While covering The CW’s Upfront 2022 Red Carpet, I had a great time chatting with Meg Donnelly, Drake Rodger, JoJo Fleites, Demetria McKinney, and Nida Khurshid about The Winchesters. The new series, which serves as a prequel to Supernatural, will premiere on Tuesday, October 11 at 8pm ET/PT.
Before Sam and Dean, there were their parents, John and Mary. Told from the perspective of narrator Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), THE WINCHESTERS is the epic, untold love story of how John Winchester (Drake Rodger) met Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly) and put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world. When John returns home from fighting in Vietnam, a mysterious encounter sparks a new mission to trace his father’s past. In his journey, he crosses paths with 19-year-old demon hunter Mary, who is also searching for answers after the disappearance of her own father. Together, the two join forces with young hunter-in-training Latika (Nida Khurshid) and easygoing hunter Carlos (Jonathan “Jojo” Fleites) to uncover the hidden truths about both their families. Their investigation leads them to a rare book emporium, whose owner Ada (Demetria McKinney) takes an interest to the occult and could provide the missing pieces to their puzzle. But secrets run deep for both the Winchesters and Campbells, and despite the best efforts of John’s mother Millie (Bianca Kajlich) to protect her son from pursuing a dangerous life of demon hunting, John and Mary are both determined to work together to uphold their families’ legacies while beginning to form a family of their own.
We discussed how The Winchesters will add to the Supernatural legacy, their individual characters, the excitement from fans, and more! Keep reading to find out what they had to say.
To start, I spoke with the cast about what made the roles and project stand out to them. “I mean, first off, the fact that it had anything to do with Supernatural, I think, was so incredible. But Mary is such an independent, fighter, kind of badass and I’ve always wanted to play a role like that, where she’s just no-nonsense, which is really fun because it’s very unlike me. So to step into somebody— I think it will be really cool for people to look up to,” Meg Donnelly told me.
“I was just a huge fan of the original show so any role would have been incredible, but to be playing Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s John Winchester is just beyond exciting. I’m excited to tell that story,” Drake Rodger continued.
In terms of adding to the Supernatural legacy, Rodger thinks the prequel will fill in some gaps: “It’s like Jensen keeps saying, Supernatural, especially for the John and Mary story, it laid out a lot of checkpoints and we know a lot about them, but we don’t know everything. We don’t know how we get there. So it’s gonna be a fun show as far as like filling in and there’s gonna be a lot of callbacks from the original show. I think it’s gonna add a lot of context.”
“The add-on that I am the most excited about is the inclusion. We love the story of Dean and Sam. It was amazing. We love the storylines and the mysterious monster-type stuff, but getting to see yourself out there fighting the monsters and getting to see yourself represented that way is really awesome,” Demetria McKinney expressed. “So we’re really grateful that they took the time to insert that, along with the other elements that make it just as great.”
Nida Khurshid said, “I think every little kid wants to look on the television and be like, ‘Oh, hey, that’s me,’ you know? We just feel so lucky that we get to do that and open the door of possibilities for so many people. So, very grateful to The CW, Jensen, Danneel, Robbie, the whole team– we’re just so stoked to tell the story.” JoJo Fleites agreed, calling the group “the perfect team.”
The cast is also extremely thankful for the positive response from fans so far. “I’m just so grateful that the fans have been so receptive and so open to us. I’ve literally only seen nothing but support and love from them. Like you said, they’re so thrilled, they’re excited. They’re happy that one of their favorite shows is coming back, but also it’s coming back with like a new fresh lens in a way, a bit of a different story. But there’s still so much love for Supernatural in our story and it’s gonna be great,” Fleites mentioned.
McKinney explained, “Now, that they said that, there is a degree of pressure that comes along with such faith from the fans. I think it’s a good thing, it’s a self-imposed pressure that we really want to make sure that we live up to the standard that’s been set by Jensen, Danneel, and the Supernatural fandom, everybody. But we also have the opportunity to create our own lane, tell the story through a different lens, and we’re looking forward to that. But it comes with its own set of butterflies, we’re really excited about it. It just means we love it and we hope you do too.”
Donnelly had a sweet message to fans: “I’m so excited for all of you guys to see what we’ve done. I think you’ll really love it, hopefully, fingers crossed because we really put all of our energy, time, and love because we’re all so close as a family. And there’s a lot of fun Easter eggs that I think you’ll really like!”
Rodger added, “I would just say like, look, the story is so close to Jensen and it’s incredible. I was a huge fan of the show, so I’m excited to see it, and based on what we did, I think that the fans will really enjoy it.”
Jensen Ackles is as an executive producer for the new series and Rodger shared how that’s added to the experience: “He’s genuinely stepped in as like an older brother role. He has been incredible. Genuinely been so helpful to have any advice from Jensen, but to have him on set every day and Robbie Thompson, our writer and producer, who wrote the last couple seasons of Supernatural.”
I also asked the actors about the beautiful representation that the show will bring to the screen, which will no doubt lead to love from fans who feel seen through their characters. “I mean, genuinely, I feel like it’s kind of already starting. I’m already just so grateful. I kind of have my own thing where I also identify as non-binary and my role, Carlos, also is in the LGBTQ community, and that’s a whole other thing, just receiving messages from people being like, ‘thank you for showing me,’ or ‘me seeing you shows me that it’s possible to be up there, get to that place eventually, or get to do anything I wanted to in general in life, and I can achieve anything.’ I hope that I can continue to be that representation for so many people. It’s just so unbelievably special and I’m just again grateful, grateful, grateful,” Fleites responded.
McKinney stated, “It’s awesome to see the characters represented in a beautiful light. You can see us, but when you see us the proper way, it is a whole different view.”
Khurshid, who portrays Latika, opened up about taking on the new role: “I feel like we’re very similar in a lot of ways where in the past two years, I was coming out of my shell a little bit, really stepping into my own, and I feel like that’s exactly who she is and who she embodies. So it’s been beautiful embarking on that journey with her and also embarking on the bravery journey with her because she’s the hunter in training. She’s not quite there yet but she has amazing friends to kind of guide her and bring her out of her shell.”
As for McKinney’s character, the actress teased, “Miss Ada Monroe, she’s a little spicy. She’s sassy, she’s definitely aware of her space, she owns it, she takes more, but she is not a hunter. She’s sitting very still, in the books, she is a studier of the occult. She owns a rare book store and she’s got the oracle for these hunters to go out and do what they need to do.”
Lastly, what can fans expect from Carlos? Fleites answered, “Carlos is such a cool, interesting human being, just is so fearless when it comes to fighting the demons and everything. I would say fierce. Loves fashion, embraces who he is completely, is very unapologetically himself, so like in your face and ready to go. But also at the same time, so chill and laid back, kind of like, ‘Guys, it’s easy. It’s just a demon, come on.’ But he’s so wonderful and is just a boost of positivity to the entire group. I adore Carlos so much and I cannot wait to continue to bring his life to the screen, and I’m so honored. It’s amazing.”