Things Only Superfans Know About Jensen Ackles

It's not uncommon for the public to associate actors with the characters they play, and that's certainly been the case for Jensen Ackles. And while the Dallas-born actor has played numerous roles in film and television — and will only build up that roster in the future — for the time being he's become synonymous with Dean Winchester, the character he portrayed on hit TV series "Supernatural" for 15 seasons. 

Moving on from such an iconic role after such a long and successful run is not without its challenges, but Ackles took a left turn with his post-"Supernatural" gigs, playing superhero Soldier Boy in Prime Video's "The Boys" and Sheriff Beau Arlen in ABC drama "Big Sky." In addition, his voice will be heard reprising his "Supernatural" role — vocally, at least — as narrator in "The Winchesters," The CW spinoff set to debut in October 2022. 

Over the course of all those years, "Supernatural" has attracted legions of fans whose loyalty to the show and its stars is second to none. If you happen to be new to the Jensen Ackles fandom, here are the things to know about the actor. 

Jensen Ackles was a child model and actor

Jensen Ackles has been profiting from his handsome good looks for the majority of his life. As PopSugar noted, he was a child model who booked his first gig at the age of two. He continued to model throughout his teens before making the segue into acting. In fact, becoming a professional actor was akin to joining the family business. "My dad is actually an actor in Dallas," Jensen explained during a 1998 interview, noting that his father, Alan Ackles, had been working in showbiz for over 20 years at that point.

However, he was also quick to point out that he didn't necessarily have stars in his eyes as a kid. When opportunities arose for modelling work or to appear in TV commercials while he was in high school, Jensen explained, he simply saw it as a decent after school gig. "I was like, hey, why not?" he recalled. Teenage acting roles included the TV series "Wishbone," "Sweet Valley High," and short-lived sitcom "Mr. Rhodes." Following his "Supernatural" success, Jensen's early modelling shots began making their way around the internet.

He gave cheerleading a try in high school

At some point during the run of "Supernatural," some photos were unearthed from Jensen Ackles' high school yearbook. In those pics, Ackles is costumed as a member of the cheerleading team. And at a fan event Q&A, a member of the audience confronted Ackles with one of the photos — which amused co-star Jared Padalecki. As Ackles recounted, he and some other jocks decided to go all out and show their support while the actual cheer team competed in a powderpuff game. "Some of the football team and the baseball team — I was on the baseball team — got together and dressed up in pseudo cheerleading outfits and got on the sidelines and acted like idiots," he shared. So no, he wasn't actually a member of the cheerleading squad, but it sounds like he gave it the old high school try.

The "Supernatural" star also shared that he and his baseball teammates' involvement in their school's Key Club also landed them on the sidelines. "[The Key Club was] responsible for the bell that gets rung every time [the football team scores] a touchdown, and running the giant high school flag up and down the field. And so that's what I did," Ackles recalled. Given how much time he spent on the football field without actually being a football player, his wife jokes that his cheer career didn't end with that powderpuff game. "My wife still thinks that I was a cheerleader," he deadpanned. 

Jensen Ackles' had another career path in mind

Despite working as a model and actor while attending high school, and the fact that his father was a successful actor, Jensen Ackles' original plan for a future career had nothing to do with acting. According to a biography on Ackles in Tribute, he had originally planned on studying sports medicine at Texas Tech University, with an ultimate goal of becoming a physical therapist.

Everything changed for the teenager, noted his TV Guide bio, when he attended an acting workshop and wound up getting signed by an agent on the spot. He relocated from Texas to Los Angeles soon after that in order to pursue an acting career, embarking on a life of tough auditions and steady rejections. 

His father — whose own acting career extended back to the 1980s and included roles in such TV series as "Dallas," "Walker, Texas Ranger," and "Prison Break" — had some valuable advice to share. "My dad told me, as far as, like, auditioning and going for jobs, was just have the attitude that if you get it you get it, and if you don't you don't," Ackles revealed during a 1998 television interview. "Not to linger on a job and just to, you know, to not sit by the phone, just not worry about it ... if not, you know, then you were made for something bigger and better." 

His soap opera work earned Emmy nominations

The advice Jensen Ackles received from his dad paid off in 1997 when he was cast as Eric Brady in the soap opera "Days of Our Lives." According to IMDb, Ackles appeared in 448 episodes of the soap before exiting in 2000. 

Along the way, Ackles received three Daytime Emmy nominations, all in the category of Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series. Interviewed on the red carpet during the 1998 edition of the Daytime Emmy Awards, Ackles was asked if he had ever envisioned being nominated. "No clue," he admitted. "No idea. It's stellar. I mean, it's amazing to me to have this kind of an honor from so many people, and to be recognized, you know, in such a way. It's amazing!" Ackles didn't win that night, but if he had, he would not have had an acceptance speech at the ready. "I don't believe in prepared speeches," he explained. "I think that that kind of jinxes myself ... if I win, God help me to say the right thing, if I don't then it's all good."

Despite being thrice-nominated, Ackles never did take home a Daytime Emmy. He was, however, named Outstanding Male Newcomer at the 1998 edition of the Soap Opera Digest Awards. Accepting his award, Ackles thanked Jesus Christ and the show's producers, in that order, before sharing his gratitude for the show's fans. 

He auditioned to play a teenage Superman

Not only did Jensen Ackles' years on "Days of Our Lives" make him a hot commodity among soap fans, it also opened doors for him in Hollywood. Among his most notable post-soap roles were a series regular role in the James Cameron-produced sci-fi series "Dark Angel," and a recurring role in beloved teen drama "Dawson's Creek." 

If things had gone a different way, however, that list would also include playing teenaged Clark Kent in "Smallville," the DC Comics series that enjoyed a 10-season run, first on The WB and then on The CW. While the role ultimately went to Tom Welling, Ackles confirmed he was also in the running. "It got pretty close and actually came down to Tom and me," Ackles recounted in an interview that appeared in "Smallville: The Comic" (via Kryptonsite). "We had to go back a couple of times to the network and they ultimately went with Tom which I thought made sense because he looks more the part than I do. Watching the past three seasons, I'd say they made the right choice."

Of course, as "Smallville" fans are well aware, Ackles eventually did appear on the show — albeit in a different role; instead of playing the fledgling Superman, he played Jason Teague, boyfriend of Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), in all 22 episodes of the 2004-2005 season. But that's not the only crossover: As TVLine reported in October 2022, Welling is set to join the "Winchesters" cast as Samuel Campbell.

Jensen Ackles eventually landed a superhero role

In addition to not being cast as Superman in "Smallville," a rumor circulated online claiming that Jensen Ackles had also been in consideration to play Captain America in the MCU, a role that ultimately went to Chris Evans. Ackles shut down that rumor when he told Entertainment Weekly, "Did I audition for Captain America? No, I did not."

Ackles finally got to play a superhero when he was cast as Soldier Boy in Prime Video's twisted superhero series "The Boys." Interestingly, Soldier Boy was inspired by Captain America, albeit in a skewed parody kind of way. "It's as if Captain America gave up superheroism and was just your drunk and inappropriate uncle," Ackles said when describing his character to EW.

Seeing as how "The Boys" was developed by the same guy who created "Supernatural," you may be inclined to assume the role was handed to Ackles. However, as he told Digital Spy, that was far from the case. Instead, Ackles had to work his way into an audition and go up against other actors who the studio already had in mind. "Listen," he recalled telling Kripke, "if you think I have a chance in hell, then I will take that chance."

He sees Dean Winchester as an imaginary best friend

Having portrayed Dean Winchester for 15 seasons of "Supernatural," it's something of an understatement to point out that Jensen Ackles had attained a deep knowledge of the character. "The character of Dean, he really grew as well; we kind of grew together over the years," Ackles mused in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Speaking with Coup de Main, Ackles explained that Dean had become more than just an acting role for him. "I know he's not real, but he's the best imaginary friend I've ever had," he said. Ackles reiterated his feelings about Dean in a January 2020 Instagram post, sharing split-screen photos of himself as the character during the first season of "Supernatural," and then at the end of the show's run. "From 'young and serious' to 'aged and happy' ...season 1 to season 15. What a journey. Happy Birthday to the best imaginary friend a fella could ask for....You are missed," Ackles wrote in the caption.

While Ackles bid farewell to Dean, shortly after he welcomed his new character in "The Boys." Interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, Ackles revealed there was one key similarity shared by both characters — albeit one that the casual viewer was unlikely to notice. "Through no planning or work of my own devices, I somehow managed to end up with the same kind of boots for Soldier Boy that I wore as Dean Winchester," Ackles divulged. "Different color, but same boot."

He launched his own brewery

In addition to his thriving acting career, Jensen Ackles entered the beer business. According to a 2018 report from Forbes, Ackles partnered with his wife Daneel Ackles, and brother-in-law Gino Graul to launch the aptly named Family Business Beer Co., situated just outside Austin, Texas. "Gino is really the boots on the ground, and he's the day to day guy, while Danneel's out there multiple times per week dealing with things," said Ackles of his involvement with the business. "When I am in town, I visit the employees to make sure they're encouraged and know they are doing a good job."

Speaking with Austin Monthly, Ackles revealed that the idea for starting a brewery was first sparked when he and Graul did a favor by storing a friend's beer-brewing apparatus. "Gino and I started tinkering with it," Ackles explained, "and just the joy of getting your hands dirty and seeing the result and being able to share it with your friends ... I think that whole process is really what bit Gino and me, as far as the bug."

As the company website attests, the brewery offers a vast array of suds. Among the many offerings are the Two Headed Dog double IPA, a Hill Country imperial stout dubbed The Grackle, and Golden Age, a German-style Pilsner that was awarded a silver medal at the 2019 edition of the Great American Beer Festival.

He didn't get along with Jessica Alba on Dark Angel

Prior to "Supernatural," Jensen Ackles' most notable role was Alec (a.k.a. genetically enhanced super soldier code-named X5-494) on Fox sci-fi drama "Dark Angel," starring Jessica Alba. Ackles made a single appearance in the series' first season as his character's twin brother, Ben, before appearing in most of the second season.

Two decades later, Ackles discussed what it was like working with Alba on the series, and he described an on-set rapport that can generously be described as fraught. "She was horrible," Ackles declared during a January 2022 sit-down with "Smallville" alum Michael Rosenbaum's "Inside of You" podcast. "She was under an immense amount of pressure on that show," Ackles explained, pointing to the stress she was under due to her age — just 18 when she landed the role — and her high-profile romance with older co-star Michael Weatherly. As Ackles recounted, he and Alba clashed constantly. "She had it out for me," he recalled. "It wasn't that she didn't like me. She just was like, 'Oh, here's the pretty boy that network brought in for some more window dressing because that's what we all need.' Very quickly I was like, 'What the f**k? What did I do?'"

Ackles and Alba had long since made amends, he explained, and are now on far better ground. "If she walked in, we'd be all hugs," he said, "but she didn't make it easy on me."

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki lived together

Not only did Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki play siblings in "Supernatural" for 15 seasons, they've also shared a brotherly relationship off-camera during those years. And like real brothers, they butt heads from time to time. "We got into a really heated argument and we stomped away from each other," Ackles told Bustle of an on-set altercation during the show's first season. "We blew up at each other." Rather than let the situation fester, however, they instead opted to hash things out. "Shortly after we came back together and sat down and said, 'Well, if this is going to work, that can't ever happen again,'" he said. 

During a 2008 on-set interview with BuddyTV, Padalecki opened up about his friendship with Ackles. "It's something that comes naturally," Padalecki said of their off-screen bromance, jokingly adding, "Jensen's got a big old crush on me." Getting serious, he noted, "We're both pretty laid-back guys."

In fact, Padalecki revealed just how close their bond had become. "We actually live together right now," he shared, noting that even after spending all day together on the set, they enjoyed hanging out together off the clock as well.

He's stepped behind the camera to direct

In the midst of his acting career, Jensen Ackles has also dabbled in directing. According to IMDb, Ackles directed six episodes of "Supernatural" over the course of its 15-season run. More recently, he directed a 2022 episode of The CW's "Walker," starring his former "Supernatural" co-star Jared Padalecki.

Padalecki had extended an open invitation to Ackles to sit in the director's chair for "Walker," offering him a list of potential episodes for which a director hadn't yet been hired and allowing him the luxury of choosing one that best suited his schedule. As it turned out, the episode that Ackles had zeroed in on already had a director, Austin Nichols, who also portrays the character of Clint West on the show. Ackles asked Nichols if they could swap. "So Austin, God love him, he took a later one so that I could do this one," Ackles told TV Insider.

Meanwhile, the reception that Ackles received on the "Walker" set, courtesy of Padalecki, was beyond welcoming. "Jared had laid the groundwork of like, 'This is my brother. I'm here because of what he and I built together.' He gave a great speech to the whole crew, saying, We wouldn't be here without the work that this guy did with me.' I was vouched for by the commander-in-chief, so although I was a guest in someone else's house, it was a house that felt very welcoming," he told Entertainment Weekly.

He's acted with his wife on Supernatural

According to Us Weekly, Jensen Ackles first met fellow actor Daneel Harris in the early 2000s, their paths first crossing when they each landed roles in different series airing on The CW — Jensen in "Supernatural," Harris in "One Tree Hill." However, the hand of fate was clearly at play a few years later when the two were cast in the 2007 film "Ten Inch Hero." They began dating and wed in 2010 in Jensen's hometown of Dallas. The couple welcomed their first child, Justice, in 2013, and then twins in 2016, son Zeppelin and daughter Arrow.

The spouses reunited on the small screen in 2018, when Harris — who had by then changed her professional name to Daneel Ackles — was cast in a recurring role in "Supernatural" as Sister Jo, a celebrity faith healer who strikes a deal to be the earthly vessel for the angel Anael, who winds up possessing her. 

When she shot her first scene for the show, it was with her husband, and his co-stars Jared Padalecki and Mischa Collins, whom she'd known for years. "I hadn't worked in like four years and the first thing I had to do was walk into a scene with those goofballs who were looking at this like it was the most surreal thing," she recalled in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "The four of us are standing there, all looking at each other like, 'This is a weird dream.'"

How a prequel caused a rift with Jared Padalecki

While "The Winchesters" has the potential to be a lucrative endeavor for its executive producer-narrator Jensen Ackles, the "Supernatural" spinoff wound up causing an unexpected and very public rift with his co-star Jared Padalecki. When Deadline first reported news that "The Winchesters" was in development, Padalecki took to Twitter to share his shock. In a followup tweet, he confirmed he was only just then learning about the spinoff, admitting, "I'm gutted." 

In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Padalecki revealed that he and Ackles had spoken, and had managed to patch up the rift. "I hadn't heard of it, and then he and I chatted," he said. According to Padalecki, Ackles hadn't expected the news to emerge so quickly, and explained that at that point the show was still in the very preliminary stages, with no script written and no commitment from The CW to air it. "It was just something that he didn't really feel even existed yet," Padalecki added. "But he has been like, 'Hey, I'll let you know what's going on."

Padalecki also took to Twitter to confirm that he and Ackles had worked things out. "We've travelled a lot of roads together, and sometimes those damn roads have bumps," he wrote. "Bumps don't stop us. Once brothers, always brothers."