In an interview with CBR, Jared Padalecki talks about raising the stakes for Walker Season 2 and expanding on the Texas Ranger’s world and cast.
Amidst all the usual Texas Ranger derring-do that Cordell Walker brought to the Lone Star State, Walker Season 2 went even deeper with its characters. The reemergence of the longtime rival family, the Davidsons, nearly cost the Walkers everything while Cordell found himself a new partner in Cassie Perez. With Walker Season 2 ending on a triumphant note and a shocking cliffhanger, series star and executive producer, Jared Padalecki couldn’t be more excited to dig in and deliver more adventures for the Walker family moving forward.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Padalecki talked about expanding the show’s scope and conflict in Season 2, praised the cast and crew for their level of commitment and talent, and looked at the fan-favorite television worlds and characters he’s helped bring to life for millions worldwide.
If Walker Season 1 was this external rollercoaster of a murder mystery, Season 2 is the fight for the Walker family’s soul, with everyone on deck and feeling the pressure.
Jared Padalecki: Yeah, it was about this time last year that we were breaking [story on] Season 2. With Season 1 on a show, you make a plan and kind of stick to it, and as you go along, you figure out what’s working really well, what’s working alright, and what’s not working. And you try to steer towards what’s working really well and steer away from what’s not working. Season 1 was called “Walker,” and it was called “Walker” on purpose because the general idea of the series at large is that it’s about not just blood family but found family. We have Trey Barnett, Captain James, Geri Broussard Davidson. Much like the last show that I did, the found family becomes as important, if not more, than blood family. We were guiding and steering towards that, so being able to flesh out all of these characters that are part of the Walker Universe in Season 2 has been awesome.
When I’m not in a scene, in general, I’m not on set. I will be sometimes if we’re introducing a new character or if I have other stuff to do on set, but I’ll be home doing my job as a father and husband or as an executive producer going through dailies and stuff. Being able to watch the edits before the episodes air on TV has just been a joy. I’ve been enjoying the show just watching Bonham and Abby, or Colton and Stella, or Augie or Trey, and now Cassie. It’s been fun for me to go, “I’m really liking this show… Oh, I’m on it too!” [laughs] It’s been an awesome season.
You had to pivot midway through the season, introducing Cassie Perez as Walker’s new partner on the Texas Rangers. Do you remember first meeting Ashley Reyes and striking up that rapport with her?
Padalecki: I do! The casting process these days, post-COVID, has been all-digital. You don’t do in-the-room casting, you do casting tapes. If you’re really interested in someone, and they’re interested in the role, you do a Zoom audition together. I’ve been acting for a while now and done 430-some episodes of television — gosh, I feel old.
You started young!
Padalecki: I started young! Thanks, I’ll take it. [laughs] In my years as Sam [Winchester], a lot of times it was face-to-face acting, and there’s a different feeling being in the room with a human being than being over camera. Mentally, it’s really difficult for me to read over a computer screen, but when we met Ashley, we all kind of talked afterward. It had been a month-long process with dozens and dozens of extremely talented, beautiful, charming young actresses who could’ve played the role very well, and then we met with Ashley and were like, “Yeah, that’s her! Get her on a flight, put her down in Austin, and let’s do this.”
She’s just awesome. She’s an incredible actress and extremely talented and just so likable and a lovable on-camera and somehow even more likable off-camera. I remember our first reading together, she was in Brooklyn with a brick wall behind her, and meeting her down here in Texas. Everybody just loves her, she’s extremely hardworking and kind. The way she’s fleshing out Cassie is such a joy to watch. In the episode where Twyla Jean realizes that she’s talking about an episode of Hawk’s Shadow and both Karissa Lee Staples, who plays Twyla, and Ashley go back and forth over and over again — I was like, “These are great professional actors, and they’re fun to watch… Wait, you’re on-camera also! Focus!” [laughs] It’s been a lot of fun.
Some of my favorite stuff of yours this season were the scenes between you and Coby Bell as Captain James. How was it working more with Coby this season?
Padalecki: Coby and I hit it off right off the bat. For whatever reason, last week, I went back and watched an episode from Season 1 called “Rule Number 17” when we’re on a stakeout together. We’re in a van, and it flashes back to when he reveals Emily on a slab. He and I have always just gotten on as people on and off camera, it’s so fun. He’s also done a ton of work professionally, so we’ll just vibe and do something during a scene, think we can do it better, do it again and go, “That was pretty good!” [laughs]
He’s got four kids and lives in California, and they’re young, so he’s not here in Texas all the time. To see him be a father and spouse and still come here and have all of his dialogue and preparation done is impressive and inspiring. I do love the rapport between Cordi and Larry and you feel that because I feel that way about Coby in some way or another. I feel like I’ve known him for a long time, so it’s really easy to talk to him on-camera as our characters and off-camera as a fellow human being.
Like you said, you’ve been doing this a long time, and a lot of the work you’ve done at The CW is bearing new, awesome fruit with Supernatural coming back and the spinoff prequel Walker: Independence coming.
Padalecki: I’ll give a shoutout to what was The WB network and what, since 2006, is now The CW network; they’re so loyal and committed to their talent. I’ll go back to certain scenes from Gilmore Girls or even Supernatural and go, “Why did they hire me?!” But they believed in me and they believe in Jensen [Ackles]. They believe in their people. We now have Kat McNamara on the Walker prequel, and she’s [been] on The CW as well, as has Matt Barr. I’m just grateful that I’ve been given so many chances to learn and grow. Once I officially retire, maybe I’ll go back and think about it, but even though I’ve been doing this for a while, I still feel like I’m in the middle of it. Jensen and I used to [do] this on Supernatural, that we can’t really think about the fourteen years that have gone by because we have another season to do. We can’t think about having one last episode to film because we have one episode left to film.
I’m just really grateful. I really enjoy working in the city that I know and love with people that I love. I enjoy working with Mitch [Pileggi] again and working for the first time with Keegan [Allen}, Molly [Hagan], Kale [Culley], Violet [Brinson], Jeff [Pierre], Ashley, Coby, and Odette [Annable]. Every day is like Christmas. [This phrase is] overused, but if you like what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. The hours are long, and it’s an interesting life I lead being in the public eye, but I just love being able to tell stories, hear stories, and watch stories. If they’ll keep hiring me, I’ll keep telling stories.
Developed for television by Anna Fricke, Walker Season 2 is available to stream on The CW App.
Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.