Recap of the SERENITY Hero Complex Screening with Nathan Fillion; Also Talks MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, FIREFLY Reunion, and Joss Whedon

     May 21, 2012

nathan fillion serenity image

This weekend Hero Complex in association with The Los Angeles Times hosted the third annual Hero Complex Film Festival. Highlights to which included a screening of Shaun of the Dead with Edgar Wright, Wall-E with director Andrew Stanton, A Clockwork Orange with Malcolm McDowell, and Robocop with Peter Weller.

Joss Whedon’s cult-favorite Serenity closed out the festival Sunday night.  Star Nathan Fillion was on hand to discuss the film and its short-lived television predecessor Firefly.  (I still maintain that show’s season/series finale “Objects in Space to be the finest piece of writing Whedon’s ever done.)  In the post screening Q&A, Fillion reflected on reuniting with the cast for the film, reciting Whedon’s particular cadences and previews his role in another Whedon project/film: Much Ado About Nothing.  For all this and more, hit the jump.

nathan fillion castleWhat follows is a recap of the post–Serenity Nathan Fillion Q&A:

Moderator Geoff Boucher introduces Nathan Fillion – first thing discussed Fillion’s current show Castle.  A lot of screaming and cheering at the Castle name-drop (in particular the women in the audience).

Boucher: “Castle’s going on Season Five. A lot of shows don’t even make it that far…”

Fillion: “…I know…”

Fillion discusses working on soap operas early in his career (Note: he appeared as Joey Buchanan on One Life To Live).  “It’s a lot of work.  A lot of memorizing.  They (the producers) sent me to an acting coach just to deal with the pace.”  Compared to prime time, soap operas aren’t as “cinematic” but the shoot is much quicker.  Fillion notes on Castle there’s coverage from just about every single angle – “two shots, singles, dirty singles, cowboys, medium shots…”  So there’s a lot of “repetition”.

On reuniting with his castmates from Firefly for Serenity, Fillion takes exception to the notion of a ‘reunion’ – as he had stayed in contact with the cast even when off air.  “Usually on a show you pull one friend [after shooting wraps].  On Firefly – there were twenty to twenty-five people.”  But Fillion admits that when the cast dressed up for the first time three years after cancellation, he realized how much he missed not only the actors but their characters as well.  Wash, Zoe, Inara, Jayne…  So it became a reunion “for Mal and his crew.”

Fillion states he knew Captain Mal Reynolds was going to be a “killer character right away.”  He cites the dialogue of the pilot as indicative of just how special the role was.  “It was a very particular type of speech – ‘Joss Speech’ – and Joss just cast people who nailed it… He picked people who could hit those notes.”  Likening Joss Speech to Shakespeare, “You can’t paraphrase Shakespeare. You have to stay true to the words.”

serenity nathan fillionThe conversation then appropriately enough segues into Joss Whedon’s upcoming low budget Much Ado About Nothing.  For those unfamiliar: Whedon hosts a monthly brunch at his house, wherein he invites actor friends over for a bite to eat and afterwards they read and recite Shakespeare.  Out of this ritual, Whedon decided to do an updated take on the Shakespearean comedy.  Fillion stars as Dogberry in the production.  “I had never done Shakespeare before.” Fillion confides “I actually tried to chicken out of it… I had to work a lot of late nights for Castle and there was just so much dialogue, too much to memorize.”

Fillion even called Whedon before shooting began, telling him about his difficulties, asking “Do you have anyone who could replace me?”  According to Fillion, Whedon took a moment, then told him “Relax. It’s just a lark. No big deal. Don’t worry about it. Take Saturday off. We’ll work around your schedule… And I don’t have a replacement.”

But Fillion quickly chimes that once he got the hang of the dialogue, it was a “pleasure to do”.  When pressed on who of the cast is the best Shakespearean actor, Fillion doesn’t miss a beat, “Alexis Denisof – the guy will make you cry…”

With the formal moderated portion of the Q&A over, questions opened up to the audience – which turned into a rapid-fire discussion of past, future and hypothetical projects.

  • Fillion on a hypothetical Dr. Horrible 2: “I don’t know.”
  • On Serenity 2: “[If there was going to be one] would I keep that a secret?”
  • On What Marvel Character he should theoretically play: Fillion takes a long pause, unsure of what answer to give.  In the space, a couple member of the audience promptly shout ‘Ant Man’.  To which Fillion replies, “Did you ever love Ant Man?… Not me.”
  • On his favorite set experience: Fillion states that when he first moved out to LA, he would crash sets all the time.  He reflects on being an extra in the band scene for Clueless and sneaking off onto the set of Deep Space Nine.  “Now – I crash sets left and right. I mean who’s going to stop me and if I got caught, what are they going to do?”
  • And finally On Joss Whedon’s current success: “It’s very vindicating… We all know the man is a genius but now… EVERYONE knows.”

serenity poster

  • Strong Enough

    Whedon’s buzz is almost about as big as his forehead.

    almost….not quite as big. But almost

  • Agent_Black

    I saw Serenity about 5 years ago out of context and thought it was just Ok but I hadn’t seen the series and i was also mid Battlestar Galactica so it was up against some tough competition.

    However. Having just watched Firefly on Netflix about a month ago, I realise I didn’t understand Serentity and totally agree about the finale episode of Firefly. It was mind-blowing. Fantastic writing, atmospheric and edgy and perfectly executed.

    Now that I have some distance between BSG, I realise there would have been no BSG at all if it wasn’t for Joss Whedon’s Firefly. I need to revisit Serenity ASAP.

  • coulson

    I like Fillion. He is a fun actor with great charisma, and I was surprised to see from some rare glimpses in Firefly and Castle that he has some actual dramatic chops to boot. He’s typecast a lot and not very lucky in his career, but always enjoyable and watchable, which is why he has so many fans I think. More than other actors with similar careers and gigs. Also seems like a smart and fun person irl. I would like to see more of what he can do, Castle doesn’t really cut it anymore, not my type of entertainment.

    • Corin Prendiville

      Coulson, you should watch Waitress. Not exactly a dramatic role, but he is a great performer. I’m convinced that Fillion has a lot of range as an actor. If you haven’t seen his performance in the last season of Buffy either you should check that out he is amazing.

      • Ethan Straffin

        A hearty seconding for “Waitress” (by writer/director Adrienne Shelly, RIP). Some will call it a chick flick, but I’d say it stands out from that pack, and Fillion and Keri Russell have a very funny and sweet chemistry with each other.

      • Tallulah

        Oh, Waitress is just beautiful. It’s not a chick flick at all. Such a great film. Not even least because of Fillion.

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  • tarek

    Please Joss, make Uncharted with Fillion.

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  • Yahzee

    More Serenity PLEASE! I’m sure Whedon now has the power to say “I want to make this” and make it happen…

  • uncle gob

    Love this guy. A smart funny geek who doesn’t take neither himself, nor his achievements too seriously. You won’t see one of those as often as you’d think. Good actor too, loved him in Firefly and Trucker

    • Debby

      I’m glad you mentioned Trucker because I think his role in it really showed off what a great actor Nathan Fillion is – totally unlike any other character he played before, and it was totally believable. Also loved him in Firefly (and love him in Castle) – thought Out of Gas was an amazing showcase for him.

  • zamora

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  • mrm1138

    In a better world*, Universal would re-release Serenity into theaters and plaster “From the writer/director of The Avengers” all over the trailers, commercials and posters.

    *I’d say, “In a perfect world…” but in that world Serenity would have grossed over a billion dollars.

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  • Aaronsullivan

    Serenity got me to watch the series (along with Internet buzz) so for that I’m always going to be glad for it. On the other hand, it doesn’t work that well as a standalone movie. The weird balance of trying to wrap things up for series fans and trying to tell an important story never quite worked and it needed a bigger budget to pull off a more satisfying conclusion.

    I would love it if Joss revisited the world/characters in some awesome way. Several of the actors are tied into projects/series but maybe a movie would work. Maybe a reboot TV series? He doesn’t seem that interested but darned if he didn’t create one of the most lively and relatable science fiction worlds while trying to create an environment for character moments.

  • Tallulah

    Vindicated is damn right, Mr Fillion.