'Supernatural': Danneel Ackles Prays Her Character Doesn't Die at the 'Hands of Dean Winchester' (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
It's going to be a family affair on Supernatural.
One Tree Hill alum Danneel Ackles makes her anticipated debut on The CW's longest-running drama in Thursday's season 13 episode, titled "Devil's Bargain," where she'll share the screen with her real-life husband of seven years, Jensen, who plays Dean Winchester, for at least two episodes. The 38-year-old actress, who hasn't acted since 2014, plays Sister Jo, a powerful faith healer who makes a deal with the devil, literally, when Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) enters her orbit. And so begins the fun and chaos on Supernatural.
Ahead of her long-awaited episode, ET spoke with Ackles to get the story behind how she came to join the show, what it was like on set with three children under five and her one big wish if Sister Jo bites the dust.
ET: How much of a discussion was it on your end in regards to the perfect time for you to appear on Supernatural?
Danneel Ackles: I was reminded of this in the Twitter-verse. Fans were always like, "Are you going to be on Supernatural? When are you going to be on Supernatural?" and in 2006, I was like, "Well, in season 13, I'm going to get there on Supernatural." A fan found that and has now retweeted it and reposted it and I was like, "Are you kidding me? I said that?" I guess it was the universe's way of making it come to fruition.
It has been a significant period of time, over a decade, since the show has been on. Was it a conscious decision on your part to keep your distance from it?
In the beginning, I was working on different shows throughout and [Jensen] just kept staying on the same one. (Laughs.) We were working so much on different things that it really didn't come up. And this particular character, [Sister Jo], was written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, who are executive producers on the show, and Eugenie's husband is Bob Singer, who is also very prominent on the show. Eugenie and Brad pitched the character to me and she's just a really strong, female badass and I was like, yes, I want to play that. It wasn't playing me, which, I think worked great in [the 2011 episode] "The French Mistake" for Gen[evieve Padalecki, who played herself]; she was Ruby before she was Genevieve Padalecki. I think that worked really well and fans absolutely loved the episode. For Jensen and I, this felt better. He read it, I read it, this is an awesome character and I have to do it.
Let's talk a little bit about your character, Sister Jo, who is a faith healer and attracts the attention of Lucifer, which is usually a bad thing but you never know. What drew you into Sister Jo?
She does come into contact with Lucifer. They're both very drawn to each other. She's a faith healer. She's extremely powerful, which is something we know he is very attracted to. The one thing about Sister Jo is that she is a very smart businesswoman. She's not a bad girl or a good girl, she's one of these types who is driven and "OK, Lucifer wants to make a deal with me. This works for me. I'm going to do that." Very matter of fact. Very in it to see who can help her climb the ladder of life quicker. In this episode, she does deals with Lucifer, she does deals with the Winchesters. As long as you're helping No. 1, Sister Jo, you're good in her book.
So she's someone who operates more in the gray area.
You mentioned sharing scenes with the Winchester boys. You worked with Jensen more than 10 years ago on the 2007 film, Ten-Inch Hero. What was this experience like working together?
Over a decade ago! That was a very different experience. Aside from both of us having very different bodies, our bodies have [changed since] -- I would love to go back to that. (Laughs.) But this time, I'm handing babies off. I was like, "Here's this baby!," because we have 1-year-old twins and a 4-year-old. We're running back and forth from trailers. It was crazy just on that aspect alone. I do know how lucky I am because there's no other show where I can do a scene and hand off a baby to the props girl, Robin, who we love. It was really fun. Good times.
What can you tease about Sister Jo's dynamic with the brothers?
It's the same dynamic as when she first meets Lucifer. It's the same kind of situation for her where they ask her for help and she's like, "OK, what can you do for me?" That's her dynamic. She uses what she has at the moment to get what she needs.
You played a memorable bad girl, Rachel, on One Tree Hill. Do you think Sister Jo has traces of Rachel in her DNA?
I think there's a little Rachel in Sister Jo, definitely the type that is driven because Rachel was very driven and very much in it to win it. If you could help her, then you're a friend. Sister Jo is not very judgmental. She's willing to overlook mistakes; if she thinks you can help her in this moment... Ehh, so you're Lucifer? Big deal.
Is there a trait of Jo's you wish you had in real life?
I wish I was as fearless as she was. If I walked into a room and the devil was there, I would be out quicker than... (Laughs.) I don't even go to haunted houses! It would probably be her fearlessness. Or, maybe I should be a faith healer. I'd actually really want to be that too. That would be really cool. The director of this episode was Eduardo Sanchez, who did TheBlair Witch Project. I couldn't even ask him about it. I didn't want to talk about that movie with him because that movie scarred me when I was younger.
What do you want fans to know about your arc now that you're finally in the Supernatural universe?
I'm going to be doing another episode before the show ends this season and I'm super excited about it. I really love the character and I hope that she can continue on. If they do decide to kill her, I hope it's not some really horrible death. (Laughs.) Or hopefully it's not at the hands of Dean Winchester.
Fans would riot.
Well, you remember what they did to Jared [Padalecki]'s wife. Wasn't it that Jared held her while Jensen stabbed her? [In the season four finale, Ruby was fatally stabbed by her own knife by Dean while Sam held her in his arms.] Please don't let that happen to me! Jared's like, that's what he's rooting for.
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.