Although not official, actor Nathan Fillion and director Allan Ungar teamed up to make an independently financed fan film for the best-selling video game franchise Uncharted. Since the launch of the franchise in 2007, there has been a wave of very vocal fans that have talked about how perfect Fillion would be in the lead role of Nathan Drake, and even though this is only a 15-minute tease of what that could be, it’s a fun way to get to see how he would bring the character to life.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Nathan Fillion spoke about how he noted the similarities between himself and the character when the game came out, how excited he is to see what Tom Holland (who’s been cast as a young version of the character, with Shawn Levy directing) will do with the role when Sony finally releases an official Uncharted movie, why he and director Allan Ungar decided to make this now, what makes Nathan Drake a relatable character, the biggest challenges in pulling this off, and whether he’d like to continue playing this character. He also talked about whether he’d be game for a Firefly revival, the 10-year anniversary of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and what he’s most excited about fans getting to see with his new ABC series The Rookie, debuting this fall.
NATHAN FILLION: First, let me ask, have you played the game?
I have not played the game, but I still enjoyed the short film, not knowing anything about it because this is just a really fun character.
FILLION: What was your impression? Not knowing anything about the game, how did you feel about it when you watched it?
I thought it was a lot of fun. It feels very much like an Indiana Jones type of character, and I’m all for having more of that. I loved the mix of action and humor, and I loved that it had a little bit of mystery. It’s got a great vibe to it.
FILLION: Thanks for that!
Fans of this franchise have wanted you to play this character for as long as people have been talking about there possibly being a movie. How did you find out about all of that, and what was that like to learn?
FILLION: I noted similarities when the game came out, just like everybody else. I’ve been on the internet. I’ve seen the fans’ reactions and the requests for me to play the role. It’s not lost on me. Like everybody else, I’ve been waiting to see what Sony does with it. I’ve been waiting for the movie. When they announced Tom Holland, I was actually very excited. I’m a huge Tom Holland fan. There has not been a better Spider-Man. I’m sorry, I love all of the Spider-Man movies and I think everybody did a great job, but I think Marvel has really put a choke hold on excellent stories that are well told with great actors. They’re doing a great job. So, I’m really excited to see what Sony does with the movie and with Tom Holland. I just got tired of waiting.
That’s easy to understand because it seems like these things can really take a very long time to get going.
FILLION: It’s been 10 years that we’ve been reading, “Hey, it’s gonna happen. No, someone fell out. Sorry guys. False start.” And then, you have to go back to hoping. Now, it’s done. It’s such a tease, but now we have something. We can, at least, have a taste. We can scratch that itch.
As we’ve learned from so many video games turned movies that have gone wrong, not every franchise or character translates well from one medium to another. Why do you think this character is different? What is it about Nathan Drake that you felt you could successfully bring to life?
FILLION: I think people have a hard time relating to the hero we’ve been sold in the film and television industries, where they’re perfectly adept at handling any situation. There’s nothing they can’t do. They’re always ready and the best. I can’t relate to that. I don’t know what that’s like, to be that guy. I do know what it’s like to have bad luck. I do know what it’s like to get kicked in the crotch. I do know what it’s like to fail. Life kind of sucks sometimes. That’s what it’s like for Nathan Drake. I can relate to that. I think it’s really easy to like a guy who isn’t the best. He’s just a guy. I think that makes it easy for us. That makes him realistic and it makes him relatable. He’s a great character.
How exactly did this come about? I read that your director, Allan Ungar, pitched this to you over dinner, but how did that happen?
FILLION: It’s something that Allan Ungar has been wanting to do since the first game came out. He started thinking, “This is an excellent property. Why doesn’t somebody do something?” Like me and like all the fans, he got tired of waiting. I was out a couple years ago on Halloween and I met a fella dressed as Captain Canada, and he had a little Frisbee for a shield. I said, “Hey, not for nothing, but I’m Canadian.” He was Canadian. I said, “I’m Canadian, as well, and last year, I dressed as a World War II version of Captain Canada, and I have a bitchin’ shield that you could be using.” He came by the next day and picked it up for another party that he went to. His name was Alex. We remained friends. He’s a very talented producer, and his friend Allan said, “Hey, you know Nathan. I want to do a project with him and I want you to pitch it.” That’s where it all started.
When he pitched it, did it just seem completely surreal?
FILLION: I said, “Of course, I’ll meet you. Let’s meet and talk about it.” I just wanted to meet this guy and see who he was and see what he was all about. I played the Uncharted games. I played one, got stuck on two, skipped three, and played four. I have to finish four, and I’m gonna go back and finish two and three, I really am. Being a fan, I know what Nathan Drake is all about and I know what the feel is of the game, but Allan memorized the Latin, he remembers the clues, and he tracks the history while he plays. He’s one of those guys that goes four, five, six, seven layers deep. He’s a superfan. Understanding that, I could see that his heart was really in the right place, for doing a project like this. I think the major mistake anybody makes in ripping a story from a comic book or video game is changing it to be whatever they want. It will just reflect the game or the comic book. When you do that, you alienate the fans of the book or the games, and it just doesn’t work out. Allan is dedicated. Allan loves the game. He doesn’t see a need to change the story. He doesn’t see a need to change the character. It’s perfect the way it is. Knowing that about Allan, I thought, “You know what? This project, in this fella’s hands, would be safe and I would be honored.”