Jared Padalecki is one busy guy. Aside from starring on Supernatural (and soon-to-be starring on Walker), Jared is a father and is active with charitable causes, including his Always Keep Fighting initiative. In honor of his 38th birthday, we thought we’d share some of our favorite Jared Padalecki projects, from movies and television shows to his work off-screen.
Always Keep Fighting
It’s three simple words that when mentioned you feel supported and loved by others who share its message to Always Keep Fighting. Back in 2015, Jared launched the Always Keep Fighting campaign to support To Write Love on Her Arms – a charity that is best known for helping people with their struggles in mental health, depression, and anxiety. Throughout seven campaigns between 2015-2016, the designs of shirts, hats, phone cases, and jackets have changed. However, the message of AKF remained the same. During Comic-con 2015, fans even showed their gratitude towards Jared by shinning tea lights in Hall H during the Supernatural panel. Jared even wrote a chapter in Family Don’t End with Blood sharing some of his own struggles and how the SPN Family has helped him through it.
Jared continues to be the leading force for fans and others alike who might be struggling. For me, I have looked to the Always Keep Fighting campaign as a way to know that I am not alone and to support those who might need support. Fans will always keep AKF close to their hearts as it will live on forever.
New York Minute (2004)
Growing up, I adored nearly every single Olsen Twins’ movies — Passport to Paris, The Challenge, Holiday in the Sun. Their last movie together, and one that I still love today, is New York Minute. The film came out just a year before Jared became our beloved Sam Winchester. In the movie, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen play Jane and Roxy Ryan. Jane has to give a speech to qualify for a college scholarship abroad in the Big Apple while Roxy wants to be part of a Simple Plan music video that is, coincidentally, shooting in New York. While on the train, they accidentally wind up with an illegal chip device when it gets mistakenly planted in Roxy’s bag. They get chased by the man behind the plan, Bennie, who even pretends to be a limo driver and will go to any length to get it back. Once in New York, they break into a hotel room in order to clean up and the room belongs to none other than Jared’s character, Trey, who is the son of a powerful senator. While trying to find Roxy later, he runs into Bennie and is kidnapped by him, getting trapped in the trunk of his limo. Roxy finds Bennie’s limo and finds Trey in the trunk. Months later, Roxy is in the studio recording with her band, with Jane and Trey watching her. From the Olsen Twins, to Jared, to Bob Saget, to Simple Plan, this movie has everything. And even though it’s the reason why the Olsen Twins no longer did movies together and their production company, Dualstar Entertainment, went into dormancy because of it, I still love this movie. The film is currently available to stream on HBO Max.
Gilmore Girls (2000-2005, 2016)
If you have seen Gilmore Girls, you likely have very strong feelings about Team Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) versus Team Dean (I’m not even giving Logan the chance to compete). No, not Dean Winchester, Dean Forrester! Jared’s first major acting role was as Dean on Gilmore Girls. He was the first love of leading lady Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) and was a major character for seasons 1-3 (and recurred in seasons 4-5). Dean was swoon worthy and was an adversary for Jess, whose arrival in season 2 spelled doom for Dean and Rory’s relationship. But thankfully there’s no hard feelings between the former “rivals” as Ventimiglia freely admits he’s Team Dean due to his friendship with Jared (even interrupting an interview with Jared to take a quick selfie). Jared officially left Gilmore Girls to join Supernatural, which was on the same network at the time. He returned to the series as Dean in a cameo role for the revival Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix in 2016, which was well received by fans of the original show.
Supernatural (Sam Winchester, 2005-2020)
You didn’t think we’d exclude good ol’ Sammy, did you? Jared Padalecki’s 15-year commitment to this sweet and nerdy yet resilient and tough character has brought us nothing but joy — well, that’s a lie, but it’s been the best kind of pain. Sam Winchester is an incredibly nuanced character, experiencing a diverse range of emotions, and yet Jared never fails to translate the smallest of details over to the screen for our consumption. Dean is indisputably the more brash brother with his loud music, lewd jokes, and seemingly insatiable appetite. On the surface, Sam appears more reserved until you peel back his layers; his quick wit, biting sarcasm, and pointed “bitch face,” as Dean so eloquently puts it, are elements of his personality that are subtly indicated through the carefully calculated choices that Jared makes as an actor. Sam’s humor is a completely different brand from Dean’s foot-in-mouth comedy, comprised of scathing quips and situational laughs. With hilariously memorable lines such as “I lost my shoe,” “what kind of house doesn’t have salt? Low sodium freaks,” and “too precious for this world” to name a few, a perfectly timed comment by Sam always has the ability to make you chuckle. Conversely, as opposed to his normally gentle and docile nature, it’s interesting to see Sam in “hunter mode” where he can be downright terrifying (“where’s my brother” always sends a chill down my spine).
Sam Winchester has undergone many transformations over the years as a result of the trials and tribulations that his little family has endured, something that Jared has visibly reflected in his performance throughout the years. Besides the obvious physical transformation from a floppy-haired kid to adulthood, Sam has taken on a solemnity as the years progressed as a result of the things he’s seen and experienced. In the early seasons of the show, Sam and Dean had this lightness to them that simply cannot be found anymore as the frankly depressing nature of their lives has slowly torn them down, something that is quite a feat to maintain and constantly communicate, especially when compared to Jared’s goofy and ebullient nature. The wisdom, confidence, and profound sense of loss that the character has gained over time has continuously, yet subtly, altered the way that Jared presents Sam in every season as he learns from his experiences and is affected and informed by his past.
Padalecki’s amazing acting prowess has made Sam Winchester a character that we hold dear, and we can’t wait to see him bring his extraordinary talents to the set of Walker next fall. Happy Birthday, Jared!
Supernatural (everyone else, 2005-2020)
Jared does a phenomenal job with Sam Winchester in every single episode, but that’s not all he’s done for Supernatural. Jared first took a step towards the dark side when Meg possessed him in the episode “Born Under a Bad Sign” in season two. Meg is a fearsome antagonist and I almost thought Sam himself had gone darkside for a minute.
Things get much worse in season 5 (and again in season 15) when we see him possessed by the archangel Lucifer on two separate occasions, although one was in an alternate timeline. Instead of being snarky as he was in Nick’s body, Lucifer is much calmer and more collected as though being in his true vessel made him more powerful and comfortable. I couldn’t help but cry when I saw the mirror scene in “Swan Song” and Sam trying so hard to break out of his own head.
Jared has gone on to play a soulless version of Sam, a man living in a ‘50’s style neighborhood and an angel that has betrayed and saved Team Free Will. I adore the fact that he’s been able to showcase how amazing his acting range is, even within the same television show. I cannot wait to see how his acting style will evolve over the final few episodes of Supernatural.
Family Don’t End with Blood
While having shared multiple pieces of writing over the years, most fans can agree that the contribution Jared wrote for the book Family Don’t End with Blood is by far the best example of his writing skills. Comprised of chapters written by the cast and fans of Supernatural, Jared’s chapter (“What Does Fandom Mean to Me?”) gives fans a detailed insight into his life as he shares what being a fan means to him and how the Supernatural fandom has impacted him.
However, it is Jared’s own recount of his fight against anxiety and depression that leaves the greatest mark on readers. He retells his experience of being diagnosed with clinical depression while on the set of Supernatural and reaching his breaking point years later while alone in Europe, an event many fans remember, as he ended up canceling his appearances at more than one convention abroad.
In his own words, Jared shares with us the most difficult times of his life, but he also shares his gratitude for how the SPN Family came together to support him. The openness Jared has displayed in sharing his story has inspired many fans around the world to share their own stories and support not only the cast, but each other. It was this community and connection to one another that inspired Jared, and without him, the SPN Family wouldn’t be what it is today.
In the wake of Supernatural ending after an amazing 15-year run, fans were quite excited when Jared was announced as the lead in Walker, The CW’s new reboot of Walker, Texas Ranger. While this particular project hasn’t yet aired, Padalecki’s past performances as Sam Winchester (especially that cowboy episode) have undoubtedly prepared him for the emotional depth required to undertake this role as Cordell Walker, “a widower and father of two with his own moral code, who returns home to Austin after being undercover for two years, only to discover there’s harder work to be done at home.” In reboots, there’s always the trouble of balancing the legacy of the original production while carving out a new niche, and as such, casting choices are key. We think that Jared, a native Texas boy, is the perfect fit; he certainly looks the part in his cowboy hat. We can’t wait to see him undertake his newest project in the next phase of his life and career.
What are your favorite Jared moments or projects? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to wish Jared a happy birthday!