Homepage > Joss Whedon Cast > Michael Fairman > Interviews > Michael Fairman - About his career - Stargate-project.de Interview
« Previous : St. Louis Can’t Stop The Serenity Screening
     Next : Morena Baccarin - "Stargate" Tv Series - 10x19 "Dominion" Stills - Medium Quality Photos 3 »


Michael Fairman

Michael Fairman - About his career - Stargate-project.de Interview

Saturday 23 June 2007, by Webmaster

Hello Mr. Fairman. Thank you so much for giving the "Firefly"-section of the SGP-Network the chance to have this interview with you about your work on the show, your career and maybe some other things. We are very proud about this opportunity and we very appreciate you are keeping in touch with the fans of "Firefly". You have been working on any show I can imagine, and it’s a great honour to do this interview with you. We also think interviews like that can help promote "Firefly" over here in Germany, since it did not air, yet. It just came out on DVD two years ago.

Your television credits include a long list of guest-roles on shows like "Medium", "7th Heaven", "The X-Files", "JAG", "Ghost Whisperer", "Cold Case", "Dharma & Greg", "The King of Queens", "Viper", "Emergency Room", "L.A. Law", "Quantum Leap", "Alien Nation", "Cagney & Lacey", "Mac Gyver" and "The A-Team" just to name a few. Feature-films you worked on are for example "Thirteen Days" with Kevin Costner, "Mulholland Drive" next to Naomi Watts, "Forces of Nature" with Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock and "The Great White Hype" alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Jeff Goldblum, not to mention the numerous TV-films you did.

On "Firefly" you played the character of Adelai Niska. He is a ruthless, sinister and money-hungry businessman, who has a pack of sidekicks around him all the time. He never forgives failure, he doesn’t even hold back when it comes to family. You wouldn’t want to meet him and his fellows, when you’re alone and it’s dark outside. If the show had a chance to go on, he could have evolved into a real nemesis for Captain Reynolds, but more about him later. Thank you for portraying Niska. He’s just a great bad guy.

Okay, I think it’s time to get started with the questions.

SGPnet: At first let me ask, how are you today?

Michael Fairman: I’m fine, feeling well and happy.

SGPnet: Let’s talk about "Firefly" for a while. How did you get the role of Adelai Niska? Did you have to go to an audition or were you offered the role? What can you tell us about the process?

MF: I auditioned for Niska. First for Joss [Whedon], then called back to audition for his partner. When I read the script, I knew I was going to play the role. No one else was going to do it.

SGPnet: What attracted you to the "Firefly"-universe Joss Whedon created and did you like the idea of playing a bad guy?

MF: I loved the concept of "Firefly", the edgy dialogue, the good-bad aspects of its major characters and the mix of the future and past.

SGPnet: "Firefly" did never make it to the air on German television; it only came out on DVD two years ago. What can the audience expect of Niska?

MF: Audiences love to hate a bad guy. I’m sure German audiences won’t be different.

SGPnet: You did two episodes of "Firefly": The first one was "The Train Job" and then you came back later to shoot "War Stories". How was a day for you on the set of "Firefly" like? How was the atmosphere and were you having fun shooting your scenes?

MF: Lots of fun. The cast was very welcoming, made me feel at home, enjoyed what I was doing and said so.

SGPnet: How was working with Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin and all the other leading actors of the show? What are they like?

MF: Nathan, Gina and Adam were and are terrific people as well as being very talented actors. They’re very giving - no negative ego problem. I had worked with Gina before so that was cool.

SGPnet: What was your funniest moment on set you remember? Was there anything happening like someone messed up his lines and couldn’t get them out right or somebody had a funny accident? Is there a funny story to tell us?

MF: There were really no funny incidents for me. In the second show "War Sories", I was really getting into Nathans torture and at one point I felt like dancing in delight at his pain, but the director said that was getting "over the top", so I toned it down.

SGPnet: Has there been any improvising or was it not allowed? And how was working with mastermind Joss Whedon?

MF: No improvising, Joss was pretty strict about the words in the shows. He’s a good director and knows exactly what he wants and knows how to get it.

SGPnet: Have you also been watching the series when it was on TV, or was it just another job for you? I mean, it must be very hard for an actor, who is working on a lot of different shows, to follow up all of them.

MF: I did not watch this series until much later. But it was more than a job because I really loved doing Niska.

SGPnet: The sequel in the form of the big movie "Serenity" wouldn’t have been possible, if there hadn’t been Joss Whedon first, but also if there weren’t so many enthusiastic fans of the show from all over the world, who wouldn’t take this bad ending and who started campaigns, raised money, wrote letters to get a complete season and bought the DVDs. There are so many good shows that are being cancelled just because they don’t please the bosses. What do you think: Do the fans still have an influence?

MF: Generally the fans do have an influence but regarding the bringing back of "Firefly", there seems to be little influence so far, but who knows. If you guys keep it up ...

SGPnet: What do you think about fandom itself?

MF: Without fans there’s nothing.

SGPnet: We have a website for the crime-series "Cold Case" on our SGP-Network as well and you had a guest-role on this show as David Rosen in 2004 in the episode "Disco Inferno". How was working with the cast and especially Kathryn Morris? How is she like?

MF: In "Cold Case", Kathryn was lovely ... very lovely.

SGPnet: What experiences did you make on the "Cold Case"-set? And do you like the concept of the show?

MF: They had shot a scene with me. Then later, they were about to do one with my younger self, when I noticed his eyes were brown. Mine are blue. The director and producer nearly had a fit. But the scene they already had shot with me was in shadows, so it was difficult to tell the colour of my eyes. But they then got brown lenses for me.

SGPnet: You have worked on a tremendous amount of TV-Shows, but mostly as a supporting- or a guest-actor. Is there a reason, why an actor of your format and experience is picked for so many "small" roles, but rarely for a leading-role?

MF: I’ve also had many recurring roles in series - "Hill Street Blues", "Cagney & Lacey", "L.A. Law" and others. My ‘big break’ is coming.

SGPnet: Looking at this huge list of TV- and film-appearances, we realize, you have worked in almost every genre there is. What is your personal favourite-genre (Science-Fiction, Action, Comedy, Crime, etc.) and can you also tell us why?

MF: I’ve had the most success in the crime genre, but one of my favourite roles was a character in the comedy series "Cheers". I loved getting the laughs.

SGPnet: Let’s talk about your current projects. You worked on two movies this year. The first one is a thriller called "Dark Streets" (Gabriel Mann, Bijou Phillips and Izabella Miko are co-starring). And there is the mystery-thriller "Dead Silence" (with Amber Valletta and Donnie Wahlberg). What can you tell us about them?

MF: In "Dark Street" I was very innovatively shot. They used a lens which gives a dream-like quality to the picture. Also I’m a very very bad man. I get away with EVERYTHING! "Dead Silence" was my first horror film. I loved being terrified and getting brutally murdered.

SGPnet: Are there any other things you are working on right now or are planning to do in the near future? What’s in store for Michael Fairman?

MF: Taking a little time off before I’m discovered.

SGPnet: You are not only an actor, but also a writer and a director. What experiences did you make working behind the cameras? Are there any personal projects you’d like to realize one day, or are you already working on one of them?

MF: I’m not a director. That was a mistake by IMDb.com. That’s another Michael Fairman - Michael E. Fairman. I wrote a TV film and half a dozen episodes for the sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati".

SGPnet: How did you get into acting? I read an interesting story of a young navigator in the U.S. Air Force, an Air Force base near Tokyo and a theatre group.

MF: That’s correct. I gave up a career in the USAF for acting. Much more dangerous and exciting than flying.

SGPnet: So, you have an extensive stage experience. You played in "Oedipus Rex", "A Streetcar named Desire", "Waiting for Godot", numerous Shakespearean plays and also off-Broadway-productions. What do you like more: Performing on stage or in front of a camera - Theatre or TV?

MF: I love the theatre for its immediacy to an audience. That’s a palpable thing. The writing is better, and creating a character for two to three hours on stage and keeping it fresh and alive through the performances is a wonderful artistic challenge. Very satisfying. Film has its rewards in the reality of the environment and the nuance and subtlety one can give to a performance. And in film there is room for accident and improvisation, which is dangerous and exciting.

SGPnet: Looking back on a long career in show-business: What was the best and what was the hardest role you ever played?

MF: Stanley Kawalski in "A Streetcar named Desire" was the best role I ever had. I loved coming to the theatre and playing him. And I never came to the end of exploring his character. The hardest was Adlai Stevenson. Trying to create him in me. So many things about Stevenson were different than me. When it all came together it was very rewarding. That was in the film "Thirteen Days" about the Cuban missile crisis.

SGPnet: Do you like watching TV or going to the movies? Is there any science-fiction-TV-series you like? And what’s your favourite movie?

MF: I love going to the movies. My favourite movie is "On the Waterfront". The acting, directing, photography and script are the best.

SGPnet: How do you try to relax after a long day of working? What is helping you to defeat the stress?

MF: Having a glass of wine and listening to Mozart.

SGPnet: Do you have any pets?

MF: Yes. Two parakeets, two cockatiels, three dogs and a hamster - My wife and daughter are the pet lovers.

SGPnet: Do you have any helpful hints for young people who want to become an actor?

MF: Yes. Be interested in people, everything about them. Become an observer. Watch great actors. Read great books and perform every chance you get. And above all find the truth in yourself.

SGPnet: Have you ever been to Germany? If you have been here before, what did you like the best? If not, what would you like to see and which city would you like to visit, if you get the chance?

MF: Yes. In the late 80’s. A visit all too short. To Munich. I would love to go to Berlin, see the countryside. I’m a "wurst" lover.

SGPnet: I found out, you visited some conventions. What do you think about conventions and what do you expect from them for yourself?

MF: I love the enthusiasm of the fans. It’s a great energy that I carry back with me. I love the interchange with crazed people who I wouldn’t ordinarily meet.

SGPnet: Quick-Shooting-Round - I give you a headword and you reply with one or a few words, which are coming into your mind spontaneously.

1. Thunderstorm ... cozy
2. Candle ... a kiss
3. Fast Food ... grease
4. Internet ... the world
5. New Year’s Eve ... snow and New York
6. Audition ... ease and fun
7. Soccer ... athletic
8. Joss Whedon ... comic, big guy, mad hatter
9. Ice-Cream ... I love it!
10. Traffic Jam ... crazy and frustrating

SGPnet: That would be all for now. If you would like to write some greetings or a personal message to the German fans, you can do it now.

MF: Meine Freunde, ich kann nur wenig Deutsch sprechen, aber [speaking German: My friends, I can only speak a little bit of German, but] ... It’s been wonderful to be able to share a bit of myself with you. Thanks for being the interested fans of "Firefly" that you are. Perhaps one day we can meet. I wish you all well.

SGPnet: Last but not least I have to thank you for the interview, for the time you took for us and I wish you all the best for your career and your future. I would be very happy, when we can do another interview someday again.