"I have a deep and abiding love for Sam Winchester," the actor tells PEOPLE
Jared Padalecki Supernatural
Jared Padalecki in Supernatural
| Credit: Sergei Bachlakov / The CW

Two months after Supernatural aired its 15th and final season, Jared Padalecki is holding out hope that he'll get to reprise his iconic role again one day. 

The actor, 38, played Sam Winchester on the long-running CW series opposite Jensen Ackles, who starred as Sam's brother Dean. 

"I love Supernatural, dearly, I always will," Padalecki tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I have a deep and abiding love for Sam Winchester, and I loved helping him come to life for 15 years and 327 episodes."

Though he admits Sam "deserved a little bit of a rest," he says he would love to revisit the character in the future, as he did with his Gilmore Girls character in the 2016 reboot of the hit series. 

For more on Jared Padalecki, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles
| Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

"I certainly have it somewhere in the bottom of my heart and soul that I hope September 10 isn't the last time I ever played Sam Winchester," he says, referring to the date he filmed the final Supernatural episode

Still, Padalecki says that quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic helped him realize that he wants to be home with his family more often than he was while filming the show. 

Being home helped him discover "how much of a homebody I am. During the quarantine, I realized how much I really loved being at home. I love my family, which is pretty cool," says the actor, whose new show, Walker, debuts on The CW Thursday.

Padalecki shares three children — sons Thomas Colton, 8, and Austin Shepherd, 7, and daughter Odette Elliott, 3 — with wife Genevieve, whom he met on the Supernatural set. 

Jared Padalecki
Jared Padalecki with his wife and three kids
| Credit: Jared Padalecki/Instagram

"I kind of knew it, in my heart of hearts, but I'd never really had the chance to test that theory," he says of valuing family time. "During Supernatural, there were some calendar months in there where I would see my wife and kids three or four days out of the entire month. That's it."

He continues, "We use FaceTime, and do phone calls and send videos, and all that. But to go from seeing your family three days in February, to seeing them 30 days in April is a big change." 

His costar, Ackles, was also on the same page, Padalecki says: "That's the entire reason why Jensen and I wanted to bid a fond farewell to Supernatural — we both have wives and three kids."

Walker premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.