Director Joss Whedon Talks GLEE, Neil Patrick Harris, and His Directing Skills

     May 14, 2010

It was recently announced that Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) would be directing The Avengers for a 2012 release.  In the meantime, Whedon allotted a slot in his busy schedule to direct next Wednesday’s episode of the high school musical Glee; he even brought Dr. Horrible star Neil Patrick Harris along for a guest spot.  To promote the gig, Whedon hopped on a conference call this afternoon.  While there was no Avengers talk (sorry, Marvel fans), Whedon did discuss the joys of working with Neil Patrick Harris, his relative lack of directing skills, and the part of him would love to try his hand a directing a episode of Friday Night Lights (as well as the part of him that wouldn’t).  Check out a full rundown of the call after the jump.

joss_whedon__2_-Though Whedon has four series (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse) under his belt, this isn’t the first time he has directed someone else’s show, having also helmed a pair of episodes of The Office.  When asked what he looks for in a TV directing job, Whedon responded, “It helps if the show’s un-utterably wonderful.”

-He appreciates the aspect of the job that keeps him from needing to see the big picture, where he doesn’t need to plan out a season’s worth of storylines, handpick the songs the Glee kids will cover, choreograph their dance moves, etc.  That said, Whedon did claim that Glee is “probably harder to shoot than any other show in recorded history with all the different elements that are going on,”  and later referred to Glee as “different from anything else, period.”  Would Whedon ever direct a future episode of Glee?  “Nevah! Nevah!” he joked; but seriously, if he “had the window, and they would take [him]: in a heartbeat.”

-Having created a TV show around a high school cheerleader who slays vampires, and now visited the halls of McKinley High on Glee, Whedon commented, “I like high school shows, needless to say.  I think they tap into something very primal.”  Speaking to the specific qualities of Glee and Buffy that appeal, Whedon continued, “When you have some elements that take them to the next level, whether it’s mystical or musical, it’s the kind of thing that completely jazzes me.”

-Now that Neil Patrick Harris is a bona fide Whedon regular, Whedon joked, “I am so tired of that guy.  Why do they always make me direct Neil?”  On a more serious note, he gushed, “Neil is a constant pro, and a dear friend . . . I feel like he’s one of those people who expresses the way I wish I could express myself.  He’s like a muse.”

-With the Glee job and the aforementioned Office episodes, Whedon can pretty much add “freelance TV director” to his resume if he so chooses.  With regard to other shows he might want to direct, Whedon stated, “I don’t want to direct the shows I’m a fan of anymore.”  To prepare for the job, he has to read several scripts in advance, thus spoiling on the outcomes of plotlines he is currently following.  Whedon did mention, “After Glee, Friday Night Lights is probably the show that blows me away the most, but I definitely don’t want to direct one of those because I’m still on season two.”  Great taste, but bad timing Mr. Whedon.

-Whedon humbly claimed, “I have no directing skills” at one point.  I’m always in favor of self deprecation, but that’s not exactly the most reassuring statement from the man who was just handed the reins of Marvel’s multi-million dollar superhero franchise . . .

-Whedon claimed that the scenes the cast sings live don’t take any longer to shoot then the scenes they lip sync.  Makes me wish Glee relied more on live singing, though I suppose America prefers their TV stars tuned.