In the midst of the Supernatural cast returning to film the last two episodes of the series, it’s also a special day for Misha Collins – it’s his birthday! What better way to celebrate than to trip down memory lane a little, look forward to what may be next for Misha, and share some pretty pretty pictures?
I can’t help but feel nostalgic now that the show I love more than any other is ending. I reminisced about some of my favorite moments with Jared and Jensen when it was their last birthday while still their characters, and today that’s the case for Misha. This will be the last birthday that he’s still Castiel, and the last birthday that Supernatural is still on the air, and that’s a big thing. His character has been an inspiration to so many, and in real life Misha himself has been just as much an inspiration. So many of the fans who wrote chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood or There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done bear witness to Misha and Castiel’s impact on their lives, from inspiring them to change the world to validating their personal journey to being an incredible support through the gender transition process. Whether he has met someone in person or not, Misha has had an impact on people all over the world.
In keeping with my immersion in nostalgia now that Supernatural is ending for real, I’ve been thinking about the first time I met Misha. Kathy and I were writing Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls and we were set to do an interview with “the new guy”, Misha Collins. We had been to the set to do some interviews with others for the book, and then headed back to our hotel to be introduced to Misha. On the way back to our hotel, another set transport van was in front of ours. It stopped, and out jumped Misha. I remember just sort of pausing and going OH.
We had never met him in person – he had only been on the show a short time and we had only seen him as Castiel on our tv screens, in his trademark trench coat. So when Misha hopped out of the van, wearing a tee shirt and faded bluejeans that looked like they were straight out of the 70s – flared and nicely fitted – I was entirely unprepared for just how attractive he is.
Oblivious to my being flustered, we had a quick introduction and then went to the hotel bar to chat (which was a terrible idea because hotel bars are very noisy and that means your audio recorder will be a nightmare to transcribe later).
Kathy and I had questions, but Misha managed to turn the interview around within about ten minutes and start asking us questions instead. We were both utterly charmed by how genuine he was and how eager to understand the very thing that Kathy and I were studying – fandom. Before we could ask about shipping, he asked us! It took me a good ten minutes more to say hey, we’re supposed to be asking the questions! That conversation was so enjoyable that we went way over the allotted time; Misha eventually got a phone call saying where the hell are you, you had another interview that you’re missing! Oops.
That’s still probably my favorite memory with Misha, all these years later. What an introduction!
I’m also grateful to Misha for being the first member of the Supernatural cast to say yes to writing a chapter for one of our books – by being so generous with his time and effort, he changed the trajectory of my professional life and the books I’d write. The first two books Kathy and I published, we did the writing, including anecdotes and interviews from the actors but not actual chapters. When we decided to do Fan Phenomena Supernatural, the publisher wanted an edited collection – but instead of chapters by fans and scholars, we wanted the voices of some of the actors to be included. We knew how smart and thoughtful Misha was, so of course he was the first person we asked – and we were thrilled when he said yes! When he sent the draft to me, it came with the tongue in cheek caveat that I wasn’t allowed to change anything – which explains why that chapter starts off with:
When Lynn and Kathy first asked me to contribute a chapter to this book, I said, “No way! Leave me alone!” and threatened to take out a restraining order against them. But when I learned that they were willing to pay me more money than most people make in a lifetime to jot down a couple of pages, I said, “yes!” and then qualified that with, “but it isn’t about the money, I’m writing from the heart for the love of the fans.”
There’s also mention of flashing and Mardi Gras beads, but I assure you that part didn’t happen.
Of course, Misha then went on to write a thoughtful, inspiring, witty chapter, including this section which at this point, as the show comes to an end, makes me not a little teary eyed:
Fandom and its many fascinating aspects have, for the most part, blindsided me. Not only did I not see it coming, but previously, I was only peripherally aware of its existence. For me, discovering this fandom was pretty much like getting kidnapped by a dragon. I didn’t expect being inducted into this world to be anywhere near as strange, wonderful or overwhelming as it has been. I didn’t expect any of it. I remember watching the season premiere of Supernatural Season 4–the episode in which my character, Castiel, was introduced–with the producers and writers at a little screening party at producer McG’s offices in West Hollywood. Sera Gamble, a writer and producer on the show, was standing next to me as we watched. When my character came onscreen, she leaned over and whispered to me, “Your life is about to change.” I thought, “that is a truly arrogant thing for a producer of a CW television show to say. I’ve been on plenty of television shows. My life is going to stay exactly the same, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Well, Sera, I think I owe you an apology for that thought.
I’ll say. He wrote that many years ago – look at how different his life is now thanks to this little show and this amazing fandom! (And how different so many of us are thanks to him).
Misha also has a chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, in which he writes about this SPNFamily and how much it can make a difference – and his special message to fandom wraps up the new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. Both those books benefit Random Acts, and it has been an honor to support Misha’s life-changing work directly with every copy. He has certainly been a big part of the reason why so much good has come from the fans of a show on the CW that not many people had even heard about until recently.
It’s been a privilege over the years to watch Misha navigate the waters of “fame” and figure out how to harness that for making change. It’s been pure fun to do GISH for the past six years, which means Misha is responsible for pulling me out of my comfort zone repeatedly. I’m grateful. We’ve talked about lots of things over these years, from how cast can best help fans to how fandom can help each other. We’ve had some funny conversations and some serious ones. I’ll share just one more.
Misha has a way of making you feel good about yourself, and a way of seeing the good in others. Another of my favorite moments with Misha that really shows the kind of person he is happened on the Supernatural set. The last time I was on the set, when they broke for lunch I went to the food tent to grab some food as instructed, and then sat down at the end of a table alone, not wanting to intrude on anyone’s conversation or get in anyone’s way but feeling kind of awkward as a result. Not even a minute later, Misha appeared with his plate of food, asking “is this seat taken?” Instead of a solitary lunch, Misha made it an incredibly fun one, with Richard and Jared joining us. It’s those little gracious things, that he doesn’t have to do at all, that he’s so good at. Random acts of kindness indeed.
We know now what Jared and Jensen’s next projects will be, but I wonder what’s next for Misha? In my last year’s birthday post to Misha, I said that I really thought he should go into politics. I feel that way even more now. In the past six months, I’ve attended so many of Misha’s livestreams with influential people determined to make change and do good, which have been educational and inspiring. He cares so much, and is willing to put in a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to make the world a better place.
On this, the last birthday post on which Misha will still be Castiel and Supernatural will still be on the air, I feel more hopeful about this real world just because he’s in it.
Thanks for that, Misha.
Happy birthday, Misha Collins. Keep on making a difference!
You can find all our books on Supernatural,
with all of Misha Collins’ contributions, at the
amazon links on the home page header article