THE NEXT BIG THING: JARED PADALECKI

THE NEXT BIG THING: JARED PADALECKI

Photographed By Larissa Underwood/ LaMoine.com
Styled By Amber Corwin for crystalagency.com
Groomed By Laly Zambrana for crystalagency.com

His original claim to fame was a role on a teen-oriented TV show; he had an uncredited role in Cheaper by the Dozen; his long and feathery brown hair is known to drive girls wild; and he’s hosted a Candid Camera-like show on MTV. But no, he’s not married to Demi Moore.

Hot Hollywood wife aside, Jared Padalecki could easily be mistaken for a young(er) Ashton Kutcher, particularly on Tuesday nights, when the 25-year-old hosts Room 401. “It’s a study in people’s reactions,” says Padalecki of the show, which is like Punk’d with a supernatural twist- and minus the celebs. “It had gotten to the point with Punk’d where famous people would just know what was up, so instead we play elaborate, scary tricks on random people where someone’s head falls off and that kind of thing,” he laughs. “It was so much fun to host that.”

Padalecki seems to enjoy projects of a paranormal vein. He appeared opposite Paris Hilton in the horror flick House of Wax and stars on the CW series Supernatural, which is currently entering its third season. “I don’t think there’s a harder job in television than one-hour episodic television,” Padalecki says. “We work 15-hour days, five or six days a week, for nine months at a time. But I’m not complaining- it’s allowed me to learn what it takes to keep me going. I was too shy at first to say I needed a day off. But I’ve had a meltdown in the past, so now I’m like, ‘Listen guys, it’s getting to be about that time.’ And they take me seriously because I don’t ask for things that I don’t need.”

This glass-half-full perspective is quintessential Padalecki. Even though he’s built a career out of interpreting the numinous, he is decidedly and determinedly your average Joe. “Calling me normal is the biggest compliment you can give me,” he says. “I grew up in Texas, and I think they’d probably kick my butt if I got too big-headed. I have my prissy boy, Hollywood moments, but [Supernatural co-star Jensen Ackles] is also from Texas, and being around each other keeps us both in check. Every now and then we’ll be like, ‘Dude, you’re Hollywooding out.’ It’s a big blessing.”

Although he really doesn’t seem to need the help, Padalecki also credits his girlfriend, sandy, for keeping him grounded. “Some people’s girlfriends are the opposite, and they’re like, ‘Let’s go to this premiere or let’s do the Hollywood thing.’ I think sandy would rather chill out and be normal than go shopping on Rodeo.” In fact, the only time Padalecki (who lives in Vancouver while Supernatural is taped) can even remember heading to the famous boutique street for some shopping is when he won a talent competition in high school and was flown out to Los Angeles. “Part of the trip was that they take you out to Rodeo Drive. My mom and I got off the bus and were like, ‘Yeah, we’re not buying anything here.'”

Padalecki’s first job in Hollywood- the role of Dean, devoted boyfriend to Alexis Bledel’s character Rory, on Gilmore Girls- ”was much more in line with his down-to-earth persona. He scored the guest part right after graduating from high school, and it became a recurring role that lasted five years. “What a cool opportunity is that, huh,” he asks rhetorically, “to have that be your first real gig? It was such a great show, and I can’t believe my part lasted that long.”

Padalecki will soon appear on the big screen for Thomas Kinkade’s Home for Christmas, which he describes as a project after his own heart. “I’m so excited about this because it’s my first Christmas movie. I grew up watching all that stuff- It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, A Christmas Story- and I just love those cheesy, feel-good movies.”
So much so that he may even watch the film. “I hate to watch myself, I think I’m gross and disgusting, but this movie I’m looking forward to seeing.”

Part of the reason might be his co-stars. Home for Christmas is based on the life of one of America’s most collected living artists, Thomas Kinkade, who is motivated to create one of his most famous works (“The Christmas Cottage”) when he discovers his mother is in danger of losing their family home. Padalecki plays Kinkade, and Peter O’Toole and Marcia Gay Harden round out the cast. “I definitely have an interest in art, and it was magnified by the fact that I was working on a film about an artist,” Padalecki says. “And for me in my own craft, it was great because I got to work with some of my idols and some of the greatest actors of all time.”

His favorite part of working with the industry veterans? “They took me seriously, which was very flattering,” Padalecki says- proving, for the umpteenth time, that he hasn’t got a single “prissy, Hollywood boy” bone in him.

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