We got enough Serenity coverge coming to choke that universe’s version of a Gundark, which I guess is just a pig since there are no aliens in Joss Whedon’s futuristic world.
There are great characters played by fine actors, though. At the Serenity press junket in Los Angeles last week we had three mini press conferences – one was with Nathan Fillion, who plays Captain Mal Reynolds, Gina Torres, who is his first mate Zoe and Morena Baccarin, who plays the ship’s "Companion" Inara (see the first part of my Joss Whedon one on one here to read more about what a Companion is and means). That’s what we have today. Next up will be a bigger panel featuring Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Jewel Staite and Sean Maher (Ron Glass and Alan Tudyk didn’t make it). For those of you really keeping track, we’re also going to have the rest of my Joss one on one this week. Then next week we’ll have my Fillion and Baldwin one on ones, and the Joss Whedon press conference.
Fillion, Torres and Baccarin were the sort of group who makes transcriptions neccessary. The best part of the interview had to be the playful back and forth between the trio. For those keeping score, Gina Torres looks exactly like what you would think a superhero looks like (honestly, and this is not just me as a Whedon fan, she would make the perfect Wonder Woman), and Baccarin was plain old gorgeous, with shorter hair. Fillion was the charming rogue luckily seated between the two.
Torres: I’m part of a Nathan sandwich!
Baccarin: You look pretty.
Fillion & Torres: Thank you!
Fillion: That was awkward.
Baccarin: Nathan, you know you’re pretty.
Q: What was it like going back?
Fillion: Vindicating. What was it like for you?
Torres: It was good for me. It was déjà vu. We all have sort of different stories about going down to the ship – well, the ship set –
Baccarin: It’s not a real ship?
Torres: I know, I just found that out! But yeah, it was the same but different. It was bigger in some places and smaller in others. It went up in some places and down in others, but it was definitely… redemption is a word Adam Baldwin likes to use.
Baccarin: It felt like we hadn’t left, too. It sort of felt like coming into your living room and your mom rearranged all the furniture and things aren’t where they were but you’re still home. We picked up right where we left off, sort of.
Torres: Absolutely. And just seeing each other was great. Although we never stopped seeing each other!
Fillion: We never stopped seeing each other, but you know what was great was seeing the characters again. Seeing you guys in your outfits again was a real… It was good!
Q: How much time was there was there between the show and the movie?
Fillion: Two years?
Torres: Yeah, almost two.
Q: Joss kept up the spirit the whole time, but was there ever a point where you guys thought, ‘Well that’s the end of that?’
Torres: The day that we were cancelled!
Fillion: Joss had that plan of finding another home. He said, ‘I’ll find us another home.’ I said, ‘That sounds great, that’s really wonderful…’ [trails off into sobs] ‘It’s really dead isn’t it? It’s deeeeeaad!’
I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with Firefly the way I did. And I wasn’t prepared for Firefly to dump me the way it did.
Torres: Like an old, crusty whore.
Fillion: So I was pretty depressed. I was pretty sad about stuff. I wasn’t prepared to have that hope and say ‘Maybe… maybe!’
Baccarin: You don’t want to have that hope again!
Fillion: I didn’t want to set myself up for another depression and gain another twenty pounds sitting in my house.
Torres: Not that that happened!
Baccarin: Was it just twenty?
Q: How much did you guys have to work to get back into those characters?
Baccarin: Well, I had a lot of sex.
Torres: God bless you.
Baccarin: I had to say it!
Fillion: What was the question?
Q: Was it hard to find these characters again?
Fillion: To get back into character – no. Certainly the TV series was a process because we had time to learn the characters.
Torres: We had seven months of just learning each other. Of falling in love and falling into these people and getting to know each other.
Fillion: Feeling each other out? So to speak.
Torres: By the time we got back these relationships were already established. I know for me it was just getting into those damn pants.
It wasn’t the gun?
Torres: No, no. That old friend.
Q: Are you all signed for more movies?
Baccarin: Two more.
Fillion: You are? That’s awkward.
Torres: Next question!
Q: What was it like having two new cast members and working them into the family?
Fillion: Ah, Summer and Ron!
Chiwetel was wonderful.
Torres: Didn’t get to work with him. I had no contact with any of those new characters.
Baccarin: We had contact. It hurt!
Fillion: He’s good. He’s very, very good. And then David Krumholtz we had, but we didn’t get to really hang out with him either. [highlight for spoilers] I got to hang out with him a little bit, but he was dead for the scene.
Q: Summer Glau’s career has really just begun and this is her first major film role. What was it like working with her on this?
Baccarin: She’s so sweet!
Fillion: Let’s tell the truth here. Summer is unprepared, she’s unprofessional.
Torres: Oh that’s not fair. She’s not here to defend herself.
Fillion: If only she were flexible.
Baccarin: I can’t do that! You can go on. She’s so sweet that it’s hard to say anything about her even jokingly.
Torres: We all just wanted to take care of Summer in our way. And some ways are kind of illegal –
Fillion: Not in this state.
Torres: But that’s OK, we don’t talk about that much. But she’s adorable and she’s sweet and she just wanted so much to do a great job. How do you not support that?
Q: Your fanbase has such zeal. What is it about the Firefly/Serenity story that resonates so much with your fans?
Fillion: The same reason that I’m drawn to it – these people. These characters. I’m invested. I’ve spent time with them, I’ve hung out with them, I’ve learned about them, I’ve learned about them through their choices and the decisions they make. I like them. They’re flawed. They’re not all perfect, except for Malcolm Reynolds. And I’m invested. I think people are invested. I think that’s Joss’ gift.
Baccarin: You can relate to something in each of the characters. I’ve been watching them, I have to admit, recently – you two are great by the way!
Torres: You too!
Baccarin: Thanks. You didn’t have to say that.
Torres: I think I did.
Baccarin: I think that what was drawing me to it again and again is that the stories are stories that you want to be told. They’re not just relative to that universe, they symbolize something. I think that the style of Joss’ writing is so grand and stylized that it’s sort of Shakespearian. These people’s plight is extremely accessible. I think that’s what draws me as a human being.
Q: What is the plight?
Baccarin: Each character has their own, it seems.
Torres: I think unlike The Matrix and the Star Wars trilogies, where you have a very heightened reality and black and white is very clear and the lines are very definitively drawn, you fall into it because you want to aspire to the grandness of these heroes that are put in front of you. We’re just regular people in extraordinary circumstances, and that in turn can be more inspiring. You think if these people, as jacked up as they are in these circumstances, with all their issues and unpreparedness can meet these tasks and actually survive them and learn something from them and get past it and live another day – then I can too. And as Morena said, each character goes about it differently, so there’s always an opportunity for you to see yourself in whoever you see yourself.
Baccarin: And they’re each also discovering things about themselves they didn’t know was there, and that’s interesting to watch. You’re discovering in some of episodes with Summer that Malcolm Reynolds has a vulnerable side, he has something he cares about. [to Fillion] Although you might not think so.
Fillion: I do. You’re right. These are nobodies. I don’t have very much in common with Jedi knights. I have a great deal in common with nobodies.
Q: You have been going to these conventions and meeting the fans. Can you imagine yourself in 20 years doing a William Shatner-style spoof on it all?
Fillion: [in Shatner voice] ‘Get a life! Have you ever kissed a girl?’ Absolutely. But you know what, here’s the thing – I watched those documentaries, have you seen Trekkies? There are people out there, there are people who are fanatical, and I prefer to use the entire term than just fan. I find Serenity fans to be pretty thoughtful and pretty intelligent people.
Torres: Yeah, now.
Fillion: Yeah, I’m doing interviews is why. But no, they’re really wonderful. My experiences have been really, really positive. I can say this much about the fans: we have one thing in common, which is that we’re in love with the same damn show. If they think they’re fans, man, they got nothing on me. I’m a fan.
Q: Nathan, can you talk about Slither?
Fillion: It’s wonderful. Again I play an anti-hero, a role I’m comfortable with. The difference is he doesn’t know what to do when the shit hits the fan. These are people who are blissfully unprepared for meeting the tasks at hand, saving the world.
Q: There are people blowing up and some nastiness in the trailer.
Fillion: There’s some blowin’ up. There’s some nastiness. There’s some slime. There’s a lot of prosthetics. We leaned away from the CGI, we leaned towards the prosthetics as an homage to the horror movies of yesteryear. Our writer director James Gunn said it’ll be the last time he ever does that.
Q: In Serenity how much of your own personalities do you find in your characters?
Torres: I think it would be much more interesting if we answered for each other.
Fillion: Who do you want to do?
Torres: I’ll do you.
Fillion: Do me.
Torres: I think what Malcolm and Nathan have in common is that ultimately they do want to do the right thing. No matter what they put you through on the way to the right thing, you kind of have to love them for it. I think they both do have a great moral streak that runs through them and it’s endearing and adorable.
Baccarin: But Nathan doesn’t have that – or at least I seen that dark sort of, there’s something about Malcolm Reynolds that’s a fallen man.
Baccarin: Maybe you do. Are you a fallen man?
Torres: You’ve never seen him play Halo. Whole other person! Next.
Fillion: I’ll say both of you are very classy. Very sexy. [to Baccarin] You’re a little more on the demure side, whereas Gina, I know you’re not to be crossed.
Fillion: You’re not to be crossed. You’re a force to be reckoned with. You know you are. You do not lose your cool. You never lose your cool.
Baccarin: She likes to play like she’s not going to do anything, she’s shy about it – but yeah, it’s true.
Fillion: Remember I needed something taken care of and I called you?
Torres: Yeah, you did!
Fillion: Someone called and said, ‘Nathan, can you get this taken care of,’ and I said, ‘Sure!’ And I called you.
Torres: It’s terrible when a woman’s mysteries are just –
Baccarin: But you know what, she’s more feminine and… girlier, for lack of a better word, than her character.
Q: What about the differences from the series to the movie in terms of FX, a budget, stunts?
Baccarin: Well it was bigger and better.
Q: Was there something you were asked to do in the film that you were never asked to do on the series?
Baccarin: I had to do archery, which was very cool. I really took to it, actually. I remember when we were shooting, that scene came where I was supposed to shoot one of the Reavers with an arrow and it was like, ‘Clear the set! Only people who need to be here should be here!’ Everybody put on goggles. All the camera guys had these hard hats on and everybody was freaking out. They gave me an X to hit, and everytime I hit that X.
Torres: That’s right! You got good at it.
Q: Anybody else?
Torres: No, it was pretty straightforward from series to movie. Zoe still has her gun, still right by this guy’s side. It was good, it was fun.
Fillion: Malcolm was allowed to be a little bit darker than the series allowed him to be. In the series we experienced some pressure to make him ‘More likable! And nicer! Let’s make him funnier! Let’s make the show more ACTION!’
Baccarin: Jazz hands!
Fillion: In the film, Mary Parent over at Universal had the faith in Joss’ vision to say do it how you wanted it to be done. So we were able to make Malcolm a little bit darker than he was. It made sense; in the time that had passed since the series until the movie some events have happened that have made him more bitter. Malcolm finds one thing that’s easy to express is his bitterness and anger. He’s comfortable there.
Q: There was an expectation that Nathan and Morena, your characters would hook up in the movie but you don’t.
Fillion: You mean behind the scenes?
Remember Moonlighting? As soon as they hooked up?
Baccarin: Who knows where this relationship is going.
Fillion: If I had my druthers, if we ever hook up I hope it’s on my death bed.
Baccarin: You don’t want to kiss me, do you?
Fillion: I do. But not for the sake of the show.
Baccarin: Good answer.