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Walker's Mitch Pileggi On One Last Run, Jared Padalecki, And Memories Of Supernatural - Exclusive Interview

After 40 years in the acting industry, esteemed actor Mitch Pileggi has donned a cowboy hat once more as Jared Padalecki's onscreen father Bonham Walker in the self-titled The CW series "Walker." However, this isn't the first time he's played a paternal figure to Padalecki. He also played Padalecki's (Sam Winchester) onscreen grandfather and namesake Samuel Campbell in "Supernatural."

While the actor has a resume a mile long, many fans know him from his role as Walter Skinner on "The X-Files" and his roles in the 1989 film "Shocker" and the 1992 movie "Basic Instinct." Pileggi also had roles in "Dallas," the "Tarzan" TV series, "Daybreak," one incarnation of the "Batman" animated series, "Stargate: Atlantis," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Sons of Anarchy." That's a small taste of what Pileggi has gotten up to since he began his career in 1982. The actor just had his 70th birthday and may be hanging up his cowboy hat after "Walker," but he can be proud of the career he's carved for himself and the fandoms he's touched by being a part of them.

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Mitch Pileggi dishes on his friendship with Jared Padalecki, having "Supernatural" costar Jensen Ackles direct Episode 2.14 of "Walker," and what fans can expect in the Walkers' unraveling feud with the Davidsons. He also went down "Supernatural" and "The X-Files" memory lane and revealed whether or not he's game to appear in the "Supernatural" prequel "The Winchesters."

A Cowboy like Bonham

You've had some really major plot points recently, with Bonham's arrest. How did you first react to finding out that Bonham was arrested for the murder of Marv? And did you initially think he could possibly be guilty?

Yeah, in this business, anything's possible, you know that. I didn't think there was any way in the world that Bonham, that it's in his nature to do something like that. You'll find out what he really did do as time passes on or as the next episodes air. I didn't think that it was in his nature to do something like that, but it was an interesting plot point and an interesting way to take it. He did some stupid things. Bonham did some dumbass things to put himself in this position, so maybe he deserves it for a little bit.

I love those scenes between you and Jared Padalecki in "Common Ground," where you're training Jared for the race. What are some of the joys and trials of working with the horses? Is that something you did a lot before "Walker"? Jared is a Texas native, so did he give you any horse tips?

I went to school at UT, and I started my acting career here in Austin, so I've done some horse riding. It was fun playing that scene, and with Ashley [Reyes] coming in, I adore her. She's wonderful, and I'm her biggest cheerleader, so I'm so glad that she's joined us. I love working with horses. I love riding them. I love that Bonham's ... I actually had one of the directors, at one point, after a scene, she walked up to me, and she goes, "Are you a real cowboy?" And I said, "No, but Bonham is." It's fun for me to be able to play a character like this, that is a cowboy, and I'm relishing every second of it.

A new ranger in town

You had some lovely moments with Cassie. What are your thoughts on Walker's new partner and saying goodbye to Micki?

It was tough saying goodbye to Lindsey [Morgan] because I adored her. I still adore her, and I thought she was absolutely wonderful in the character, and I was so sorry to see her go. We were keeping our fingers crossed that somebody was going to come in that could fill her shoes, and I'll tell you what, we got a keg of dynamite in this little girl here, because Ashley Reyes, she knocks me off my feet.

I adore her, so we're very fortunate that we were able to get somebody with this amount of talent because she can do it all. She can play the comedy. She can do the drama. She can do the physical stuff. There's nothing stopping this little girl, and I think she's amazing, and I'm her biggest fan, and I'm a big fan of a lot of the cast on this show. I'm very happy that it worked out the way it did.

Walker family confessesions

You've had some really great heart-to-hearts with Cordell lately and throughout the show. Do you ever talk with Jared beforehand to map out the direction of those scenes? Or do you organically get into those raw emotions?

There [are] a lot of organics to it, because he and I had [gotten] a shorthand, and we know each other, so those moments, a lot of them ... we talk about a few things ... there's something coming up in an episode that I talked to him about beforehand, but I can't really talk about it right now,  ... [Jared] sees everything, and there's very little that will escape him.

It's a treat because he brings stuff, he says stuff. He'll bring stuff to me, and I'm like, "I didn't think about that," so it's a treat and a pleasure to be able to work with him on this thing, and he's bringing so much energy and dedication to this thing. It makes my heart full, watching him work and how much love he's bringing to this because he really does love this project.

Molly Hagan: The loveliest onscreen wife

You've worked with a ton of amazing actors and directors throughout your career. Is there anyone from any of your past shows or movies that you want to appear on "Walker" for either a short episode or maybe a longer role?

I'm not getting involved in the casting process because they're doing a pretty good job. I couldn't improve on anything they've done so far, so I'm very impressed with the job that they're doing casting this show. The talent that they're bringing in, it's pretty amazing, so I'll stay out of that aspect of it.

It seems like some saddle tampering might have been at play when Cordell lost the race. What do you think's going on there?

We were cheated — the Davidsons, they're a bunch of scallywags. They're a bunch of ne'er-do-wells. It's funny because when I think of [the] Davidsons, I, Mitch, get pissed off when I think about the Davidsons, and it's funny, because Molly does, too. She thinks about the Davidsons, she gets aggravated. And how wonderful is Molly?

I'll tell you right now,. I'm the luckiest man on TV to be able to stand across from her because she's frigging amazing, and to be able to be her partner, I can't even imagine what it would've been like if I didn't have her — if we didn't have each other because we're really good friends. I adore her. I love her to death, and man, I'm so lucky. I really am.

Walker family feud

How do you think the Walkers' feud with the Davidsons will impact the trajectory of the seasons, and do you think they might get their farm back?

Do I think they're going to get it? Well, I'm getting my damn farm back. No, I'm getting my ranch back. It's not a farm, it's a ranch, and I'm getting my damn ranch back, and I'm getting my horses back. The fact that he bet his ranch, and all of his livestock, his livelihood ... What a knucklehead. My goodness, what a knucklehead.

The feud between the Davidsons and the Walkers, it's going to get pretty hot, and things are going to happen. Ultimately, the Walkers will be back. I want my leather shop. I want all my stuff. I want Abeline to have her she-shed, with her mushrooms, and everything else that's going on out there. Yeah, we'll get our ranch back.

Jensen Ackles: A Cowboy once more

Jensen Ackles recently came onto the "Walker" scene to direct an episode. What was that experience like, and what kind of energy and creative vision did he bring to the director's chair?

[Jokingly] It brought back bad memories. That was nothing but bad memories. I swear, having the two of them together, ganging up on me, it was relentless, and it was uncalled for. It was unnecessary ... No, it was so much fun having Jensen there because he's part of the family, and to have his face there, and his energy, and his humor, and everything that comes with it, was absolutely brilliant. I was so happy that he came in and did an episode, and I hope he gets to come in and do more. But to have those two knuckleheads together was ... Phew, you can only imagine.

[Laughs] What did they do to you?

Nothing. They didn't do anything to me — well, yeah, they did. They like to pick on me. It gives them joy, and if it makes them happy, then it makes me happy. So there you go.

Did they prank you or anything?

No. It's our relationship, and how goofy we are, and how silly we get, and it's not only when Jensen's there. This cast and this crew, it's pretty amazing. I don't know if you've heard, but this is the most amazing cast and crew that, I believe, I've worked with. I've been doing this for four years, and this is a hell of a way for me to end it.

From Campbell to Walker

Who was behind that prank with Jensen's ever-changing director chairs, and what was Jensen's reaction to that? Were there any other pranks that you noticed, or fun moments, when he came to direct?

No, the usual stuff, but Jared has fun being a child, and I let him [laughs]. I let him have his joy. I wasn't there the whole time that he was, with all the shenanigans that were going on between him and Jensen, but I'm sure that it was a lot of fun. I'm sure, for Jared, it was a treat having Jensen there, but yeah.

That's awesome.

It was pretty cool.

What was that dynamic like between them, going from co-stars to actor versus director?

Jensen directed episodes of "Supernatural," so it was something that they had ... It was already in their makeup, so it was a natural thing.

You got to play Sam and Dean's grandfather on "Supernatural," and now you're playing his dad on "Walker." What was that transition like, and what are some of your favorite memories?

There's no transition. It's a completely different character, so there's no relationship. They're two different characters. There's no transitioning from one to the other. Samuel was who he was [and] Bonham is a different cat.

Hangin' with the Winchesters

Do you have any favorite memories from working on the "Supernatural" set?

It was fun. I was working with a lot of the guys, [and] a lot of the crew on "Supernatural" were "X-Files" crew, so it was a real treat. Kim Manners was there when I came and did the first episode, so I got to spend a little bit of time with him before he passed, and I'm so grateful for that.

Most of all, was [that] I met Jared Padalecki. The day that I met Jared Padalecki was a very important day in my life because he is one of the most outstanding individuals that I've ever come across, and I've come across a lot of people in my 70 years. I told him the other day, I said, "One of the best days of my life is the day that I met you."

You wouldn't believe some of the things that he's done for me since we've been doing this. His brother did my shoulder. I had shoulder replacement. They gave me a couple of episodes off. Jared and Anna were like, "You've got some time off. We're going to give you time off, get your shoulder fixed." I had Dr. Jeff Padalecki, do my shoulder surgery.

Will Samuel appear in The Winchesters?

His brother replaced my shoulder, and he's one of the best surgeons I've ever encountered because he did an amazing job. I got a new shoulder, and it's my good shoulder now. Jared and Genevieve [Padalecki] took a big portion of the cast in during the [Texas] snowpocalypse last year.

There were 15 of us in his house. 15 people and five dogs, and they took us all in without a blink of [an] eye and took care of us for a week until we were able to go home, and that's what it's like on this set. The atmosphere and the chemistry between us on this set [are] something I've never experienced before. There [are] no divas. There's no drama. This is the happiest set I've ever been on, and this crew is frigging outstanding. They're stellar, and this cast is ... Like I said, I'm so blessed to be, at this point, doing this in my career. It's pretty awesome. I got nothing but good things to say about all of this.

Your character on "Supernatural" is in the unique position where he could appear in the prequel that's happening soon. Would you be willing to reprise it, or do you think grandpa [Campbell's] story is done?

I'm done [with "Supernatural"]. I'm playing Bonham Walker; that's who I'm playing. I don't think they're going to want Samuel Campbell back in any way, shape, or form, back on "Supernatural." I'm happy doing what I'm doing, and I don't have any desire to ... Well, not that I don't have any desire, [but] I don't think they're going to have any need for any Campbells showing their faces.

The truth is out there

"The X-Files" is coming up on its 20th year anniversary, spanning 11 seasons, two films, and an upcoming animated comedy series. Is there any part of the mythology or a specific episode that stands out to you as one of your favorites?

There were a lot of good episodes. It has been a long time since I've watched. "The Post-Modern Prometheus" was a great one, but "Home" is my favorite of all time. That's about the sickest one that we ever put out there, so that shows you where my head is. Being part of "The X-Files" was amazing. It was absolutely amazing, and to have been on that set and spent so many years doing that, I feel honored to have had that opportunity. It was a great ride, and I still talk to Chris, I texted Gillian [Anderson] on her birthday and David [Duchovny], and we text back and forth and see each other on occasion.

Do you have any fond memories on set with those guys?

Oh, yeah. We had a lot of good times. I mean, we got silly, and we would work long hours. That's back when we were working 16 hours, averaging 16 hours a day. It was rough, so the fact that we could even smile at the end of the day was pretty amazing. There were a lot of great times. It's a long time ago, and it goes a long period, but yeah.

Pileggi's stint on Blue Bloods

You also appeared on a season five episode of "Blue Bloods." What was that experience like on that set?

Oh, "Blue Bloods." It was a small little role, and the director, David [Barrett], asked me to do it, and so I went up and did it. There wasn't a whole lot to it, but everybody was really nice.

Do you, personally, have a favorite TV or movie? And is there an actor or director from any time that you'd love to work with in the future?

I don't know if there's much future left for me. I think this is going to be it for me. The directors that we're bringing in right now, as a matter of fact, I just got a text from Tessa Blake, who is one of our directors, and she's coming back tonight. She was wonderful, and they've brought some really, wonderful directors onto the show. Everybody they're bringing in, I've got no complaints. It's been awesome.

What's next for the Walkers?

What are you, personally, hoping to see, either from your character, the show, or the [Walker] family, in the future?

A lot of good stories. After we got picked up the other day, Jared, he texted me, and he goes, "We got a lot more stories to tell." And I said, "I'm with you to the end." To me, that's paramount because I know we got the people to carry the water in this thing, and our writers have been doing a wonderful job bringing us great storylines. 

That's what I really hope for most, is for that to continue, and I'm sure it will because, like I said, we've got a great group of writers, and our producers are amazing, too. It couldn't be a better situation. I know that probably sounds very Pollyanna and all that, but that's the way I'm feeling right now about this. This is actually 40 years of doing this. This is as good as it gets.

"Walker" airs Thursday nights on The CW, with episodes streaming on the website and CW app the next day.