Somehow, Supernatural is still keeping Jensen Ackles on his toes. Last season, after 13 years of playing Dean Winchester, the showrunners told him that the end of season 13 would see him taking on the role of the archangel Michael. Suddenly, Ackles found himself in a situation he hadn’t been in since Supernatural‘s early years: He had to craft an entirely new character.
According to Ackles, Supernatural co-showrunner Andrew Dabb encouraged him to do his “own thing” with the character, which meant there were no rules when it came to creating Michael, a character we’d met before but not one fans had spent a significant amount of time with. Michael was, essentially, a blank canvas. “I had an idea of what I wanted to do and I played around with it over the hiatus,” Ackles tells EW. “When I got him up on his feet in the first couple of episodes, to be honest I was kind of floundering a little bit — what I had intended to do was maybe not popping as well as I wanted it to.”
Ackles says he started to “regroup” in the second episode of season 14. That regrouping involved a little outside help as well. “I started to add a bit more flavor [to Michael] and spice it up a bit,” Ackles says. “Richard Speight [Jr.] directed the second episode and he really helped me with that. I only had like two scenes in the first episode so I really didn’t have a chance to dive into it. But the second episode I got to play with him a little bit more — there were a couple really good scenes.”
In terms of what Michael’s evolution looked like, Ackles talks specifically about the comedic side of the character. “I was originally trying to take the traditional angel approach. I thought I’d take that method of this omniscient being that is essentially humorless,” Ackles says. “I quickly 180-ed on that after reading through a few things a few times. There wasn’t a whole lot of comedy written for the character, so if I was going to filter some in, it was going to have to be between the lines, which is fine, I like doing that and I like finding those moments. But then I realized that there have been a couple of angels that have had humor and that would be Lucifer and Gabriel. And those were two archangels. So I did take a little bit of liberty with that and thought, if they can do it, maybe this guy should have at least a small dose of that, so I do play a little bit of that in there.”
Overall, the experience of creating Michael took Ackles back to the beginning of his time as Dean. “I think about when I was first doing Dean Winchester and it was very similar,” Ackles says. “It wasn’t until about the third or fourth episode [of season one] where I really felt like I had a handle on the idea of who this guy was. So I feel like I’m back in that same seat again, 13 seasons later. It’s cool.”
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.