Jared Padalecki’s Fan Moment at Comic-Con
The Supernatural boys are responsible for many people’s “fan moments” from their numerous appearances at conventions and events around the country. Yet, at his final Comic-Con to promote a new season of his show, we get to see Jared Padalecki have his fan moment thanks to an interviewer. A seemingly humble and kind tv star, Padalecki stopped to talk to a YouTuber named Derek Sante at Comic-Con in 2018. Sante asked Padalecki what the nerdiest thing about him was. He then confessed his love for the old expanded universe Star Wars novels, positively lighting up with joy as Sante mentioned characters like Mara Jade and authors like Timothy Zahn. He said he read Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” more than once and was his favorite series. So, as a small way to give back to the Supernatural star, Sante arranged a little introduction for this year’s con.
Jared Padalecki and Timothy Zahn Meet
When Disney tossed the old EU from its canon after its purchase of Lucasfilm, some fans were angry. (I know, fans angry about Star Wars, who knew?) Yet, Lucasfilm publishing brought back Zahn to write a new series of books set before the original trilogy of films starring his beloved character Thrawn. Since a new book will hit shelves this year, Zahn was on-hand for SDCC 2019. Because Zahn is a great sport, and a fan of Supernatural apparently, he worked with Sante to pull off a surprise. It’s clear Padalecki did not know what Timothy Zahn looked like. You can actually see him realize who this kindly bald man he’s shaking hands with is in the video above. That’s when Jared Padalecki had his fan moment, because his mouth goes wide and all he can ask is “Seriously?”
When Zahn confirms that he is indeed the author who created Thrawn, Padalecki kindly asks for a hug. Unfortunately, you can tell that Padalecki wants to talk to Zahn but is self-conscious that the interaction is on film. He takes a pair of selfies with Zahn. The second one highlighted his signed paperback copy of Heir to the Empire. Zahn also promised to get Padalecki’s address to send him a copy of Thrawn: Treason. -Throughout it all, Padalecki seems to react, well just like a Supernatural super-fan would react were they given the opportunity to meet him.
The Power and Community of Fandom
To see Jared Padalecki have his fan moment meeting the author of his favorite Star Wars book serves as a reminder about what a great community geek culture provides. We pay a lot of attention to the more rancorous elements, such as those fans upset with the direction of the new Star Wars films, Game of Thrones, or even Batwoman. Yet, that the star of one of the longest-running live-action genre programs in history can get tongue-tied and embarrassed meeting an author shows the power these stories have. Padalecki often speaks about his struggles with mental illness and injury, including starting the Always Keep Fighting campaign to help those suffering with addiction, depression, and suicidal ideation. And geek culture has long been the refuge for people who feel like outcasts.
These stories about monster-hunters, space wizards, and people in costumes might seem silly. Yet, they also provide very subtle ways to talk about big, important ideas. One of the most important ones they can cover is the value of human life and that everyone deserves a chance to live well. When the real world gets to be too much, you can escape into a fantasy world of heroes and villains and magic, using these tales to light that fire in your own heart. They bring us joy and the world can always use more of that. And, thanks to this video of Padalecki geeking out over his favorite Star Wars author, we can all share in that joy a little.
If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. Reach out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with them online. As Padalecki’s campaign says, you are worth fighting for.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.