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Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion - "Castle" Tv Series - Televisionwithoutpity.com Interview

Wednesday 4 March 2009, by Webmaster

Nathan Fillion may be the nicest guy on the planet. It may not come across when he’s playing tough-as-nails Captain Mal Reynolds on Firefly, or the dickish Captain Hammer on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, but on the phone he’s as friendly as all get-out. Which is funny, because his new character — Richard Castle, the crime-solving crime novelist on the new series Castle — is a bit of a jerk. We sacrificed our queen to get Mr. Castle into position for a one-on-one phone interview, and he gave us the scoop on his new series, the subtle art of jerkery, and where things stand with Serenity 2 and Dr. Horrible. Plus, he’s apparently a fan of ours, which only makes him seem nicer.

TWoP: Thank you for your time today!

Fillion: Not at all, I’m a fan of your site. You guys are tough but fair. And really accurate and passionate!

TWoP: Wow! Thank you! Of course, we’re all big fans of yours.

NF: I’ve also noticed that, which is [mumbles rest] alsowhyyou’reoneofmyfavorites.

TWoP: I should have known. So who’s the bigger jerk, Rick Castle from Castle or Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible?

NF: Captain Hammer is a bigger jerk. He’s a super jerk! He’s a super-powered jerk — being a jerk is one of his powers.

TWoP: Is it more fun to play someone who’s a bit of a jerk? You seem like you’re having a great time on Castle.

NF: Yeah, you know, a long time ago, I was playing a character on a sitcom called Two Guys and a Girl and he was perfect. I was the character of Johnny, he was so perfect, he was really cool and everything. He was very nice, he was the only person who was centered and relaxed on the whole show, and then they say "...okay, and he’s a fix-it guy, but he doesn’t fix anything right, and he’s cheap." And I thought, [high-pitched] "No, don’t! My guy’s so cool, why would you — ! I don’t wanna do — ! Aw, man!" I was so disappointed, and then I realized how much funny there is in flaws, and when you just don’t know what to do in a moment, play to your faults, your flaws. When I learned that, I became obsessed with flaws, I embraced flaws. No one wants to see a person on TV who’s super-ultra-cool. That’s Superman, that’s a thing of the past. Heroes are now flawed, and have terrible tempers, you know? They’re real people.

TWoP: Were there any shows or movies you looked to for inspiration going into Castle? A lot of people are comparing it to Murder, She Wrote, but the premise reminds me of that movie The Hard Way.

NF: I remember that movie! Yeah! I’m the one who often makes the Murder, She Wrote reference, and ABC hates that, they don’t want me to do that. And I say that having never actually watched Murder She Wrote. I think people have been trying to compare it to crime shows that are on right now, and all I can do is listen. I don’t watch a lot of TV.

TWoP: Is there anything you do watch?

NF: I watch The Office. I watch 30 Rock. I watch Dirty Jobs. Those are three of my favorite shows ever. And I watch a lot of movies.

TWoP: You play a crime novelist on the show, and in the first episode you play poker with some of your real-life contemporaries, Stephen J. Cannell and James Patterson. Did you pick their brains at all about the life of a writer?

NF: You know what, I was a little nervous meeting those guys! They had a lot of stories, and I was just sitting there and chatting with them and talking about stuff that they’ve done. Steve made most of the television that I grew up with. That’s really quite something. So he would tell me little side notes about how certain shows would run, and how different actors were, and how he came into different ideas, and that was kind of cool. But we didn’t really speak specifically about books and writing. That would have been a really good idea to do that, in retrospect.

TWoP: Now, do you film in New York?

NF: We filmed the pilot in New York, and right now we’re filming the series here in L.A. It’s actually quite interesting. There’s a lot of places in downtown Los Angeles that we use for New York City. I lived in New York City for three years, I know what New York is like, and I’m going to downtown L.A, and I’m looking around and going, [high-pitched] "I didn’t know this was here! I didn’t know you could live in a loft this size! Look at this whole street, this whole street looks just like— !" I’m really surprised — listen to how high my voice is going — but I was very surprised how "New York" sections of downtown L.A. actually do look. I was very surprised.

TWoP: How is this show different from working on a show like Desperate Housewives or Drive?

NF: Desperate Housewives is an ensemble cast, where I played a tertiary character. I made a lot of great friends, but that show didn’t keep me very busy. I worked a few days a week, right here, close to my house. Castle is every day of the week, about 14-hours a day, and sometimes we work Saturdays, which is tough. We just heard that something happened with one of our reels that we sent in; some of the scenes we shot spent too long in the "soup," where they pull it through at the lab, when they’re developing it, and it ruined it, so we’ve got to go back and re-shoot some stuff. Now we’re trying to squeeze it all into our regular schedule. Nobody wanted to come in on a Saturday again. It’s an intense schedule. I really don’t have time for much of anything else, save for weekends.

TWoP: So if Joss Whedon called you and asked you to do a guest stint on Dollhouse, you’d have to say no?

NF: I would have to say no. I mean, unless he wants to shoot weekends.

TWoP: Are you interested in revisiting the Firefly or Dr. Horrible universes?

NF: I tell you, Firefly? Best job I ever had. Heartbroken when it was canceled, but had it not been canceled, I never would have gotten Serenity. I think Serenity is the most incredible thing I’ve ever been able to actually get my hands on and do. I can’t even tell you how much love I have for that project. If anybody ever said, "There’s gonna be another Serenity," I’d be the first guy to sign up. I’d be in.

TWoP: Has there been any more talk about that?

NF: Certainly, we throw around the idea, but no one with the money to actually do it.

TWoP: How about Dr. Horrible. Would it take another strike to make that one happen?

NF: Boy, you know, I sure can see the benefit to producing programs for the Internet. Any time art meets finance, you have these artists who want to tell a story a particular way, they’re storytellers, and then you have these people with finance and the distribution, who say, "Well, you know, this is our network, and if you’re gonna put a show on our network, we wanna make sure that ’X’ plus ’Z’ equals ’dollar sign.’ So why don’t we put in more ’X,’ and instead of ’Z,’ why don’t we make it a ’G’?" It’s their money, and they’re gonna have a say as to how it goes, and there’s really no purer way to tell the story than just to leave the storyteller alone. And you’re not gonna get that with a lot of finance guys. A lot of finance guys are not gonna say, "Hey, go nuts! Do whatever you like! I’m putting it all in your hands!" They have responsibilities. That’s their job. You can’t really fault them for that. But when you look at the Internet, the Internet is your distribution. "You want to see my program? Push this button." And it’s done.

TWoP: Will you still keep your foot in movies, when you have free time?

NF: Yes, hopefully. I’ve got my eye on a couple, I don’t wanna jinx ’em by telling you which ones, but there’s a couple that I would really love to be involved in. At the same time, my number one priority once we’re wrapped up with this show next week is a little bit of downtime. Go someplace tropical, relax, go scuba diving, hang out, do whatever I need to do, but just to kinda disconnect for a little while.

TWoP: Well, I’m glad, because it sounds like they’re running you ragged. We’re at the end of our time, so I’ll wrap it up. Thanks for your time!

NF: Thank you very much! Big fan of your site, again!