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Joss Whedon - "Dollhouse" Tv Series - Maxim.com Interview

mercredi 18 février 2009, par Webmaster

Dollhouse’s production history seemed turbulent, even shutting down at one point. How much of it was real problems versus the nature of making a series ?

It really is the nature of it. Every show I’ve done—Buffy wasn’t picked up until midseason. Angel they also shut down after one episode. It’s not my favorite thing, but it is very much a part of getting collaboration between a show runner and a network to gel.

Did the network have specific concerns about the show ?

There were some specific notes about how the show rolls out : keeping the episodes so that they stand alone, and having sort of a conspiracy run through it, so that when we shift genres with the different personas that Eliza [Dushku] plays, it isn’t jarring for the audience. And those were mandates that I understood and respected, and it was my idea to reshoot the pilot and reorder things. We definitely had different priorities about what worked in the show, but we were both really excited about the basic premise.

Is that more of an issue with TV now ? Like, if you miss one episode of a series you’re…lost ? No pun intended.

Yeah, I agree with the network : you need a show that doesn’t have so much mythology that you can’t get into it. We tried to make each episode a little bit like a pilot—without repeating ourselves—showing who everyone is, how the system of the dollhouse works, and what [Eliza’s character] Echo’s going through. Because for me, it’s a real problem. If I’ve missed something, I come in and people are talking about something I haven’t seen, it’s very frustrating. But at the same time, one of the great joys of a show is watching people grow and change, progress and conflict. So you have to strike a balance between them.

Is this show just the ideal format for you to indulge in all of your genre-hopping ?

It is, to an extent. It’s definitely more of a thrilling drama at its essence, but within that, as Echo takes on a new persona, anything can happen. And so it definitely becomes a great playground for me and for Eliza.

Speaking of which, whenever you and Eliza get together it stirs a lot of fan excitement. What is it about your collaborations that’s such fanboy magic ?

I am Eliza’s biggest fan, which means I’m always going to ask the most of her. I’m going to show the most of her talents and what she can do. And have real trust and real energy that allows us to go for things that might be strange or uncomfortable. It’s exciting for us to be together, so the fact that that translates to the audience doesn’t surprise me.

Have you touched upon anything during filming so far that was a particular challenge for her, and maybe for you as well ?

Well, she’s gotta play a different character each week, so every episode is like a pilot for her. She’s creating these characters, and there have been a couple that were harder than others ; skins that are easier to slip into than others. But she works really hard, and if there’s something she’s uncomfortable with, we don’t roll until she understands how to do it. For me, the challenge is finding something new and making that world matter. The people in the dollhouse, who are there every week, they’re easy to generate sympathy for. But, including the person she’s playing, it’s a new story—it’s almost like an anthology.

A while back, you were attached to a Wonder Woman movie with Eliza as the rumored star. Is that project dead ? Or is it just dead so far as your involvement ?

I have no idea the status of the movie and, honestly, I never did. I was told they were very anxious to make it. I wrote a script. I rewrote the story. And by the time I’d written the second script, they asked me…not to. [Laughs] They didn’t tell me to leave, but they showed me the door and how pretty it was. Would I like to touch the knob and maybe make it swing ? I was dealing with them through [producer] Joel Silver who couldn’t tell me what they wanted or anything else. I was completely in the dark. So I didn’t know what it was that I wasn’t giving them. I’ve moved on.

As a comic book writer and fan, why do you think—with one very big exception—DC Comics is having such a hard time getting its characters on the screen while Marvel is churning them out ?

Because, with that one big exception, DC’s heroes are from a different era. They’re from the era when they were creating gods. And the thing that made Marvel extraordinary was that they created people. Their characters didn’t living in mythical cities, they lived in New York. They absolutely were a part of the world. Peter Parker’s character was a tortured adolescent. DC’s characters, like Wonder Woman and Superman and Green Lantern, were all very much removed from humanity. Batman was the only character they had who was so rooted in pain, that had that same gift that the Marvel characters had, which was that gift of humanity that we can relate to.

You recently wrapped up a run writing Astonishing X-Men in which you introduced the "mutant cure" plotline that ended up in X-Men : The Last Stand. How do you feel about how it was handled in the movie ?

I felt like it would have been nice to be paid. We were told they were using some of our stuff for the movie and…"Isn’t that exciting ?" You know, I’m sorry, but it’s not that exciting, and I don’t think it was handled well in the movie. I think they kind of glossed over it. So, ultimately it doesn’t affect me. You know when you write a Marvel comic, it’s theirs. They own it and they can do whatever they want with it. We probably weren’t the first people to come up with the idea of the mutant cure, though they did use some of our characters and specific situations. But at the end of the day, they made it not matter : any argument about whether or not it’s a terrible thing for people to be talking about curing mutants is kind of swept under the table. So ultimately I wish it had been handled better.

It must be said that you wrote one of the best superhero sex jokes ever in an issue of Astonishing. X-Man Kitty Pryde discovers her powers kick in when she, well, is "in the throes," let’s say…

You know, I am kind of proud of that. I was Kitty Pryde’s age when she was first introduced—I was 13 when I met her—so she’s been with me for a long time. I may have over-thought things.

Would you be interested in ever taking your own stab at translating a Marvel character into a movie ?

I’ve mentioned this to Marvel several times over the last couple of years : Kitty Pryde is out there. She’s a pretty fascinating character with a very visual power who, the last time I saw, was played by Oscar nominee Ellen Page. And they don’t seem to think that that’s awesome. I don’t know why. You know, I’m just sayin’.

Is there any chance you might return to the title, or to some other Marvel title ?

It’s really just a question of time and waiting for all of their events to finish. [Laughs] It’s basically became impossible to write a Marvel book in the Marvel universe because everything is tied into [crossover] events and I don’t like writing a book that you have to read 14 other books to understand. Or, you pick it up and suddenly everybody is evil because of something that happened in another book. I just think that’s a disservice to the readers. I realize that it’s done really well for Marvel and I think they’ve done a really good job with it, but it’s just not my kind of storytelling. There are characters I love and there are artists I’d love to work with and I grew up with Marvel, but I think for now, I’ll just concentrate on my own stuff.

You’re also working on a new horror film called Cabin in the Woods. How far into it are you ?

We start shooting it at the beginning of next month.

It’s being described as "a return to old school horror" Is that accurate ?

It is. It’s old school horror with grad school sensibilities. [Lost writer/producer and Cabin co-writer] Drew Goddard and I are huge horror fans, but we’re also huge horror critics. And this movie is basically about both of those things.

Can you say, in general terms, how it addresses a problem you see with horror films ?

No, I can’t. Because the message is in the plot of the movie, which is how it should be, and I can’t reveal that.

Do you have a cast all set ?

There will be a group that will go to this cabin in the woods and they will be mostly unknowns. We have Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins in the movie. They are not playing teenagers, which they were a little upset about. I had to talk them down.

Finally, we need to set the record straight : Are you, in fact, also J.J. Abrams ?

Yes. Thank you for finally bringing that to light. I am. And let me tell you something : I’m fuckin’ tired. I’m tired all the time. I’m doing everything. Yeah. Watch Fringe.


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