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Supernatural Vet Jared Padalecki Reveals Why He Nearly Didn't Land Role Of Sam Winchester

Sam Winchester on Supernatural
(Image credit: The CW)

The WB/CW’s Supernatural achieved television longevity for a number of reasons, but the biggest were arguably the performances of Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester, respectively. But as it turns out, Padalecki nearly lost out on the opportunity to play the younger Winchester sibling, and you may be surprised by the reason for that.

Years ago, Sam Winchester was introduced as a lovable, smart Stanford student who didn’t want to go back to his family's tradition of paranormal hunting. His life would change forever, though, after receiving word that his father had gone missing. Jared Padalecki played Sam for 15 seasons and became quite close to the character in the process. (He even had specific ideas for how he wanted his story to end in the farewell season.) Padalecki once mentioned that he wasn't the first choice for the role and expanded on that while discussing his work with Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum on the latter's Inside of You podcast. Apparently, the star's approach gave the producers the wrong idea about him: 

So, this is really funny. So, I’m sure you kind of remember these days, but for those who are listening, in the early 2000s, if you were auditioning, if you looked like Michael Rosenbaum or Jared Padalecki when you were auditioning, it was very like, they wanted you to be like broody, like brooding, sort of like ‘Ugh, I’m thoughtful, I’m pensive.’ And so I went in, and I was on Gilmore Girls, and I was doing the whole brooding like, ‘Ugh, I’m James Dean,’ because that’s what worked back in the day when you were auditioning. And the critique or response came back to my manager, who I talked about earlier, and it was like, ‘Well, Kripke’s looking for an intellect, like a David Duchovny-type.’ Which wasn’t directly saying like, ‘Well, we think Jared’s stupid.’

If there's one thing the early 2000s had, it was a plethora of shows and movies that featured at least one “brooding” character. So you can't really blame the actor for approaching the audition that way before learning what was actually desired for Sam. Plus, that style tracks given that he portrayed Dean Forrester on Gilmore Girls. Luckily for him though, his manager was able to clear things up:

So my manager had to call and go like, ‘Hey, listen, he missed one question in math in his SATs, he’s a national merit scholar, he’s a debate champion. Like he’s…’ [He said,] ‘Okay, give him that note and let him come back in.’

And the rest is television history. I honestly can't even imagine just how different the series might've been had someone else had landed the role of Sam. As a longtime fan, I'm grateful to the star's management for working to get him cast.

While his tenure as Sam Winchester is seemingly over now, after the series finale aired, Jared Padalecki did open up about possibly portraying Sam again. And it sounds like he would be interested in revisiting the character sometime in the future. There's certainly still more that can be explored with the character. Padalecki played multiple variations of Sam throughout Supernatural’s run, so who’s to say he couldn't play another version down the road?

At present though, the performer is playing the smart and sometimes out-of-control titular Texas Ranger on Walker (which is part of the 2022 TV schedule). So I'm sure he didn't have to act "stupid" in order to get that gig. All in all, I'm glad to see him still thriving and even happier that we're no longer living in an age of television that requires some characters to be pensive or brooding.

You can revisit his work in both Supernatural and Gilmore Girls by streaming the shows with a Netflix subscription. And if you're missing the former's cast, there are other things to watch featuring Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and co.

Megan Behnke
Megan Behnke

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.