Happy Ten Years on Supernatural, Misha Collins!

 

It was ten years ago that the character of Castiel was introduced on Supernatural, in one of the most dramatic and powerful entrances of any fictional character ever. We were writing Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls at the time, and sat down with brand new guest actor Misha Collins shortly after Lazarus Rising aired, so I thought I’d share a few excerpts form that chat in honor of the 10th anniversary.

Misha had just finished filming and changed into faded vintage jeans and a tee shirt, catching us off guard because he didn’t look much like the trench-coated angel we’d seen onscreen! He was so new to the show and the whole idea of fandom that he didn’t really know what fan reaction to his character was, so asked us.

Lynn and Kathy: Fans don’t always take well to new characters on the show, but they did to your character.

Misha: Oh I see. You hated the character.

Lynn: Did I say that??

Clearly Misha’s personality shone through even in the first ten minutes of chatting with him. Luckily.

Misha: (laughing) I think part of it is that it was such an interesting scene. The character is a super cool character and it was a super cool introduction to the character.

Lynn: Talk about dramatic!

Misha: Just the way it was built up, I think that made people receptive to Castiel.

Lynn: I always wonder if you can feel in the moment when some of your scenes are going to be very good and some of your interactions very powerful.

Misha: No, never. I’m not very good at telling. I think the things that are horrible actually turn out to be the best.

Lynn: Luckily you’re not editing the show.

Misha: You’re right.

Kathy: The first online community dedicated to Castiel was set up 42 minutes after the episode aired.

Misha: Why do you think it took so long? Maybe the servers were down or something…

I’m not sure we ever laughed so much in an interview as we did that first chat with Misha. We talked about his previous roles on Nip/Tuck and 24 and Charmed, about his childhood and how that led him to acting, about his own lack of experience with being a fan. And he asked us as many questions as we asked him – about conventions (he was about to do his first one), about fandom, about shipping, you name it! This was an entirely new experience for Misha, and he was in the very beginning stages of processing it and figuring out what it all meant.

Misha: I had no idea what I was walking into when I went in to audition for this show.

Lynn: What did make you audition?

Misha: The desire for a job. I think I didn’t even realize until after the audition that it was for a regular, I thought it was a guest star.   My manager told me I wasn’t paying attention.  It was a demon that I was auditioning  for – Kripke didn’t want that to get out to fandom.

Lynn: I love Eric, he’s always messing with the names.

Misha: He gave me a little direction, after I did the demon version once, he gave me a little direction to change it to be an angel, and he told me they hadn’t been down on earth for two thousand years  so there would be a quality of just looking at humans as though they were strange alien beings.

Lynn: You do that so well. I’m a psychologist, I tend to read people’s non verbals. And there’s this subtle sort of little twist you do, like regarding someone a little too long and sort of speaking a little more slowly, because you’re not sure of your footing. It’s subtle, but it’s very there.

Misha: Cool. It’s fun to play with that.

The origin story of the famous Cas head tilt!  And the rest is history.

A lot of our first chat with Misha is the last chapter in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls – he was pleased when we told him he has “the last word” in the book. A few years later, when we were putting together our next book, this one of contributed essays on Supernatural in Fan Phenomena Supernatural, we asked Misha if he wanted to write a chapter. He did – and it’s still one of my favorite essays ever. It’s surprisingly sincere and personal, but it’s also funny as hell. Maybe none of that is surprising, actually.

From Fan Phenomena Supernatural, here’s what Misha had to say about being cast on Supernatural, including his experience watching his very first episode, Lazarus Rising, air ten years ago:

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 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 on-screen, 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’m sure Sera understood – but she was totally right!

Misha also wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood, from his perspective almost a decade later. A portion of the proceeds from every sale benefits Random Acts, the charity he founded shortly after this amazing journey began – and one of the ways in which Misha has been changing the world ever since he realized he had a platform that allowed him to do so, thanks to playing Castiel on this little but long-lasting television show.

Happy 10 years on Supernatural, Misha!

–Lynn

You can check out Misha’s chapters and all

our books on Supernatural at the links on

the home page!

 

 

 

 

Family Don’t End With Blood and National Suicide Prevention Week

 

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. One of the biggest impediments to people getting help is reluctance to admit to struggling with depression and feeling like you can’t go on. The stigma around talking about depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts prevents people from reaching out and getting the help they need – it is crucial that we challenge this stigma and let everyone know that it’s okay to talk about how you feel, without judgment or criticism or censure.

As a psychologist, I’ve worked to eliminate that stigma and help people individually to find a reason and a way to keep living. One of the reasons we put together the book Family Don’t End With Blood was to challenge the taboos around talking about depression and suicide on a broader level – in a way that would be powerful to readers. Sometimes we think of “celebrities” as immune from those difficulties, so Family Don’t End With Blood is written by the actors from the television show Supernatural.  The actors who wrote chapters were all courageous in refusing to allow stigma to silence them. They wrote, with candor and emotion, about their struggles with depression, anxiety and self doubt. They allowed readers into their worlds, into their darkest hours, so that anyone reading the book would know that they are truly not alone. That it’s okay to speak up and tell people how much you’re hurting, and it’s okay to ask for help and to accept it when it’s given.

Sometimes we also think, mistakenly, that people who are “like us” are nevertheless much happier or more successful or more loved or whatever; we don’t think that they’re struggling in the same way that we are. So Family Don’t End With Blood also has chapters written by fans, who are just like you and me. They too write with courage about fighting against depression, anxiety, addiction, the feeling of not being “enough” – and of how they managed to keep going even when it was very hard.

Jared Padalecki’s chapter stands out for his willingness to speak openly about the time he almost gave up – and how he was able to let his friends and family and fans give him the support that allowed him to Always Keep Fighting. We hope, and all of us who wrote the book hope, that his words and his courage inspire others who are having trouble not giving up to keep fighting too. That everyone who reads his chapter feels validated in their own struggle and encouraged to continue on.

There are organizations out there that are doing amazing work trying to change the world. That’s why every copy of Family Don’t End With Blood benefits Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse, an organization that aims to educate about depression, to erase the stigma around mental health, and to prevent suicide.

For his birthday this year, in appreciation of Jared’s chapter and his AKF campaign, we also decided to do a fundraiser in Jared’s honor. He asked that the proceeds go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Most of the actors who wrote Family Don’t End With Blood signed a copy, and a very generous fan contributed almost $2000 to purchase it. We also sold a few tee shirts designed by Angie Siketa, and we were honored to donate all the proceeds to the Hotline, to support the important work they do providing a lifeline to those who need it.

It’s important to remember that we all need to hear encouraging and supportive messages from time to time. We all need someone who cares about us to have our back and to lift us up when we’re in danger of falling and carry us until we find our footing again.

So we wanted to give something to Jared too. Thank you to everyone who wrote him a heartfelt message about what his #AKF campaigns and his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood have meant to you. We gave those messages to him in book form at the last con (with beautiful cover design by Cris Griffin, who also did the gorgeous cover art for Family Don’t End With Blood). I hope your words encourage him just as his words have encouraged so many of us.

You can donate to any of the organizations below that are working to provide help to anyone dealing with depression and to prevent suicide, or give a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood to someone who needs to know that they aren’t alone, and that even lead actors on a successful television show struggle with depression and anxiety and need support sometimes.

Ask about it. Talk about it. Make it okay to talk about ALL emotions openly and honestly, and to ask for help when you need it.

And #AKF.

Jared and Jensen show each other how it felt to read the other’s chapter

There’s help if you or someone else needs it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for it.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Attitudes in Reverse: AttitudesInReverse.org

To Write Love On Her Arms: twloha.com

IMAlive: IMalive.org

Random Acts Crisis Network: randomacts.org/crisis-support-network/

— Lynn and Kim

Family Don’t End With Blood is

available at the links on the home page

 

Supernatural Convention Comes to Denver!

 

 

I had no intention of going to the Supernatural convention in Denver, but somehow I ended up there anyway. I’d missed the previous Denver convention so had never had a chance to bring Family Don’t End With Blood to Colorado, and that alone was enough to convince me to go. Add to that the fact that I love Colorado, where my aunt and uncle lived for much of my childhood, so I have wonderful memories from all over the state. And I wanted to meet new SPNFamily member and friend Kaci Marie Lister, who I ‘met’ virtually when I was in Austin for Supernatural Day. So off I went to beautiful Colorado!

The west coast fires had created so much ash in the atmosphere that it mostly obscured my view of the mountains, which was a shame. But the weather was beautiful and I was amongst my SPNFamily, so that more than made up for the lack of mountain views. I met up with Kaci and her friend for dinner and to do a little vlogging, since she was doing a vlog of their exploits at the con, and I caught up with my on-the-road buddies Liz and Kristen for pizza, who I miss tons when we don’t get to hang out for a period of time. It was wonderful to be able to spread the word about Family Don’t End With Blood to so many people who hadn’t heard about it too. This was a repeated conversation.

Me to someone perusing the table with a quizzical expression: Have you heard about the book? This is the one that the Supernatural actors wrote chapters for…

Person: The Supernatural actors wrote a book??????!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who came back to the table the next day to tell me that I ruined their sleep because they couldn’t stop reading it. Blame all those actors and fans who wrote the compelling chapters!

Friday kicked off with Rich and Rob and Louden Swain, and a bunch of non G rated banter, including a song about Misha, Rob’s b-hole and you, and something about microphone condoms, which prompted me to tweet with #OffTheRailsAlready. And it was only Friday!

I really loved the ballroom for Denver, which was smaller than the giant rooms I’m used to – it brought back memories of the early cons and felt cozy and a little more intimate (as intimate as you can get in a ballroom full of people…)  Richard looked around at the giant stage banners that are always in the room – this room was smaller, so the banners were closer.

Richard: Why are the stage banners staring at us? Jared is undressing us all with his eyes, and Jensen is like, why are you all undressing??

Richard puts his foot on the thing

Denver was also notable for being the first (of many?) cons during which a fan asked pretty much every guest to take part in a giant game of Mad Libs that spanned the whole con. I got a kick out of watching people’s faces when they got the dreaded “adverb”. lol

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Supernatural Birthday Project – And Fandom Positivity!

 

One of the things that makes the SPNFamily so awesome is the love affair that the fans have going with the show and the characters. Sometimes social media can make it seem like there’s more discord and infighting than agreement or celebration in fandom, but in reality, most of us spend a lot of time appreciating our favorite characters and being grateful that they exist in the universe (even if it’s only in the fictional universe of Supernatural). There’s a fandom project going on right now that celebrates our favorite Supernatural characters, as a matter of fact. It’s called the Supernatural Birthday Project, and it runs until September 10 and is inviting all Supernatural fans to participate. The online blog goes live on September 13, and the organizers will compile a book to give to the cast at the Vancouver convention.

I chatted with the organizers to find out what the SPNBday project is all about.

Lynn: This project, unlike many others, focuses on fans’ love for the characters instead of the actors. What was your rationale for this?

Jennie twitter.com/deanisntfineI think we were trying to get back to the core of what unites us: The love of the show itself. Everyone fell in love with the show because something in one or more of the characters spoke to them. This project gives fans a chance to look at that closely, and then, kind of cathartically, thank the characters themselves for what they’ve gotten from the show.

Axy twitter.com/aaaahhhxyWe often see people creating amazing projects for the actors, either individually or as groups, but as the creator of this project, and someone who did write to Jared in the past, I questioned what it would be if I had the opportunity to speak to Sam. I was lucky enough to experience talking with Jared about Sam, but I felt the unexplainable frustration of knowing that I would never have this kind of conversation with Sam, and that the millions of questions I have would mostly stay unanswered, save for the more pressing ones I will be able to discuss with Jared himself. But that we can’t talk with our characters doesn’t mean that we can’t tell them things. So at first, I thought about a simple letter to Sam but then, how cool would it be to get people all over the world to do that and compile it into something that would have a different meaning for the actors because it would focus solely on their work? Those were the roots of our project. To do something original and a little different.

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Catching Up With Supernatural alum Sera Gamble and company – The Magicians at Comic Con 2018!

 

The Magicians returned to San Diego Comic Con to celebrate the upcoming Season 4, and I couldn’t wait to chat with the cast and producers again. It’s one of my favorite shows – I love the creativity of it, the imagination, the willingness to go wherever the story takes them even when that is sometimes the last place you expect it to go! Not to mention the amazing actors and writers who bring the sometimes surprising story to life, based on Lev Grossman’s fascinating books.

The press room for the show was first, so I headed to the Hilton Bayfront and grabbed a table.  First to our table were showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara. I was ecstatic to see Sera again – she’s the former showrunner and writer for Supernatural, and was literally the first person from Supernatural who took the time to talk with me when I started researching fandom and writing books about the show, and she contributed some valuable insights to my first few books. I will be forever grateful for her generosity in answering my questions, facilitating my research, and always encouraging my writing over the many years since.

Sera and John summed up where we ended the last season, which was with everyone in quite a dilemma.

John: No one knows who they are.

Sera: Alice does, but she’s locked in a prison in the library. So it’s a very interesting first episode because our characters have no fucking clue who they are.

Not to mention Eliot is now the monster…

Me (with my psychologist hat firmly on): Are you treating this like the characters have amnesia and it’s almost like a trauma for them?

John: It’s more like you are that person, an entirely different human being.

Sera: They even look different.

John: When they look in the mirror, they see someone different.

Sera: We’ll explain why in the first episode, but we’ve actually got two sets of actors. It required a lot of explaining when we were producing the first episode, but it makes sense when you watch it.

Me: Oooh that’s intriguing…

John and Sera: (cagey grins)

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