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Ron Glass - "Firefly" Tv Series - Fractalmatter.com Interview

Friday 2 June 2006, by Webmaster

hrough a Glass Lightly

John Mosby meets Serenity’s Shepherd and industry veteran, Ron Glass.

(Beware Serenity spoilers)

Depending on your age and nationality you will have first seen Ron Glass in any variety of projects on stage and screen. To some he’s the flippant and witty Detective Ron Harris from the cult cop comedy Barney Miller. Many will remember his Devil (and his ever-changing t-shirt) in the classic modern Twilight Zone episode ‘I of Newton’. However, he won a whole fleet of new fans when he took on the role of Shepherd Book in a little series called Firefly and survived into the big screen version Serenity. The veteran actor grew up in Evansville, Indiana where he graduated high school in 1964 and went on to study drama and literature at the city’s university. Like most jobbing actors he took a long and familiar route to eventual acclaim...touring across the US and Canada in regional theatre groups and finally moving to Hollywood. Small roles in series such as Hawaii Five-O, Sanford and Son, The Bob Newhart Show, The Streets of San Francisco followed, before he got his big break in Barney Miller in the mid ‘70s. Barney Miller

Meet him today and the hair may be more grey (but shorter and less scary than the first time we met in LA a couple of years ago) but it’s largely the same face with a default smiling setting that glows from cheek-to-cheek and simply enjoys the moment. Glass has earned his success by the long-haul noble vagabond work ethic that so many forget the ‘over-night’ success eclipses. He’s happy to talk to Fractal Matter in a short break from signing autographs for fans at the Collectormania 9 event in Milton Keynes.

Fractal Matter: The hair is definitely shorter...

Ron Glass: I originally let it grow out because I’d had my hair short for about six or seven years. I just decided to see what it looked like. When the show was over and I went home, that very night I had two martinis and... snipped...well no good ever comes of that. No, I had no regrets. Hair like that is fun to have, but work-wise, there’s not a big call for that. The Book character and my hair worked together very well, but after that, the likelihood of people wanting it wasn’t so much. If I wanted to make people feel I really wanted to work I had to be pragmatic.

Firefly and Serenity... both projects in and of themselves that don‘t come along too often for any actor.

From the very beginning it was like... people were perfectly cast. Everybody was slightly different but were versatile and had a good work ethic. It was a very harmonious atmosphere to work in.

Did the success catch you off guard? Sudden fandom exposure can be daunting...

Ha! (laughs) No, but I’m surprised that the popularity lingers. It was very fulfilling but I’ve never been associated with a show that did conventions. Yeah, they’re quite wonderful. The people have a reputation for being... let’s just say the reputation is not totally sane, but there’s the other side that I think is very warm and really gentle. So I feel privileged to be able to partake in it. In a certain kind of way, the Firefly fans are much more informed and aware about the Firefly universe than I am. In a way they are more interested. Most of the sci-fi genre can be a large part of their lives. For me, I just slipped into it, I was just fascinated by the characterisation, but again, I’m grateful for it and it’s opened my perspective in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated.

And at least you get an excellent death scene in the film. How did you approach Book’s last chapter?

You know what? What I decided to do was not to die! There were other things that I wanted to accomplish and so that’s what I focussed on during that scene. Sadly, it didn’t quite work (laughs). Serenity

You’re a veteran of the business... is it a better place to work than it was? Some have said the worst TV is worse than ever, the best is getting better?

But from my most recent experience, being a series of excellent quality does not guarantee it’ll stay on air, so I’m not sure I totally agree. But, y’know, the world is different, the world has changed. The evolution of things is one of the things that I’m not so happy about. There is a certain kind of permissiveness and that generally has a negative connotation to it, but I don’t mean it that way. I think that people, to a great degree, are allowed to blossom and to cultivate themselves in ways which were not so common before.

Do you keep up to date with the way the industry has developed... through the Net etc?

I don’t have a computer, I don’t have a cell phone. In a certain way, I feel I have my heels dug in. I hope I’m going to make enough money to hire a personal assistant to learn for me! (laughs). No, I probably will get a computer at some point. Believe me, I have plenty of people pushing me, offering to buy me a cell phone, I have friends offering to build me a computer! Right before I left home I talked to a friend of mine who lives in Paris who told me if I didn’t get one, she’d buy me one. But I didn’t ask for it...as long as they remember that.

What’s next for you?

I don’t know. I’ve been looking for something I can commit to, something fulfilling and rewarding. The pilot season is just around the corner, but the last one wasn’t very productive. On the other hand, I’m fortunate... I really do believe that it only ever takes one phone call. I can’t get overly bothered by it.