The first season of The CW’s Supernatural spin-off The Winchesters recently concluded with an epic finale, one seeing the return of a few beloved Supernatural characters. Supernatural, which aired for fifteen seasons, started back in 2005 and created an immersive world that drew in legions of fans. After its end in 2020, The Supernatural world continued in 2022 with the story of The Winchesters, following Sam and Dean’s parents, John and Mary.
We got the chance to talk to Drake Rodger, who took on the role of John Winchester, the famous brothers’ father. Portrayed in the original series by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Rodger had the task of taking a character who was deeply complicated and showing the younger side of him before he became the John we all knew. Rodger uniquely made this version of John his own and instantly became a fan-favorite with his charm, winning over audiences who originally were on the fence about the older version of the character.
We got the chance to talk to Drake all about The Winchesters and his portrayal, attending Creation Entertainment’s conventions, and a few fun rapid-fire questions.
Nerds & Beyond: When did you learn about the story taking place in an alternate universe? Did that change the way you portrayed John knowing it wasn’t exactly the version of John that we knew?
Drake Rodger: That had been discussed really early on, that that was a possibility and a direction that we were leaning towards, going to keep continuity alive. To keep it as canon as we could without breaking canon, was that we would have to step away if we wanted to do anything … But as far as how that affected how I played John, one of the conversations that Robbie, Jensen, and I had was that it doesn’t change anything, this John Winchester is the same John Winchester, because this earth is or this universe is so, so similar to … it would be … have you seen Everything Everywhere All At Once? It’s like the universe that is closest adjacent to Supernatural. And so really, the only thing that changes and the only time things change is when Dean comes in and hands him the letter. That’s the first time that the universe splinters away from the timeline that Supernatural had. So until that moment, those universes were the same. So my John is the same, has had the same history, and the same way growing up as Jeffrey Dean’s. So the way that I performed and play the character was still relatively the same.
Nerds & Beyond: In the finale, we see that John finally gets to meet Dean. Was there anything you specifically did to kind of get into the mindset of John finally meeting him or was there anything that you tried to convey through your performance since you’re essentially meeting your son (without knowing you are)?
Drake Rodger: Yeah, I think I was. I think the bummer is that we didn’t know. I wish that there was like a scenario where I was like, I kind of know this is my kid. We were playing with … both Meg and I were trying to play with the idea almost like, “Have I seen you before? Or where do I know you?” and I think that there’s just a part of us that it’s like we’re looking at combinations of our faces on somebody’s body, so why do you feel familiar? And then just piecing together what he’s saying. We were just both kind of playing with that angle of, “My soul feels like we know each other.”
Nerds & Beyond: Was there a specific moment or a scene that made you really kind of fall in love with this version of John as a character?
Drake Rodger: I just love that we got to play with the light side of John. I talked to Robbie early on, and we both were in agreeance on we wanted to do the biggest arc that we could, hopefully over the next however many seasons we’re blessed with. We’ll be able to do a very Walter White Breaking Bad … we’ve seen where John ends up and we still have full intentions to bring him to that point. But we just wanted to show that contrast of, “Hey, he has fun and there’s so much joy,” so I think getting to be a little bit more Sam was a lot of fun. A little bit more goofy, and a little bit more light. I think that’s really what drew me to the character and this version of John.
Nerds & Beyond: You kind of brought it up about being a little bit more Sam, but I know when watching it, it’s almost like you could see parts of either Jared or Jensen’s mannerisms. Was that something that you tried to add in, or was that more of a coincidence?
Drake Rodger: I would say 50/50. I definitely intentionally tried to do a lot of things and I rewatched a lot of the series as I was filming the show. Every day I would watch an episode and just try to pick up things and little references and mannerisms. I was like, “Oh, I put that, and I kind of want to steal that and use it for my own performance.” But the reason I say 50/50 is because I don’t know if it’s coincidence as much as I grew up watching Supernatural. So before I started acting, I remember watching an episode and I could pause and I would try to mirror Dean’s voice and I would try to mirror how he performed, and I would just repeat it. And then I would play it, rewind and do the same thing over and over and over. So I think a lot of my acting foundation is built on them two, as well as a couple of other shows that I grew up watching, but primarily those two in this scenario.
Nerds & Beyond: Was there a piece of advice that you learned from your time on The Winchesters that you carry with you now?
Drake Rodger: Jensen has given some really, really good advice. And the piece of advice that he gave is just enjoy the ride. There’s so many things that you can’t plan for. And this is an industry of unknowns and they were very fortunate. They got 15 seasons of a show. We were very fortunate in that so far we’ve been blessed with one but just enjoying the ride … if this is it, it’s it. If there’s more, there’s more. When the pilot came out, we could stress ourself out on whether or not we’re gonna get picked up. We could stress ourselves out whether or not we’re gonna get a season two. When we get to season two, will stress ourselves on whether or not we’re gonna get a three and it’s like you could avoid all that by just being present and enjoying the ride. So that was definitely an interesting overall piece of advice that I thought was really, really helpful. And a good reminder.
Nerds & Beyond: If this story does continue, what would you be most excited to explore about John?
Drake Rodger: I want to delve into the God of War aspect of John. Robbie, and I talk a lot of like, the darkness has always been inside of him. And we really, really want to play with with that. I actually met with Robbie a week ago, we were pitching around some ideas. So really, really, really excited. I think the next couple seasons are gonna be something for sure. It’s gonna be dark, I think. I’m very, very excited to see what we’re able to do. And it really all just depends on where we land on network wise.
Nerds & Beyond: I know you said that you’re a big Supernatural fan and you obviously watched the original series. What’s something that stood out to you about the original story that made you a fan of it or gravitate towards it?
Drake Rodger: I think the reason Supernatural was so successful and what stood out to me is … I have an older brother, and I’ve never seen a show do a relationship and show what it’s actually like to have … Jensen and Jared, the way that they portrayed those characters, they felt like brothers and the conversations, the fights, the arguments they have, they just did a really, really great representation because as much as it is a story about brothers, for Winchesters, we snagged that thing where it’s a Supernatural love story, but to me that’s what Supernatural was too. It’s like a love letter to your brother. And I think that that’s that’s what drew me in and I started watching the show with my brother. So maybe that’s a little bit of the reason why I felt that way.
Nerds & Beyond: I love that. What is a favorite line that either you said or that another character said on The Winchesters?
Drake Rodger: On episode three, none of us could say Bori Baba without laughing. There’s a scene where Meg, Nida and I are sitting around in the clubhouse around the pool table, we’re talking, like we’re discovering the Bori Baba. I think the take that they used where we said it correctly out of the 50 that we did, was the only one where we actually said the lines right. Any one of us saying the word Bori Baba was definitely a highlight. But honestly, I loved all the ones where it’s just like some random shit where we’re like, you know talking about, “Oh, we gotta go from here, we got to take it to this place and then we’re gonna go down to the dungeon and we got to fight the demons,” Like what the fuck are we saying? [laughs] What is this? What do we do for a living? So honestly, yeah, they’re all great. But all the ones that are just difficult to say.
Nerds & Beyond: You’ve recently been attending some Creation Entertainment conventions. How has that been for you? Were you nervous, and what do you like most about going to them?
Drake Rodger: Oh my god, yeah, we’re so nervous. We all pretty, pretty consistently right before we go out for these panels, we’re all backstage like walking circles. It’s just it’s so nerve racking. It feels like you’re about to go perform for people. And then you get out there and all of it goes away and you just feel like, “Ahhhhh,” this is cake. Every single time without a doubt, we get up there [and] we all panic.
My favorite part has been … I didn’t realize how much the show meant to certain people. And I think that’s been a really, really, beautiful insight. And it really stops any sort of ego and kind of halts that and makes you ask yourself, like, “Why are you doing this?” And kind of evaluate that. The first con that I went to, I had a lady come up to me and she just basically just shared, “Hey, this show and your portrayal [of] this character helped me and my daughter with X, Y and Z.” And it [was] just a moment where I was like, “Oh, cool, cool, cool.” And then the second she walked away, I just like slumped back in my seat. I was like, “Holy shit.” You have no idea, like, I’m just doing a show, right? I’m doing a show that I love and I enjoy doing it. But you have no idea how the things that you do affect, and the ripples that the waves that you make have, and how far they carry and what form they can move objects. I think that that’s that’s been the most beautiful part of these conventions. As an actor, you don’t really ever get to see the reception of your things publicly. And every single month we get to do one of these and we get to see it. That’s been really nice.
Nerds & Beyond: I know so many people have been excited to meet all of you.
Drake Rodger: Thank you. It really does mean a lot.
Nerds & Beyond: Last few questions… I have some silly rapid-fire questions.
Drake Rodger: Amazing.
Nerds & Beyond: If you could choose, what color would your lightsaber be?
Drake Rodger: Black.
Nerds & Beyond: What’s your favorite childhood cartoon?
Drake Rodger: Toy Story.
Nerds & Beyond: What’s your favorite word?
Drake Rodger: Oh, god. “Fuck.” [laughs]
Nerds & Beyond: What’s your favorite holiday?
Drake Rodger: I love Christmas.
Nerds & Beyond: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Drake Rodger: It does, and if you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Nerds & Beyond: And the last one, what is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Drake Rodger: Thin Mints.
Nerds & Beyond: Perfect, you answered correctly.
Drake Rodger: What do other people say?
Nerds & Beyond: They either hate Thin Mints or love them.
Drake Rodger: Do you put your Thin Mints in the freezer?
Nerds & Beyond: Yes! They’re amazing that way.
Drake Rodger: That’s the way to go!
The first season of The Winchesters is now available to stream on HBO Max! Make sure to check it out. You can follow along with all of our coverage on The Winchesters, here.