Created by James Cameron, Dark Angel debuted in 2000 and starred Alba as Max Guevara, a genetically-engineered super solider on the run from government agents in a post-apocalyptic version of Seattle. During the second season, which aired in 2001, Ackles joined as fellow super soldier and potential love interest Alec McDowell. The costars did plenty of sparring while filming Dark Angel‘s many action scenes, but according to Ackles, there was even more tension between them off screen.
In January 2022, the Supernatural alum opened up about the “horrible” experience he had working on Dark Angel, noting that Alba “didn’t make it easy” for him on set. “I was the new kid on the block, and I was picked on by the lead,” he said during an episode of the “Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum” podcast.
“It wasn’t that she didn’t like me. She just was like, ‘Oh, here’s the pretty boy that the network brought in for some more window dressing because that’s what we all need,'” Ackles added at the time, describing their conflicts as the “worst kind of bickering.”
The Boys star remembered deciding to “fight fire with fire” and fight back against Alba’s jabs, which eventually helped them reach a place of “mutual respect” as coworkers. “But we bickered. We bickered like brother and sister,” Ackles explained.
However, the Days of Our Lives alum was eventually able to understand why Alba may have behaved the way she did on the Fox series, concluding, “She was under an immense amount of pressure on that show. She was young, she was in a relationship and that was … causing some undue stress, I believe.”
Though Alba hasn’t publicly spoken about her difficult relationship with Ackles, the L.A.’s Finest star has touched on the pressures of leading a high-budget TV show at such a young age. “[It’s] a lot tougher than I anticipated,” she said during an interview that was conducted during the first season of Dark Angel and resurfaced following Ackles’ podcast interview. “We’re really shooting a mini-movie in eight days … Three days a week I do action and acting, and the rest I do ridiculously long scenes of dialogue.”
In the 20 years since Dark Angel ended, the pair have frequently opened up about the show and their experiences on set, both positive and negative. Keep scrolling to see how Ackles and Alba feel about their breakthrough show now.