Actor cherishes his role as ‘Supernatural’ angel

In its new season, which is quite terrific, “Supernatural” (8 p.m. Thursday, WGN-Ch. 9) has been delving into some weighty topics. Heaven, hell, the existence of God: They’ve all been fair game.

But this solidly constructed, well-acted show hasn’t forgotten its sense of humor, and it hasn’t neglected to supply the thrills and chills fans have come to expect (especially around Halloween).

One emissary from heaven has been giving demon-hunting brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) advice on how to beat back the forces of hell.

This season has been “ramping up the stakes for everyone,” says Misha Collins, who has a recurring role this season as the powerful angel Castiel.

“It’s not only fighting against the bad guys from hell, but you’re also dealing with these incredibly powerful forces – God’s minions, which are not necessarily forces of purity, love and kindness,” he said in a phone interview.

Before he began playing the angel on this solidly satisfying genre show, the actor had come close to heaven and hell himself.

Years ago, he spent time at a monastery in Nepal that was full of Tibetan monks. Not only did the experience expose Collins to Buddhist meditation, which he still practices, but the Himalayan setting was about as physically close to the heavens as humans can get.

As for hell, that could be found on the lowest rung of White House bureaucracy. Eyeing a political career during college, he spent time during the Clinton administration as an intern at the Office of Presidential Personnel.

“Mostly what I was doing was writing letters to other interns in governors’ offices and things like that,” Collins said. “I hated it.”

After graduating from the University of Chicago, he started a software company in Washington, D.C., but soon gave that up when he got roles in films.

After moving to L.A., guest-starring roles in shows such as “24,” “NCIS” and “CSI” followed. His debut as Castiel came in “Supernatural’s” fourth-season premiere.

In Thursday’s episode, Castiel and another angel, Uriel, are convinced that some people need to die “to prevent some greater harm from happening. And Sam and Dean don’t want to let that happen,” Collins said.

“Uriel – he’s more of the smite-now-ask-questions-later school. Castiel has a conscience. Uriel doesn’t,” he noted.

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