Walker premieres Jan. 21 and stars Supernatural alum, Jared Padalecki, as the titular character in the Walker, Texas Ranger reboot. His real-life wife, Genevieve Padalecki, plays Emily, Walker’s late wife. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Gen about working with her husband onscreen again. The couple notably met on the set of Supernatural when Gen guest-starred as Ruby in season 4. They married in 2010 and have 3 children.
Genevieve opened up about how Walker came to fruition and why playing Emily has been “freeing” for her. While they play husband and wife in Walker, Gen stressed that Emily and Walker are not “Gen and Jared.” She also discussed having Austin as a permanent home base for her family and the show, as well as her work with her brand, now & gen.
Walker stars your husband, but how did signing on to play Emily come about for you?
Genevieve Padalecki: You know, it was as things were in motion. Maybe at the end of season 14 and going into 15, Jared started thinking about and reading about when there are people coming from south of the border into America, and basically being kids being separated from families. He’s not very politically active publicly. He’s privately very politically savvy, and he’s very political behind the scenes. He fights for equality, so he was really intrigued by this story that he read where the kids were being separated from families and there are ICE workers and Border Patrol who were really struggling and saying I can’t do this. I can’t do my job. This is so unethical. He really found that so heartbreaking. I thought this could be really interesting to explore and dive into. I wonder if there’s a way that we can sort of highlight this and show people how unethical this is without hammering it over people’s heads. So that’s sort of how Walker came about. He always talks about the 3 sides of the coin and living on that edge. You’re not red, you’re not blue, you’re just trying to walk this fine line and do what’s right for humanity. I watched him develop it for a good year, and we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in a ski town. Anna Fricke kept calling him and he’s like, I’m so sorry, I have to step away. He stepped away and came back and had this grin on his face. And I’m like, what is it? He said that Anna has this suggestion: how would you feel if you played my wife? At the time, I heard that there was a bartender. I didn’t know her name was Geri or anything. I thought maybe I could just go in and play a bartender or something. But he was like, Anna really wants you to play my wife. I want to say I thought about it, but it was an instant “I’d love to.” I get to say yes 10 years later to a whole new adventure. It was such a cool moment. I absolutely love working with my husband. It’s one of my favorite ways to have a relationship with him. We really work very well together, and we kind of riff off each other. So it was just a no brainer.
You both worked together on Supernatural. What’s it been like working with him on something totally new?
Genevieve Padalecki: For me, it was really freeing. I struggled a little bit, and I don’t think it’s to anyone’s surprise. When I stepped onto Supernatural, I was taking on someone else’s role. She had established it and I thought a totally different way than maybe she had created it. It was tough to come in 4 seasons in and everything’s been established and a certain cadence and such. It felt like a weight had been lifted to just go for it in a new way without sort of the pressure of having to fit into a routine and into a different role that had been established. It was really super fun. It’s not our marriage. It’s not Gen and Jared. It’s just Gen and Jared playing husband and wife, which is probably weird for people, but it’s super fun for us because we get to live in this world and create a world and act opposite each other and have so much fun. It’s wild and so fun to act and create and feel so safe opposite someone that I just love and admire and respect so much.
We’re going to see Emily a lot through flashbacks. What kind of partner and wife was Emily to Walker?
Genevieve Padalecki: That’s what’s really fun and interesting. A lot of this is through his eyes and his perspective. So you kind of wonder, is this his vision of her? Is this what really went down? Because there are 3 sides to the story. You’re not really sure if this is actually how it went down. I think that when you listen to the kids, the family, and everyone about how they talk about her, she clearly left a huge, huge impact. She clearly was a devoted mother and partner and was certainly the glue that kept the family together. She was certainly very invested in his family and really invested in the good in humanity. I think she was just a really hardworking and wild kind of woman.
Emily dies very suddenly and under mysterious circumstances. Will we learn more over the course of the season about what happened to her and the circumstances behind her death?
Genevieve Padalecki: I hope so. I mean, nothing has been quite fleshed out yet. We’ll have to see what happens to her, where she’s at, and what exactly happened. I have yet to learn about it, but I’m excited to see what did. I’m very curious to follow that journey and explore more of Emily.
The show is filmed in Austin, Texas, where you and Jared live with your family. After 15 or so odd years with Supernatural filming in Vancouver, having the show film in Texas must be a dream come true.
Genevieve Padalecki: We certainly went for it. We went from kind of a vacation couple where we saw each other twice a month to fast and furious with the pandemic and being around each other 24/7 to now literally being around each other 24/7 with parenting, carpooling, working, date nights, the whole shebang kind of all at once. It certainly took a minute to kind of catch our breath and find our rhythm. But I will never take this for granted because it is such a nice moment to be able to have my husband home and putting the kids to bed and going to work with each other. It’s pretty cool.
On another note, you have your own brand, now & gen. The past year has been such a game-changer. How has it been juggling your brand, the kids, the show, and the pandemic?
Genevieve Padalecki: I mean, it’s a lot. I’m launching this brand towwn, which I sort of teased a bit on my social media, and that’s really what I’m super excited about. As you know, with my blogging, I’m really excited to watch this brand because it’s going to be a more diverse group of voices who really talk about the way in which we live and how we can sustain ourselves so that we can sustain our planet. And that doesn’t mean being completely green, giving up meat, and living on a commune. It really means: what is going to work for me individually to sustain myself, make me feel whole, and implement small, incremental changes for the better of this world. And that looks different for everybody. And I think that’s what’s really important to understand. So much of sustainability and environmentalism is so elitist and so one-note. It’s very conflicting information, so we’re hoping to provide solutions and be a community and be a journey for this process. I’m really excited. It’s certainly a little bit crazy with everything going on, but I am grateful that I have a team now. We’re branching out and really trying to create a great community. So I feel like it’s not so much on me anymore. I can delegate a bit better for sure.
It’s officially 2021. Do you have specific goals for this year, whether it comes to your brand or acting or kids?
Genevieve Padalecki: I really want to listen more. To be honest, this year’s been such a game-changer in the way that we live. I’ve learned that I really have to be present, and not just talk about being present. That means listening a whole lot more, not just saying like, oh, yeah, I’m listening, and then I have my phone in my hand or I’m reading a book or I’m juggling something. So I feel like this year, for me, I really want to forge ahead with the work that I’m doing. But I also want to make sure that I’m saying no to things and not just saying yes because I feel asked to tack on work projects or something. I really want to make sure that I’m listening to myself, my family, and my friends, and not taking on too much and slowing down a little bit more.