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Sean Maher - About "Serentiy" Movie - Zap2it.com Interview

By Daniel Fienberg

Thursday 29 September 2005, by Webmaster

’Firefly’ Doc Talks ’Serenity’

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- When Sean Maher signed on for FOX’s "Firefly" in 2002, the actor had reason to be skeptical. The network aired only two episodes of his 1999 drama ""Ryan Caulfield: Year One" and 2000’s "The $treet" got only six showings before a premature demise.

With "Firefly," though, Maher knew that something was different.

"We would all talk about how perfect it felt, how there was not one person who didn’t love the show — cast, crew, producer, caterer, craft service — everybody was just gung-ho about everything," he recalls. "It was the first time a lot of us had ever experienced 100 percent support of a project that we were working on."

Naturally, "Firefly" was cancelled by December.

Under normal circumstance, cancellation just means another round of pilot season for the actors and creators and disappointment for whatever straggling fans the show might have had. However, a rabid Internet following, strong DVD sales and the dogged persistence of creator Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") led Universal Pictures to grab the rights and greenlight a motion picture titled "Serenity," reuniting that gung-ho "Firefly" team.

"As an actor, I find that most of my work, the challenging aspects for me, are initially finding the character, finding the way he walks and talks and then finding the dynamics with the actors which translate to the dynamics with the other character," Maher says. "To have all that done was just this incredible foundation to work from. There was a huge sense of ease getting back together to do this movie."

While Maher already knew his character, rather uptight ship’s doctor Simon Tam, he knew from the script that Simon had changed somewhat between the series and the film. Because the plot of "Serenity" revolves around Simon’s preternaturally gifted sister River (Summer Glau), the medic plays a major role as well. Fans who have been waiting for Simon to throw a few punches and to take the next step with sexy mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite) won’t be disappointed.

"Early on, I was tired of Simon being so prim and proper and really wanted him to get rougher, and to get in there and roll up his sleeves and not be excluded from the action or the heists or whatever was going on in the series," says Maher. "I do feel like we took that and translated that into the movie."

Although Universal might have felt more confident in the studio’s investment if some bigger stars had been added, Whedon insisted that the cast of "Firefly" would be the cast of "Serenity." For many of the actors, the film represented their first taste of big screen stardom.

"I felt no pressure," laughs Maher. "We were in Joss’ hands. He was there on set. He wrote it. He was directing it. He’d never steered me wrong before, so I felt very safe. It was an incredible environment to work in."

But Whedon, who seems to be a renewable font of one-liners and enthusiasm, wasn’t the only source of energy for the cast. In the midst of production, a trip to ComicCon — Maher’s first convention experience — offered plenty of encouragement.

"We shot the movie for three months and it was right around the middle where you’re kinda getting a little tired," Maher says. "We went on a Sunday and we walked into this auditorium of close to 5000 screaming fans and I was like, ’Wow.’ It was a drug. It was so inspiring and so rewarding and so reassuring to hear them and know that they’re there and that they’re rooting for us."

After a summer of preview screenings for "Firefly" fans (an enthusiastic breed known as Browncoats at their most passionate), "Serenity" is in theaters on Friday (Sept. 30). Coincidentally, any viewers who catch an evening screening of the movie will need to set their VCRs to catch Maher’s guest turn as an undead athlete in CBS’ "Ghost Whisperer." With hopes for a "Serenity" sequel likely riding on the opening weekend gross, Maher hopes fans and neophytes alike turn out.

"If people just come and check it out, whether they know the series or not, I don’t think anybody will be disappointed," he argues. "I think what remains to be seen is will those people actually come, pay the money for the ticket and go watch the movie. I do have faith that they will love it. I just hope that they come."