Til I Found “Serenity”
A (slightly) abbreviated version of this is available over on the new nerd culture blog God Hates Geeks for whom I technically did this write up, but I just couldn’t resist sharing my informal, unadulterated, probably containing many more grammatical errors take on the Q&A with the handsome, talented, and delightfully delightful Nathan Fillion.
Obviously, I am a huge “Firefly” fan, as I am sure EVERYONE else in theatre five of Regal Cinemas LA Live was, at Sunday night’s screening of Serenity. My love of Joss Whedon’s work began in middle school when my mom insisted I start watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Yes, that is correct, my mom forced me to watch the same shows as her so we could have something to talk about. However, much as I enjoy a good vampire butt kicking, I prefer smugglers in space – I was reared on Star Wars and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, so it’s only natural.
Actor Nathan Fillion arrived to, no surprise, thunderous applause. When Geoff Boucher, super cool dude and The LA Times resident geek, told Fillion it was nice to see him, he simply agreed. Yes, it was nice to see him. And with ABC’s “Castle” currently on hiatus and already renewed for a fifth season, the actor was looking radiant from his well-deserved weeks of rest. (Side note: the mere mention of the word “Castle” elicited squeals and applause from the audience…multiple times)
Fillion, who got his start in New York playing Joey Buchanan on the ABC Soap “One Life to Live”, talked about the writers’ ability incorporate references to other projects of his into “Castle.” “At one point there was a bit where my mother, Susan Sullivan, says to me ‘you’ve never heard of Serenity?’ And I was hoping I could just look right into the camera for just a second [and say] ‘never heard of it’.” The director vetoed that idea in favor of maintaining the illusion of the fourth wall.
Though Fillion mentioned texting with him earlier, Serenity creator Joss Whedon, sadly, did not make a surprise appearance. (I apologize to anyone I was bragging to on Saturday night–after Rick Baker and Simon Pegg’s appearances I was really convinced Joss was gonna show up too)
On the topic of filming Serenity, which occurred two years after “Firefly” was cancelled, Fillion said that he came to realize that he actually missed the characters, not the actors themselves, with whom he kept in close contact. “From everything I do, I always pull one friend. From “Firefly” I got 20 to 25 really good friends … I realized when we started filming Serenity and … we all went to our trailers and came out in our outfits, I realized, oh my God! I missed these guys. I missed the crew and the ship.”
Fillion said he knew right away that Captain Mal Reynolds, his now iconic role on “Firefly” was a killer part. While he likes to think he brought something to the role, he did comment on how Joss’s particular style of writing had a heavy hand in the casting process. “ … I saw how Joss picked his cast and he picked people that these characters, these words really could sing through. It was a very particular kind of speech, they called it ‘Joss Speak’ at the time. It was very particular, it had a twang, it had a rhythm, it had a music and he picked people who nailed it.”
Ah, good old “Joss Speak”. And now we have Marvel superheroes, on the big screen, spouting witticisms amidst generalized Manhattan-based destruction (spoilers, I guess, if you’re one of the three people on the planet who hasn’t seen The Avengers).
Fillion went on to describe his first meeting with Whedon regarding “Firefly”. He recalls that, at the time, since the script existed only in treatment (more or less, fancy word for extremely detailed outline) form, he had a lot of questions. Whedon had a lot of answers. After “Firefly” was cancelled, Fillion was called in for another sci-fi show. “I was there with the writer/creator [of that show] and I said, ‘Okay, what about this? How’s this gonna happen? And, if they can solve this very easily, what’s the challenge?’ and [the writer] says, ‘Yeah, I dunno!’” Whedon, on the other hand, would have had everything worked out down to the the lighting. His meticulous attention to detail, according to Fillion, takes Whedon’s imaginative concepts from “a children’s coloring book, to a very realistic trompe-l’oeil painting.”
Yes I had to Google “tromploi” to learn that it was actually the french “trompe-l’oeil” (meaning trick of the eye). I’m sure Peter Weller would be very disappointed.
Of course the theatre nerd in me was thrilled to learn that Joss Whedon, who directed a film version of Much Ado About Nothing, now in post-production, holds occasional Shakespeare brunches at his house. Prior to filming Much Ado, said occasions were Fillion’s only experience with Shakespeare. Doubtful though he was of his own abilities, Fillion said the language eventually clicked and he had a great time.
Which is not in the least bit surprising. It is Joss after all. Said Fillion, “I dunno if any of you guys have one of these friends who every time your friend brings a group with them they’re always cool? That person is the center at like the hub of which everyone around them is amazing? … I got two of those guys. One’s name is Tuck, and one’s name is Joss.”
Yeah, we know Joss is magic. Now, who’s Tuck?