In the Season 1 episode of “Supernatural” titled “Asylum,” we learn via a very snarky Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) that “When someone says a place is haunted, don’t go in.” Yet despite that sage wisdom and the fact he played a ghost-killing hunter in the series, Ackles didn’t follow his character’s own advice.
The episode was filmed at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, Canada, and the real former psychiatric hospital just might be more haunted than its fictional counterpart. “Supernatural” was filmed in and outside of the hospital on more than one occasion, and the building’s creep factor is a hushed reality amongst the cast and crew. Yet sometimes, fans and reporters can coax them to talk about their eerie experiences within the hospital walls.
Looper was invited to a presser for the “Supernatural” prequel series “The Winchesters,” where Ackles told a chilling story about his exploration of Riverview Hospital during the filming of “Supernatural.” Let’s just hope “The Winchesters” never ditches New Orleans filming for this allegedly haunted hospital — though NOLA has more than a few of its own ghosts to contend with.
The believer and the nonbeliever
On whether he’s had a metaphysical experience or something he couldn’t quite explain, Jensen Ackles joked, “My marriage.” He added, “This is something that Danneel [Ackles] and I talked about quite a bit.”
Ackles’ wife Danneel chimed in her thoughts on the matter. “It happens to us all the time,” she said. “We have a million of these. Except Jensen thinks that I think because all of your years of ‘Supernatural,’ you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not what that was. No, no, no, that’s something else.'”
“I don’t know [if this is true] or not, but Danneel, I feel like, is emotionally available to those kinds of happenings, and I might not be,” Ackles said. After Danneel admitted that she’d be “willing and ready” for these situations, her husband mused, “It might be because I spent 15 years playing a character that kicked the s*** out of ghosts and demons, and so I just figure like, no, that’s not [it], because if it is, they picked the wrong house.” Hey, it’s not like ego ever killed the Winchesters, hm?
“And so it might’ve given me some false sense of security,” Ackles continued. “It’s almost like, ‘Listen, I played a doctor on TV for 15 years. Give me the scalpel.’ I know that that probably isn’t what would happen.”
The fourth floor is warded off for a reason
Jensen Ackles went on to explain what he’d do if a ghost suddenly appeared in his presence. “I don’t know how I would react, but I do feel like I tend to jump to the ‘There’s gotta be some sort of logical explanation for why that window just flew open or,” he said before his wife cut him off, offering, “Why that hammer flew across Gino’s whole tool belt.”
“Yeah, Danneel is much quicker to think that there’s an entity or some sort of presence,” Ackles added. Noting some unexplainable instances at the Family Business Beer Company, Danneel said, “There’s just a reason there’s a house … we own a brewery together, and there is an old house on the brewery, and there’s a reason why the construction there has completely stopped.”
Ackles finally relented, owning up to the fact that he’s had at least one pretty creepy experience. “I’ll give you one quick little story. I don’t remember what season of ‘Supernatural’ this was, but we used to shoot at this decommissioned insane asylum [near] Vancouver called Riverview,” he said. “So there were four floors and a basement, and we generally filmed in the basement or the first two floors. The third floor wasn’t really utilized, and the fourth floor was off limits.”
Ackles was either determined to prove himself a true Winchester or that people were making a fuss over nothing. “And one day, I got the liaison of the building, of the property there to take me up to the fourth floor,” he recalled. “And I said, ‘I gotta know what’s going on.’ And she walked up, and she said, ‘Well, this is the staircase I was pushed down.’ I was like, ‘Who pushed you?!’ And she was like, ‘I don’t know, I was alone.'” Nope, that wasn’t enough for Ackles to high-tail it back to the slightly less haunted floors.
PSA: Don’t lie down in haunted bathtubs
The tale of the scary experience wasn’t enough to keep Jensen Ackles from exploring the forbidden area of a haunted asylum. Nope, he wanted to take a bath. “Then she opened this one door, and she’s like, ‘This is a room I will not go into.’ And it was a single room that was floor to ceiling tiled and in the center of the room was a drain, and there was a bathtub — a claw foot bathtub — sitting in the middle of this room,” Ackles continued. “And I just, I don’t know, I just walked right in and then laid down in the bathtub. And there was a moment where I was like, ‘There’s nothing wrong with this,’ and then I felt something. I felt like a pressure on my chest, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna get up and get out of here.'”
Well, at least he didn’t wait for a spirit to try to drown him. But there’s a reason the “Supernatural” cast and crew don’t usually talk about these experiences. “You know, we get asked a lot, ‘Were there ever any things that happened on ‘Supernatural’ that [was hard to explain], and I was like, ‘Yeah, but we don’t talk about it much,” Ackles explained.
So, what did we learn today, kids? When someone says a place is haunted, don’t go in.