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FireflyNathan Fillion - ’Serenity’ Movie - Chud.com Interview
By Fred Topel
Thursday 30 December 2004, by Webmaster
When I walked onto the set of Serenity and saw a dude sleeping in the corner, I never imagined it was the star of the movie. I’ve seen the show and in fact I’ve interviewed Nathan Fillion before, but I guess people look different when they’re eyes are shut and their head is pointing down. In his brown leather Captain Mal costume, Fillion caught some Z’s while journalists observed shooting and talked to all of the waking filmmakers, then promptly got up when it was his turn to talk.
Fillion explained that he finds down time useful for catching up on sleep, and as the scene before the camera was from a perspective that didn’t see him, he just hung out. He can shut out any noise that may be going on.
The day’s scene features Summer Glau fighting some guys in a bar, and Fillion and Adam Baldwin are off in a corner when the fight breaks out. So, until Joss Whedon was ready to shoot his close up, Fillion talked to us. This interview took place in August, 2004.
Q. When do you come into the scene we’re watching?
Nathan: I’m tucked away in the corner. Jayne and I are doing a deal with Rafael and Yan [Feldman] over here. We’re tucked away in the corner doing a deal when River flips out. So, any time that corner’s going to turn around and maybe take a look at the corner we’re in. That’s when they call Chemille to tap and wake me up and I come over there and act shocked.
Q. How different is it to be making a film after doing TV?
Nathan: It’s a little different. We had eight days to put on a one hour show. Now we have the better part of three months to put out a two hour show, so the timing is a little different, but certainly I can tell that the quality’s also extremely different.
Q. How did you feel when you got the call about this?
Nathan: The series being cancelled was such a heartbreak. I broke the cardinal rule of don’t fall in love with what you’re doing, because the rug can get yanked out from underneath you, and when it did, I was heartbroken. So, Joss really had it in his head that he was going to get it made into a movie and it’s a great dream and I really wanted it to happen, but I couldn’t fall in love with that idea again just to be heartbroken again. So, we go the green light, Josh wrote a script, everything was rolling. We started doing rehearsals, we actually started filming. I don’t think it had actually settled in for about three weeks into filming that we were actually making the movie.
Q. Do you think that Mal is a different sort of hero in the movie than he was as an antihero on the series?
Nathan: Different than being an antihero? I don’t. I think he’s still on that same vein. I think, if anything, he’s a little darker than he was before. I think he’s a little emptier than he was before. He too has had the rug pulled out from under him a couple of times since we’ve known him in the series, and I also think, because we’re in a film, another difference versus television is that you can be allowed to be darker.
Q. You don’t have to love him in your living room every week.
Nathan: Exactly. We don’t have a bunch of TV producers saying, “Make him more likable and funny.”
Q. How tight are your pants?
Nathan: These ones are actually far more comfortable. I think it’s actually Sean Maher who’s taken on the title of the tightest pants. Dr. Tight Pants.
Q. Are you a big fan of sci-fi?
Nathan: I am. I just actually, today, I knew we were going to be here for a long time and doing relatively little, so I brought the Star Wars trilogy, my old VHS tapes, broke those out and then started watching the first one.
Q. Do you look at Han and say I want to be as cool as Han?
Nathan: Absolutely. I look at Harrison Ford and say I want to be as cool as Harrison Ford. There’s a lot of Harrison Ford in Mal. He’s got a couple of movies, I just love the way Harrison Ford takes a beating like I can’t believe. Frantic was a great movie for him taking beatings, Blade Runner he took a lot of beatings, Witness he took a good beating, Indiana Jones takes great beating. Getting his ass kicked, flat out. When he gets cocked in the face, he legs go wobbly and you could tell he’s been punched, you know he’s been punched.
Q. How different is working with Joss on the film?
Nathan: I would say, me personally, no different. Joss has told me he’s under a little more pressure but, you know what, I don’t see it. I think when we were doing the series, I saw him working on three series, and we didn’t see him near as often as we would have liked, because he’s great to have around. He’s a real warm presence on a set. His presence on set is calming. He is very specific in what he wants, he’s very confident in his choices and it’s nice to have him around. He’s an excellent director and he’s a great friend to have around. When he’s directing you, if he doesn’t like what you’re doing, he has a way of presenting it to you that you don’t feel like you’re failing in some way. That you feel like you’re succeeding and actually hanging out with your friends and working towards something great. I like having him here. We have all of his passions channeled towards this one thing. We constantly look around and are constantly taken aback by the fact that we’re actually making this movie.
Q. How much pressure is there on you to be the star of a feature film?
Nathan: I don’t feel a lot of that pressure. My schedule is much the same as it was on the series. I’m here a lot. I get to perform with everybody in the cast. I get to have great scenes with all these great characters that I fell in love with. I don’t feel a great deal of pressure. Now that it’s wrapping up, I’m starting to feel... I just hope people really enjoy this movie, I really hope they do. I hope folks that weren’t fans of the series will catch this and maybe go get the DVD collection and say, “What was I missing?”
Q. Have you asked Alan to do his pirate voice for you?
Nathan: Alan Tudyk? Actually, the next time Alan comes by my place, I’m going to have him do his Sonny voice into the outgoing message on my machine.
Q. How did you feel at Comicon?
Nathan: That was nice, that was nice. Sean Maher said it best, that coming to work everyday and not getting to see a finished product like an episode, maybe a rough cut of an episode, you don’t really get to see any kind of collective piece of what we’re doing all put together, but going to that Comicon and having the fans there and having everybody really, really excited is some real feedback that renewed his enthusiasm for coming back to work. It makes you really charged coming back in and it did that for everybody. We were very excited to see so many people that passionate about that show. And that trailer we put in, they were really excited about that.
Q. At the same time, do you feel the pressure to live up to expectations?
Nathan: Again, I don’t feel a lot of pressure. I’m here having a great time with some very talented actors, a very talented director, who are all my good friends. I’m in a very safe place. I don’t come to work feeling there’s a lot of pressure on me. I come to work saying, “What do I get to do today, who am I going to hang out with today? Who’s on the guest list, the call sheet, today?’
Q. Is there a difference in the acting style from the small screen?
Nathan: I haven’t made any drastic changes or anything. I’ve noticed that my nose is a lot bigger on the screen. There’s times when, if you could put your arms up, that’s about how wide my nostrils are. I’ve always known I’ve had big nostrils, but now I can park a Buick in them.
Q. What’s your biggest stunt in the film?
Nathan: Biggest stunt I do in the film? The biggest stunt I do in the film hasn’t been done yet. It’s actually, I think they’re saving it for the final week of filming, strangely enough. Hmmm. They were kind enough to give me a couple of days off after one of the fight sequences and I was glad for it because I was stiff and sore for days. Barry Mendel actually, one of the producers, had a massage sent to the house.
Q. Do you like to do your own stunt work?
Nathan: I sure do. And yet, there’s some stunts where I have absolutely no problem [using a stuntman]. Anything to do with heights, I have no problem saying, “Yeah, why don’t we get J.J. to do that? That looks like a J.J. thing.”
Q. Are you doing the wirework too?
Nathan: I’ll be doing the wirework.
Q. Does Mal get a girlfriend?
Nathan: I can’t tell you that.
Q. More horse riding?
Nathan: No horses in this one, no horses. I liked the horses too. They always gave me the good horse. Fred was his name. They always gave me Fred. Any episode you see me riding a horse, look back, it’s Fred.
Q. Does he get a credit?
Nathan: I hope so.