Almost a year ago, I sat down via Zoom with Matt Cohen – known to Supernatural fans as young John Winchester. Matt also directed “Gimme Shelter,” in Season 15.
"You never know, till you ask -- those words are the reason I got to direct Supernatural, period," says Matt. “[I was talking to Richard Speight Jr., saying] ‘You've kind of laid out a blueprint for me ... .’ And he goes, ‘Hey, man, I heard a directing spot opened up at Supernatural. Why don't you call Bob and ask for it?’ And I was like, ‘That's the most inappropriate thing you've ever said to me. And on so many levels …’ I've guest starred on the show. Yeah, I've done conventions. I've done a couple of things, but it's not like I'm a fixture. I'm more of a fixture to the fan base than to the show.
“I'm okay with that … [the] fan base has raised me up and given me life, but I sat on it. I thought on it ... I called him. I said, ‘I don't know, man. It's just like this. It doesn't feel out of place. Like I'm asking for the keys to the car, but I'm only eight, you know? Like it feels like I'm out of place …’ He goes, ‘You won't know until you ask.’ And I literally asked Bob in a sentence. I said, ‘Expletive, expletive, expletive, if this feels inappropriate, or any way of me overstepping …’ I basically started with this one sentence and ‘Look, if I'm an a-hole call me an a-hole and I'll leave you alone. But if you have a directing position open here's Mama Bear, have a look. And I didn't hear from anything from him for about three months or however long.
“It was too long, too many sleepless nights. And me wondering if I burned the bridge to, you know, the only bridge I've known really [in] Hollywood is Supernatural. It's given me so much life and opened all these doors. Before you know it, I got an email back a couple months later … ‘Hey, do you have a link to Mama Bear? I want to show Andrew.’ That was all it said. And I was like, yeah, of course. I responded pretty much before he could probably understand that he was waiting for a response and I sent a thing and I guess they watched it and no joke, like three or four days later, he was like, everybody signed off at the CW and WB or whoever had to, you got the job or work it out.
“You know what it taught me? You never know until you ask.”
One of the wonderful things that has always struck me about Supernatural is the pure sense of family. Not only of the SPNFamily itself – the fandom – but of the cast, the crew, everyone at conventions – from the top to the bottom, there’s always a sense of belonging. And Matt agrees.
“I don't even know if there's a strong enough word. I don't know if there's any stronger word to show a relationship than family. I mean, you could say soulmates or something like that, but that's typically, you know, a love romance type of thing. Supernatural has given us all a life -- it's given us all friends. It's given us all careers and jobs and shoulders to lean and cry on and many hands to be scooped up off the ground with it. The fan base itself has become a family separate from the family that the crew and the cast has created, but it's certainly come together and intermingled.
“It's connected. There are so many fans we've seen so many, in such repetition, right? We might not remember everybody's name or remember the faces, but we remember the stories or remember the good times and the bad times. And that's pretty incredible. About 13 years, I've left two weekends a month to go hang out with people that I have no relation to, but I always feel better when I leave them. That's crazy. That's something you hang on to. That's something you have to value in an extraordinary way.
“Not many shows have such a beautiful fan base that's so supportive … not many shows allow a group of actors to get along so well for whatever reason, whether it's personal ego or, or you're just too different.
“To relate to the cast, this cast has been like a group of brothers and sisters. Like it is insane. Those are my friends. Those are my family. That's all I've got. And now we've tied that into this amazing fan base, which I hope never goes away. I hope we can continue to do some cons if they slow down, whatever, hopefully COVID lets us get back to each other, touching each other, um, holding, hugging, screaming, crying, all the great stuff we do, sweat, and God knows we sweat.”
Matt is extremely thankful for what Supernatural has done for him, and supports Eric Kripke in every endeavour.
“Somebody thought I attacked them on Twitter yesterday. A fan wrote something like, ‘Matt's always supporting the boys and supporting Supernatural, but he doesn't get this and that -- he at least deserves a role.’ And I had to just take a minute and I had to stop because I wanted everybody to see the tweet.
“But more importantly, I just wanted to share some perspective with somebody that really didn't know. And I wasn't mad at all. I was just like, it might've come off a little pointed and aggressive, but that's just how I come off. I never am that way. And, I told him, here's some perspective for you. So, and I didn't write this part, but I should've wrote this part. My very first movie in Hollywood was Bogeyman. Kripke -- he wrote the characters for that movie. I didn't even know Kripke. Then flash forward. I do three seasons of a teen drama called South of Nowhere. My next substantial job is Supernatural. John Winchester.
“They cast me and then they gave me another script to play Michael. And then I've now done two episodes and two seasons. And I get my first convention overseas, which leads to Creation. And then 12 years of conventions, which not only do I just love them. It's also a great way to make a living. Like, you know what I'm saying? It's a beautiful thing. [Kripke] gave me the job on Boogeyman. He was a writer -- he's as part of me getting a job as I'm getting the job. So he gave that, then Supernatural, then conventions, then because I was on Supernatural and everybody knows me and likes me enough to watch my short film.
“Supernatural gives me my directorial debut. And now I'll go backwards just to put this in perspective … if there's no Eric Kripke, creating characters for Bogeyman and Supernatural and creating this content, none of this other stuff in my life existed, it may exist in another way.
“What I have is a lot as a result of what Kripke thought up in his mind.
“The only thing I deserve is to keep on promoting Eric … because the more success he has, apparently the more success I have. What I want, any of anything from any of these people, except to see them shine their brightest and then maybe catch a glare off their star. You know, that's how you gotta live your life. You got to want all the people around you that you believe in and love to do the best they can do … to do the greatest things, to push all the limits. Kripke has pushed the limits of television in such a glorious way with The Boys. It's so timely. Obviously we know our heartthrob, our leader of love, Jensen Ackles, has signed on to The Boys in season three … . He's playing the original superhero. How fitting is that?
“He's Jensen Ackles, he's been a superhero on Supernatural. That's who he is. If you CGI a cape on any of the episodes in 15 seasons, it just plays out like a superhero show. He's fighting, he's battling, he's saving, he's loving. He's the man that everybody looks up to. He gets blamed for everything. Now he's got a show and he's going to get to say some curse words. We're all very excited to hear him rip off his first Kripke specialty F-bomb. I can't wait to hear it.”
Matt also commented on Jared Padalecki’s new show, Walker, and how he inquired about directing.
“Jared, do you want director/actor for your show? I'm there. I don't care about anything except working with the people that I've been involved with for the last 15 years. And however I can do that to raise the level of performance and art created inside this circle of people I'm going to do. And of course, we're going to pull in people from the outside, but they're going to have to be vetted by the Supernatural [family] … They're going to have to be loved … if they're bringing any of that negativity of you, we're not doing it. We're not doing it. We're keeping the Supernatural blood is thicker than water. The Supernatural bloodline that runs in the fan base and in the actors and the crew, we're going to let that trickle into some other actors and other shows outside of Supernatural, but it's gotta be the same.
“You got to have the same guts and you gotta have the same morals and principles and you gotta care and you gotta want to help people. At the end of the day, you gotta be a hard worker and a loving person. And hey, we're off to the races. We're going to make the best stuff that's on television. It's the fact that they've like unleashed in a weird way, Jensen and Jared, from each other. And from this amazing show that we've watched this beautiful love story. … So many years, this brotherly love story that we're so passionate about. I's such a beautiful experience not to put them out in the world, forced Jared, to play this character force Jensen, to play this character. And like, I'm sitting here like, ‘Ooh, like what can I do with these guys now that they're playing different characters?”
Matt is currently working on getting some of his movie projects off the ground, on top of hosting for Entertainment Tonight.