The fifth season of Jane the Virgin hasn't even started airing yet, but the waterworks have already begun for the cast! (To be fair, if you're a megafan, you know how emotional they get in both real life and on the show.)
When viewers finally get to see the final episodes of the beloved CW series, they'll be tuning in to what creator Jennie Snyder Urman believes is "one of our strongest seasons."
She told this to hundreds of fans at the Jane the Virgin panel at PaleyFest L.A. on Wednesday night, and though little else was revealed about season five -- she literally (jokingly) yelled at Brett Dier (Michael) at one point to prevent him from revealing a plot point -- there were a few nuggets that slipped out.
The biggest admission of the night was that the narrator, voiced by Anthony Mendez, has a connection to the Villanueva family. "The answer is yes," Snyder Urman said onstage to ET's Leanne Aguilera, who moderated the panel. "That's all I'll say."
As for Michael returning from the dead, the cast was given very specific instructions on what they could say, which included the words "confusion" and "change" and using exaggerated air quotes when saying the name "Michael." In fact, they used air quotes so much thatJustin Baldoni (Raphael) joked that he felt like Joey from Friends.
Dier told fans he found out about Michael's resurrection about four or five months after he was initially killed off the show, while he was playing a lot of video games and simply assumed his character was truly dead. He did say fans will find out about the character now known as Air Quotes Michael, explaining, "Within like 47 seconds of the show -- first episode, season five -- you'll find out what happens with the guy, 'Michael.' It's gonna cause a lot of problems."
Plenty of questions will be answered in the fifth season premiere, which was directed by Gina Rodriguez (Jane), who had to not only act but guide herself through a seven-and-a-half page monologue that Snyder Urman asked her to do in one take, which the actress admitted was "trippy" but "an incredible experience." The scene should easily go down in Jane history as one of the most surreal and impressive moments, but Rodriguez admitted that while she was ready to take on this epic monologue, not everyone thought she could do it.
"Then it was kind of like a battle -- people told me that I couldn't do it. And what's great is [Jennie] was like, 'No, no, no, she can.' And so we did!" Rodriguez said. "I really can't wait for you guys to see it because it's a lot of fun and it's incredible, and it’s really the culmination of what’s happening to Jane in that moment and to where she’s at.”
Much of the Jane PaleyFest panel then became a deserved lovefest for Snyder Urman, who Rodriguez praised as a phenomenal showrunner and genius that's helped them all grow over the past five years by making "our wings huge because of what you've filled our lives with."
"She is Jane," the Miss Bala star explained. "And the best parts of Jane! Not the judgmental side. All the good s**t of Jane. And so you get to play her world and it's so beautiful and specific and crafted and to be able to be creative inside of that world that she's created for you can either be a huge challenge or either the biggest reward of your life, and it's been nothing but both of those things."
As for what Jane has done for Rodriguez's life, you can bet her feelings were tear-soaked.
"Before, I was 29 years old. I had been trying so hard for so many years after graduating from NYU. I could barely pay rent. I got broken up with -- it’s good though, we good now -- and I had said no to a project that my family was telling me that I was being a sacrificial lamb. They were saying you can’t choose your roles based off what matters to other people, you have to do it for yourself, and I just don’t feel that way," Rodriguez explained. "And I do think what we see makes us feel a certain way about ourselves. I’m honestly am a product of that. There were people that followed their dreams that gave me the allowance to follow mine, and it was important that I did that for others, so I said no, and I stayed and I kept trying."
Rodriguez joked that she was shocked to audition for a character named Jane for a CW show, seeing as she was a Puerto Rican girl from Chicago who doesn't wear a size two, and there "was a lot of fear and self-inflicted obstacles" before she read the script. "I was like, 'Who wrote this? Who knows how to write such strong women, such multidimensional characters? Who is going to put a Latina family out there like this? Who's going to f**king do that s**t?' Thank god [Jennie] exists, because I didn't know that I could do it myself," she said, adding, "I booked Jane, my life changed, she gave me the dream I had been working towards for 15 years, and then she taught me how to do it for other people.”
One of the other biggest talking points of the night was how important representation is, whether that's showing that "Latinas can just be regular people," as Mendez put it, or Yael Grobglas' (Petra) point that Jane is one of the rare sets where not only is the show run by a woman, but the top of the call sheet and most of the directors have been females. Baldoni echoed all of those sentiments beautifully, noting that playing Raphael has been "such a supreme joy."
"In my own life, I have been reflecting a lot about what it means to be a man and masculinity, and I'm going to say something that might be controversial, but I think the reason these men are so well-rounded is because they’re written by women, for the most part," he said. "When I met Raphael, he was a man that was a byproduct of the men that he was raised by, and over the course of these five years and meeting [Jane] who opened him up and her family and the generations of women, and then of course his ex, he’s literally surrounded by women. And I can tell you that in my personal experience, that in my mind, that’s also shaped the man that I am. And I think that’s something to not discount in life, and i think that’s something that’s been such a supreme honor to look at a character and struggle with it and fight against the way that society tells us there are certain ways we need to be as men.”
Even though the tears have already started flowing -- the fact that Rodriguez only cried a handful of times during PaleyFest seemed to be a small feat -- there are still three more episodes to shoot, and the cast hasn't seen the finale script yet. While they may be said to close the final chapter on Jane the Virgin later this year, the actors and the showrunner are very much one big happy family -- and still have their sense of humor intact.
When asked about what they're hoping to see happen to the main characters as the season winds down, Grobglas joked, "I'm still waiting for Jane and Petra to run away together."
The fifth and final season of Jane the Virgin premieres on Wed., March 27, at 9/8c on The CW.