Long before Jensen Ackles played Dean Winchester on “Supernatural,” he took on the role of Jason Teague in “Smallville” alongside Tom Welling’s Clark Kent. Ackles played Clark’s football and love interest to Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), but he left the series to star in “Supernatural.” Though he was only on “Smallville” for 22 episodes, it was more than enough to cement a bond with Welling — especially given that both show aired on The WB-turned-CW.
Even after Ackles’ time on “Smallville,” he and Welling kept in touch. So, when it came time for Ackles to produce “The Winchesters,” he had a particular role for Welling in mind: the Winchester brothers’ maternal grandfather Samuel Campbell. As it turns out, the actors’ bond is what prompted Welling to accept the role. It’s always great to work with your friends, knowing what kind of environment they foster on set. Looper spoke to Welling during an exclusive interview, where he discussed getting cast as Samuel Campbell on “The Winchesters” and how his confidence in Jensen Ackles inspired him to accept the role.
A supernatural friendship
On what it’s been like getting to work with Jensen Ackles so long after “Smallville” and his favorite behind-the-scenes moments so far, Welling told Looper, “The funny thing is, Jensen played Clark’s football coach and dated Lana on ‘Smallville.’ Then Jensen went on to do ‘Supernatural’ for 15 years. We knew each other.”
And though they didn’t play brothers on the show like Ackles and his “Supernatural” co-star Jared Padalecki, Welling and Ackles have their own brotherly dynamic. “We had a bond on the show, and then we kept in contact, and we got to swap stories because we were in similar situations for so many years. He called me a few months ago, and he goes, ‘Hey, man, I’m doing this TV show. Hear me out because I think you’d be right for this role,”‘ Welling recalled. “I do believe that because of my relationship with him, I had a more open mind to the idea of playing Samuel on ‘The Winchesters.'”
Of course, “The Winchesters” is a prequel, so Ackles’ character Dean exists in more of a narrating capacity than a physical one — and he spends most of his time with the show on behind-the-scenes details. “I don’t necessarily work with Jensen on set because he doesn’t live in this show yet. But I can tell you that his kindness and his grace and his professionalism [are] very much a part of the show,” Welling explained. “I knew that if I was going to be on a show that Jensen created, I’d be walking into a warm environment. That was very helpful for me to make the decision to be a part of it. And it has been that way. I’m in my 2nd episode now of the show, and I’m having a really good time with the cast and the crew. It’s been a joy.”