The Untold Truth Of Misha Collins

Misha Collins has many acting roles under his belt, but none more memorable than Castiel, the angelic sidekick of Winchester brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) on hit TV series "Supernatural." 

As his most devoted fans probably know, Misha Collins was not the name he was given at birth. Regarding his birth name, Dmitri Tippens Krushnic, he told EveryJoe, "Krushnic, goes back six generations in Canada and we're not sure where they came from, could be Russian or Ukrainian or Polish ... we're not Russian but my mom wished we were Russian I think." As for how he landed on his nom de stage? Collins was a family name and Misha was his nickname from an early age. "My mother went to Russia when she was in college. She had a boyfriend named Misha and much to my father's chagrin she named me after him," Collins said

Given the cult-hit success of "Supernatural" and the show's legions of fans throughout the world, there's not much Collins' fans don't know about him — or is there? To find out, read on in order to discover the untold truth of Misha Collins.

He experienced homelessness as a child

Misha Collins did not have a typical childhood, something he wrote about in an essay published in The New York Times. In his earliest years, Collins and his younger brother lived a nomadic existence with their mother, travelling from place to place. His mother taught him how to steal groceries from supermarkets when he was preschool-aged, bringing them home to the tent in the woods they called home. When their car finally broke down, they embarked on other modes of transportation ranging from hitchhiking to jumping aboard trains.

While Collins initially felt his childhood was full of excitement, he eventually came to realize he was without the sense of security most children take for granted. "I had grown up surrounded by danger," he wrote. In a 2017 Facebook post to promote a campaign that aimed to help unhoused people, he reflected on his own experiences with housing insecurity, writing, "sometimes our family simply didn't have the money to put a roof over our heads and from time to time we found ourselves homeless and sleeping in a tent."

In 2020, Collins issued a statement to Entertainment Weekly to promote the Super Good anti-homelessness endeavor alongside fellow actor Michael Sheen. "My family struggled when I was a child — we were even homeless at times, so I can relate to how hard that can be," he said.

His childhood antics inspired a new bus rule

After Misha Collins' parents split up, his mother would send him and his younger brother to stay with their father, who lived about a hundred miles away. "Every other weekend we would go visit him by bus," Collins said in a video taken at a fan event, noting that regular bus trips started when they were still in elementary school. 

During the three-hour bus ride, Collins explained, "we would get bored, and I would torture him." Sometimes, these antics — one of which involved Collins smearing toothpaste all over his sibling — would prompt his little brother to let out a gnarly scream. The actor joked, "It was so shrill and so deafening that anyone within earshot had to drop what they were doing and get to him to shut him up." As a result, Collins recalled, their behavior would leave the bus driver no choice but to intervene. 

According to Collins, the brothers' shenanigans eventually grew so tiresome that the bus line was forced to introduce a new rule that prohibited two or more kids from riding the bus together without an adult. 

He interned at NPR and the White House

In a 2022 tweet, Misha Collins revealed that he'd once had an internship at NPR. As Collins related during an interview with the University of Chicago's magazine, The Core, he got a chance to work along the likes of Nina Totenberg and Neal Conan. "I got a rush from it," he said. As he later told Pop Gurls, "I loved that job." However, when given a chance to keep working there after his internship, he decided to return to college instead.

That wasn't Collins' only prestigious internship; he also spent six month as an intern at the White House during the Clinton administration, working in the Office of Presidential Personnel. According to Collins, the gig mostly involved going through resumes of people who hoped to land a position appointed by the president. "I didn't actually love being there, but I did get to read some incredibly funny applications for jobs," he said.

What's more, prior to becoming an actor, Collins — under his real name, Dmitri Krushnic — wrote a 1998 op-ed for The Baltimore Sun about the scandal surrounding another White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Drawing from his own experience, Collins defended Lewinsky's desire to get close to President Bill Clinton, writing, "I contend that the description of her behavior could fit any number of young interns. To varying degrees, the vast majority of White House interns and volunteers thrived on their brushes with Mr. Clinton."

He's a published poet

When Misha Collins isn't working as an actor, he writes poetry. In fact, as Collins' told fans in a 2019 video he posted on Instagram, some of his poems were published in an anthology put out by the prestigious Columbia Poetry Review. That wasn't the first time his poems had appeared there; as the website Nerds and Beyond pointed out, two of his poems had previously appeared in a 2008 issue. 

In 2021, Collins once again took to Instagram to jokingly tell fans, "It is with deep sadness and regret that I am publicly announcing that you can now order my book of poetry." Published that October, Collins' "Some Things I Still Can't Tell You" was his first full collection of his poems.

Interviewed by Subjectify Media, Collins described "Some Things I Still Can't Tell You" as "a personal book." The poems included were written over the years, and while he did have some apprehension about sharing these pieces of his life with the public, he ultimately saw the emotional value in releasing the book. "I think there's something that feels good about unmasking and making myself vulnerable at this stage of life," he said, noting that as open as this book is, he has not taken down all of his boundaries. "I'm not an exhibitionist and many poems I liked were redacted from the final manuscript because they were too personal—so there really are some things I still can't tell you," he said. 

He auditioned for a key role in Star Wars

Before Hayden Christensen was cast as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," Misha Collins was also up for the role. Describing his interview for the role at Skywalker Ranch during a Q&A at a fan event, Collins recalled trying to come up with a way to stand out. Alas, his strategy was not exactly a winner. "I went and wandered around the grounds on [George Lucas'] property and purposefully stepped in a small stream," he shared. Collins' theory? He believed walking into the audition room with a soaked pant leg would ensure he'd stay at the top of George Lucas' mind. Unfortunately, Collins said with a chuckle, "It didn't go over as well as I thought it would." On an episode of the "Too Beautiful to Live" podcast, Collins said he ended up just talking about the construction of the building they were in. "Needless to say, I did not reveal anything about myself," he added.

After meeting Lucas, Collins went to grab a slice of pizza. Bursting to share his audition experience with someone, he spilled his story to the guy working at the pizza place. That move proved to be yet another miss: The guy's parents not only owned the property adjacent to Skywalker Ranch, but he was related to "Star Wars" star Natalie Portman. Collins immediately regretted his confession. "It was one of the worst moments of my life," Collins told the Q&A audience. "Anyway, I didn't get the part." 

He cofounded the nonprofit Random Acts of Kindness

In addition to his acting and poetry, Misha Collins has also earned a reputation as an outside-the-box philanthropist. That crystallized in the founding of his Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, with a goal of inspiring people to be kind to each other. As he told Critical Blast, it's about doing little things for one another that still make a difference. "It's not something where you're going to go, 'Look at these people, they've built a community college!' or something like that, but it's more just a general sense of being kind to one another in small and meaningful ways," he said. 

As Collins explained in an interview with Love to Know, he was inspired to found the charity after he marshaled his Twitter followers following the 2009 earthquake that devastated Haiti, ultimately raising $30,000 for UNICEF relief efforts in the country. "It tugged on me," said Collins of the Haiti disaster. "People wanted to act and I was amazed by just how quickly people put it together and how generous they were."

According to Collins, the impetus for Random Acts actually extends all the way back to his childhood, when people did what they could for his own family during the period when they were homeless. "I want to have that effect on people," Collins declared. "If someone remembers that they were helped, that's what's important to me. That's the goal. Helping others."

He launched the world's most ambitious scavenger hunt

Another of Misha Collins' philanthropic efforts is GISH, an acronym for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt. As the virtual scavenger hunt's website explains, "For over a decade, GISH has combined the thrill of a competition with the reward of creativity and do-gooding, powered by an incredible community of hundreds of thousands of players from around the world." 

GISH was launched in 2010 (then known as GISHWHES, a.k.a. the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) after a publicist asked Collins to come up with something that could garner some People's Choice Awards votes when "Supernatural" was stuck in second place in its category. Collins, he told HuffPost, promised to share a rhinoceros with fans who voted if "Supernatural" won. When it did, he made good on his promise by sending pieces of a rhino puzzle to fans, which were parts of an online scavenger hunt.

From there, Collins made the event official, eventually winning a Guinness world record as the world's largest media scavenger hunt. The 2020 edition proved challenging due to the pandemic. So, he created a more compatible version. "I was feeling bored, trapped and powerless, and I saw a lot of other people going through the same thing," he told Nerdist. "So I figured we could refocus our energy and mobilize to connect, do something fun, and maybe do a little bit of good in the process and at the very least, it'd keep my kids busy for a day."

He once heckled William Shatner at a Star Trek convention

Captain Kirk was among the many people to jump aboard Misha Collins' annual GISH scavenger hunt. "William Shatner is participating for the second year in the scavenger hunt and he seems bound and determined to win," Collins told Fan Bolt in 2015, revealing Shatner's participation necessitated a new rule. "We have a Shatner Clause, which is that if someone like William Shatner actually wins the scavenger hunt, the runner-up also wins so that ordinary people have a shot," he said.

Over the years, Collins and the "Star Trek" legend have become friendly, engaging in a hilarious faux feud. That was evident when Collins guested on Shatner's "Brown Bag Wine Tasting" series, with Shatner quipping, "I don't know who you are, I'm going to refer to you as what's your name." ("Fair enough," Collins deadpanned.)

Collins retaliated by crashing one of Shatner's Q&A sessions at a "Star Trek" convention, sharing video of the moment on Facebook. Taking the microphone, Collins asked Shatner when the iconic "Star Wars" phrase "May the Force be with you" was first used on "Star Trek," and then declared Shatner to be "far and away, one of my five top favorite captains." After exiting the auditorium, Collins admitted that he had forgotten to take into account, based on his own convention experience, that the lights onstage make it difficult to see who's asking questions — meaning Shatner probably figured he was being heckled by some random guy and not Collins.

He was arrested for bank robbery

During a Q&A at a fan convention, Misha Collins was asked if he'd ever spent the night in jail. He had, and proceeded to detail the bizarre set of circumstances that led him to be thrown in the slammer on suspicion of bank robbery. The incident, which took place back when he was a sociology student at the University of Chicago, happened all because he wanted to find a spot outside to do some reading late one evening. Walking around, he ultimately decided the roof of a bank would be just the place. 

After he went up a fire escape and got comfortable on the roof with his book, chaos broke loose. "About a half hour later, floodlights came from adjacent buildings and a helicopter came over. Because there was apparently a bank robbery in process, or so they thought." Soon after that, police arrived on the roof and arrested him. Collins admitted that it was no mean feat to explain what he was doing on the roof of a bank at that hour. "Oh, I actually was on the ground, my face in the ground, and handcuffs on and, 'Oh, no no no, I was just reading my novel,' which doesn't make sense," Collins said. "Like why do you go up onto the roof of a bank to read a novel at midnight?"

He wasn't supposed to be a Supernatural fixture

Misha Collins' Castiel became a "Supernatural" fan favorite since the angel first appeared in the series' fourth season. "I just sort of saw it as another guest spot that wasn't a big deal," he recalled to TVLine

In fact, he told ET, the character was initially supposed to appear in just a few episodes. "It was originally only three and now it's amazing," Collins said. The decision to keep Castiel sticking around came by degrees, as his episode count was upped little by little until he was finally made a permanent player. "'Supernatural' and I dated before we got married," he quipped. Collins continued that analogy to describe his change in status in the seventh season, when he went from series regular to recurring guest star. "I think we were both testing each other out and then we broke up," he joked. By the time the show ended once and for all in 2020, Collins racked up a whopping 146 episodes

He was hit with backlash for playing a real-life serial killer

Prior to that life-changing guest spot on "Supernatural," Misha Collins starred in "Karla," a 2006 film based on horrific true events. Starring alongside Laura Prepon of "That '70s Show" fame, the two portrayed Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, a married Canadian couple who were charged and convicted of kidnapping, sexually abusing, and ultimately murdering three teenage girls in the early 1990s.

While the crimes of Homolka and Bernardo created huge headlines in Canada (they were even dubbed "the Ken and Barbie killers"), that wasn't the case in the U.S. As a result, the movie was hit with backlash during its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Take this damning line from blogTO's review, for example: "'Karla' is so sickeningly apologetic to Homolka while leaving many factual pieces out."

Collins admitted that degree of negativity toward the film wasn't something he'd been anticipating, as he was not totally aware of the local impact the case had at the time. "I feel kind of embarrassed," Collins told Vancouver's The Georgia Straight, "I didn't have any idea we were going to be met with the kind of hostility we faced in Toronto. Obviously, with a story like this, the content is something you have to reflect on, at length. But there were actually no rumblings until after we had wrapped, so a lot of the introspection has happened after the fact."

He holds a bonkers Guinness World record

While Misha Collins set a 2013 Guinness world record for organizing the world's largest media scavenger hunt, that wasn't the only time he was recognized by Guinness. The following year, he set another record in an entirely different category by assembling the largest-ever collection of photos in which people are hugging

As Collins told Guinness, setting the record (under the auspices of his GISHWHES scavenger hunt for charity) was the culmination of his own appreciation for a good hug. He added, "I also have had a lifelong dream of hugging over 100,000 people in one week."

According to Collins, he was thrilled by the response he received to his request asking fans to send photos of their hugs. "It's great to see so many people step forward and show a little (PG-rated) love on the Internet in what has become a bit of a platform for gloom, doom and gaudy showmanship," he explained.

The creative way he settled up with Jared Padalecki

Misha Collins and his "Supernatural" co-stars have long regaled fans with stories of their behind-the-scenes camaraderie, which also involved a healthy degree of pranks. That was the case when Collins and fellow actor Jared Padalecki were playing "Words with Friends" and, as Padalecki told fans during a convention Q&A, decided to bet some money on the outcome. 

Betting $10 a point, Padalecki won and his final score meant Collins owed him just over $2,000. Even though Padalecki said Collins didn't have to pay up, he insisted — but added a devious twist. "I didn't get my money for a long, long time," Padalecki recalled, until one day he arrived on the "Supernatural" set and noticed that members of the crew were looking at him a bit differently than usual. The reason came to be apparent when Padalecki opened the door to his trailer to find a whole lot of coins — $2,000 worth of coins, that is. And no, Collins didn't happen to just have all of that change lying around. "It turns out the reason he took so long is because he had to drive around to eight banks," Padalecki shared. 

At another fan event, Padalecki recapped some of the car-related pranks they exchanged, some of which included mayonnaise and at least one tow truck. Say what you will about the absurd amount of coins Collins dropped off in Padalecki's trailer, but at least it's not mayonnaise on a door handle. 

Mischa Collins met his wife in high school

Back on Wife Appreciation Day in 2019, Mischa Collins took to Instagram to share a rare photo of himself and wife Victoria Vantoch, joking, "According to hashtag law, I'm legally required to appreciate the mother of my children." According to the Washington Independent, Collins and Vantoch met when they were in high school, and married in 2001. They are parents to two children. 

Vantoch is an author with a particular interest in sexuality. That's evident in the title of her first book, published in 2007: "The Threesome Handbook: Make the Most of Your Favorite Fantasy — the Ultimate Guide for Tri-Curious Singles and Couples." According to the publisher's synopsis, Vantoch is described as a "sexuality historian and threesome dabbler." 

In 2019, Collins and Vantoch collaborated on a cookbook, "The Adventurous Eaters Club: Mastering the Art of Family Mealtime." In the acknowledgements for his 2021 book of poetry, "Some Things I Still Can't Tell You," Collins noted that the majority of the poems in the collection are about Vantoch, but also added some sad news. "After 30 years together, we have separated," he wrote. "I cried many times rereading the pages about her."

How much is Misha Collins worth?

Being one of the stars on a cult-favorite hit television series has added a few zeroes to Misha Collins' bank account. According to Celebrity Net Worth, his personal fortune is estimated at $2 million — a considerable sum to be sure, but also more modest than most people assume for an actor on a long-running TV series. 

In addition to Collins' "Supernatural" salary (which has been rumored to be anywhere between $20,000 to $100,000 per episode), another source of income comes from attending fan conventions. As a report in The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, stars of fan-favorite shows such as "Supernatural" can earn big bucks at these conventions; while a basic guarantee will range from $5,000 to $10,000 per appearance, that can jump into six figures, particularly if the actors sign autographs (at a cost, of course) for fans. 

While Collins hasn't divulged how much he earns from conventions, it's likely a considerable amount. "Talent makes more in a weekend than I make annually," Salt Lake City Comic-Con founder Dan Farr told THR, while an anonymous source added, "I know someone who literally takes garbage bags full of $20s with him back home."