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FireflyJoss Whedon - About "Serenity" Movie - Theregoestheday.com Interview
Tuesday 30 August 2005, by Webmaster
Joss Whedon is the tv auteur who brought the cult success BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL to the screen. When follow-up series, the space/western FIREFLY, was axed by FOX he swore that wouldn’t be the end of the story. As SERENITY received its world premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival, he took time out for an exclusive interview...
This is the opening page for Verbatim magazine, the ’Essential Guide to Cult Entertainment’s Movers & Shakers’. We take some of the key members of the industry and talk about their careers, recent projects, plans for the future and the appeal of their work. There’s many subjects to cover. The remit is not just to cover science-fiction and fantasy but also shows as diverse as Stargate and The Inside. We’ve been on the set of Spooks, Firefly, The Shield and sat down for exclusive interviews with creative talents covering a multitude of outlets -such as Joss Whedon, Mark Millar, David Abramowitz, James Marsters, Michael Chiklis, Adrian Paul, Tim Minear, Adam Baldwin and others.
For all the promises you made and good intentions, was there ever any moment when it looked like Firefly would ultimately stay a past glory rather than part of the future?
“Not only did I think at times that I couldn’t do it, I had a number of people who are intelligent and loving and important in my life telling me I probably shouldn’t. It’s not necessarily the simplest way to make a splash with your first movie. The baggage that it carries in terms of writing it and presenting it and marketing it is very, very ungainly. People said ‘You love this story. Check. You love this universe. Check. You love this cast. You feel a responsibility to them because you told them that they were going to have a hit show and then you were made a liar... but is that the best reason to make a film or are you doing this out of guilt?’ Oddly enough, none of the cast members ever gave me that little spiel... Everything they were saying was right but I cannot not do this. I cannot let this go..."
Though SERENITY is an ensemble movie, was it a case of sitting down and picking which characters got the most focus?
“I HAD to pick and this was how it structured out. It’s Mal’s story as told by River. The trick is - when you do have an ensemble piece like this, you do have to have somebody to attach to. At the beginning, you get attached to River and she takes us to Mal.
But when you write it, what you say is that everyone is a star and everyone has their moment and gets to be funny. Everyone has a reason for being on board, a reason to be in this movie and a distinctive voice. Walking that line is really hard and one of the hard things in editing is to get people to identify with Mal. Everybody was being equally fun and interesting, but you need people to say ‘Is this the guy I should be watching?’ The scene where he says to River ‘Do you understand your place in all this?’ and she replies: ‘Do you?’ That was our one reshoot. I realised what I was missing was the hand-off... I needed her to look at him and be saying ‘You don’t know you’re important, but I do and now the audience knows it too’.”
Star Wars took us from a backwater planet to JOSS WHEDON "...my version is that Han Solo walked into the bar five minutes later and never found out about the Force or the rebellion and still had to make a living and still had the Hutt after him. It was the ’lived in’ quality..." Given that Firefly was being planned as a multi-season series and that the film can only touch on part of that, when would the events of the film (or similar) happened in your story structure?
“This would have been... well, the end of season two would have been the discovery of what had really happened to River and the fact that not only were the Alliance after her because they lost a valuable asset, but also because she knew a secret. The resolution involving a giant space battle came in later (laughs). It was about freedom and the right to be wrong.”
After all the hard work, was finally seeing the finished film premiere with a public audience something of a relief?
“Oh, are you kidding? I was spending the whole time going ‘That music hit is late, that explosion is wrong. I’m still finishing the movie in my head. People are saying ‘The audience loved it’ and I’m going ‘Who..?’ When I managed to step outside my ‘tinkerer’ it was pretty gratifying."
What is the time-frame for when you will know if a sequel is viable?
“It depends. I always saw this as a slow-burn film because, as I said, the best advertising for the film is going to be the film. I used to tell the marketing boys; ‘The first weekend is your job, the second weekend is mine’. I don’t see us coming out of the gate and setting the world on fire. I think that expectation is too high because too many people don’t know what they’ll be getting. I do think that when people see the movie that they will enjoy it that it could hold for a while. They’ve quoted numbers, but I think getting to a decent number is something that will happen gradually. It’s not a summer blockbuster, but I think it has legs...because I built it upon them.”
SERENITY opens Sep 29th (US) / Oct 7th (UK) gleaming metropolis and I always got the feeling you felt their were better stories and characters back in that cantina...
My version is that Han Solo walked into the bar five minutes later and never found out about the Force or the rebellion and still had to make a living and still had the Hutt after him. It was the lived in quality. This guy has the quality of ‘ we have no higher purpose, no Force that surrounds us and guides us, we only
The full Joss Whedon interview will appear in Verbatim #9