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Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Maurissa Tancharoen - "Dr. Horrible" Tv Series - Crushable.com Interview

Tuesday 5 April 2011, by Webmaster

Interview: ’Dr. Horrible’ Co-Writer Maurissa Tancharoen on "Breaking" the Help Nathan Buy Firefly Movement and Reviving ’Dollhouse’

Last week we shared seven behind-the-scenes tidbits from the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog companion guide, which featured memories and photos from the cast and crew. Now we’ve got an exclusive interview with Maurissa Tancharoen, writer, actress, and singer, who has been welcomed into the Whedon clan both personally and professionally — she co-wrote Dr. Horrible in 2008 and married writing partner Jed Whedon (Joss‘ brother) in 2009.

Since the musical’s unprecedented success, she’s worked on Drop Dead Diva and Dollhouse, and is currently writing for Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. She’s also appeared on Dr. Horrible co-star Felicia Day‘s webseries The Guild. Crushable spoke with Tancharoen about her geek past and future, including her favorite TV show growing up, responding to the misguided Help Nathan Buy Firefly movement, and upcoming musical projects.

Did you consider yourself a geek growing up? If so, what kinds of fandoms were you involved in?

I considered myself a small Asian girl who was terrible at sports. So yes? But I was overjoyed when Dance became part of the PE curriculum during my sophomore year in high school. I could finally prove I was coordinated. Growing up, I was a huge syndicated-television fan. I watched endless hours of I Love Lucy (I had clothing, lunchboxes plural, magnets, figurines, and would walk around saying “Luuuuuucyyyy…”), The Three Stooges, Gilligan’s Island, Fantasy Island, and Three’s Company.

How did Joss approach you to work on Dr. Horrible?

The character, Dr. Horrible, a supervillain who is basically villainy-challenged, was an idea Joss had been toying around with for a bit. He originally envisioned it as a podcast until he saw the brilliant hilarity that Jed, Zack and I (along with our friend, Nick Towne) posted on the youtube. I like to call it “the youtube”. This brilliant hilarity I’m speaking of was one of the countless strike videos that bombarded the internet during the Writer’s Guild Strike a few years ago. But OUR strike video was a gem. And Joss knows when he needs to grab a hold of something so precious. Covet it, and crush it with love, and then snort it. That’s just how he lives. So what was the question?

From looking at your IMDb page, it appears that Dr. Horrible was your first songwriting credit. How, then, did you approach the songwriting process; and was it more exciting, or nerve-wracking?

During my singing group days, I wrote a few songs. Are these songs I want you to hear? A resounding NO. And over the years, Jed and I have written a lot of songs together. I guess you could say our relationship started in music. I guess you could also say barf. But he is the musical genius and I am his sidekick. I’m usually like, “What if it goes something like this?” And he says, “Shut up.” And then I’ll suggest, “Or maybe la la la?” And he says, “Go to your room.” That’s basically our process. It’s totally fun!

Can we expect any musical projects from you in the future, either as a lyricist or singer?

Yes. We’re actually working on a few little somethings right now…

It’s great to see that you pop up in videos like The Guild‘s “Do You Want to Date My Avatar” and the Legend of Neil episode “Les Neilerables”, as well as the Dollhouse series finale. It seems that in addition to being a collaborator with Felicia Day, the members of The Guild, and others, you’re also friends. Can you talk about that group dynamic?

I love being friends with the people I work with. It makes the job even better. I admire and respect Felicia and all those folks tremendously, so to be able to collaborate creatively with them and just plain hang out? It’s awesome. It’s rare to come across people you genuinely connect with, especially in this business, so I’m grateful.

It was your tweet that effectively ended the Help Nathan Buy Firefly movement right as it seemed like it might get out of control. What was your reaction when you first heard about it? And have you received any negative messages from fans for what they may see as “spoiling their fun”?

Oh man… Yes, I guess I broke Help Nathan Buy Firefly. I did not intend to. Honestly, I knew nothing about the movement until my twitter feed and facebook email were suddenly filled with questions about it. I looked into it and thought I was echoing what Nathan Fillion and Jane Espenson had tweeted before me. But apparently my tone came across as abrasive. That whole event was… not my favorite experience. There were many cruel things posted about me and when someone said “Kill the messenger!” I was shocked to say the least. We all were. When Joss found out about it, his response was, “Who to the what now?!” He was going to say something on my behalf but I thought we should just let it be. Damage done, moving on.

What was your experience like in writing the Dollhouse one-shot comic—was it similar or vastly different from writing for the show?

It’s a blast. We’re able to continue our love for the Dollhouse story and reveal more about the Epitaphs timeline [the first-season and series finales] without being limited to production restraints. It’s a win-win.