What can be said about Jensen Ackles? He’s an amazingly talented actor? He’s got a huge heart? He’s an amazing friend, husband and father? He’s a rock star? Well, yes…to all of those things, really, and all of the other things that make Jensen who he is. But, there’s something else to be said about today. It’s his birthday – and he’s turning 40. A lot of us have spent the past several years growing with Jensen, so…how best to celebrate such a celebrated man? Nerds and Beyond decided to go through some of our favorite Jensen roles and moments, and share some of the reasons that we love him. We’d love to hear some of yours, too!
Days of Our Lives
Written by: Tricia
It won’t come as a surprise to many that the first thing I ever saw Jensen Ackles in was Days of Our Lives. Jensen had minor parts in a couple of TV shows leading up to Days of Our Lives, but Days was definitely his big break-out performance. He landed the role of Eric Brady in 1997 and it didn’t take long for him to start making a name for himself in the world of television. In 1998 he won a Soap Opera Digest Award for Best Male Newcomer, and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Awards in 1998, 1999, and 2000 in the category for Outstanding Young Actor In a Drama Series.
An interesting fact to note is that in Days of Our Lives, Eric Brady had a twin sister named Samantha (played by Allison Sweeny) who was better known on on the show as Sami. This is at least slightly amusing due to Jensen’s current on-going role of Dean Winchester on Supernatural also having a sibling named Sam.
The reason Jensen’s portrayal of Eric Brady is one of my favorite roles of his is because for me, this is how I first stumbled upon Jensen. My mom was a big Days of Our Lives fan, and I’d always see it on TV during the summer when I wasn’t in school. Once I laid eyes on Jensen as Eric Brady for the first time, my 11-year-old self developed an instantaneous crush, and from there, my mom started taping any episode with Eric Brady in it so I could watch it when I got home from school. I remember vividly having every inch of my bedroom walls covered in all Backstreet Boys posters except for one photo of Jensen I tore out of one of those pre-teen magazines.
It’s hard to believe that twenty years have passed and, that if it wasn’t for my husband, I’d still have a poster of the same guy on my wall!
Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
Written by: Dean
Perhaps Jensen’s most well-known role is that of Dean Winchester on the popular CW series, Supernatural. Through 13 seasons, and hell and high water, we’ve had the opportunity to see Jensen play so many different characterizations, scenarios, and versions of Dean. More than that, we’ve gotten to watch both Dean and Jensen grow up through the character. At the start of season one, Dean and Jensen were 26 years old. This year, they’re both turning 40. That’s a lot of time that we’ve been privileged to spend with such a talented and caring actor.
At the start of season one of Supernatural, Dean is known as the ‘bad boy’ who drives a classic car, and breaks the hearts of every girl he sees. While he still has Baby, the ‘67 Chevy Impala, we’ve seen his character evolve immensely- as one often does when they are growing up.
Of course, usually, through the course of growing up, one doesn’t quite see as much as Dean does, including countless run-ins with death (sometimes, even literally), and learning that things weren’t quite as you once saw them.
Jensen brings every level of depth to Dean’s character – layers, upon layers of everything Dean’s gone through. There have even been times that Jensen’s rewritten lines of Dean’s, because he’s become the character- knows him better than anyone else. Who could forget the classic ‘single man tear’, or the way he gets choked up? Everyone can see beyond the front he gives to the world of hard, and brave and strong- he is all of those things – but, he also cares the most, and feels the most. There’s no denying that with so many levels to his character, that Dean Winchester would be a hard role for anyone to fill. Anyone other than Jensen would have sent the show spiraling rather quickly, and my guess is that it wouldn’t have made it 13 seasons.
Jensen has great chemistry with his co-stars- delivering believable and beautiful performances with all of them – but particularly brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) and best friend Castiel (Misha Collins). Having formed outside friendships with them, and a brother-like relationship with Jared has made their roles as Sam and Dean infallible. Dean, of course, being the protective older brother who had to fill father roles from a young age. (Which makes total sense, because we all know that Jared himself is like a kid brother sometimes).
Jensen captivates in his role. Some of his most memorable Dean roles (to me, anyway), were as follows:
Yellow Fever: In which Dean is afraid of everything. Literally, everything. Jensen killed this role, making Dean’s fears both believable, and hilarious. The most memorable scene? Sam opens a locker, and a cat inside meows. Jensen fully delivers, eyes wide, mouth open in a high-pitched scream of terror, ending with “that was scary!”
The French Mistake: In which Sam and Dean become Jared and Jensen. We get to see him make fun of his Days of Our Lives character. It takes true talent to portray both Dean Winchester, and Jensen Ackles at the same time- and, as French Mistake is often called the fan-favorite episode, I’d say it was executed perfectly. Amen, Padaleski.
Fan-Fiction: Another fan-favorite in which Sam and Dean stumble across a musical theatre production of ‘Supernatural’ and get to see their world from a fan’s point of view. We see so many parts of Dean in this (and get to laugh about things that we as fans do). We get to see him fight against their characterizations of him, until inevitably, he comes to the ‘y’know what, just do you’ moment. He also receives a fake Samulet in this episode, and hangs it in the Impala, bringing on the tears.
I could keep going. Jensen makes us feel what Dean feels. He makes everyone sit on the edge of their seat, rooting for this man, who, despite being ‘The Righteous Man’ and ‘Chosen’, is only doing his best in a world that fights him back.
There’s more to it though. Because of Dean, we’ve also gotten the chance to experience Jensen at conventions- in other roles, this time off-screen. We’ve gotten to see him put together great charities that deeply touched him such as YANA, and Stronger Than Storms. We’ve also gotten to see him become a wonderful and devoted husband to wife Danneel, and his three children, Justice Jay (JJ), Zeppelin, and Arrow. We’ve gotten to see him fulfill one of his dreams of becoming a rock star. We’ve gotten to hear great stories about his humor and time with his fellow actors.
Because of Dean, we’ve in some way gotten to feel like Jensen is a part of our lives. The majority of the Supernatural cast has made the #SPNFamily feel like a home for us, where we feel like we are all part of not just a network, but, you guessed it: a family. Jensen is a huge part of that. There are thousands of photo ops and autograph stories on Twitter that talk about how this good and kind-hearted man has changed their lives. Mine is no exception.
I met Jensen at Jus in Bello (JIB) Con in 2017, and can easily say he was so warm, friendly and personable. He made me feel comfortable and confident in who I am. So, because of Jensen, my life has changed in parts, in many ways, as he’s touched the lives of others through his character, Dean- by showing up, and being a part of this beautiful family that he’s had a major hand in creating.
Dean is not Jensen, and Jensen is not Dean – but they are a part of each other, most definitely. We’ve learned so much about each of them through the other, and no matter what future comes for Supernatural, we are all grateful that Jensen’s been a part of our lives.
So, thank you and Happy Birthday, Jensen. You brought Dean to life. Thank you for the care you’ve put into him- the little “isms” that make Dean who he is. Thank you for fighting for him- and for the way he fights for others. Thank you for making such a difference with this character, and just by being you.
Written by: Olivia
Season 10 of Supernatural brought a new acting challenge for Jensen, and as usual with Jensen, he superseded all expectations, and did an outstanding job playing Demon Dean. The best part about Demon Dean was the fact that Jensen really got to showcase his incredible acting skills, by playing a character that was still Dean, yet it was a different version of him, with different thoughts, actions, and mannerisms. Demon Dean is probably my favorite version of Dean that Jensen has done.
For starters, let’s be honest, Demon Dean was really, really hot. And not just in the usual way Jensen is attractive (not to objectify him), but because he had this different attitude about him, kind of like your typical hot bad boy. He didn’t care about anything. He didn’t care about Sam, Cas, or the impala. He just did whatever he wanted, because he knew with the Mark, he was unstoppable and couldn’t die. He was unbeatable, and he knew it. Watching Jensen play such a badass character was amazing. He recently said at Vegas that he wished Demon Dean would’ve lasted longer, and I agree. There was so much potential there.
My favorite thing Demon Dean did ever was confront Lester, the man who sold his soul to have his wife killed. I can’t even count how many times I’ve watched that scene. I loved everything Demon Dean did, from confronting the husband, calling him out for cheating on her, and punching him in the face, when the husband said it was natural for him to cheat, because he’s a man. It was so great to see Demon Dean take out a guy who was a total jerk. That scene was also interesting, because it showed, Dean, despite being, a demon, still had some morals, because he still didn’t think cheating was okay.
One of the best things Jensen did was find a way to make Demon Dean’s smile, different than normal Dean’s. The smirks or smiles Demon Dean gave weren’t like normal Dean’s, they felt slightly evil and darker, with a stronger power behind them. And when Demon Dean gave someone a smile, it wasn’t just to flirt with a cute waitress. He gave someone a smile, when there was a fight about to happen, because he knew that no matter what happened, he would win, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him. It was almost like he was taunting everyone else, daring them to challenge him and his power. That to me, really showed off how talented Jensen truly was, that just a simple smile could be different.
Jensen was so intense and mesmerizing to watch. There was just something about every action, big or small, that Jensen did differently to give a completely different feel and create this different character. You could tell Demon Dean was totally different than normal Dean, even just by how how he acted and carried himself. Even the way he walked felt different. He had this power and dominance to him, that normal Dean didn’t have. Jensen really gets to me in those scenes, and those scenes really show off how incredibly talented Jensen is. My only complaint is we didn’t see more of Demon Dean. Bravo, Jensen.
Ten Inch Hero
Written by: Emily
Honestly, I would love this movie, Jensen or not. But Jensen takes this movie above and beyond.
Ten Inch Hero is the story of a girl named Piper who moves to Santa Cruz, California to find her daughter whom she gave up for adoption eight years earlier. She stumbles into a job at a local sandwich shop with a colorful cast of employees. There’s Trucker, the owner of the shop with an intriguing past. There’s Jen who is constantly chatting online with the mysterious “fuzzy22.” There is Tish, played by Jensen’s now wife, Danneel Ackles, who is the hottie of the staff and flirts with all of the guys who come in for lunch.
And then there is Priestly. Played by Jensen Ackles, Priestly is the cook at the shop and if you have only seen Jensen as Dean or maybe Eric Brady, he might be a bit of a shock. Priestly has colored spiky hair, multiple face piercings, and even sometimes wears a kilt. His whole attitude is about not caring what the world thinks and this allows him to be both great comic relief and a dynamic character.
My favorite scene that perfectly embodies this dichotomy is “the tampon scene.” Priestly goes to the supermarket to buy more feminine hygiene products for the sub shop bathroom. At first he is confused and overwhelmed, which leads to a hilarious conversation with Tish over the phone featuring the line, “Shouldn’t you buy all the protection you can get? It says here it can handle any amount of – Oh My God.” But when he gets to the register and two teens make fun of him for being a guy buying feminine hygiene products, he gives an impassioned speech about why he is proud to buy them. The scene showed how Priestly/Jensen can play humor and sincerity in a two minute scene and it really helps to round out the movie.
The other great thing about Jensen in this movie is his interactions with Danneel. Though they knew each other before Ten Inch Hero, it was this movie that brought them together and it was on this set that they fell in love. It is clear in their character interactions how much chemistry they have. If you want to know just how much chemistry, I suggest watching the movie as that is something I refuse to spoil.
Jensen, thank you for Priestly. Here’s to many more.
My Bloody Valentine
Written by: Deb
Any fan of Jensen Ackles can and will, wax poetic about his acting skills(among MANY other things!) His portrayal of Dean Winchester has caused me to laugh, cry and scream at my TV more times than I can count over the last thirteen seasons.
Say what you want about Dean and his methods, one thing he knows inside and out is monsters. He’s learned over the years, that while most monsters are bad, some humans are worse and it can be really difficult telling the difference. There are people on this earth that are so tortured by circumstances in their lives that they begin to lose touch with their humanity.
The character of Tom Hanniger in My Bloody Valentine is one such person. The 2009 movie is a remake of the 1981 Canadian slasher flick, with Jensen playing Hanniger. By the time this film came out, he had been on Supernatural for four years. I admit, I had not seen the film until recently, but Jensen’s portrayal of Hanniger resonated with me so much that when asked what I wanted to contribute to this birthday article, I immediately suggested this movie as my topic.
Getting to see Jensen in another role was refreshing and his interpretation of Tom Hanniger kept me guessing, even though I knew before watching, how the movie ended. I kept thinking I would see glimpses of Dean but this never happened, kudos to Jensen’s acting chops.
I fully admit that I am not a fan of slasher films; I never watch them. I wanted to see this one because of Jensen and I finished it because of Jensen. I would love to see him in more movies and I’m excited to see what happens in the future in addition to all the seasons of Supernatural yet to come.
You Are Not Alone (YANA)
Written by: Lauren
After listening to many gut wrenching stories at various Supernatural conventions, Jensen Ackles along with fellow Supernatural star, Misha Collins, teamed up to start the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network through a partnership with Random Acts, TWLOHA and IMAlive. The crisi networks through IMAlive helps fans struggling with suicidal thoughts and other crises by connecting them to a trained crisis responder online. To fund the support network Jensen and Misha launched the “You Are Not Alone” t-shirt campaign on February 12th, 2016. By the time the campaign ended, over 8,500 Supernatural fans had signed up to volunteer through IMAlive and over 10,000 t-shirts were sold.
During JIBCon in May 2017, Jensen got to meet one of the women who works on the IMAlive crisis hotline and the interaction touched him deeply. Here’s a snippet of what he said about the meeting during his panel.
“It hit me hard…that something that was spawned out of this, could help people to that degree…I get to look at you, and see you guys and I know that you all have a story and I wish I could talk to you all at length and I don’t have that opportunity but knowing that something I was apart of helped create that. That betters people and inspires people to be a better person… No one can help you but yourself. But if you get inspired by something, if something touches you and inspires you and makes you believe something that helps you help yourself, then that’s important. ”
That video is one of the most touching moments I’ve ever seen and it’s a perfect example of the “lightning in a bottle” that has come out of Supernatural. It’s moments like this that make us realize that being part of the SPNFamily is being part of something greater than itself.. So thank you, Jensen, for your kind words and commitment to providing support for those in the SPNFamily.
Stronger Than Storms
Written by: Lisa
Over the past few years, Jensen has joined both Jared and Misha for a number of fundraising projects, but he rarely runs campaigns of his own. But when the devastating hurricanes battered his home state of Texas, Jensen went to work. Along with his fledgling brewery, the Family Business Beer Company, Jensen launched the “Stronger Than Storms” campaign. Obviously, this was a need that simply couldn’t hit closer to home, and it was wonderful to see him reach out to fans for help.
Jensen, Jared, and Misha have all spoken about how amazed they were at the generosity of fans, but this campaign really seemed to strike a chord with Jensen. Just as he has evolved from a reluctant singer to a full-on rock star at conventions, Jensen has gone from mostly supporting his friends’ projects to leading his own. And as someone who’s watched numerous videos of Jared and Misha talking about their own projects, it was really wonderful to see Jensen step forward. Watching him talking about this campaign, it was clear to see how overwhelmed he was at the response; it was like he finally realized how much love and support he has out here in the fandom. And I know we were all happy to support people in need, particularly in a place that’s so close to his heart.
Incidentally, the “Stronger Than Storms” campaign is still accepting donations! You can give here: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/team/texas-flood-relief/familybusinessbeercompany.
Thank you, Jensen, for your Texas-sized heart. And for giving us the opportunity to spread the love.
Family Business Beer Co
Written by: Brianna
Flexing his entrepreneurial muscles, the multitalented Jensen has also graced fans with the much-anticipated brewery, Family Business Beer Company located in Dripping Springs, approximately 30 miles west of Austin, Texas.
Truly a family business, Jensen teamed up with wife Danneel, her brother Gino Graul, her parents Ed and Debby Graul, and Head Brewer Nate Seale to establish FBBC earlier this year.
“The idea to start a small brewery began about 5 years about when my brother-in-law Gino and I thought we were making some pretty good backyard brews and wanted to take it to the next level,” Jensen said in an interview with EW. “Little did we know that our casual chat about starting a brewery would lead us to where we are today as Family Business Beer Co.
Situated on 15 acres of beautiful Texas countryside the brewery’s indoor tap room features a live music area, seating and of course, the bar at which patrons will find a variety of delicious brews designed by Ackles and crew. Options range from pale ales to imperial stouts as well as a variety of IPAs. They have also recently started brewery tours for those interested in the full FBBC experience.
Just outside is Jep’s Southern Roots, the new food truck by Duck Dynasty stars Jep and Jessica Robertson, serving up tasty southern comfort and Cajun food. The open outdoor space features a large outdoor area with plenty of seating and children’s playground under the shady oak trees. By night the space is illuminated with strung lights that give an inviting glow to the space.
Jensen created a truly inspiring story in Family Business Beer Company. Fans have watched him follow through on his dream of owning a brewery from concept to reality. It is no small feat to follow through on dreams, and we are all so proud of this new stage of his life. This is just the beginning for FBBC, but I know his fans and I will be cheering him on as the company continues serving people fermented things, the family business.
You’ve heard about some of Jensen’s roles through the years. There are so many more, and I’m sure some that we don’t even know of. However, one thing is clear- Jensen Ackles has made a profound impact on so many lives through his portrayal as characters, his interests, his passions, and just by being himself. He’s touched so many lives, and we’re so excited to celebrate his 40th year of existence. We’re grateful to share the world with you, Jensen, just look-
— Jason Manns (@jasonmanns) March 1, 2018
Dear Jensen, you give me strength and you inspire me daily. Words are not enough to tell you what you mean to me. I wish you all the love and happiness for your birthday because it’s what you deserve. #happy40jensen
— Joanna (@JMacLean) February 28, 2018
Jensen, I cannot begin to tell you how much you and your work has enriched my life. Your amazing talent and kind heart inspire so much happiness and love, both amongst your peers and your fans. You deserve all the happiness in the world, today and every day. #Happy40Jensen
— Val __ (@vatititech) February 28, 2018
You can smile when it’s hard. You can go forward when tired. You can find kindness in the world even in the time of darkness. You can be a sun for others, and the light in you will not disappear. I learned that from Dean – and from you Jensen. Thank you & be happy. #Happy40Jensen pic.twitter.com/ynA4J58oNQ
— Caroline Dove (@CarolineDove5) February 25, 2018
— Billy Moran (@Billy_Moran) March 1, 2018
— Briana Buckmaster (@OfficialBrianaB) March 1, 2018
— Michael Rosenbaum (@michaelrosenbum) March 1, 2018
— Stands (@Stands) March 1, 2018
Happy Birthday @JensenAckles. Many more. Much love to you and your family. (Here’s a photo of us when we were 12, and I just told you that you’d be making @cw_spn for the rest of your natural life). #SPNFamily pic.twitter.com/GfyhuQeV6s
— Eric Kripke (@therealKripke) March 1, 2018
— Robbie Thompson (@rthompson1138) March 1, 2018
Happy Birfday, @JensenAckles I knew you when you were sooooo young… Many more, my friend.
— Mark Sheppard (@Mark_Sheppard) March 1, 2018