Misha Collins: The Planning Behind The Random Act

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Misha Collins

You may know Misha Collins from his recent stint on Syfy's "Stonehenge Apocalypse." You certainly know him from his recurring role on CW's Supernatural, where he plays the angel Castiel. But what you may not know is that he's a marathon runner, and he's putting his efforts into coordinating fandom's energy into making the world a better place, one random act of kindness at a time.

It's just the sort of subtle plan you'd expect from an angel.

What was the initial inspiration that motivated you to plan The Random Act charity?

I don't know if I can pinpoint a specific instance. It's something that sort of evolved over time. I go to Supernatural conventions, where the fans convene, and I see people putting in so much time and energy -- people who give me incredible portraits of my character on the show, Castiel, painted in oils on a canvas that's four feet wide and six feet tall; intricate sculptures that they make; things like that. And then, of course, online there are a million websites with very active forums and communities. And it seemed to me that it would be a travesty not to harness some of that creative energy and time that people are putting in on these efforts towards maybe a slightly more benevolent use.

So I think just seeing all of that, and seeing how enthusiastic my Twitter followers were, it just seemed like it was a good idea.

What exactly is it that The Random Act sets out to do?

We're trying to make a small difference in people's lives by encouraging people to be kind to each other in surprising ways. It is not a terribly discreet project. 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. And hopefully those small, meaningful acts of kindness are going to have a lasting impression on people, and will encourage them to carry out small acts of kindness on their own. Ideally, the process will grow exponentially over time and hopefully make a small difference in the way people treat one another in the world.

I'm a fan of that type of behavior, just because I've seen in my own life that it has made a big difference. There are things that stand out from my early childhood. My family -- we had a really loving and wonderful nuclear family, but we did not have any money. There was a time when we were camping on the side of the road and didn't have a place to live. Someone stopped by and brought us to a motel -- and we simply could not believe the opulence and luxury of being in this motel room. They gave us a gift certificate to Big Boy for fourteen dollars, and we couldn't even fathom how we were going to spend so much money in one sitting in a restaurant! That was when I was six or seven years old, and it has stuck with me vividly to this day, and probably that one small act that someone did twenty-nine years ago affects how I behave today.

So there's an element of the pay-it-forward principle that The Random Act is trying to perpetuate.

Yeah. And I guess there's one other element. I don't want it to be too terribly saccharine or dull. I think that it's also possible to engage in these kinds of acts, and have it have a quality of irreverence and humor and fun, and have it still be impactful -- and maybe even moreso, because it is a fun process. It doesn't have to be this sort of staid and dull charitable act. It can be something that's a lot more fun.

Is this largely your fanbase and Twitter followers who are pushing this forward?

This is definitely a galvanization of the Twitter follower universe.

Are any other artists and actors involved? Some of your Supernatural costars?

Oh, no, no. All my other costars are all misanthropes who hate people. [Editor: He's kidding, folks!] But no, they've not been involved. In fact, I haven't really been discussing this that much with them. I know that they have their own projects -- Jared (Padalecki) is involved with a charity called "A Dog's Life," and Jim has his projects as well. So I have not been working with those guys, although I would love to at some point in the future. I mean, we just are starting this. This is literally the first go-round, and we were doing these projects in the last month and a half, so it's in its very nascent stages yet.

How can someone get involved in The Random Act? I mean, it's kind of oxymoronic, as there has to be some sort of organization to planning these random acts.

Right. (laughs) They actually have to be meticulously planned and prepared, and not random at all. It's a complete misnomer and false advertising if you think about it. No, that's not true, there's actually an element of it that really has been kind of random and arbitrary -- walking out and handing flowers to strangers on the street is a certain example of that. But also a lot of the things that we have done have been more meticulously planned, and have required a fair amount of organization. The website, TheRandomAct.org, is a good resource for that. People go there, and they can sign up and be informed of what we're doing, but also, after this little round of fundraising that we're doing right now, we're going to have people write in suggestions, or "tweet" in suggestions of recipients of random acts, and then we can pool resources to bring those to bear. So it will continue to be a collective effort.

When you say they can "tweet" in these ideas, would that be to your Twitter account, or does The Random Act have its own Twitter account...?

I think Random Act does have its own Twitter account. And the question you're asking assumes I've even thought about how that's going to work. Which, I haven't! (laughs) So, I don't know. Yeah. It will either be to my Twitter account, or Random Act's Twitter account, or directly to the website. I don't know. I don't know how we're going to do it exactly.

One thing that you do have planned is the run you'll be doing September 5th. What's your record for a run so far, and how far do you think you'll actually go?

My record to date... well, I've run a few marathons. And I actually should know what the metric conversion is... 42 kilometers, I think? I would like to do significantly more than that, but last night I sat down to calculate how long I thought it would take if I ran the full hundred kilometers, and it's like -- it's like twelve hours! That's a really long time to be running! So... we'll see. I have absolutely no idea how far I'll make it, which will keep it fun. But I'll certainly have impetus to try to keep running, because each additional kilometer that I run will bring in several hundred dollars. So I'll try to forge on and not be a total wuss about it.