'Supernatural' 200th episode reflections from Misha Collins, Felicia Day and more
Now it's time for my interviews with the assortment of beloved "Supernatural" supporting players who attended the 200th episode party, actors who may not have been around for the duration of the show, but have made their marks in different ways.
That certainly includes Misha Collins, whose Castiel didn't arrive until the fourth "Supernatural" season, but has played a key role in the move to shift the drama from its monster-of-the-week format to the higher Heaven-and-Hell stakes that have characterized its later years.
Showing up a season later was Crossroads demon Crowley, played by Mark Sheppard. Thanks to "Supernatural," "Doctor Who," "Battlestar Galactica" and "The X Files," few actors have the body of cult-favorite work accumulated by Sheppard.
So I talked with both Collins and Sheppard about their role in the longevity of "Supernatural."
Genevieve Padalecki may only have appeared in 12 episodes as Ruby, taking over the role in the fourth season from Katie Cassidy, but she also married Jared Padalecki in 2010, giving her a unique perspective on the "Supernatural" phenomenon.
And while Felicia Day's Charlie Bradbury has only been in four episodes thus far (with another on the day), few performers are more tapped into the world of online phenomena, which "Supernatural" surely is, than the woman behind "The Guild" and other Internet ventures.
So check out my Q&As with Misha Collins, Felicia Day, Mark Sheppard and Genevieve Padalecki below. And remember that the 200th "Supernatural" episode airs on Tuesday, November 11.
HitFix: Do you remember the first moment you realized the effect Castiel was having on fans?
Misha Collins: No. [He laughs.] Not at all. But I do remember that I went, there was a little party at McG's offices, McG's one of the executive producers on the show and he had a little screening party for the premiere of Season 4, which was the episode in which my character was introduced. I was standing next to one of the show's producers and writers at the time, Sera Gamble, while we were watching the episode and my character has a very dramatic introduction/introductory scene and she sorta bumped me as we were watching and she said, "Your life is about to change." And I thought, "You are so full of yourself. What are you talking about? This is just another guest spot on another silly TV show. I'm sure this is not gonna have any lasting impact on my life." Lo and behold, seven years later, I'm living up here in the Pacific Northwest, I've had two kids working on this show, traveled the world going to fan conventions and having a job that is a dream job, that I never dreamed could possibly have evolved from that moment. So I don't know the exact moment, but I do know that it was a gradual unfurling. [He briefly gets whisked away for pictures.]
HitFix: As you mentioned, Castiel did have a truly iconic character introduction. At the time did you at least recognize how badass that intro was?
Misha Collins: It was a badass introduction, for sure. I knew that. It was very cool to have. That was hands-down the coolest character introduction I ever had on anything I worked on. It was very hard to keep my cool during that scene, because I was getting shot and I was wired with squibs, there were showers of sparks coming down and singing my scalp. Normally when a squib goes off you're supposed to react like you've been shot, so you respond to it, so to act like nothing's happening when there's something exploding on you is quite another thing, but it was good. It was trial by fire.
HitFix: Perhaps more than any of the other castmembers, you made the decision very early on to be out there on social media and to engage with the fans in that forum and whatnot. Why did you decide to do that? How often have you felt that was a good move and how often have you regretted it?
Misha Collins: Oh, I don't regret it at all. I'm not actually that pop culture or social media savvy. I really didn't know what Twitter was when I created an account. So for me, it was just something that I was playing around with and I think I just didn't know the rules. I didn't know how I was supposed to engage with the fans, so I was just kinda f***ing around and having fun with them and it ended up being a very playful and, I actually think, ultimately creative and productive dynamic that I've had with fans. We started a charity together and we've broken Guinness World Records with fans of "Supernatural," which is kinda amazing and I've just actually enjoyed it as a really cool, creative tool and way to interact with the fanbase. A lot of times on a television show you're really just performing for the crew and your fellow actors and you never get to see your audience at all, because everybody's just watching it on the screen. But we're lucky because we're on a show that has a lot of interaction with the fans. We get to go to these fan conventions, we interact with them online, so we get a lot of that direct feedback, which I think is great. It makes it a lot more palpable, fun, gratifying.
HitFix: But you never back up in the morning, look at the number of replies and go, "Oh, dear Lord. What have I done"?
Misha Collins: No, because I never reply to anyone. That's my secret. And I can't read my Mentions, because it's like a couple hundred an hour. There's so much of it and it just becomes snow and I can ignore it. [He looks truly apologetic.] Sorry, everyone!
HitFix: You directed your first episode last season. Talk a bit about how you're different as a result of that experience.
Misha Collins: More than anything it was an enlightening process for me, because I got to see aspects of production that an actor never sees. We don't get to see the concept phase or building and designing sets or the casting phase or location scouting or any of those things. We just show up on a set, a set that's ready to go. It was really helpful to see all of that process, but it also was helpful to say, "Oh, waiting for actors to come out of their trailer really kills your day." So now I try not to slow things down by staying in my trailer too long.
HitFix: So you've become prompter as a result?
Misha Collins: Definitely! Definitely.
HitFix: Which of your co-stars did you find yourself appreciating more as a result of that experience?
Misha Collins: Oh, well I don't like any of the guys I work with... [He laughs.] The experience just made me even more, if you can believe it, bitter towards my co-stars.
HitFix: At how photogenic they are or other things?
Misha Collins: Yeah. They're just too good looking.
HitFix: Is directing something you're hoping to return to? And what are the conversations that have to take place to make that happen?
Misha Collins: Yeah, I would love to direct again. At this point I think there's just a little bit of a queue. Waiting in that line. I'm queued up.
HitFix: I feel like when you appear on a show, it's a certain seal of approval to the show. What does it take to get The Felicia Day Seal of Approval?
Felicia Day: I do get offered a lot more roles than I choose to do. I'm very busy as a producer and a writer, especially with my Internet stuff, and I tend to only accept the roles that I know will have an impact and has a fanbase. I'm much more interested in shows that maybe not everybody loves, but a lot of people REALLY love. That's how I am as a person. I'm as extreme as the roles in the shows that I like to be on.
HitFix: So what resonated most immediately when "Supernatural" and Charlie came a-calling?
Felicia Day: Well, "Supernatural" is a show that I really enjoyed, especially in the beginning. The first couple seasons I was a huge fan of it. And when I was here working on "Eureka," actually, I met some people who worked on the "Supernatural" set and I was like, "I really hope I get to be on that show one day." And then I thought the show was gonna end without me being on it and lo and behold, they called me and I cleared everything to be able to do it, because A) The show and then B) The writing and then C) The character. I had to do it. So yeah, that's how I was drafted in and thank goodness the fans like me, because I think that's the only reason I'm still here.
HitFix: Did you expect the fans to like you/the character or did you have caution?
Felicia Day: I think some people cautioned me. Like it's a fandom that feels very invested and I'm always tentative. You never know how people are gonna receive you and especially a character that's so close to the fans in type, but the fact that she resonates with them, she is a true fangirl in that she's not defined by it. She's a real person who just happens to like things that are "geeky," quote-unquote, and the fact that she's an integral part of the world and has a very clear and natural relationship with the guys? She doesn't feel like she's shoe-horned in. She really fits and I think that's a testament to the writing and hopefully the way that we work together.
HitFix: Your primary job, as it were, is one where you have total control, where it's basically your thing. How easy or hard is it for you to walk onto another set and drop all of that control and just act?
Felicia Day: You know, it's actually a relief, sometimes. I just sold my company to Legendary and I'm working with them on transitioning. I'm still working on the company a lot, but it's a lot of change. I'm a business person, I'm a producer, I'm a writer, I'm a performer every week on my own thing and I don't have a lot of time for other things and when I get something where I can just be focused on one thing, as a performer, that's where I came from! It's a real treat. It helps me go back with a different perspective and just more enthusiasm. It's really hard and it's 18-hour days, because Charlie is in a lot of scenes, which is great, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
HitFix: Do you sleep better when you're only wearing the one hat? Or are you constantly thinking and worrying about the other hats you're supposed to be wearing?
Felicia Day: I have anxiety disorder, so I never sleep well. [She laughs.] If someone can be anxious about something, I will find it.
HitFix: But you can still find it fun to be like, "OK, I'm just gonna sit back and I'll act when I'm called to set"?
Felicia Day: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well... Yes. I have worries in other ways. It's good to let the other worries have a vacation and have different worries take over and then go back to the old worries.
HitFix: Can you actually sit without your phone on, without constantly checking email when you're acting? Or is that just impossible?
Felicia Day: I try to limit it, actually, because I'm not the same person and I am in a different mindspace, in a sense. I'm not sitting there in my trailer in a Method-sort-of-incubator, but I do try to, especially the things that draw me back to what I'm doing in LA with all my stuff that I do there, I try to be a little more disciplined about it. It doesn't always work. Sometimes I'm playing "Settlers of Catan" on my phone for an hour, OK? I'll admit it! Sometimes I'm really concentrating on the dialogue so I won't mess up my lines.
HitFix: In that context, playing a game sounds entirely healthy if it means there's other work stuff you're not concentrating on.
Felicia Day: Thank you. I like you a lot. Yes. Thank you for enabling me, sir.