EXCLUSIVE: Misha Collins Gets Angelic in Supernatural
The newest cast member of the smash-hit CW series talks about his new role, working with Jared and Jensen and yet another angel down the road
When the fourth season of the immensely-popular series Supernatural hit the CW airwaves last Thursday, viewers were treated to a demonic/angellic new character, that turned out to be more the latter than the former. This new character is Castiel, an angel who was the one who pulled Dean out of hell and was sent down by the Lord to aid in the adventures of Dean and Sam Winchester. The actor who portrays this intriguiing new character is Misha Collins and I just recently had a chance to talk to the latest Supernatural cast member over the phone. Here's what he had to say.
You played a pivotal role in the season premiere last week. How did you originally come across this role of Castiel?
Misha Collins: I came across it when my agent sent me an audition for a demon on Supernatural earlier this summer. I had an episode of Supernatural Tivoed and I watched it and I saw a demon and I saw that he was kind of snarky and nasty, as we would expect a demon to be. So, I went in and I auditioned for (creator) Eric Kripke and I gave him a very nasty and snarky performance (Laughs). He said 'Great work, except, we are trying to hide from the fans that we're introducing an angel to the show, so we sent out the audition material as a demon, so it's actually an angel.' So he gave me a couple of adujustments to try to make me a little bit less snarky and more angellic and, evidently he liked me because I got the part.
So you hadn't followed the show previously before signing on?
Misha Collins: I had seen the show previously, but I had not been an avid follower of the show. I thought it was good, but I'm not a very good television watcher. I'm not very good at keeping up with the show. It seems like Supernatural is one of those shows where it's much better if you watch it all.
Since he says he's been sent from the Lord, would it be safe to assume that the Lord has been keeping tabs on Dean and Sam then, and sent you down to help them along?
Misha Collins Yes, definitely. Yeah, God is definitely keeping tabs on Sam and Dean, which is probably a lot of pressure, if you think about it. You know, if God is watching your every move, you should probably straighten up your act a little bit.
You said that Eric (Kripke) gave you some adjustments to your character, but what kinds of things do you do to get into the character of Castiel?
Misha Collins: Well, one of the things that I've done is I have been reading Revelations. Have you ever read Revalations?
A long time ago.
Misha Collins: Yeah. It's amazing, rich material that is full of stories about angels and angels being sent down to Earth to wipe out a third of the population. I mean, there are angels that come down and wipe out a third of the population and then another angel will come down and wipe out a third of all the animals living in the sea and another angel will come down and wipe out all the vegetation on the land. They are some vengeful individules, in Revelations, the angels. In reading that, I was kind of surprised. There is a lot of destructive capacity in an angel's being. Kripke gave me a couple of things to work with right in that audition and one was that the angels haven't actually come down to Earth for 2000 years. They've been watching from a great distance, but now this is the first time they're really getting up close in 2000 years. When I'm talking to Dean, I'm observing these qualities that are somewhat alien to me. There's a curiosity and an inquisitiveness that Castiel has and also a real peacefulness and a real calm and wisdom and knowledge that goes along with being a very ancient being. If you spend your whole life in heaven, I would think that it makes you pretty peaceful, so that's a lot of what I've drawn on. My younger brother, this is going to sound kind of weird, but there's something quite angellic about him. He has this way of, very calmly, just staring into someone's eyes and it kind of feels like he can get into your soul. It's a little weird and really kind of amazing so I did kind of base my character on my younger brother.
Oh, wow. That's interesting. So, we don't really get a whole lot about Castiel in the first episode. He's an angel and he doesn't doesn't really affect mortals too well, with their eyes if they look at him.
Misha Collins: Right.
Is there anything that you can tell us that we might see from him down the road in the season?
Misha Collins: Yeah, I guess I can tell you that I'm not going to be the only angel on the show. Muriel is another angel that is going to come down as well. Muriel, he's a much more militant angel and one who is much more eager to stamp out the human communities. Yeah, he's the vengeful, smiting type. Also, my character is somewhat conflicted and not quite as sure of himself as maybe he initially was presented.
So do you and Muriel cancel each other out, or play the balancing of the forces?
Misha Collins Yeah, well there's a conflict between Muriel and I.
I've interviewed Jared (Padalecki) before and both he and Jensen (Ackles) seem like they'd be a riot to work with on this series. How have they both been to work with and how did they embrace you coming into the show?
Misha Collins: They're great to work with. They both have unusually good timing with humor, so there's a lot of sarcasm and witty quips being bantered about on the set, which, I'll tell you, makes working a hell of a lot better. They're not primadonnas... well, if they are primadonnas, they haven't shown me that side yet. They seem like very cool, very fun, very energetic, hard-working guys. They put in long hours on that show, they really do. I've been on shows where the star of the show is like rolling their eyes the whole time and totally frustrated that it's taking a long time and bored out of their minds and spend the whole time on set texting their boyfriend on their Blackberry and just had such a really bad tone for the set. Jared and Jensen, and (director) Kim Manners and the other directors working on the show, they're all really good people to work with, which is unusual and very gratifying and makes it a much better experience than it could be.
I read that you are on for the remainder of this season. Is this kind of like a recurring role or are they talking about a series regular, at some point, for this character?
Misha Collins: I don't know whether they're talking series regular for my character, but that's a good idea. You should maybe recommend that to them.
Absolutely. So can you give us a glimpse of how much you'll be in this season? Will you be in every episode?
Misha Collins: No, I'm not in every episode. It seems to me that the show kind of does this little dance between episodes that are pretty well self-contained. There are episodes where Jared and Jensen take on a particular thing that, within that episode, it's a pretty contained arc and you don't really need to know a whole lot of backstory in order for it to make sense. Then there are episodes that are continuing a broader, more epic storyling and it seems that I'm not so much in those self-contained episodes but in the episodes that are carrying that through-arc. So far, I've been in a little over half of the episodes we've shot.
Misha Collins: Well, like I said, I think some of those shows have been less welcoming and less easy to fit into as the new kid at school coming to join a show. Some episodic television - 24 and ER are not examples of that - but there are some episodic television shows that are pretty formulaic and it feels like the series regulars are doing the same thing every episode and you can just feel their boredom. Supernatural is not one of those shows. Supernatural feels like there's always something new happening and the actors and the crew all have interesting things to work on so there's a level of commitment, artistic commitment and excitement on the set that is nice to be around and is a lot better than a lot of other shows that I've been on. It's a happy cast and crew, too. A lot of times there's a surliness that goes on behind the scenes that's not present on Supernatural, which is really great. Aside from that, it's shot in Vancouver and I've been shooting up in Vancouver in summer and early fall, which is pretty much the nicest place to be in summer and early fall, so that also. Maybe talk to me again in February and we'll see how upbeat I am about it.
I know it's only been a few days since the season premiere, but have you been noticed anywhere as Castiel yet?
Misha Collins: Yes, I have.
You have? Already?
Misha Collins: Yeah. I'm building a garden at my house and I was at a local nursery yesterday and two women who were buying palm trees came up to me and said, 'Are you the new angel?' They were really enthusiastic, incredibly sweet and I was kind of taken aback, but I was also kind of thrilled.
I know the show is immensely popular, but I know it has only been a few days so I was kind of curious to see if it happened already.
Misha Collins: Yeah, and I haven't actually been out much in the last couple of days, so yeah, I don't know. I feel like, in talking to you and talking to a couple of other people I've had interviews with, it sounds like there's a big reaction and a lot of people know about my character, which is kind of a surprise to me. I didn't realize that was happening, so, cool. I love it.
So I don't see any future projects listed for you. Is there anything that you're eyeing up, post-Supernatural
Misha Collins: There's an episode of Nip/Tuck that is coming up that I've shot. I think that there's another independent feature that hasn't been released yet, that I've shot as well, but yeah, Nip/Tuck is coming up and that's very (Laughs) a very different role. It's a decidingly un-PG role and very much not the behavior of an angel I will be exhibiting in Nip/Tuck. I have another role, I mean, it's a movie that's available at Blockbuster that I did not too long ago called Karla, where I'm portraying a real-life serial killer, which is also not like an angel.
Finally, you've worked in some huge network TV shows, and with Mad Men making history last week, it seems that the momentum is starting to shift to these smaller networks. Do you think that Supernatural is one of those shows that can push the momentum forward in the future?
Misha Collins: Well, (the CW) is definitely not one of the Big 3. Yeah, I think that the bigger networks are definitely seeing their market share dwindle because of networks like CW and Fox and F/X and all of the smaller cable networks, HBO and Showtime, they're all doing more innovative stuff. I think that this show is actually pushing the envelope a little bit for broadcast television, definitely. It's got a different feel, a darkness that you don't see in a lot of broadcast TV. Heroes, or something like that, seems a little more campy to me. This feels gritty and captivating and I think that they're doing great work on the show. I'm really happy with it.
Well, that's about all I have for you. Thanks so much for your time today, Misha, and I'm looking forward to see what you have coming up in this season.
Misha Collins: Thank you for your time.
You can see Misha Collins as the new angel Castiel on the next episode of Supernatural, which airs this Thursday, September 25 at 9 PM ET on the CW Network.