The Man Who Would Be God
"Becoming God makes you crazy. That’s the lesson, so be careful," warns Misha Collins. And, he should know as he's done a little God-time during his years on Supernatural.
When he was a little boy, Misha Collins thought he would grow up to be President of the United States.
And the ambitious lad actually made moves in that direction, eventually ending up as an intern at the White House during the Bill Clinton administration. (Collins is quick to point out that he wasn’t as enthusiastic an intern as the notorious Monica Lewinsky.)
But a little time in and around the West Wing left him disillusioned with the political process, so he decided to change career paths and try his hand at a profession he describes as “something more respectable”: acting.
And what do you know, Misha Collins didn’t end up President... but he did end up as God. Sort of.
On the TV series Supernatural, Collins plays Castiel, an earthbound angel who has been both ally and adversary to the show’s demon-hunting brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.
“Strangely enough, the show is really a family drama about these two orphaned brothers – the show hinges very much on their relationship with one another,” says Collins.
“But they also happen to be hunting demons and ghosts and ghouls and the like, and Castiel was introduced to the show as their first powerful supernatural ally, an angel who hadn’t been among humans for thousands of years and was a bit of a fish out of water – he didn’t and still doesn’t fully understand how humans work. So there’s a lot of room there for comedy because he just doesn’t get it.
“But it also gave the writers a lot to work with because Castiel kind of fell from grace for a time and got to experience some of the joys and pitfalls of what it’s like to be human, so that was a lot of good, interesting material to mine. It’s been quite a journey for this little angel.”
Given that the character’s journey has included absorbing all the souls in Purgatory and subsequently declaring himself God, that might be a bit of an understatement.
“Yes, Cas has had quite an arc,” laughs Collins. “He eventually became God. And right now he’s wearing a psych ward bracelet. That’s right – becoming God makes you crazy. That’s the lesson, so be careful.”
While he says that he used his younger brother as a model for bringing Castiel to life (“he has this ethereal kind of grace about him – he’s this very sweet and open guy”), Collins admits that the finer points of playing an angel is “something I’ve grappled with for years now”.
“If I knew how I play him, I would tell you,” he says. “All the experience and knowledge of acting I’d had was based on finding human characteristics and this was the first time I’d played someone not human, so I had to throw everything out and wing it.”
Along with a group of his co-stars, Collins is currently in Australia for All Hell Breaks Loose III, a Supernatural convention that allows fans of the series to meet its cast. He’s attended all three and continues to be overwhelmed by the devotion Supernatural’s fan base displays.
“Without hyperbole, the Supernatural fan base is probably one of the most devoted of any show in the world,” he says.
“We have these conventions we attend on every continent, and thousands of people show up. They’re also very active online, and they’re a very dedicated crowd. I’m not sure why they are so galvanised – I guess it’s a convergence of many different factors – but we’re lucky. I know I feel like I’ve won some kind of lottery to end up on a show with this kind of following. It’s a blessing.”
And while Collins is a spiritual sort of chap – he annually goes off on a monastic kind of retreat where he takes a vow of silence for prolonged periods (“they give you a chance to listen to the crazy thoughts in your head and maybe emerge a little less crazy than when you went in”) – he stresses he’s probably not the right guy with whom to discuss the loftier ideas explored on Supernatural.
“The show is tapping into questions about God and evil and free will,” he says. “It’s grappling with some pretty meaty material and I’m asked about all that, to which I reply I’m neither a pastor nor a minister nor a priest. They should probably consult someone else if they want those sorts of answers.”
He is, however, happy to discuss Supernatural hunky leading men. “I can tell you what Jensen is really like: he’s a monster, a truly terrible human being,” he smiles. “He beats small children and feasts on the hearts of puppies. But Jared’s an absolute sweetheart.”
Jim Beaver, Misha Collins, Traci Dinwiddie, Richard Speight Jr and Corin Nemec were in town for The Hub Productions' All Hell Breaks Loose III events. Missed out on the action? Head to thehubproduction for a full list of their upcoming pop culture events in 2012.
WHAT: All Hell Breaks Loose III
WHEN & WHERE:
Saturday 26 May - Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW, Sydney
Sunday 27 May - Park Hyatt Ballroom, Melbourne
Both days 9am - 6pm.
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