Did you catch the first half of my one on one interview with Joss Whedon? You can still read it by clicking right here. In that first part we talked about his new film, Serenity, which came out of the cancelled TV series Firefly. I have to say thanks to the people who had some nice feedback, since I was nervous coming into this interview – not only am I a huge Buffy and Angel fan, I was despairing that Joss was currently over-interviewed, and that there wasn’t much more I could get out of him. Some people felt that I did get some good stuff from him, and I thank you for saying as much.
Our Serenity coverage isn’t just this interview, by the way. I already shared the panel interview with Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres and Morena Baccarin (click here to read it). This Whedon interview isn’t the only one I have, as well – there’s a mini-press conference I will run next week just before the film opens, and I have another panel interview with the rest of the cast coming. And next week look for more one on ones, this time with Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin!
The final part of this Whedon one on one really focuses on where my allegiance to the guy lies – Buffy and Angel. Some of these questions are things I have wanted to talk to this guy about for years, and I hope you’re as interested in them as I was. And again, thanks to Joss himself for letting me take up a really extraordinary amount of his time.
Q: You’ve talked about the very real possibility of Spike TV movie, of revisiting that character and that universe. Is it the case that you have some stories you still want to tell there, or is it just that you have the opportunity to revisit it, so you’ll go back.
Whedon: It’s got to be both. Ultimately if I didn’t think there were stories to tell about Spike – and I’ve gone back and forth about what I think that story is – but if you feel like there’s nothing to tell, you don’t do it to just… That’s like kissing a corpse. You’re not going to dig it up just so everybody can see that it’s smelly now. If you can’t keep it fresh, don’t do it.
Q: The ending of Angel was maybe the best series finale I have ever seen. That last shot was so great, but you leave yourself in this weird position because if you go back you’re going to have to explain how they got out of there alive.
Whedon: I appreciate that because people were like, ‘Why did you do a cliffhanger?!?!’ It’s not a cliffhanger! It’s a statement!! It does leave things open, there’s a lot to talk about, which is always good. A sense of closure with a sense of openture is the way I do this stuff.
Q: But practically speaking, if there is a Spike TV movie, how will you deal with that ending? Will you explain it, or will you just jump ahead a couple of years and show that he somehow made it?
Whedon: I ain’t gonna say.
Q: I understand that Nick Brendan and Alysson Hannigan have TV shows on at the exact same time. Whose are you going to watch?
Whedon: I’m watching both. I’m TiVoing one. More than that I’m not going to say.
Q: Serenity is going to come out and it’s going to do what it does. If it does well, you’ll come back for more, but either way I am sure Serenity II wouldn’t be the next thing you do. Is there another original project that you have percolating?
Whedon: Well, there’s there’s Wonder Woman obviously. But yes, I have other stuff I’m not going to talk about just yet. I have some ideas. But again, fitting in the Serenity sequel to my busy schedule should be the problem I’m faced with. However, if I’m faced with it, it’ll actually be a problem!
Q: What is the schedule for Wonder Woman?
Whedon: There’s none yet, I’m still writing the script.
Q: So they haven’t come to you with some set in stone tentpole date you have to meet?
Whedon: That’s exactly why I took the gig. They came at me with Wonder Woman at the same time they came at me with X-Men, and they both had advantages, but X-Men was all about the schedule and Wonder Woman was all about not having a schedule. Joel Silver said, ‘She’s waited for 60 years, she’ll wait a little longer.’
Q: I think that schedule for X-Men 3, watching it go into production so late, it’s scary to look at.
Whedon: I had lunch with Avi [Arad] and Lauren [Shuler Donner] and even before the appetizer came I realized, ‘Wait a minute, with this date there’s no way this can happen. So, what did you order? How you been? How’s Ghost Rider going?’
Q: Since you’re going to be doing Wonder Woman is there a chance you’ll be jumping over to do DC Comics at some point?
Whedon: There’s a chance. It’s all about time right now. Ultimately I’m not a DC kid. I have a couple of DC crossover things I would love to do, the one I mentioned before being Buffy/Batman, but I was a Marvel boy. The X-Men will be my Marvel run for a while, but that’s the mythos I grew up with. It has that resonance, and you need that resonance because you’re not going to own anything and it’s not like my wife was saying, ‘Woo hoo, here come the comic book dollars! We’re buying that beach house!’
Q: This might be more fanwank, but in Fray you have that bit where you touch on what happened to all the magic and demons and that didn’t happen at the end of Buffy, which I sort of expected. Is that the kind of thing we should just forget about?
Whedon: No, that’s actually something I hope to deal with, either in the Spike format or in another series of Fray.
Q: Are there plans for another series?
Whedon: That’s just me talking. But yeah, there’s a discrepancy there that I plan to explain. I have a vision for it.
Q: How much attention do you pay to the peripheral stuff, the novels and the comics?
Whedon: Not very much. I just don’t have time. I give them a few guidelines of things they should stay away from, things that we’re going to be dealing with or things that would disrupt the canon or things that are just antithetical to what I believe in.
Q: What do you have to say to the people who complain about the final seasons of Buffy, who don’t get season 6?
Whedon: Sorry. We do the best we can. We do what we think is right. Sometimes we sway too far one way, sometimes too far another. Season 6 was incredibly dark and that happens. I know that people said that Sarah complained; there were times where she said, ‘I feel lost.’ That’s what we were going for, and eventually we realized that we had taken Buffy away from people, and they’re not going to accept it. There were some members of the audience who had trouble with it and that I understand and that I respect, but that’s where I thought the story had to go. When I started to feel it, I brought her back. The funny thing was that Sarah asked to talk to Marti [Noxon] and had a conversation with her at the end of the season and said, ‘Now I feel like we’re starting to miss the point, we’re starting to miss the idea of the strong girl going to the dark side of what power is.’ I was astonished because I had the exact same conversation with her the day before.
Q: It’s funny because season 6 is neck and neck with season 2 as my favorite season.
Whedon: I love season 6. It’s really important. But it was a very stark thing to do. It wasn’t just putting Buffy in a very bad, abusive, weird relationship, it was some sort of an end to magic. For me because childhood is so rich with metaphor, a lot of it had to do with leaving that behind. Instead of a bigger than life villain, we had the nerd troika. Instead of drinking blood and doing spells as sexual metaphor, we had sex. Things became very literal and they lost some of their loveliness. I still think that a lot of the best episodes we ever did were in season 6. I don’t agree with the detractors, but I understand it. And I respect it. Everybody has their opinions. There are people out there who love it very much. But as I’ve learned from my latest arc on the X-Men, you can’t please everybody all the time.
Q: What do you think it is about this latest arc that’s not pleasing people?
Whedon: I’m not sure. I don’t really have enough perspective on it. I felt like there was an awful lot of talk in the first one and I wanted to have more of a smack down, and I think the idea of exploring Danger and her coming to life and stuff wasn’t really moving to people, because basically they wanted more of the soap opera. Which I’m grateful for, because they’re about to get a shitload of it. But I think ultimately they felt the character stuff got waylaid by the plot. I thought I was gabbing on too much, but I guess I was gabbing on the right amount. But I loved doing the Danger arc, I thought it was full of good stuff and I got to do a Xavier smackdown, which was total fun. Ultimately I have learned, no matter how hard I try, I’m going to do stuff that’s a little bit left of center for people and if I run scared from that, I’m going to start becoming bland. And if I become self-indulgent, I’ll feel that too. It’s a fine line.
Q: When in season 7 of Buffy did you know it was going to end?
Whedon: Pretty much before season 7 began. Sarah and I had talked about – I had talked about 5 years for a long time and it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen.
There was a whole thing about it being in Entertainment Weekly and the crew wasn’t informed and everybody was unhappy, and I was just like, ‘There was somebody who didn’t know?’ Some of the actors were upset and I said, ‘You guys I’ve talked to specifically about this.’ The crew I actually went and apologized to. I said, ‘I don’t know how this isn’t already public knowledge and I apologize if you guys felt the carpet pulled out from under you.’ But I kicked the actors off set before I did it because they knew.
It was wear and tear. It wasn’t like anybody wasn’t getting along. That’s what season 3 is for. By season 7 everybody is doing their jobs. We’re all pros and my writers were all full of brilliant ideas and my actors were getting it done but the tonnage starts to wear on you. We knew this going in that it was going to happen. We talked about other ideas, like the Faith idea and stuff, but we knew that this particular show was going to come to a close and should, before it did start to show up on screen.
Q: I always thought that you should have had Spike and Lindsey form a band and go on tour with Faith as the manager, going from town to town like the A-Team or the Hulk.
Whedon: Screw that. With Faith as the lead singer! Have you heard that girl sing?
Q: I have never heard her sing.
Whedon: Oh, dude. I asked Eliza one time, ‘Why don’t you just become a pop star?’ She said, ‘Because I don’t want to sing that crap.’
But I see them more like Josey and the Pussycats. And into outer space thing.
Q: So what made you decide not to kill Xander? I had heard you were going to at one point.
Whedon: Everybody’s head was on the block while the jury discussed their fate. At the end of the day I wanted something they could call a happy ending, I felt they deserved it. And that meant not killing any of the core characters, the core four. And it meant not killing Dawn, because she’s Buffy’s sister. And for some reason it meant not killing Tom Lenck. Just because everybody assumed we would.
Q: Blinding Xander was almost as bad as killing him to me.
Whedon: That was the thing. We thought we took a toll on him that people were so horrified by, it was just so visceral and grotesque. That accomplished what I needed without having to do anything nasty like killing him.
Q: There’s a new Buffy set coming in November, this big DVD box. Why should fans buy that?
Whedon: If they already have all of them, I don’t know if they should. But if they don’t… It’s complete, and I know that they’ve added a bunch of new things. We did a roundtable discussion for an hour and a half that they’re going to put together – hopefully 20 minutes of it is usable. Between me, Marti Noxon, David Fury, Jane Espenson, Doug Petrie, Drew Goddard, Nicky Brendon, Charisma Carpenter, Emma Caulfield, Danny Strong; it was really fun. We were really hashing it out, talking about favorite stuff, what we thought about this and that. A lot of it is off-topic and quite rude. But some of it was really interesting and fun. We tried to create something where we really got a perspective on it and got to hash it out, because we really love talking about that stuff.