In celebration of the anniversary of Castiel’s debut on Supernatural (which isn’t really his birthday because we all know he’s WAY older than that), here’s a throwback to what Misha Collins had to say about that fateful moment and Castiel’s epic entrance in the season premiere of Season 4 in a little excerpt from the chapter he wrote in our second book, Fan Phenomena: Supernatural.
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 think Sera probably just chuckles when she remembers that now. Not only did Misha’s life change, but the character he brought to life changed the lives of many fans as well. Sera Gamble has good instincts.
You can read more of Misha’s thoughts on his character and how Supernatural has changed his life in the chapter he wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood. That book benefits Random Acts, the real life change that this show and this character have created in the world.
For Supernatural fans, this has been a day we won’t forget for a very long time. Today was Supernatural Day, the fourteenth anniversary of the airing of the very first episode way back on September 13, 2005. It’s also the last Supernatural Day we will ever have when the show itself is still on the air. As Supernatural begins filming its 15th and final season, that makes every milestone something that kicks off a flood of conflicting emotions for its devoted fans. Me included.
On the one hand, I’ve been smiling all day, enjoying the constant posts on social media – articles about the show’s longevity and legacy from all the media outlets, tweets and Instagram posts from the cast, past and present, about what the show has meant to them.
The network itself showered the fandom with gifts, from the official Season 15 poster…
… to the first promo pics for the new season, which knocked the breath out of me when one of them was a half shirtless Sam and a protective big brother Dean patching him up.
A more iconic Supernatural moment I can’t imagine.
Also we’re starting off half shirtless right off the bat? Chuck help me.
They also released the Season 15 promo trailer, which ended with – wait for it – Sam and Dean slamming the trunk of the Impala saying “We got work to do.” It’s a brilliant call back to the phrase that started it all fourteen years ago, and hearing the Winchesters say it now as we start down that road one last time – it literally made me gasp and choke, and then reach for the tissues. I’m so grateful though, because this is what I need. I need the show itself to realize how much this means, and give me the full circle wrap up that these characters deserve.
It felt good.
The cast has spent the past decade launching multiple charitable campaigns and helping with everything from natural disasters to mental health support, and for this last Supernatural Day they came through with another in a big way. Jared, Jensen, Misha and the show teamed up with Hot Topic to sell an “End Of The Road” tee shirt with 100% of profits from all sales today going to Random Acts to help the victims of Hurricane Dorian. So many fans went online to buy it that it sold out within HOURS. Talk about a show going out at the top of its game! I jumped in the car and drove out to my local Hot Topic when I couldn’t get one online and luckily they had a few left – it felt so good to join in and do some good and celebrate Supernatural Day in a tangible way. More smiles.
The SPNFamily felt bigger and stronger and more cohesive today than ever – #SupernaturalDay and #SPNFamilyForever were trending on Twitter for most of the day. We may be small, but goddamnit, we are mighty.
And I will miss that. I’ll miss my timeline being FULL of Supernatural posts and Supernatural content and my fellow Supernatural fans celebrating this little show we love so much, overflowing with it.
I’ll miss the cast all coming together to celebrate with us, posting messages of gratitude and love, and the network and media joining in with new photos, new posters, new videos. So many gifts, so much to squee over. That’s the “on the other hand.” Knowing that next September 13 won’t be the same; that this part of my world won’t be the same. It’s so hard to love and enjoy something so much and want it to stay exactly the same and know that it can’t.
So there were some tears today, often mixed in with the smiles. Jared and Jensen and Misha and company have already filmed four of the episodes of Season 15. They’ll film 16 more, and then they will be done. By the beginning of April, these characters I love will have had their stories told. (Sometimes I’m so damn grateful that fandom is so creative, because I’m counting on fanfic to continue those stories). But it will be different; it won’t be like today.
Mostly I’m grateful, as I sit here wearing my new tee shirt and staring happily at the new promo pics and reading everyone else’s posts about what Supernatural has meant to them. Some people expressed gratitude for Family Don’t End With Blood today, because it gave the actors a chance to write down what the show and the fandom have meant to them in a book that we can all keep forever. I’m so grateful to all of them for doing that, for baring their souls the way they did and telling the truth – for caring so much. I’m so grateful to them for making this show for all these years, for bringing these characters to life so vividly that I fell in love with them, and I let them change me.
That will never end. What this show has meant to me, and to so many others. That’s forever.
I tweeted my gratitude to Eric Kripke this morning, in response to his tweet for Supernatural Day expressing his own gratitude. Every time he likes one of my tweets, I squee. Nope, I’ll never get over it. He CREATED this world and these characters, how can I get over that?
Happy Supernatural Day, SPNFamily.
Tonight we’ll keep sharing our joy and celebrating everything that we love about this little show. Tomorrow we’ll watch Jensen Ackles play soccer for a good cause and eagerly await photos from the lucky fans who will be there. And on October 10, we’ll tune in one more time and go along for the wild ride as Supernatural premieres for the fifteenth and final time.
As a psychologist, I’ve had the privilege of helping many people come out on the other side after considering suicide. As a psychologist who researches fandom, I’ve experienced firsthand how the television shows and films and bands and books and celebrities we love can also inspire us to keep living, and how the supportive community of fandom can provide a safety net while we fight through those difficult times. What those two realms of experience have in common is someone else encouraging us to talk about it. Not to keep those thoughts and feelings and hopelessness to ourselves, but to share it so that someone can help us through. There is still a tremendous amount of stigma and shame around talking about suicide, and there’s nothing more important than changing that. I teach my students who are learning to be counselors every the importance of creating a safe space within which their clients can share ALL their feelings. I’m honored to work with Attitudes in Reverse to try to erase that stigma and start the important conversation. I was also honored to be able to work with some of the people I proudly fangirl (the cast of Supernatural, my favorite television show) to put together a book that shares their most private, difficult to talk about, even shameful feelings – to inspire those who read the book to also share theirs. None of us can find the help we need without first opening up and letting someone else know we need that help.
On World Suicide Prevention Day, I wanted to share some of the messages from that book, Family Don’t End With Blood, that people have told me have helped them to “always keep fighting”. Some are from the chapters written by the actors and some are from the chapters written by the fans, because there’s tremendous wisdom in both. It can help to know that even the celebrities who we idolize have fought through debilitating self doubt, depression, insecurity and anxiety. It can help to know that other fans, who are just like us, have struggled with the same – and how they managed to keep going anyway. Every time someone tells me, or tells Jared or Jensen or Misha or anyone else, that reading what they wrote in this book saved their life, it means so much. So here are a few of those messages, in the hopes that they’ll keep inspiring us all to keep fighting.
The chapter that Jared Padalecki wrote is the longest one in the book, by far. More than 30 pages long. He worked on it for almost two years, repeatedly wanting to add to it and edit it even though I kept saying that it was already amazing. He knew, I think, that if he didn’t have the courage to share the depths of his own experience with depression and anxiety honestly, that his chapter wouldn’t help anyone. And so, courageously, he did. I still can’t read it without crying. Over the years, countless fans have told me the same – and that Jared’s words are the ones that inspire them to ‘always keep fighting’.
Jared writes about how the fandom and the show have changed him, about his struggle with anxiety and not feeling good enough, about the times he’s broken down. In one powerful part of his chapter, Jared writes about the time he pushed himself to go to Europe for a convention at a time when he knew he wasn’t okay, but didn’t want to let anyone down. When he found himself with one day free and looking forward to going to the watch museums in Geneva – only to realize the one day he was there was a national holiday and they were all closed – the pressures that had been building for a decade overwhelmed him. Here are a few small excerpts from his chapter:
I love when Vancon is in August, because that means I can head up there a few days early to just have FUN. My first flight was cancelled and it took five hours to get it straightened out and get off the ground, so Wednesday was pretty much a no go, but I did get there in time to have a nice dinner with my friend Betty (who was kind enough to pick me up at the airport). After we’d indulged in lots of good pizza, we drove by the filming location for that evening, a nearby school. Due to our prioritizing of food (okay, it was my prioritizing, tbh) we arrived just as they were wrapping filming for the night – but in time to wave cheerily at the vans and trucks as they pulled out. Oh well.
Betty dropped me off at the Air BnB I was sharing with my friends Alana and Illy, who had spent the day braving the Vancouver rain and searching for past filming locations (all captured on Alana’s @_KingBooks_ Wednesday blog if you’re curious). We had the tiniest little Air BnB ever with a portable air conditioner that required us to leave a window open so its flexible tubing could protrude when we ran it but the shower was lovely and there was a fridge and two beds so we were happy fangirls.
Thursday we got up (relatively) early, walked to the little shopping area a few blocks away to a) get Lynn a latte before she gets too cranky and b) drop off clothes at the laundromat. The laundromat made me picture human!Cas stripping down to do laundry and that made me smile. The latte helped too.
The three of us then piled into the car (Kansas plates, and yes that made us giggle) and hit the road, armed with Alana’s list of past filming locations thanks to a generous fan on LiveJournal who has painstakingly logged them all for going on fifteen years. Fandom, y’all.
We got incredibly lucky at our first attempt, finding the iconic fence by the river where Dean famously told Sam that their father had said that if he couldn’t save Sam, he might have to kill him. If you’ve read ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’, there’s a chapter in which Kathy and I and some friends also try to find this fence, but have a lot more trouble (without the benefit of any directions). We finally found it at midnight that time, only to be stopped and questioned by flashlight wielding police officers who were sure that a bunch of women scrambling down an overgrown bank in a wooded area at midnight could only be up to no good.
The place has changed a bit – the overgrown banks are now just grass, with a lovely park bench, and there’s now a paved pathway along the fence. The fence itself, which was just a couple of ramshackle boards on posts, is now four new-looking boards. It’s an incredibly beautiful, peaceful spot – which made such a striking contrast when Dean has to say something so horrible to Sam.
The posts were still there so we could use those as a reference as we did what we’d come to do – reenact that iconic moment, of course! Illy set up the camera and she and Alana took their positions while I got to play director.
“You need to be on the other side of the post, Alana. No, I don’t care if there are a bunch of stink bugs there, move over!”
“Lean in more, Illy. Now look at the bridge, be somber. You’re tormented by this. Alana, you look at Illy.”
I kinda liked playing director, can you tell? I think the results speak for themselves.
Alana left her video camera running the entire time we were there, so god knows what other footage she has of us being total idiots – and having the time of our lives. It’s what fandom is all about, after all.
A man and his wife were sitting on a nearby bench and came over to compliment our ‘work’, which was such a Vancouver thing to do. They are the nicest folks!
Our next search missions weren’t quite as successful. We found the field where the gigantic boat from the Wayward Sisters episode is run aground, but it’s on the most forbidding sort of private property you can imagine. I wanted to just get the hell out of there but Alana and Illy are more intrepid, so we got of the car and walked a ways down the gravel road (which WAS a road, so it was technically okay – the private property signs were on the cornfields all around us). But as we passed by a few sketchy looking guys and foreboding looking farmhouses – think The Benders – (were they glaring at us or was that my imagination?) and more signs, I got more and more anxious. Finally we reached a sign that in big letters said “PRIVATE PROPERYY. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.” And then said something about trespassers being violated!
That was it, I was outta there. We later found a vantage point where we could at least see the ship and take a few photos from far away, and that was as close as I was getting!
Next we found the river bank where the Wayward girls skipped stones but – you guessed it – another private property sign. Oh well.
After that we had more success, finding the school where the 200th episode was filmed. The Russ Hamilton set tour earlier that day had been able to go inside to the auditorium and even sing “Carry On” on that same stage, and of course we couldn’t do that, but just seeing where the Impala had been parked and the entrance where the Supernatural sign had been was a thrill. We are nothing if not easily amused.
Our final stop of the day was a complete success, and SO much fun – the field where the climactic fight scene of LARP and the Real Girl took place (which, by the way is adjacent to a little swim club). We found the exact place, which is much smaller than it looked in the episode, and decided to reenact that wonderful moment when Dean, painted and bedecked, gives his Braveheart speech – and gets interrupted by a non-LARPer playing Frisbee. You see, the field is a real life Frisbee course. And what happened just as we were setting up the camera to film? A real life guy tossed a Frisbee right onto the field! I was freaking out about how perfect that was, and immediately directed Illy or Alana to go convince the two young guys that they needed to be in our film. (This whole director thing is hard to let go of, tbh…)
They did – and the two nicest guys ever were happy to help. They threw the Frisbee, Illy channeled her inner Dean, Alana her inner Sam, and me my inner Felicia Day – the results are frankly hilarious. If Alana hasn’t posted that video yet, be sure to check it out. Just so you can laugh your ass off at us. We don’t mind.
(Sincere apologies, Felicia Day, if you ever see the video…)
After that we headed to the con hotel for pre-reg, but every so often I’d remember what we just filmed and just burst into laughter.
I met up with my friend Alicia for a late dinner and lots of catching up and reminiscing, and then it was time to get some rest for Friday.
Friday I got to sleep in and have a nice breakfast, then the con kicked off with Rob Benedict holding down the fort (Richard Speight Jr. was busy with directing Supernatural). Poor Rob ended up introducing himself when there was no one else to do it, but all the props because he played all his multiple roles seamlessly.
Rob: (sheepish) Don’t hate me too much, I know I took a turn last season…
I just finished doing my fourth round of GISH, which over the years has inspired me and a friend to wear a hat made of kale (and an evening gown) to a country club, to cajole my niece into wearing a dress made entirely of construction paper and pose by my neighbor’s little red sports car, to brighten the day of WWII veterans at the local VA, and this year to help a four year old conquer his fear of strange noises in the dark. The beauty of GISH is that it gives you permission – and actively encourages you – to step outside your comfort zone. It makes weird a good thing, and underneath all the zaniness, it reminds us to be good to each other.
Those are two of the important things that Misha Collins has accomplished in the past decade, but there have been many more. There’s an inspiring and emotional chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood about how Misha changed fan Claudine Hummel’s life, and it’s titled “Spreading Kindness Like Confetti.” That’s a pretty apt description for what Misha has tried to do over the past ten years, and how much he’s succeeded. He realized soon after joining Supernatural that he could harness his popularity and the charitable nature that has long characterized fandom into making change in the world, and he’s done exactly that.
I remember one of our first chats, which turned into a long discussion of celebrity and how weird and artificial it can be, and how uncomfortable he was with it at the time, but he was also one of the first to recognize that it could also be a force for good. That’s how Random Acts came to be, and the good it has done in the world at this point is off the charts!
Misha wrote about celebrity, fandom and the creation of Random Acts in his chapter in one of our first books, Fan Phenomena Supernatural. His chapter is extremely candid, irreverent, hilarious – and fascinating. Just like Misha. It’s one of my favorites out of all the books I’ve put together. And he had this to say about his role on Supernatural and starting Random Acts:
At some point, fairly early into this strange experiment, I realized that my position on the show would allow me to provide a framework within which people can engage one another in the community. That I could be a catalyst because I happened to have been cast on a show that people were really, really enthused about. And so I guess I partly saw it as my responsibility to be a coalescing factor. Or perhaps a better way to put that is I saw it as an opportunity to serve and to help others be of service. So now I can say “Let’s all go do a scavenger hunt” or “Let’s go help Haiti” and people will come along and participate and engage. It became apparent fairly quickly that there was tremendous creative potential in Supernatural fandom. In spite of what everyone seems to think, I don’t spend a lot of time trolling online, but people email me things or I occasionally click through on something in the Twitter feed, and I see a tremendous amount of creative energy. I started Random Acts with the ambition of harnessing those resources to playful, productive and compassionate ends.
And did he ever! What a difference Misha and the SPNFamily have made, all over the world!
My conversations with Misha have often been around the ideas on celebrity, fandom and Supernatural that are in all my books, and I’ve loved hearing his thoughts – they’re often outside the box, which is a rarity. He also wrote a chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood about the SPNFamily – and following Misha’s example of trying to do some good in the world, every copy of the book benefits Random Acts and the important work they do.
Misha’s new book, The Adventurous Eaters Club, is also a way of changing the world and helping others. The book benefits the fight against childhood hunger (while also providing you with some out-of-the-box recipes). It’s impossible to list all the charitable endeavors that Misha has spearheaded over the last decade, and that the SPNFamily has generously contributed to, but suffice it to say, it’s a lot!
Random Acts isn’t the only way Misha has changed the world, though. He’s done it by throwing his weight behind the political and social causes that he believes in, opening eyes and raising awareness in the process. I keep telling him he needs to run for office, but I think he’s found his own way of making a difference. He’s done it with tweets and posting videos and giving us glimpses of his decidedly unconventional life and family, a challenge to the way we’re taught things “should be” that I think is healthy. I found myself all emotional yesterday over a video he posted of him and his family and friends in kayaks rescuing a pelican ensnared in fishing line, because of course he did. Misha grew up with an unconventional life and he’s continued to live one, and I think sometimes we all need a little shaking up of the status quo to realize there are other ways of being, and some of them might just make this world and our human-to-human interaction a bit better. (Not to mention human-to-pelican).
Misha is an extraordinary human being who has managed to do extraordinary things. He’s been a tremendous influence on his costars and on his fans (me included), I think for the better. And if he does decide to run for something, I’m right there lining up to cheer him on. Supernatural is ending, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Misha Collins changing the world.