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Supernatural: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki on Mary's return

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Katie Yu/The CW

Sam and Dean Winchester have a tricky relationship with their parents. The boys lost their mom as youngsters, which threw their revenge-hungry father into the world of hunting. And by default, that meant Sam and Dean were thrown into the world of hunting, too. Cut to 11 seasons later, and not only have they lost both of their parents, but they’ve also met the younger version of their mom and dad, and most recently, reunited with their mother. Did we mention she’s back from the dead? Yeah, we told you it was complicated.

But with Mary Winchester back and getting to know her now grown children, Supernatural‘s 12th season will explore a new family dynamic. EW sat down with Supernatural stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, where they spoke about what it’s been like to have Samantha Smith, who played their mother in the pilot 11 years ago, back on the show:

JENSEN ACKLES: I’ve found that it’s very much art imitating life. We’ve gotten the opportunity to work with her on a few different occasions and so my relationship, personally with her, Jensen and Samantha, is just a few little snippets here and there that have been fantastic, and I have a love for her and such a great respect and the memory of the times that she’s come onto the show and we’ve done several episodes with her have been fantastic. So it’s almost like Dean with these peppered, vague memories of her, and now all of a sudden she’s back and it’s been almost a learning curve for me to work with her on set, because I should have this kind of easy camaraderie with her in our work environment but we’ve never really established that. It’s only been the idea of it being cool and copacetic.

JARED PADALECKI: And I’ll speak for Samantha as well really quickly because I think it’s an important tangent. The first couple of episodes [of season 12] see me getting tortured and I think [Dean’s] dead, he doesn’t know where I am. I was talking to Samantha, who’s a friend, and she’s like, “It’s been really weird, because I’ve been a part of this show since day one.” She was a part of Supernatural before we were a part of Supernatural. I’ll give the credit to the writers in a sense because they’re able to figure out how it might feel and it’s probably weird for Samantha and Mary to now be part of something that they…

ACKLES: They were only talked about. They were never really physically a part of.

PADALECKI: I revert back to when I was 22, or however old I was when I did the show, and Sam didn’t want to be in this life and didn’t want anything to do with it. There was a part where Jared didn’t want to be moving to Vancouver and working 18-hour days and getting on the phone for New York interviews at 6 a.m. and then flying down for a photo shoot. Life imitated art, and I feel like that’s one of the reasons why Supernatural has gone so long is because our writers are savvy enough and smart enough to realize hey, we have an opportunity to mirror what somebody might go through. So they’re really woven that into the story line with Samantha and I told her, “That’s just good writing because Mary would feel weird after not being here for 33 years and being with her sons and living in a bunker.” It took us a long time to find peace in the bunker, and so for Mary to do it…

ACKLES: It is art imitating life, life imitating art in the fact that we really love Samantha, we’ve gotten to see her, we have a great fondness of her and relationship with her, but to have her around all the time, it’s like, oh wow. Off set, [it’s] fantastic, awesome. But it’s really the chemistry on set — you never really know how that chemistry is going to play itself out when you start really working with somebody and start really talking about the dialogue, really start talking about the movement of the scene. Jared and I, we’ve been doing this consistently for a long, long time. There is a silent language that he and I have. 

PADALECKI: The language of love…

ACKLES: Let’s not do that.

PADALECKI: Okay yeah, I’m sorry. Can you rewind? [Laughs]

ACKLES: Is there an edit button? Jared kind of hit on the tonality of the story line, but I feel like there’s such an interesting dynamic going on with Dean and mom that almost mirrors the dynamic that’s happening off-camera. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have Samantha back on set; she’s such a lovely, lovely human being and such a pleasure to work with. But it is funny, there’s not that familiarity that he and I have or Misha [Collins] or Mark [Sheppard].

PADALECKI: Which works.

ACKLES: To put this female character in the bunker with the boys it’s like, “Uh, have you seen her this morning?” “No have you?” “No. Alright well, do we make her coffee as well?” There’s this oddity to it but I think it’s an entertaining oddity and I think the fans will enjoy it. I hope they do. It’s been uniquely interesting and fun. 

Supernatural returns Thursday, Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.