There's a new man in town in The CW's Supernatural, and he's got wings. Actor Misha Collins, who you may remember as Alexis Drazen in 24, has joined the cast as the angel Castiel--the first revelation (pardon the pun) that the show's mythology includes the forces of Good as well as Evil.
In the fourth-season opener, Dean emerges from Hell thanks to Castiel, who pulls him from the netherworld. Castiel figures to play a very important part this season, and so far Collins has owned the role. Collins talked to TV.com about angels--and not the harp-strumming kind, but rather what it's like to work with Jared and Jensen, and how he nearly got into politics.
TV.com: Let's not waste any time here. Do you know what you've gotten yourself into by joining Supernatural?
Misha Collins: Well I'm beginning to get an inkling of what I've gotten myself into now. I, of course, had no idea three weeks ago. But it seems like it's quite a world. It's like an entire parallel universe that I wasn't really aware that was operating amongst us.
TV.com: What specifically have you seen or noticed?
Misha Collins: Well, the amount of fan attention that I've gotten is pretty much what I'm talking about.
TV.com: They are hardcore. But they're really dedicated and really intelligent fans, I've noticed, as well.
Misha Collins: Yeah, yeah. I was pretty impressed. I'm overall impressed by the intelligence of the fan base. Seems like a pretty smart crowd.
TV.com: Let's talk about your character, Castiel. He isn't exactly the typical image of an angel. What's your take on Castiel?
Misha Collins: I've never done too much inquiry into angels. And I always had, I think, the popular perception that angels are just strumming on harps and they're wearing halos. And you might have a guardian angel who, I don't know, helps make sure you don't get hit by cars and things like that. But just from reading the first two scripts, it immediately was clear to me that Castiel is not one of those angels. And, in fact, I kind of came out swinging on the set in the first episode with a little bit too much darkness. And Kim Manners, who was directing the episode, sort of toned it down. He wanted to make sure that there was some piousness, or more piousness than I was exhibiting initially.
One of the things that I did in researching the role was I picked up Revelations, which has a lot of talk of angels and their deeds. And they are badass mofos in Revelations, I mean, there's a lot of smiting and a lot of destruction at the hands of very powerful angels. So I'm not really sure where the modern perception of angels comes from. But, you know, historically they haven't quite been the sweet stereotype we think of.
TV.com: So you can confirm for us right now that Castiel is actually an angel? I know there's some sort of debate about whether he's tricking Sam and Dean.
Misha Collins: I'm going to say that Castiel is an angel, unless I'm the butt of a joke as well.
TV.com: I guess the jury is still out on that one, then. Castiel is a very serious character--he's bringing the pain of the Holy Ghost. I know part of Supernatural's appeal is some of the humor. Is Castiel going lighten up a bit?
Misha Collins: So far in the scripts I've read, I have not uttered any witty quips. But I think the idea is that angels don't really understand irony, they have no experience with satire. And if Castiel does end up being quippy or witty or anything anywhere along the line, I think it'll be a learned trait that he acquires from Dean and not something that he's bringing to the table on his own accord.
TV.com: What about his specific powers and his specific weaknesses? Has [Supernatural creator] Eric [Kripke] told you what they are?
Misha Collins: I don't know what Castiel's Achilles heel is. As far as I can tell, he seems pretty powerful. And I'm not really sure how far his powers reach. Really, above and beyond what I've shown or what has been shown in the first two episodes, I don't know what his powers are beyond that. Actually that's not entirely true. There is a power that I will demonstrate in the third episode of the season [which airs tonight], which is pretty impressive. But I'm not at liberty to say what it is, unfortunately. I know that angels can be killed, but I'm not sure how they're killed.
TV.com: What episode are you currently filming?
Misha Collins: Episode nine is the next one up.
TV.com: And you're still around?
Misha Collins: Yeah, I'm still around. I'm going to be in nine and ten. I'm not in eight, which is filming right now.
TV.com: Has Eric told you how long Castiel will be in the Supernatural anthology? Is it kind of a running, wait-and-see thing?
Misha Collins: Yeah. It sounds like I'm going to be around for a while, but I'm not exactly sure how long.
TV.com: At the end of episode one, you utter that great line to Dean. What exactly is this "work" that Dean has to do? What can you tell us about that?
Misha Collins: My understanding of the task that he's faced with is he's going to be instrumental in preventing Satan from rising. And basically what's happening is if 66 of these seals are broken by Lilith and her ilk, then Lucifer will be set free and the armies of Hell will begin marauding around the face of the earth. So Dean's job is involved in preventing that from happening.
TV.com: So is most of this season going to be about seals and preventing them from being broken?
Misha Collins: I don't know whether the seals end up getting broken, whether this is a battle that the Winchester boys win or lose, but I do know that that's the major confrontation of this season.
TV.com: Are we going to see Castiel's boss?
Misha Collins: God?
TV.com: The big man or woman, yeah.
Misha Collins: I don't know. That would be cool. That's an onerous task for the special-effects department, coming up with an image of God. That would be cool. I don't know.
TV.com: So who do you think would do a good job of playing him, or her?
Misha Collins: Morgan Freeman is sort of the go-to guy for God these days, it seems. I'm not sure.
TV.com: There seems to be a bit of attention to the marks on Dean's shoulders from when Castiel pulled him from Hell.
Misha Collins: Uh-huh. The body that we see Castiel in is a vessel, it's a human form that he has inhabited. And his real body is something that we haven't seen. His real voice is something that is deafening to human ears. Looking at his real body is something that causes your eyes to explode out of your head. And being touched by him, obviously, is something that causes either a burn or some sort of rash-like reaction. An allergy. Maybe Dean is just allergic to Castiel, I don't know. [Laughs.]
TV.com: So Angels use vessels the same way demons use vessels?
Misha Collins: Yeah.
TV.com: And you can be extracted from the bodies and go into another body?
Misha Collins: Presumably.
TV.com: And I bet you hope that he pretty much stays in that body, huh?
Misha Collins: Yeah. I don't see any problems with the body Castiel is currently inhabiting. [Laughs.]
TV.com: I've got to ask for the fans, they want to know what it's like working with Jensen and Jared, they seem to be really good guys.
Misha Collins: They are really good guys, yeah. I can verify that with the firsthand account of it just being a lot of fun to work with both of them. They both are welcoming on the set, they both have really good senses of humour. A lot of times you see really good-looking guys on TV and you sort of assume that maybe there's some sort of vacuity behind them. But they are both very smart and very funny, which is a lot of fun to work with.
TV.com: One of the things I love about the show also is the writing. Can you talk about how it makes your job easier when you have such great stuff to work with?
Misha Collins: Yeah. Someone asked me a question last week about how I came to speak in this odd, sort of otherworldly cadence, and there was a quality to my speech that seemed kind of angelic, and they were very impressed that I could pull this off in my performance. And the truth is that it has nothing to do with the performance, it's just the dialogue as it's written for me, it has an otherworldly quality, and it lends itself very easily to this character. It's not necessarily easy to say something like "I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition"--that kind of thing could be a real garbled mess if it wasn't accompanied by a lot of other good writing around it that supports the character saying something like that, if that makes any sense.
TV.com: I'm sure it does.
Misha Collins: I think the writing's great. I think it's also--I think what makes it really work is that they've really woven the interpersonal dynamics between the two brothers into these broader storylines so that you're never losing touch with the personal, emotional aspect of the show. Otherwise it would just be a lot of bright flashes and demons swirling around and it would sort of look like a haunted house. But the way the story comes together, the storylines about demons and angels are riveting and interesting because it's coupled with this more personal and emotionally relevant story line.
TV.com: I'm going to get a little personal here for the fans, again. What does Misha Collins like to do on his day off? What are his interests?
Misha Collins: Well, I like to write poetry. I'm a published poet. I've been published in several literary magazines this year. I also built the house that I live in. I paid my way through college as a carpenter and a woodworker. So I've built the house I live in and most of the furniture that's in it, and I do a lot of woodworking still. And I also like the outdoors a lot. I spend a lot of time camping, and in the winter I do a lot of back-country camping and snowboarding up in the High Sierras. As long as you don't hit trees you're fine.
TV.com: What other projects do you have coming up?
Misha Collins: There's a bunch of independent features that I've been in that are in video stores now. The only thing that hasn't aired yet that I've been in, or that I've shot, is an episode of Nip/Tuck. But right now it's been mostly Supernatural.
TV.com: Didn't I read that you were an intern at the White House?
Misha Collins: Yeah. It was a great experience for me because I was going to go into politics and it got me to realize that I didn't want to go into politics. So I'm very grateful for the experience. It was interesting. I thought I was going to be mingling with the best and the brightest minds in the world under one roof. And it seemed like most of the people working in the White House were people who had volunteered on the campaign--this was the Clinton White House--or their parents had donated a lot of money to the campaign. I'm going to offend somebody here, but it didn't seem like a terribly bright or interesting group of people to be around. And I guess that's what you want, you want people that are just going to toe the party line and be supportive of what the guy at the top is saying. But it wasn't what I wanted. So I was glad to get out of there.
TV.com: Thanks for talking with us, Misha.
Misha Collins: Thank you, take care.
Supernatural airs Thursday nights on The CW at 9 p.m. For more on the show, check out TV.com's previous coverage.