Two things don't scare Jared Padalecki: witty women and murderous ghouls. The San Antonio, Texas, native happily played Rory Gilmore's boyfriend Dean for four seasons on Gilmore Girls before battling serial killers in this year's horror movies House of Wax and Cry_Wolf. These days, he's sparring with spooks on the WB hit Supernatural. Padalecki, 23, spoke to PEOPLE.com recently about his real-life love and what does terrify him.
Do you believe in the supernatural or extraterrestrial life?
I do. I've never had any personal experiences, but it's a big world, and it's hard to believe we're the only things around. I'm sure there are other people like us, or a bizzarro Earth. I'm sure a lot of it is scary.
What movie scares you?
The Shining. It seemed real, like it could happen. Stanley Kubrick just made it like you're really in the hotel with this guy, seeing him go crazy and having these delusions. It really creeped me out and gave me nightmares.
What was the last nightmare you had?
I had a nightmare about being on a cruise ship and the ship going down. It was an arduous process of the ship going down and we knew it was going down. There was everyone I know and love on the ship.
What's your offscreen relationship like with your Supernatural brother, Jensen Ackles?
We clicked pretty much off the bat – we have similar interests in sports, and we're Texas boys, so we're both laid-back. We like to eat good food, have a good beer, hang out and have a good time. We leave each other alone when we need to and jazz each other up, too.
How did you prepare for the show?
I watched a lot of scary stuff: The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, The Ring. I also researched mythology – my mom, Sheri, is a heroes, myths and legends teacher in high school, so she studies Greek mythology. There's so much literary value to the show, so I wanted to know the deeper sides to the stories. And Jensen and I got the fight training – we boxed and did martial arts, because both of our characters are supposed to be pretty well-versed.
Do you miss Gilmore Girls?
Yeah, it was a great time. I started when I was 17 and finished when I was 22, and they nurtured me. If I ever had any free time, which I don't, I would feel comfortable popping in to say hi to everybody.
You met your girlfriend of nearly two years, Sandra McCoy, while filming Cry_Wolf, right?
I sure did. We met and flirted, and we all went out as a group, but she and I didn't go out on a date or anything. When we started dating a couple months later, people were like, "What took you guys so long?" I thought, "Was it that obvious?" She's a really great, generous person. She has a huge heart and makes people laugh and smile. She's just a lot of fun and very genuine.
Speaking of hanging out in groups, you don't seem to be much for partying at L.A. clubs with the young Hollywood crowd. What's your scene?
I have a house, with two big plasma-screen TVs, two dogs, a grill, chessboard. I like to keep it low-key: invite friends over, order some Papa John's pizzas and Coors Light, play poker and ping-pong and chill. I'm pretty private.
It's nice to know we won't be seeing you anytime soon with your House of Wax costar, Paris Hilton.