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FireflyAdam Baldwin - "Serenity" Movie - Scifibrain.com Interview
Wednesday 21 December 2005, by Webmaster
During my recent interview with members of the cast of Serenity (released on DVD December 20th), I was listening to Nathan Fillion’s dream cast for a Mel Brook’s spoof, when he turned and asked fellow co-star, Adam Baldwin, “Who would play Jayne in a Mel Brooks’ version of a spoof of Firefly?”
“Danny Glover,” Adam responds to Nathan’s question with barely a moment’s hesitation. I can’t help but wonder if this is something he’s considered before. “It’s really funny if you think about it.”
“No, he’s my backup for Sheppard,” Nathan refutes. “I said Tony Shalhoub.”
“Tony Shalhoub.” Adam seems to ponder the choice.
“And Sam Rockwell would play me,” Nathan continues. “And for Wash...oh, who was that kid...“
Adam offers, “Doogie Howser?”
“No, not Neil Patrick Harris. He was the kid on that show..." Nathan thinks about it for a moment, and I wonder if he’ll start recasting the extras soon as well. “Life Goes On. Corky. Chris Burke. He would play Wash. He’s a wonderful actor.”
I think the play-by-play of the spoof may finally be over when Nathan continues, “And Mel Brooks would have to play Joss.” He reconsiders, and then adds, “Or Niska.”
“Mel Brooks as Niska,” Adam repeats with a grin. “That would be funny.”
Standing at over 6’4", Adam Baldwin could easily come across as intimidating. Instead, he is one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth actors I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with. Trust me when I say it’s not easy to interview a man whose work you’ve admired since the beginning of his career over 25 years ago. In fact, it’s downright unsettling. Next to Nathan’s boisterousness, Adam possesses a quiet, calming presence that is certainly capable of soothing the most frazzled of journalists.
Such as myself at that moment. Thankfully, his deep blue eyes and devastating smile don’t affect me in the least.
Yeah, I’m not believing it, either.
After Nathan makes his departure, Adam settles into the empty seat beside me, and I’m left wondering where to begin. Though he may not be a household name, Adam Baldwin is one of those actors who is instantly recognizable, followed by musings of “Wait, haven’t I seen him in...?”
With over 67 film credits to his name (and that’s not including the additional 53 television guest spots), there are plenty of options to choose from. Luckily, with the recent release of the Serenity DVD, there’s only one topic forefront of my thoughts. What was it like to work on the film, and be reunited with the cast of Firefly?
“It felt like a grand episode, again,” he tells me. “It’s so hard because the show was cut off before it should have been — or in our opinion, before it should have been — so to have had the closure of this movie was great. Come what may, if we get to do another film or if we don’t, at least we’ve finished on this high note.”
In the series, Adam played Jayne Cobb, an all-brawn, no-brain mercenary who could have easily remained a one-dimensional character in the hands of a less talented actor. Thanks to Adam’s more layered portrayal, Jayne quickly became a fan-favorite, expressing both humor and heart in the span of time it takes characters on most series to simply develop a personality.
It’s obvious when talking with Adam that he enjoyed this character, and it shows in the multifaceted nuances he added to the portrayal. Little things, like Jayne’s constant need to be playing with things or eating, always doing something with his hands, led to a more realistic depiction. I have to admit, though, at being surprised by Adam’s take on Jayne’s past. While the series wasn’t on long enough for us to learn the background stories of all of the characters, the common belief among fans is that the Cobb family is more than likely made up of dirt-poor farmers.
Not so, according to Adam’s interpretation.
“I think of Jayne as sort of a rejectionist,” he tells me. “He didn’t really like his middle-class upbringing, which just didn’t offer the adventure he was looking for. He wanted to get away from his home and parents. All his future promised for him was mediocrity and boredom, and then it’s funny because he ends up being sort of mediocre and boring. I think he tries to overcompensate a lot because of that.”
Adam’s interest in Jayne’s background doesn’t end there. He believes that if the series had continued, we would have eventually gotten a glimpse at the Cobb family.
“I’ve always wanted to see the mom. I think we would have eventually seen her. It would have been wonderful to see who they would have picked - she would either have to have been a really tiny lady, or a really big lady!” He grins.
The cancellation of Firefly back in 2002, after only 11 episodes, is still a sore spot for everyone...creator, cast and fans alike.
“I was sad for all of us when the show was cancelled,” Adam admits. “But I mostly felt sorry for Joss (Whedon), because I’d seen this happen before. I’d seen Chris Carter’s show Lone Gunmen get cancelled, and The Visitor got cancelled for Dean and Roland. And here I had to see it happen again. It’s like, God, I know how much that hurts. But that’s the nature of the beast — when you don’t get the ratings, off you go.”
Luckily, we have the film Serenity to make it all better for the fans...for a little while at least. While it may not have performed strongly at the box office, that doesn’t mean it will simply disappear into the annals of movie history. Fueled by an intricate storyline, complex characters and fabulous special effects, very few who saw the flick walked away disappointed.
Adam agrees. “I think it’s a classic Sci-Fi movie, and it will be around for a long time. Full Metal Jacket (the Stanley Kubrick film in which Adam co-starred in 1987) didn’t make a lot of money, but when people think of classic Vietnam movies, that’s one of them. It’s around, and it holds up. I believe Serenity can hold it’s own with any other Sci-Fi movie.”
The question is, will the film stand up to the hoped-for DVD sales? Is there any possibility of a sequel?
“Deep down I was thinking yeah, it would be great to be able to do a sequel, and who knows?”
Adam pauses a moment to consider his words. His replies are all like this - reflective, measured and carefully chosen. While much of it likely stems from years in the business and countless interviews, it’s also quite clear that he puts a great deal of thought into what he has to say about his work.
“God, I just really wanted it to be a hit for Joss,” he continues. “He really deserves it. He put in way more work into it than any of us.”
Adam’s admiration of creator Joss Whedon is apparent in his tone as he adds, “Joss is my hero. I’ve said this over and over again. He’s my hero for having been able to resurrect a damn cancelled TV show.”
The past year has been a whirlwind one for every member of the cast, who have made appearances all over the US and Europe, promoting Serenity at screenings and conventions. Unfortunately, this has also meant that Adam has had to spend time away from the most important thing in his life - his family.
“My goal has always been to interact with people who love Firefly and Serenity,” he explains, once more showing a deep appreciation toward the fans. “But I would prefer not to participate in conventions without something that’s new to sell. So unless something else comes along that conventions want to promote, I won’t be a lingering participant. Mostly just because I’m a family man and want to spend time with them."
“It’s been a very uplifting and enjoyable experience for me this year, where we’ve had the movie to promote and this sort of resurrection of Firefly,” Adam adds. “What next year holds? I don’t know.”
The future may be up in the air with regards to Firefly, but that in no way means that Adam’s fans won’t have plenty of opportunities to see him in action. He recently filmed a guest spot on the pilot of a show produced by Dean Devlin, titled Talk to Me. Slated for TNT, the series is about hostage negotiators in New York City, and Adam guest stars in the first episode as a man who has taken his own wife (played by Angela Torn) hostage because she’s been sleeping with his lawyer.
Sounds interesting! I can’t help but ask for a few more details.
Adam complies. “What we tried to do is play it as this dysfunctional couple stuck in their car. I grab her, and we crash into this car wash, and then it’s Dog Day Afternoon - we’re surrounded, and they try to talk me out of it on the cell phone. The play inside the car was basically dysfunctional husband and wife stuck in traffic, so we went through the whole gamut of emotions. It’s good, it turned out really well.”
Also on the horizon is the release of The Thirst, a horror film about a vampire family in which Adam portrays a ‘hick’ vampire.
“I played it just like kind of an over-the-top,” and here he switches into a guttural-like Jayne voice...“extra, extra Jayne - real quirky with a full beard and a big ol’ hat, blood spurting out and all of that stuff. He’s sort of the bon vivant of the family,” he explains with a laugh.
I’m not a horror fan myself, but a Jayne-like vampire? I’m not missing that one!
All too soon, my interview is over. I have dozens more questions I want to ask, but there’s a Serenity panel to get to, and Adam isn’t the type of person to keep the fans waiting. Whether or not there is ever a sequel to Serenity, at least the fans can be grateful for having been blessed with an assembly of the most generous and personable cast of individuals a fandom could ever hope for.