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ON THE SET : ’Firefly’ Actors Enjoy a New ’Serenity’

By Kate O’Hare

Wednesday 16 March 2005, by Webmaster

"I’ll talk about ’Firefly’ until the cows come home," says Adam Baldwin in January interview. "It was a labor of love. It was hard for us to be under the gun early on. We didn’t hook a big enough audience, that’s the bottom line. I’m not going to second-guess why."

In the short-lived FOX series, Baldwin played Jayne Cobb, the brawn to everyone else’s brains aboard the rickety, Firefly-class cargo ship Serenity, some 500 or so years in the future.

"He’s a pragmatician," Baldwin says in Jayne’s defense. "He’s like, ’What works? Finish the job. Get it done. I’m scared. I’m scared. I need to fire back. Return fire.’"

Created by Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel"), "Firefly" - a blend of the Western and science fiction genres, with a little Chinese cussin’ thrown in - got an early pickup from the network, premiered in the fall of 2002 with a lot of fanfare (with its second episode, not the two-hour pilot, which aired at the end of the run) then was yanked with several episodes left unaired.

Through sheer force of will, Whedon managed to get studio 20th Century Fox to relinquish the rights, then set the thing up as a feature film at Universal. Called "Serenity," the film is set to premiere Sept. 30. "Firefly" has also had brisk DVD sales, which reinforced Universal’s decision to move forward.

"When people speculate on the whys and wherefores," Baldwin says, "it’s an energy waste. All I know is we have huge DVD sales. We have millions of fans who are very much looking forward to this movie coming out, and if they all show up on the first weekend, we get to make two or three more movies."

Baldwin is also not bothered that the show’s debut is delayed from its original April launch.

"This way, he says, "we come out at a time when they’ll be able to attach the trailer to another big movie over the summer, and people will know it’s coming out. People that have never heard of us will find out."

Baldwin has seen a cut of "Serenity," and reveals, "Mmmm, it’s hot. It’s tasty. It’s opened up. You will see more worlds. I can’t recall if we have any horses, but everybody looks great. We had this lead-time, so everybody’s like, ’Go to the gym!’

"We also had 15 episodes of workshopping it. We all know who our characters were, plus two weeks of just sitting in a room with Joss rehearsing."

"The series being canceled was such a heartbreak," says Nathan Fillion, who plays Serenity’s Capt. Mal Reynolds, in an interview conducted on the set last August. "I broke the cardinal rule of, ’Don’t fall in love with what you do, because your rug can get yanked out from under you.’ When it did, I was heartbroken.

"Joss had it in his head that he was going to have it made as a movie. That’s a great dream, and I really wanted to have it happen, but I couldn’t fall in love with that idea again, just to be heartbroken again. I don’t think it actually settled in until three weeks into filming, that we were actually making the movie."

"When we actually got to do the movie," says Gina Torres, who plays Mal’s right-hand woman, Zoe Warren, speaking in February, "which for all intents and purposes should never have happened, it was a miracle. We just had a hoot. We thought, ’Oh, my God, they are actually paying us money to do this. Let’s just do our lines and hang out.’"

Fillion earned the nickname "Capt. Tightpants" during the series, and Baldwin says that continues in the movie.

"His pants are tight," Baldwin says. "He had a lot of trouble bending over. He’s great. It’s a hot movie."

Although Fillion now claims that Sean Maher, as Dr. Simon Tam, has taken over as "Dr. Tightpants" in the movie, Torres disagrees.

"I have the tightest pants in the movie," she says. "Thankfully, there was a little Spandex thrown in that mix, so I could have lunch."

Asked if "Serenity" is worth the wait, Fillion says, "Yeah, I think so. It’s going to be an enjoyable experience. It’s going to be very satisfying on a lot of levels. It’ll wrap up some things that were left hanging."

As to whether there’s any romance in Mal’s future, Fillion says, "Does Mal get a girlfriend? I can’t tell you that." "We had an opportunity to redeem ourselves," Baldwin says. "Some people that I’ve talked to look at it as, what’s the word, what’s a synonym for vengeance? I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as a chance for redemption.

"People will find their way back to the TV show, to the DVDs, and to the ’Serenity’ world. It has a really great shot of being very successful, and having seen it, I say that with confidence."