Supernatural Director Reveals The Great Advice He Got From Jensen Ackles And Misha Collins

supernatural season 15 dean castiel the cw
(Image credit: The CW)

Only a handful of episodes are left before Supernatural ends after fifteen seasons, and The CW's longest-running show is pulling out all the stops. Supernatural actor-turned-director Matt Cohen stepped behind the camera from his role as the young John Winchester to helm the episode that will air on October 15. He's not the first Supernatural star to direct the show, and he revealed to CinemaBlend that Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins both had some tips for him.

Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins have directed seven episodes between them, but they took different tacks in their tips to Matt Cohen. Unsurprisingly considering Jared Padalecki's reputation as a prankster, one star went for a warning about what to try and avoid. Cohen shared what Ackles and Collins had to say:

Misha said, 'Don't let Jared get his hands on your script or your notes. Because you'll never get them back.' And Jensen and I had a couple of good talks about doing the homework and showing up prepared. And you know, there's so much that goes on directing that doesn't happen on the live set. You know, there's a lot of sitting in the office alone, with your thoughts and fighting with your own mind for hours. Jensen came to visit me a few times up in the studio office. And I was covered in paper and notes. I would write notes on my arms, on my hands, on the desk. I have things everywhere, and I'm constantly rethinking what I want to do for these guys and for this episode. And he just knows what it is like, because they both directed, but Jensen was like, 'Do your homework, buddy, do your homework.' And it was constantly him reminding me to work, put in the extra work and the homework and it pays off. It does. You get on set and you can really work creatively once you've done the homework behind the scenes.

Although Misha Collins only directed one episode of Supernatural back in Season 9, that experience combined with twelve seasons working with Jared Padalecki evidently was enough for him to warn Matt Cohen about potential shenanigans! Jensen Ackles, on the other hand, has directed six episodes since his directorial debut back in Season 6, so he definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to the challenges of directing Supernatural.

Matt Cohen's episode of Supernatural Season 15 is called "Gimme Shelter," and it will see Castiel and Jack work a case that involves members of a local church, while the Winchesters go off on a search for Amara. Considering the plan to kill God seemingly means that Amara needs to die as well for the world not to end, the visit with Amara (assuming they find her) might not be very friendly, even if she did restore their mom to them for a time.

By this point in Season 15, Matt Cohen is very familiar with the show and the actors, most of whom have been playing their characters for quite a while. That doesn't mean directing an episode of Supernatural was easy, though! Cohen compared directing Supernatural to wanting to nail a task after putting in the work, then said:

And you don't want to let anybody down. So add ten years on top of that, add all the families of all the people that might work above you or hire you or be responsible for you being in your position. You take in to heart all of that because I started as a guest star on the show, as a one-off episode guy that they ended up giving me more episodes, that they ended up giving me the bug to direct and I set out on this journey to direct and then [executive producer] Bob Singer wants to give me this opportunity. And The CW and Warner Bros. and Richard Speight, Jr. Literally, Richard Speight Jr. is like prepping me to not fail, and I see the terror in his face, that there's a chance that I may completely fail at my first time. And so I'm thinking about not letting Rich down. And then I don't want to let him down because then he's gonna be bummed out for his family, so I don't want to let his family down.

Richard Speight Jr. is another example of a Supernatural star who went behind the camera to direct, and he actually directed an episode in which he played Gabriel as well as Supernatural's version of Loki. As for Matt Cohen's turn as director, "Gimme Shelter" stands as one of the very last episodes of a series that has run for a decade and a half, and that's no small deal.

A lot can potentially happen in an hour when there are still plots to be resolved like defeating God, Castiel's deal with The Empty, and whatever the device in the bunker may or may not do, and there's not a ton of time left. Matt Cohen continued, explaining his Supernatural journey and goals for directing:

And then that extends to every person, actor and crew member I've met along the way and pre-production and, you know, set design, all these different things, props, and I'm looking at these people that are working so hard to make me not fail. All the weight in the world is there. So you just stop sleeping, and you start working and you do whatever you can to show up for these people. And that's what I tried to do. And I wanted to carry it out and get people home at a decent time and finish our work day feeling successful. Like we climbed the mountain and conquered it. And you know, the weight of the world is heavy, but it's not as heavy as my want to succeed for this franchise, for this family that we call our Supernatural family.

The very good news is that the extended wait for "Gimme Shelter" as one of the last episodes of Supernatural is almost at an end. The episode was intended to air in the spring, but production shutdowns meant that the effects couldn't be completed even on episodes that had already finished filming.

Be sure to tune in to The CW on Thursday, October 15 at 8 p.m. ET to see Cas and Jack investigate a case while Sam and Dean go on the search for Amara in the next new episode of Supernatural. For some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).