chatty for the fact of his nerves, and constantly engaged in verbal conversation with others, the director, the crew members, the other actors. He was always checking in, looking for feedback, wanting reassurance. He gave voice to every thought in his head. Bob Singer told him he was a handful, but he assured Jared that he was a good actor, that he was doing a great job, and his dailies looked really good.
Jared worried that his needs took a toll on Jensen, how exhausted Jensen looked sometimes when Jared inquired if they needed to do a scene again. Jared saw how sometimes Jensen’s lips would purse and his eyes would look downward, probably concealing an eyeroll, when Jared would ask question after question at the end of every take.
Kripke and Singer had many conversations with “the boys” as they became known, explaining that they would find a balance, Jensen engaging more, and Jared calming himself. Each would rub off on the other. It would take time for them to establish a norm that was comfortable for them, a dynamic that would be just the right balance of personal factors to ensure their optimal performance. It would come in time, they were told.
Jared talked incessantly in the hair and makeup trailer to Tricia, while she applied his makeup, and Jeannie, while she styled his 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 Harley. Jensen, on the other hand, sat calmly in the trailer across from Jared, content to relax quietly in the chair in a meditative state while his makeup was applied, his scalp massaged, and his hair styled.
When Jared compared himself to Jensen, he found himself wanting. At 6’4”, really closer to 6’5” but his agent told him to cheat downward to 6’4”. 6'4" is desirable, 6’5” starts to get freakish. Jensen was a cool 6 feet tall maybe a smidge taller, perfect.
Jared consumed a lot of food every. He loved eating both food and candy. No matter how much he ate, he couldn’t seem to gain weight. With the long work hours, Jared seemed to be losing weight. Jared struggled to keep his weight over 170 pounds. plus Jared was a noisy food digester. He was known to be gassy after lunch, and had to break to go to the bathrooom. Jensen on the other hand was a more abstemious eater. His weight was a perfect 180 lbs putting him smack dab in the perfect heartthrob range, and no embarrassing sounds seem to be heard ever coming from his body.
Wardrobe layered Jared in clothing to cover his skinny appearance. Jared’s clothes hung off him. His waist was too thin and with his shirt off, his ribs looked like skin pulled over bone. Plus, all these layers made him sweat in the warm weather or when they filmed indoors.
Jensen on the other hand was perfect. He never sweat. He never farted. He seemed flawless in Jared’s eyes. Jared couldn’t look at his face without getting drawn in. Sometimes Jared would just watch Jensen’s lips move. Jensen’s lips were succulent like a sweet orange. they were exaggeratedly plump and kissable. It was just another of his features the camera loved. Not surprisingly to Jared, Jensen had done modeling since he was four years old. He always had the perfect smoldering expression when he looked into the camera to end a scene. Jared felt a little jealous of this, with his own wide nose and big forehead. He sometimes teased Jensen calling it “model face” which didn’t stop Jensen one bit from continuing to milk it.
“Hey, you know what they say Jared, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
Jared couldn’t argue with that. They were in their first season, and Jensen was an award winning actor. Whatever worked, they needed to pull out all the stops to get an audience for the show and keep it on the air.
Jared felt awkward filming with Jensen in the beginning. Maintaining eye contact when they were just getting to know each other was sometimes difficult. Sometimes Jared felt the need to look away. It felt too intimate, especially when Jared let his thoughts wander to the point where he found himself resisting leaning in and planting a kiss right on Jensen's lips.
Some of the dialogue Dean had to deliver was stern. It was even a little awkward for Jensen. After a tense scene between the brothers where Jensen had to slap the back of Jared's head and grab him by the front of his shirt and threaten him, Jensen explained, “I apologize for some of those lines Jared. Dean sometimes barks orders and takes a hard line with Sam. He can be an asshole, but I want you to know it’s not me talking, it’s Dean, because I like you Jared, and I would never speak to you that way.”
“Thanks Jensen” Jared was over the moon. This felt so intimate, ‘I like you Jared’ Oh my God he likes me he just said I like you Jared.
“I understand” replied Jared. “I know what you mean. I feel it a little too. Sometimes you play the jerky older brother and you’re a little too good at it,” Jared said with a little chuckle.
When Jensen smiled, Jared understood the ice was broken between the two of them.
“I just want you to know it’s not personal,” Jensen said smiling.
“I know’” Jared replied, feeling warm to the idea that a friendship might be developing.
During the last month of filming season one, Jared and Jensen met with a reporter who visited set from Buddy TV for an interview the network set up.
“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” Jensen asked.
Stung by Jensen’s question, Jared’s jaw dropped. His eyes widened in surprise and watered slightly. He fought back tears at the unflattering and extremely personal observation Jensen announced about him on national television. Jared was embarrassed that he sweat a lot, but he didn’t realize Jensen had noted it, and he didn’t want it shared with the public. As far as Jared was concerned, that was private.
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 up his lips while gazing directly into the camera with sultry eyes in imitation of Jensen’s model face. This was the meanest thing Jared could think of to say at the moment.
Thinking it hilarious, Jensen 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 depressed.
The next morning, Jared called in sick to the set. Phil, the Director came to Jared’s trailer to check on him. He found Jared laying on his bed in his trailer crying.
"What’s the matter then?"
"I’m feeling down."
"You want to talk to someone? A professional?"
The psychologist, Dr. Cheryl Mack, visited Jared in his trailer.
“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. Am I a joke? a freak? I’m so embarrassed. I don’t feel like leaving my trailer.”
"Do you think Jensen knows how you feel about what he said?"
"Do you think Jensen would care if he knew your feelings were hurt by his disclosure?"
"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?"
"Do you think you can have a conversation with Jensen about this?"
“I don’t know”
"Do you think he meant to hurt you?"
"Why is Jensen’s opinion so important to you?"
"I’m in love with Jensen."
"You’re in love with Jensen?"
"Yes, I’m gay and in love with Jensen. He doesn’t know."
"Tell me more about your feelings"
“I feel rejected by the man I love.”
“Do you plan to tell him?”
"No, I wouldn’t want him to feel awkward around me or pressured at work. 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 of who he’s dating or who I’m dating."
"Do you think sweating is a normal biological function?”
“Could you make yourself stop sweating Jared?”
“Could you make yourself shorter?”
“Do you love yourself Jared as you are Jared?"
"I don’t know."
"First love yourself Jared as you are, tall, gay and sweaty. Then you can love others. Feeling worthy of love 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.
"OK see you next week. And I recommend you speak to a therapist every week while you're on hiatus in Texas."
"Okay. Thanks Dr. Mack"
"My pleasure Jared."