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Nathan Fillion - "Serenity" Movie - Scifibrain.com Interview

Wednesday 21 December 2005, by Webmaster

When I approach Nathan Fillion to initiate my interview, he pulls out the chair beside him, and pats the seat for me to sit down. This is just the kind of person that he is - friendly, personable, and more than likely able to talk to anyone about anything for any length of time. His effortless smile put me instantly at ease, and I immediately learn that, apparently, no one is safe from his predilection to tease, be they cast member or complete stranger.

When I shamefully admit that I hadn’t succumbed to the mighty power of Firefly until this past year, he abruptly turns his back on me to end the conversation. I pout at his rejection, and promise that I would buy plenty of the Serenity DVD’s to make up for it.

“What do you want?” Nathan asks in feigned seriousness. “Do you want forgiveness?”

I meekly answer in the affirmative.

He lays his hands on my head and announces, “I forgive you.”

Thank goodness for that! But there were more important things on my mind at the moment, such as whether or not he has the XBOX 360?

“I have not gotten an XBOX 360 yet,” he admits. “I haven’t even ordered it yet.”

Knowing that he was a self-proclaimed Halo 2 fanatic, I express shock, adding that I would have expected Microsoft to send him a complimentary console by now.

”You’d think!” Nathan exclaims in outraged agreement. “And put that in your article! Why didn’t they? I’m dedicated. I was a 28 at one point in my Halo ranking. I’m now a 22, but we haven’t played for a while, the team, our clan.”

His enthusiasm for the game is evident in his animation as he continues, “We have a very cool clan name that I won’t give you, because then we would be inundated with clan invites and all of this stuff, and I can’t tell you,” he teases. “I’m the Overlord of our clan. And Halo 2 is pretty much all we play. Between me, Alan Tudyk, our friend Corey - that’s what we do, that’s all we play. ‘Hey guys, how you doing? Let’s hang out, let’s go for a hike. This and that. You guys wanna play Halo? Let’s go home.’ Everybody goes home and plays Halo. I have my phone set so that I can flip it open and say ’Send text message Alan mobile’, and I press quick text send, and it sends a call out to all of my buddies to assemble the clan. Yeah. We’re all over that. It’s ridiculous.”

He’s a video game geek! I love that. But, if he’s such a fan of Halo, has he watched Red vs Blue?

“I’ve seen Red vs Blue, and I love it,” Nathan responds with a nod. “Sarge is my favorite. There was Sarge pinned by the jeep up against one of the forts and the machine gun...” at this point he begins making machine gun noises like any good video game enthusiast would... “is shooting the wall beside him and he knows he’s going to die and he’s swinging around really slow, and he has this monologue - he’s saying of all the stuff he wants to say before he dies. My god! It’s a soap opera, but it’s a comedy, and it’s hilarious.”

When he’s not at battle with his clan, Nathan Fillion has been very busy at work in Hollywood. In the past, Nathan has acting credits with Tom Hanks in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, Brendan Frasier in Blast From the Past, and has recently begun work on the romantic comedy Waitress with Keri Russell. This past April, Nathan was up in Vancouver working on the film Slither, a new comedy/science fiction/horror flick slated for an early Spring release in 2006, in which he has a starring role. He described his experiences shooting some of the scenes as ‘really cold.’

“We were working nights, in the woods, and the rain would fall a little bit, so it would be muddy everywhere. It was all right for us to be out there filming, but ice was forming on things, and it was so distracting! Trying to act like you’re not cold, and it’s supposed to be in this southern town, and you’re saying ‘Sure is a beautiful night!’ and there’s smoke coming out of your mouth, and it’s more like ‘I’m cooking out here!’”

But long before Slither and Firefly, Nathan first became involved in what has been coined as the Jossverse - television shows created by Joss Whedon - when he auditioned for the role of Angel in the Emmy-winning series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

”I knew about Buffy before you knew about Buffy,” he teasingly gloats. “I smashed that audition to pieces! I was amazing!”

That amazing, huh?

“I told Joss when I met him for Firefly ‘You know it’s weird, because I auditioned for Angel.’ And he looked awkward, and embarrassed. He said, ‘I don’t even remember you!’ and I said, ‘No, no. I didn’t even get to you - I was prescreened and I was out!’ They wanted to go with someone really good-looking or something,” he laughs. “That David Boreanaz is no slouch. He did a really good job. Besides, if I had gotten that part, I would have never gotten Malcolm Reynolds, which I have to say, is a way better part than Angel. Best part in the world.”

On that point we can most certainly agree!

Best known for his role as the complex Captain Malcolm Reynolds on the fabulous, but short-lived, FOX series Firefly, Nathan was reunited last year by the show’s creator, Joss Whedon, with his fellow cast members to work on the film Serenity. A theatrical continuation of the storyline first presented in the show, this move to take a cancelled series and revive it in the form of a big budget film was a unique one, inspired by the dedication of the Firefly fans.

“Universal was looking at the numbers and said, ‘Look, I think we can make a lot of money, if the DVDs keep selling’,” Nathan explains. “It was the support of the fans who kept buying the DVDs and buying the DVDs. That’s the kind of support the money people, the financial side of the industry, can understand. They saw that there was some money to be made, so they decided to make a movie.”

The promotion of the film was as unique as the process that brought it to fruition. Throughout the early summer, months prior to the film’s opening, screenings were set up around the country that were attended by the actors. This gave the fans the chance for an exclusive ‘meet and greet’ with the cast they admired and supported. It also provided both Whedon and Universal with a glimpse into how the film would be received. The promotion further included the attendance by the cast members at various science fiction conventions around the world over the last year. The hectic schedule causes me to wonder if Nathan’s perception regarding the fandom surrounding Firefly had changed at all?

“It definitely has,” he nods. “I was thinking about it last night. It was two o’clock in the morning and I was very tired, and very...cranky,” he honestly admits with a good-natured laugh. “And I will say that I have become more jaded. I still get very excited about these conventions because there are a lot of wonderful moments. A lot of people say really heartfelt, very considerate compliments, and there are some really wonderful things that go on. I have become more jaded because every once in a while you get a someone who will do or say something strange, or somebody who will grab you funny.”

When I make a comment about the fear of a lack of respect for personal boundaries, Nathan laughs and jokes, “You know what? I’m just going to never do these again. I’m going to shut myself up in my house, I’m going to lock the door, I’m going to grow my fingernails really long, save my urine in jars, and put tissue boxes on my feet!”

All hail, Nathan ‘Howard Hughes’ Fillion!

Of course, it’s impossible to imagine this man ever doing such a thing, since he truly seems to enjoy meeting new people, and chatting with fans about a shared love of Firefly. Besides, he has nothing but good things to say regarding the various cast members’ recent appearances at Dragoncon over the last two years.

“The reception we got at Dragoncon was amazing,” he tells me with a pleased smile. “And what I really loved is that the staff were really cool about saying, ‘This has never happened, we’ve never seen this before’.”

In fact, so many fans turned out en masse for the panels in 2004 that crowd-control was needed, and many were turned away in tears due to lack of seating in the scheduled room.

Nathan adds, “There were standing ovations afterwards. It was all very flattering and very kind. That was a really nice reception.”

Though the film didn’t garner record-breaking numbers at the box office, coming in at just under $30 million domestically, the release of Serenity did something else - it more than doubled the sales of the series box set. Quite a feat, considering Firefly had already been out on DVD for more than two years, yet still worked its way into the Top 10 lists this Fall at sites like Amazon and IMDB. More box sets sold means a broader fan-base, which means more people buying Serenity when it hits the stores today (December 20th). That’s something the money people at Universal are very interested in watching.

Nathan agrees with my assessment. “I think we can look forward to a sell-out,” he smiles. “I hope it’s enough that they’ll be willing to make another movie.”

Of course, the question as to will there or won’t there be a sequel is on everyone’s mind as the DVD arrives at stores today. If the numbers are impressive enough to even merit talk of renewing the series, would Nathan be interested in signing on for it? Or would he prefer to make a few more sequels?

“You know what? After having done the movie, I look back at the series, and although great, it looks half-baked,” he replies. “It looks like it’s halfway there, while the movie is at 100%. The production quality, the look of it, the sheer visual is so much better in the movie.

“You remember the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation?” he asks, to which I respond with an immediate affirmative. “It looked really cheesy,” he comments with a grin. “I watched a couple of episodes and thought this show is awful, it really sucks! I just didn’t like the look of it; I thought it was cheap. Then, a couple of years later, someone tried to turn me on to it and, by the time I got back to it, it looked really cool; the production value had changed.

"If I had to choose right now, I’d want to do another movie because I think the look of it is so much better. If we could do a series at that quality? Then that would be what I’d ultimately prefer.”

I think I can speak for most fans when I say that I’ll take whatever I can get. On a lighter note, with a fandom as dedicated as Firefly’s fans are, what would happen if someone like Mel Brook’s decided to make a spoof of the series? Who would Nathan like to see portray his character?

“I would hope to God it would be Sam Rockwell!” He replies enthusiastically, but he can’t just leave it there. Apparently, in another life, Nathan Fillion was a casting director.

“And who would play Jayne?” He ponders for a moment, before responding to his own question, “Tony Shalhoub. And Inara would be played by Amy Sedaris. Kaylee would be played by Naomi Watts. And, Sheppard Book would be played by Eddie Murphy’s brother, Charlie Murphy. River would be...”

Dakota Fanning is suggested for the role of River.

“Okay,” he nods in agreement. “Zoe would have to be Rae Dawn Chong. I love her. She hasn’t done anything in a real long while.”

At this point in the casting process, Adam Baldwin wanders over to be queried by Nathan as to who he thinks should play Jayne in a Mel Brook’s spoof.

Want to know his answer? Check back tomorrow to read my interview with ’the man they call Jayne.’

For now, you can see Nathan and the entire cast of Firefly in the DVD of Serenity, which is in stores today!