The Marvel Life: Misha Collins

The Marvel Life: Misha Collins

By Arune Singh

In the world of the CW’s "Supernatural," one being has protected mankind from the forces of Heaven and Hell, sacrificing his own life in the process. And it turns out, he was pretty inspired by Captain America…sort of.

On the hit television series, returning tonight with new episodes every Friday on the CW, actor Misha Collins portrays the angel Castiel, whose devotion to protecting his very human friends cost him his life. But on tonight’s all-new episode, Castiel returns to help the enigmatic Winchester brothers in their fight against the forces of Purgatory--but not as the Castiel you might remember.

'Supernatural' star Misha Collins in an X-Men t-shirt

A lifelong Marvel fan, Collins spoke with about his love for Marvel and just what it’s like to return on tonight’s episode of "Supernatural."

“It’s great to be back,” explains Collins. “You know, this is one of the best crews--no, you know what? I’m going to say it. This is the best crew and cast I’ve ever worked with. I love working with these guys. As a purely selfish way to spend a workday, I’m really thrilled to be back. And they’re taking the character in a wild direction, so I’m hitting the ground running in a great way.”

While many new characters have been introduced in SUPERNATURAL, few have received the warm welcome and continued support that Collins has enjoyed since day one. When asked why he feels Castiel connected with so many fans, the one-time White House intern admits, “I have no idea. There’s probably several different factors that went into why Cass stuck around--one is that this is the first supernatural ally, the first with real power, for Dean and Sam. I think that in general, in the popular psyche, angels hold a special place in peoples' hearts. And another factor, which is big, is that I’m awesome. So that had to work in my favor [laughs]. No, I really think it’s the combination of a number of factors that made the character work. Bringing a powerful ally into the series [in Season 4] shook things up and took the show in a new direction. It didn’t hurt coming in when the big Heaven & Hell storyline began, which was a great storyline for the show. And you know there have been other characters that have stuck around for a long time, too--Bobby played by Jim Beaver and Crowley played by Mark Sheppard. [They have] had a big impact on the show [and] I feel lucky to have been one of them.”

Misha Collins stars as Castiel in Supernatural,' on the CW

It’s no secret that Collins is big fan of Twitter, affectionately naming his followers “Mishamigos” on a particularly memorable episode of "Supernatural" in which the actor portrayed himself. In fact, when Collins visited the Marvel Booth at Comic Con International in San Diego last year, he spoke in depth with many of Marvel’s finest regarding social media, including the venerable Agent M himself. Part of the reason Collins connects with fans, he explains, is “My general awesomeness [laughs]. Suzanne Gomez, my publicist at the CW, she told me to get on Twitter a couple years ago and I do anything that Suzanne says. She’s sort of like my guru, my mentor. And so I got on and I had fun, and I felt like I was making fun of this self-important actor on twitter which seemed to work as a motif well, and as time went on I became a self-important actor and that’s just an example of life [imitating art] [laughs].”

Much like the Marvel Super Heroes he admires, Collins has used his increasing fame to give back to the world at large, proving to be a successful leader not unlike his favorite super hero--Captain America. “In working with 'Supernatural' fans I started a nonprofit group called Random Act, for  which we’ve raised a bunch of money and done a lot of different projects all over the world. The biggest project that we’ve been working on is building a community center and an orphanage in the community of Jacmel, Haiti. We’re organizing annual trips down to Haiti that I go on and a bunch of fans raise money and go on as well. And we actually get to get our hands in the mortar and do some work, be on the ground and also make a major financial contribution. We’re actually funding the construction of these buildings, which is really gratifying and awesome. It’s just really nice to have been able to take this community and do something both creative and productive as a team with them. It’s made the whole thing really awesome.”

Misha Collins stars as Castiel in Supernatural,' on the CW

As Collins preps for a return trip to Haiti in June, this time accompanied by Colin Ferguson, star of television’s “Eureka,” he admits to not being surprised that his fans responded so strongly to the cause. “I don’t think I would have embarked on it in the first place if I hadn’t seen that [this was a] really devoted, creative, engaged community of fans, but at the same time I was kind of blown away by the level of commitment that they all made and the amount of money they raised and the amount of things you ask them to do. You ask them and they’re up for it. We have a really incredibly professional and well-organized staff headed up by our new director, Cinde Monsam, who’s just a real powerhouse. We have a corporate organization that runs really, really well and I’m kind of astonished by it all. So, yes, definitely surprised; it definitely far exceeded my expectations but I knew there was something in the community that had that potential.

“It’s really kind of a funny thing because I think a lot of actors are a little bit wary of their fan base, or playing with their fans in a very kind of controlled mannered, and it’s interesting to blow the walls off that a little bit and see it as ‘hey, maybe this is one gigantic collaborative team [with] which you can do some really fun, interesting charitable work.’ So yeah, it’s been a really great, I would call it almost an experiment, but it’s been really great. I also ran a scavenger hunt this past fall with the fans. It was just absolutely hilarious, and amazingly creative [what] these guys did in the scavenger hunt and really put their lives on hold for about 10 days. The upshot of that was that I walked away with the Guinness world record that I have hanging on my wall now; which is a very, very exciting. So honestly, if nothing else can come from the fandom, just having the Guinness world record [for largest photo scavenger hunt] is pretty awesome [laughs].”

Captain America

The same passion and dedication is something Collins sees in Marvel fans, a community among which he himself has been a part since a young age. “For me, my favorite character, it’s almost a nostalgic favorite,” he reveals. “I think that there are other adult favorites that have emerged, but my favorite as a kid was Captain America. I think I may have been confused and thought I was him for a little while [laughs]. My first Halloween costume, at least that I remember, was Captain America. I mean it’s not all funny, it’s not an all positive story, but something fell apart in my costume and I remember I ended up crying and my mom had to control me. It was a homemade Captain America costume; you know, I think some corners were cut by my mother on that one [laughs].”

You can catch the return of Misha Collins, tonight on SUPERNATURAL, airing at 9 p.m. Eastern on the CW.

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