Happy Birthday Misha Collins!
To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m updating a classic that has been on my “to do” list for a while. Back in 2012, after attending many cons with Misha in attendance, not to mention meeting him several times, I compiled the best of his “sound bites” into what I called, “The Conventional Wisdom of Misha Collins.” After all, no one tells more outrageous stories and is so quick with cheeky comebacks against bizarre fan questions. He’s a natural. So, after catching up on several panels from 2015-2020 via YouTube (each being a hoot to watch!), I bring you my long overdue update.
I of course have to issue two warnings when you read the words and offbeat story telling techniques of our overlord. For one, Misha freely uses profanity. Two, most every line is delivered with tongue in cheek. He’s dry in his delivery and says what he does out of pure fun. In plainer English, he’s joking. A great story teller loves to embellish, and Misha is a master of his craft.
With the disclaimers out of the way, I now present “The Conventional Wisdom of Misha Collins – The Later Years.”
Working with his Co-stars
His first impression of J2:
Jensen was really nice and accessible at first and I felt that Jared was a little bit…scary. I do remember when I shot with him he was quite young at the time and had a lot of energy and had a tendency to come onto the set and rip parts of the set apart, throw them across the room. Like you would imagine a young puppy with a chew toy. I think at the time he weighed like 400 pounds, he looked like the Incredible Hulk after he turns green. I was like, ‘I’m not sure about that guy.’ Then over time I realized Jared was the nice one and Jensen was the horrible human being.
His first, second, and third impression of Jensen and Jared:
When I first got there I felt like Jared was a little standoffish and Jensen was really friendly, then I thought that Jared was really friendly and Jensen was standoffish, and then I realized they were both dicks.
What is his favorite scene with Jared and Jensen?
What do you mean by favorite? Do you mean least awful?
Who does he prefer working with more, Jared or Jensen?:
On working with Danneel and Jen:
They were all over me. It was a little creepy, like super handsy. It just made me uncomfortable.
His best memory with Jared and Jensen on the show:
I don’t have that memory. We haven’t had any pleasant experiences. But there are memories that stand out.
Behind the Scenes
Taking advice from Mark Pellegrino when playing Lucifer:
He told me a couple of pointers about his internal monologue for Lucifer. He said ‘In every scene he’s thinking either I want to kill you or I want have sex with you.’ Those are the two things he’s thinking about. Subsequently, I have these scenes with Mark where he’s playing Lucifer and his gaze seems like a bit of a violation.
On whether all the touching on the set can be considered sexual harassment:
There’s a lot of good touches going on. I do know that often I’m like, “Are what we doing legal? Does somebody know what’s happening on the set right now?” So, there’s a line, and we’re on the other side of it a lot of the time. It’s all in good fun. So you’re saying like if am I shooting scene and a broomstick is tickling my balls. (Contemplates more..) But if I’m enjoying it, that’s tricky. Yeah, thanks for that question. I really thought you were going somewhere serious too like is that an item you’ve got to address, you’ve dealt with depression but not sexual harassment but no, shame on you.
His worst prank from Jared and Jensen:
When directing his episode, “Mother’s Little Helper.” I was right outside the Men of Letters stage, that’s where the monitors were, and I was watching, and Jared and Jensen were doing a little scene, they were talking across the table, and Jared kept messing up his lines. I was like ‘Jared never messes up his lines. Okay, go again, keep rolling, keep rolling, go again, go again.’ Jared messed up again, ‘Okay, go again,” and he messed up again and he was like ‘Sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’ I was like ‘Alright, cut!’ And I opened the door to the Men of Letters to go in and talk to Jared and see what was wrong and that’s when he pied me in the face. He was so excited about it that he really put his hips into it and so it was like “BOOM!” and it took the wind out of me. But it was also awful and humiliating. It was a whipped cream pie and it exploded into my facial cavities. I’m still a little congested from it, seven years later.
Everybody laughed and they were filming it, but then the crew felt bad and Jensen felt bad and he brought me a shirt from his trailer so I could at least change and a towel, I wiped off, I was like, ‘thank you,’ and then we went outside, and we were going to lunch, and Jensen said ‘Hey Misha’ and I turned around and BOOM!, he pied me in the face too. That was sweet.
A shocking confession about “Supernatural’s” origin:
We’re not actors. Oh, we have not revealed that before, but no, we are not professional actors on “Supernatural.” It was actually originally supposed to be a reality series, and they shot the first episode and people thought we were so awkward on camera, improvising lines, that they gave us scripts and that’s how it evolved to be what it is today. It is sort of a reality show gone wrong. But thanks for asking.
On what type of scenes he prefers:
My favorite scenes are the ones where Jared and Jensen aren’t in them.
On recommending a nutritious meal that will help Sam and Dean come out on top in the end (based on his new cookbook):
They’re both bottoms. I think I’ll just leave it at that.
On being cast as an angel:
They sent out the sides and I was auditioning for a demon on the show. I came up this a very sinister demon and they said, “That was great, but here’s the twist, and we haven’t announced because we don’t want it to leak out, you’re actually an angel. Can you do it again?” (Panicked response). That’s how that socially awkward angel was born. I was just nervous.
Commonalities between him and Castiel:
“We’re physically identical.”
On influencing Castiel:
When I first got on the show, Castiel was like this tough warrior, no nonsense, you don’t fuck with this guy, he’s serious. And that was episode one and episode two. Those scripts were written before I was cast. And then very quickly the character morphed into this sort of socially awkward dork. And that was all me, I brought that to the table. They’re like ‘we’re going to modify this character a little bit to accommodate our casting mistake.’ That’s how Castiel evolved.
If he weren’t an angel on the show, what monster would he be?
I don’t know, maybe one of the Winchester brothers.
His process for acting choices:
Sometimes I’ve been in the moment of shooting and I thought to myself, “Oh God, what the fuck are you doing?”
On using the deeper voice for Castiel’s audition:
Or, as it turned out, break my own vocal chords because I thought was doing three episodes for “Supernatural” and it turned into…my entire adult life.
On Castiel’s behavior
He has done some pretty depraved shit. It was all off camera, but it was pretty twisted.
On if Dean was right or fair to be upset at Castiel in season 14:
No. All I did was just get his mother killed. I’m sorry, it’s a human mother, it happens.
On the creative choice for “Tombstone” during the bad-ass walk:
I had the idea that Cas was the worst cowboy ever. I had him walk like Woody from Toy Story. I was like (to the editors), “How did you do that? How did you edit it to make it not look totally like a ridiculous string puppet?” It just goes to show you, they can make the worse garbage look good if given enough time in post-production. You can just phone it in. It’s great news.
On his favorite episode to film in season 13:
Episode one, because I was a dead body lying on a table. I came in, we did two takes, sheet goes over the head, Dean, very filled with angst, walks over to the table, hits me in the balls but that did not make the cut. Cas, now portrayed by the actor Misha Collins, cannot see what’s going on anymore, and he is rigid with fear. Dean, played by the malicious actor Jensen Ackles, knows this, and so he hits me in the balls.
His Exclusive Preview of Season 12:
They’re actually terming this season the ‘Chicken Soup’ season. All the characters are going to spend a lot of time Netflix and chilling with each other, wrapped up in blankets, making microwave popcorn, checking each other for lice…it’s going to be a very sweet, very intimate, very cuddly season, it’s going to blow your mind.
What did true face did Cas see when Dean was a demon?:
The Con Circuit
On being constantly late for cons:
Richard: Misha is never late, except for every city we visit.
On his strange fascination with Rob Benedict during COVID:
The no physical touching rule has actually created an intense intimacy between us. The fact that we can almost touch lets us explore areas of one another that we never have before.
On being there late after delayed flight and after a late night of shooting, resulting in no sleep:
How would everyone feel about me just napping up here? If nothing else it would be a memorable panel. People would say ‘I was actually at the last creation event ever.’
On his usual issue of starting events late:
We were in a convention a year ago, I think it was Toronto or something, and you (Rich) and I came out of the bathroom together, and we were chatting and very casual, the convention at that point was about 4 hours behind, and (the handlers) were like ‘Richard, stop talking to him’ and “What are you doing, get away from him’ and ‘What were you doing in there?’ And you said, ‘It’s Misha Collins, he’s not going to hold his own penis.’ All of the handlers were slack jawed too. ‘Oh my God, Richard said something funny.’
On doing panels with Jensen at cons:
I often have that problem where I have a witty, insightful, meaningful, moving story and Jensen won’t let me get it out, because he’s jealous…Oh, so you don’t want to hear a story about my kids. You must be a Jensen mole.
On what type of dogs the cast would be:
Jared – Great Dane, Jensen – German Shepherd, Castiel – Golden Retriever, Crowley – Chihuahua
What was his most strange fan experience?
There are certainly weird experiences that happen from people recognizing you. The strangest experiences are when people have a little synaptic break where they think that because they recognize me that I also know them. Sorry to shatter everybody’s views if that’s how you think it works but the TV is a unidirectional device.
Fun fan question time. Between Castiel, Sam and Dean, who is the Space Cowboy, who is the Gangsta of Love, and who is Maurice?
I think it’s pretty clear that Cas is Maurice. Then the question is the Gangsta of Love and the Space Cowboy. In a weird way, I think Dean is both of those. That leaves Sam out to dry. Can he be Maurice’s assistant?
When hearing about the “Stop Cas Harassment” movement:
Stop making his life a living hell? I love that there’s protests. ‘For God sakes, stand up for my fictitious character! He’s been through enough shitty fictitious situations!’
Fan: Cas’ life matters!
Misha: Cas’ life sucks.
The Orange underwear saga, the sequel:
Thanks to Rich’s infamous orange underwear story. Misha has been gifted so much orange underwear, he hasn’t gone a day since then where he hasn’t worn orange underwear. (He showed off part of his pumpkin colored boxers). The Amazon ads on his computer pop up with orange underwear ads all the time.
Messing with Fans on the Con Circuit
On the subject of genealogy and Misha’s family tree:
Misha: Are you a professional genealogist or an amateur genealogist?
Misha: Oh, so people hire you to stalk their families.
On whether or not he would bring back JDM to Supernatural if there was a coming war:
Well if I say no and JDM watches this, I’m in deep shit. Absolutely I would, yes. You basically gave me no options.
On why he became Lucifer:
First of all, I think this is going to be kind of devastating for you, I’m an actor. If you want at the end of this to get a refund or something…I am not Castiel, I just portray him on a TV show. That TV show, plug your ears if you don’t want me to spoil it, is a work of fiction. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’re asking about my character. Kind of, or are you saying that I am Satan?
On long time fans watching from the beginning:
We do meet a lot of people that are 15 or 16 and there’s no way they were watching when they were four, or if they had been they would now be full blown serial killers.
On not giving a satisfactory answer to a fan (after much rambling about something else):
That wasn’t related to your question. I’m sorry for wasting your time. Those are ten minutes you’re never going to get back. You can see Stephanie for a refund.
On fans finding flaws in episodes and commenting on them:
No. The fans do that? (Incredulous) We don’t do that to them. We don’t read through their fan fiction and point out flaws in their writing. Certainly not publicly.
On offering some lessons from “Supernatural”:
I think that “Supernatural” is filmed with little pieces of moral advice or guideposts and I think that one of them, that you can apply in every day life, one of those is, ‘Don’t mess with Archangels, because they’ll kill you with ease.’ (Pause) That was really unsatisfying for you, wasn’t it?
On what Supernatural fan fiction he would write:
The pimpmobile and the Impala. Hot trunk on tailpipe action.
If he was running for office, what’s the favorite thing that he’s done that they would use against him?
I think about the things I’ve said in these panels, that are all on Youtube, and to figure out how to collectively scrub those would be harder than containing the Coronavirus in China. It’s impossible. I’ve said really terrible things, even in this panel today. So that would be a challenge. But I think there’s such a volume of offensive material, that it might all just drown itself out. So that’s my strategy at this point.
On why he chose the Collins last name for his stage name:
When I first started acting I would go to auditions and people would think I was going have a Russian accent, and that was at a time where there were a lot of Russian gangsters in various TV shows. It was like, “Oh, interesting” or “Oh, you got rid of your accent.” First of all, Dmitri Krushnic is really hard to pronounce, second, Misha is what I’ve always gone by. I’ve been called Misha since I was a little kid so professionally being called Misha felt better to me. I didn’t want people calling me Dmitri since the only people that called me that are the IRS. So then I started with playing around with different ideas of other possible last names. Vicki and I were kicking around ideas for different fake last names which was a weird project. Collins was my mother’s, mother’s, mother’s maiden name…I know at one point I got that wrong on stage, and people were line, ‘He’s so stupid, he doesn’t even know his own family. If only he had a real fucking genealogist. It was probably you. Here’s my card.
So, it’s my grandmother who lives in Baltimore, her mother’s maiden name. It felt like I wasn’t 100% prosecuting myself by changing my name because it felt like there was a family connection and it meant a great deal to my grandmother. She really loves the fact that I took that as my stage name. So there’s the brief history of my fake name.
And now it’s funny, I have been called Misha Collins by everybody for so long that Dmitri Krushnic feels like weird, alien, Russian gangster that I don’t really know. Vicki will often refer to herself as Vicki Collins and our kids have the legal last name of Collins so when we travel together as a group it’s Dmitri Krushnic, Vicki Vantoch and the two Collins kids – it’s clear to everyone that we’re kidnapping them.
On tracing his family history:
Well, I just ordered the 23 and me thing because just I’m dying to know if I’m a descendant of Genghis Khan. I want to get to the bottom of that…I traced my lineage back to Adam and Eve.
On whether he’s ever going to write an autobiography about all the crazy shit he’s done:
I did notice that there are several things in my mind I look back on and think of “Wow that was kind of awesome, crazy we did that, good for you,” and then I think you probably shouldn’t share that with other people, because they’ll think you’re a sick son of a bitch…I don’t know if I’d want to write that book.
Misha On Fatherhood (a tiny fraction of the many stories he’s told):
(Photo from The NY Times. A great article written by Misha in April 2020. “Even Without a Home, We Always Had a Family Meal“)
My kids they’re…they’re disgusting. They have lice. Those of you in front of me in the front row, you should know that my children are fully, full of lice still. I did do a fair amount of snuggling and head rubbing. Sorry about that. I just wanted to share my pain.
Cooking With West and Maison:
Me, my son and daughter now, they take control of the cooking process, they’ll be making a thing and they destroy the kitchen. You’re asking how long does it take the clean up? The truth is, it’s never ever really clean. I’m still finding stuff. We had a baking experiment that I had the smarts to move from the kitchen to the driveway. Which by the way, whatever we made has turned into some kind of mortar that we put in between the bricks. No matter how much it rains it stays there. We made these horrible, hockey puck consistency muffins. Full of bits of gravel and probably chicken shit. They were stepping in what they were making. Some lucky winners, I mailed out these muffins to poor people who ostensibly ‘won something’. In fairness I did label them, “Do not eat.” (We made these) in March and I just saw my daughter two or three days ago eating one of these hockey pucks. It was in her sock drawer or something. I thought she was going to break her teeth.
It felt like I had one of those train wreck days where everything was going wrong. My daughter had lice, she got really sick, my son filled the car gas tank with water. He wasn’t totally forthright about it right away. When the car died rather dramatically, we were exploring the car, I’m popping the hood, checking things out. I didn’t know what would cause this except for something obviously exploding because the engine was shaking violently and shooting out plumes of smoke. He said, “Dad you think maybe it has something to do with what’s behind this door? I was like, “West, why would you say that?” And he was like, “I don’t know. I washed it a little bit. I only put in one inch of water.” He’s not great with units of measurement. It’s like, “if I put in 3 inches that would have been bad, but I only put in one inch…with a garden hose.” Anyway, that was a while ago, that car is still in the shop, I may never see it again.
Traveling with Children:
I brought my son to the Washington DC convention and we went to the zoo. For some reason there were lots of people there asking to take pictures and he did not handle it well. He was a prima donna asshole. ‘Oh great, another photo, oh great, just what I want.”
Enrolling in School:
I try not to swear around my own children because they will take it as license to swear themselves. They use that language too much, they use it liberally, and it’s not good sometimes. Like we went to visit school, they do not like it when your prospective kindergartner was calling the kindergarten teacher…a whole lot of words. Me and my wife laughed, which further did not (go well).
Bonding over “Supernatural”:
My kids can’t watch scary things at all, they haven’t watched a full episode (of “Supernatural”) at all until the finale. I knew I had to watch that last two hour special as it aired so I decided to let them watch it along with me. Predictably, West and Maison said ‘Dad, can you tell us when a scary part comes up?’ And I was like unfortunately, I don’t know what’s going to happen so I’m not going to be able to tell you when it’s a scary part. We might be able to discern. Of course, the episode starts with these evil clowns decapitating a family, it’s quite horrible and absolutely terrifying, kids getting dragged out from under the bed. Both of my children looked totally shell-shocked. Supernatural might have been good for my career and it might have built a up big fandom around the world but it has also irrevocably traumatized my two young children so there’s a tradeoff there. West, immediately when we were done with the episode, he was like ‘I need to watch something else to get that out of my head’ and I’m like ‘Okay what do you want to watch?” and he said “I’m going to watch Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I thought it was funny that his emotional palate cleanser was Larry David, which is not really an appropriate show for children either. All in all, I’m doing a pretty shitty job of insulating my children from the horrors of the world.
Thoughts On…Supernatural Coming to an End
What is he going to take away from “Supernatural”:
I see people in the “Supernatural” fandom taking care of each other all the time in really meaningful ways. That’s really lovely. In the truest sense of the word it’s a community, and that is a template that I think any fandom of any show or musician should strive to emulate…I do feel very lucky that I’ve been a part of it.
On reminiscing about all the lasts happening now that Supernatural is ending:
This is the last time Jared is going to fondle my balls with a broom handle…
Does he have words of wisdom for middle schoolers as the show ends?
Maybe follow your passion, do what makes you happy, and good things will follow. I still think that’s true. I know that sounds really fairy fairy, I think it’s true. It doesn’t mean that has to be your living or your vocation, but if you pursue things that give you joy in life, good things will come of it. I think a lot of times people end up thinking that they have to make their life a grind, and I don’t think that’s true. Obviously, I’m not a great spokesperson for that because I’m been working with Jared and Jensen for so long, and that’s basically just pure suffering.
I love that I found the capacity to turn a potentially sentimental and uplifting moment into just vitriol toward my cast mates. Bitter, hatred for my cast mates.
Parting words for fans in the last convention before shooting ends:
We’re going to miss each other guys. I can’t believe this is the last convention before “Supernatural” is done shooting. You’re going to see a parade of broken emotional basket cases up here. I’m sorry. Can we get these people refunds?
It’s been such and incredible journey with you guys. I’m so grateful to (have) wandered into this fandom and this totally bizarre, cultish community. I guess I want to say thank you guys. You’ve made this a life changing experience. We have met some of the closest people in our lives. (Speaks to the band) You’re closer to me than almost anybody in my life. This little cabal that we have behind the scenes, we’re a really tight group. We’ve seen each other do some really horrible things. And, I’m grateful for it, I’m grateful for you guys, I’m deeply grateful for you all. I do want to say just, thank you. Deep love and gratitude here.
Right back at you Misha! I’ll catch you again someday at another con! And we’ll see if you remember my name again. Have a great birthday!
(Misha, a master of the selfie. Misha, Nightsky, and myself at Comic Con 2018).