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INTERVIEW CAST EN CREW SERENITY
Type: Interview - Datum: 2006-04-20 - Geplaatst door: Werner
Joss Whedon Exclusive Print Interview by Johanna Juntunen
"Serenity"
LA, September 2005


Q: How did you know that Firefly was something that needed to be translated into the big screen, that it had that pedigree?
A: Pedigree is a good word just because of the body of the people who make it up. I felt like, yeah, there are lot of perfectly good shows that wouldn't lend themselves to a movie, but when you are dealing with certain size, science fiction, action universe and if you can think of a story epic enough, then it makes visual sense to do it as a movie. For me it's about these people. The movie obviously is about these people, which in an action movie is becoming rarer and rarer, but I think these people are extraordinary. I thought the actors emboded their characters, were amazing professionals, wonderful to work with. The fun working with them actually translated on screen, you could see that the chemistry between them was palpable. I never really had an experience like that where it was just so solid from the beginning, where these people absolutely had created something that I loved living in, that I believed in. And then have it yanked out from under me. I was like "No, no, no. This story isn't told yet". I got to work with Buffy for seven years, Angel for five and I felt that to a large extent I got to tell those stories. And this world was more complete and more perfectly 'peopled' than any I ever created. People want to see this.

Q: How did you take the cancellation news?
A: It wasn't cancelled so much as squashed like a bug from the very beginning. It was not a good match with the network. They didn't want it, they didn't understand it, they didn't advertise it, they didn't air it. These little things lead to people not seeing it. I had family members that could not find it on TV because they kept pre-empting it and changing it. It had no chance from the beginning. But luckily we got to make 15 hours of television during that 'no chance' which made for a hell of a reel to pitch the movie with.

Q: The show was on Fox and the movie is Universal. Did Fox have the first right of refusal?
A: They did. And they refused (laughs).

Q: Did it become personal?
A: No, if it was personal they would have kept Universal from buying the rights. They would have said "we want to shut this down". They didn't get it, their TV division anyway, and they could've thought that "if someone else succeeds with it we will look silly" but the fact of the matter is that if somebody else succeeds with it they're going to sell a lot of DVDs.

Q: Everybody keeps talking about the DVD sales that fuelled the movie. How much did it sell?
A: I don't know what the number is now. I know that within a few weeks of putting it out we sold about 200,000. So the idea that there was no audience for it kind of dissipated pretty quickly. But I was already working on the script. Universal had already expressed interest just by having seen the episodes, obviously not on TV, but because I gave them to them. It was in fact the Fox DVD arm that said "we think this is a money maker". And this is before they were putting everything on DVD, it was a radical notion at the time. But it didn't hurt at all, and the fan base has been increasing over the last 2 years. For a show that doesn't exist, that's pretty good.

Q: Let's say hypothetically that the movie makes $100-150 million. Can Fox resurrect the show or is it an avenue you don't even want to take?
A: I absolutely have no idea what the contract is. I think ultimately you can never recapture what we did. You could have another show but it would be a new show. I think it's more likely that if it makes... uh, I'm not even going to say those numbers, they're too dreamy, if it makes a good deal of money we would see more movies. I think that's where it lives right now. But nothing, as I have recently learned, is impossible.

Q: Is there a sense of revenge from your part?
A: The word we use is redemption. I'm not going to lie, I was fairly bitter, but I transferred all my bitterness into getting the movie made. Universal made it easy but it was a while before we got there. The only thing on my mind was to get this made. And as far as revenge is concerned, if that's why you're doing something then you should stop. That's not going to get you through. It was my love of the thing, of the project that made me want to do this. And the fact that it's done, my revenge is, that Fox will, again, sell a lot of DVDs, which to me is the best revenge because it's about respect. I respect this and I want you to do too. It's not thumb in my nose anymore, that's not how I operate. Believe me, there are a plenty of people in my career that I wanted to thumb my nose at, I had a lot of disappointments but if you focus on that you will become unendurably bitter and really boring.

Q: Since Firefly was such a hit on DVD, what are your plans for the Serenity DVD - have you done it already?
A: Oh yes. They make all the DVD stuff before you make the movie. First meeting I ever had with the people at Universal, and there was a giant room full of people. I was explaining the universe of the movie and what I was going to do with it. They were saying "so, what are your thoughts about the DVD?" I was like "I was hoping it would come out in theatres". That's just such a part of the package now, it's a huge source of revenue. So they were making DVD extras of me having that meeting, whether or not we will have that on the DVD extras, so it's inevitably part of it and I've watched all the documentaries they put together and the pieces, I thought they were really nicely done. And of course I did my commentary where I praised myself for two hours.

Q: How did you know that with Firefly and Serenity you were discovering new territories, instead of visiting the same ones explored in Star Trek and Star Wars?
A: You have these big bench marks that influence everything. I saw Star Wars 10 times in theatre. I was not a huge Star Trek fan, I still saw all of the movies. Blade Runner, Mad Max, any of the movies that created templates that changed science fiction, they are going to be in your head. And very specifically in this case people have likened Serenity to the movies we're talking about. This is not something that I can pretend is irrelevant...

Q: Mel is like Han Solo?
A: Absolutely, to me it's definitely a precursor, even a father to this movie in many ways. But everybody has their own personal statement and their own personal aesthetic. Mine is possibly a little bleaker and grittier (laughs) than George's although he did get kind of depressing there in that last one. But nobody slowly burns to death in mine, so, I guess I'm the jaunty one. But you take what you love and you make it your own. If you bring a personal point of view to your film then it will be something fresh, and if you don't, then you shouldn't be making it anyway.

Q: How was the day when you got the news that Firefly got cancelled?
A: It was a fun day because I went in to pitch an idea for Batman origins movie which I guess didn't go over very well since I heard crickets in the room and possibly some snoring. As I was driving back to the office I was thinking "maybe I just don't know how to work in this system, maybe I'm just getting it wrong". I got back to the office and the show was cancelled. So they just told me and I said only one thing "will you let me take it somewhere else?" because cancellation was bad news but not a bolt from a blue, not after the process of getting it on the air in the first place. They said yes and I hang up the phone. Then I went to the stage and told the actors "the show is over but we are not finished". All of them waited while I tried to figure out some way to keep this flying. So I relate to Mel a lot more than I used to. And eventually I got the call that said we are back.

Q:: What was your take on Batman?
A: It was different. And that's the problem, when I create something I do fall in love with it. Like I'm still upset for not getting to film... it was just a pitch and all I had was an outline, but there were a couple of scenes in there that made me well up when I think about them because I thought they were so wonderful. So imagine how I felt about something that actually existed with actors and a world that was already there; I could live in it and feel it. And when that thing was taken away, I don't deal with these things very well. I'm not in the business of making up stories that I can't tell anymore. When you work in Hollywood as a writer you do it all the time. I sold big scripts for lots of money that nobody has ever seen because they were never made into movies. I did rewrites where I got into the heart of the film, really found the centre of what the film meant and really brought something in it that they didn't use. It's very dilapidating, it's very exhausting, it's lucrative but it's sort of soul deadening. That was my career for a while. I did Buffy, the show, because it was mine, I could actually start telling the stories and people would listen to what I had to say. And that did rather more than I expected. Serenity is the first chance I've ever had just to put myself completely on film, and as you can see I made myself much prettier.

Q: You are also a successful comic book writer, couldn't you just call DC and say that you have a great Batman story?
A: Well, it's a little more complicated than that but yeah, pretty much I could... but it would have to be a great Batman story (laughs). But the world of comic books has been very welcoming, which was unexpected because I didn't realize that they even knew who I was, until they found out what I did. That's another place where I can feel like I can walk into that world and do things that I like to do.

Q: What's the status of Wonder Woman, you're attached to that, right?
A: Correct. The status is (pretends to write on a typewriter)... it's weird because I write on computer so I don't know why do I make that sound. But there's no production start date, that's part of the reason why I took the gig. They just said "get it right" or "at least get it written". Once they see a script then we'll have an idea. They'll be like "uh, yeah, fast track" or "hmm, back to the digging sound".

Q: Do you think that, as with Superman, you need an actor who doesn't have that much recognition, or does it need to be somebody famous?
A: I think that the first one is true. I think it's easier if you have a relative unknown that people see her for the first time and go "OK, that's Wonder Woman" instead of that's so-and-so's interpretation of Wonder Woman. I'm not going to rule somebody out just because they're famous. If I finish it and go "oh, my god, this is perfect for so-and-so" then it's perfect for her. But I would imagine that it would end up being somebody unknown because I couldn't name any particular so-and-so.

Q: How can you do a Wonder Woman movie because the character can be very lame if it's not well written...
A: Oh, yeah, believe me when I say that. That's a path on a very long ledge. Despite my love of B-movies I'm not in the business for cheesy, and when it comes to powerful women I think I can work it. Somebody said to me "Come on, let's face it. You have two things on your resume: wonder and woman". So, I understand her. I wasn't sure if I did at first when Joel Silver came to me. It was like "wait a minute, this lady is talking to me. She's not cheesy at all". Trust me.

Q: You had to change her costume, right?
A: Some of it, but she is still going to be Wonder Woman, she's not going to be Trinity (laughs).

Q: How do you deal with the fact that you have such a huge cult following?
A: It's a burden. The only thing I don't like about 'cult following' is the name 'cult following' because it tends to make people think "well, I'm not interested in that, it's exclusive". Ultimately I'd like to have a giant following (laughs). But my fans are not like scary, 'culty', let's keep everybody else out from the club house people, they're very inclusive, very sweet, altruistic, attractive and normal and they have lives unlike me. So it's just a huge compliment to me, it just means that they respond to my work and that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

Q: One of the benefits of doing sci-fi is that you can deal with issues of today but since it's 500 or 5000 years in the future, people don't think that you are talking directly to them but you are. Can you talk about some of the themes that reflect the world today?
A: Some of it is a little more reflective of issues than I had intended. Obviously, politically it has a lot to do with more or less benevolent superpowers over reaching themselves, and people who think that their way of thinking should be everybody's. And how dangerous that is. It's about the idea that no matter how much we want to be better, the fact that we are hopelessly flawed is possibly our only hope. In order to be free people have to be good and bad, right and wrong, that we all live in a grey area and people who don't, who see things in black and white, are the most dangerous people on the planet.

Q: Why are you so attracted to strong women as characters. Is it a James Cameron thing?
A: James Cameron is a guru to me. He made the only truly textured, strong female heroes, not the only ones, but some of the most important, when I was coming up, and I learned a lot from him. But George Romero was doing more or less the same thing, not as heralded but definitely as strong. I love the old movies, the really old movies before people decided that women were supposed to be weak. I'm talking about Rosalind Russell and His Girl Friday or Janet Gaynor and Seventh Heaven taking a bullwhip to her older sister, there was a toughness that was just expected of people that disappeared. The worst thing that ever happened to women in movies is Marilyn Monroe. The weak, helpless, pathetic, annoying woman. And our continued cultural obsession with her depressed me my whole life. I like strong women, I was raised by one, I'm married to one, I surround myself with them. They're interesting, they're fun , they're sexy but they aren't represented enough. I think the question really shouldn't be 'why am I so attracted to strong women?', the question should be 'why isn't everybody?'

Q: Both your father and grandfather were part of very important TV shows of their generation, how much did that affect you by osmosis?
A: A lot of it is osmosis. My style is very much like my father's. Because I didn't want to write for TV, I was "no, no, no. Film! Entertainment is not television, bah". Then I realized that there was some beautiful work to be done on television. Their sensibility was so much part of who I was, that when it came time to make my way in television, the tone and the structure and where that stuff comes from... is particularly from my father. But my mother, who is a teacher, spent an enormous time writing novels that were never published. When I think about wanting to be a writer, what I think of is the sound of her typewriter and when she was done writing for the day, I would sneak and start writing my novels which were even less published than hers because I never got past page 12.


Q: What was your first success?
A: My first success was getting my first job which was Roseanne. I was working in a video store on Friday and on Monday I went to work on what was then the number one sitcom, and I thought the most ground breaking show about a family that was on TV.

Q: You survived, emotionally?
A: No, my corpse is scattered, among many others, on the killing fields of Roseanne. But not actually by Roseanne, we got along fine. It was just a chaotic situation, everybody else having to deal with her, and they didn't know how to deal with me, so I quit. Because there was no place for me there. But that was the beginning. Although the video store owner did tell me that he was thinking about me for management so maybe I went the wrong way.

Q: How old were you at that time?
A: I was 24.

Q: Your giant following was really rooting for you to take on X-Men, did you try to get it?
A: I love my giant following, but giants are not to be trusted. My elves following, they are really gnomes who guide me. The X-Men is something I talked about because I talked to Avi and Lauren before doing stuff. It was a scheduling issue more than anything. I was positive that it was the right idea for me, but on paper I write the X-Men comic. The X-Men was a huge influence. It could be a lot of fun, and they didn't really have a script so it could be a lot of fun. Wonder Woman I didn't really love the show or the comics, but you do break it down, and you're talking about doing the third in a franchise which is unfortunately really locked into a lot of dates and things. There were just so many perimeters, scheduling was never going to work as opposed to Wonder Woman.

Q: What are your favorite movies on DVD?
A: There's two different kinds of DVDs to own. There's the classic that you make sure that you own, and then there's the movie that you find yourself watching over and over and over. So the classics can just sit there. You've got to own certain things like Casablanca and Rear Window. It doesn't mean that you are throwing them on every minute. So I'm going to choose five that I watch a lot if times. That's going to be Mulan, Red Planet, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Last Of The Mohicans, and well, The Matrix.

Q: The new or old Thomas Crown Affair?
A: The new one. I adore that one.



Nathan Fillion & Morena Baccarin Exclusive Print Interview by Johanna Juntunen
"Serenity"
LA, September 2005


Q: It must've been quite a roller coaster, having a TV show cancelled and then having a movie made of it?
N: Yeah.
M: And in that ride when you plunge 300 feet...
N: That was the cancellation. But it's been good, nothing like a major motion picture to make you feel better about having your TV show cancelled.

Q: What was different about the show and this movie compared to Star Trek and to Star Wars that made people notice it and become fans?
M: I think it's good. I think that people identify with the characters and they like the stories that are being told. It's really exciting.
N: I agree. I think that's Joss Whedon's talent. He writes interesting people, I love my character. And I love the stories and the relationships. I think that's what the fans invest in. It takes them by the heart.

Q: Maybe they can also identify because the world seem so similar to ours, a world where they want to make us better. It's almost like a Bush program?
N: (laughs) I think Joss Whedon's view of the future is extremely...
M: Realistic.
N: Yeah. I don't see aliens around us right now. I don't see any reason there would be tons of aliens 500 years from now.
M: It's very tangible, you can see everything.
N: It's the same. People are doing the same thing they've always done: screwing each other over for money and power. That's what happens.

Q: When Star Trek made the leap from TV to the big screen, the show had been playing for years. In your case it's fascinating that there is a cult based on a cancelled show?
N: I wonder what would've happened to Star Trek then if they had the technology, the internet, DVD technology, box sets.

Q: But what is your perspective on it?
M: We had to move on. It was my first TV show and I really fell in love with it and I got really heart broken, I'm sure we all did. So I moved on. I thought it was over. I had to move to my next job.
N: I didn't move on very well. I was very bitter. I wasn't prepared (laughs). I didn't see it coming.

Q: How did you get the news?
N: Joss came down to the set while we were working.
M: Jewel called me and then Joss called. And then we all went to Nathan's house and got drunk.
N: Yeah, that's true. We were so afraid that the last three days that were left were going to be torture, and we went in and everybody was determined to have a great time.
M: We kept saying "what's the worst that could happen?"
N: "They're going to cancel us?"

Q: How did you react when Firefly came out on a DVD and it became such a hit?
M: I think I was the last to know that because I had moved on. Somebody said that it's coming out on DVD. I thought "oh, that's great, a couple of people will buy it." (laughs)
N: The show getting cancelled was a downer because we thought we had a great show. The DVD selling well was like a little pat on a back, like a consolation prize. It said "guys, you weren't doing anything wrong".
M: Right. "We still want to see this and now this is how we are going to watch it".

Q: What kind of feedback do you get from fans?
M: They have a very mutual understanding of the work, I think. They really enjoy the same things that we enjoy in it. They have such an in-depth understanding of the world, the universe that was created. They really do their research, and they read things about it. They're very intelligent. And they're really passionate about it. They get really into the world, and they dress up as us sometimes. They have these really intelligent questions about the Alliance vs. the Browncoats, it's really cool.
N: There's beautiful art work and posters on the internet. "Things I've learned about Firefly" lessons.
M: They have quotes that we've said.
N: Yeah, makes you feel pretty clever. And it makes it look like this show ran for years.

Q: This movie has more humour than most sci-fi films. How did Joss put it in there, because the audience is laughing both at you and with you, which is unusual?
N: Well, I think both are true. Joss is solely responsible for how the characters turned out.
M: He credits us for the deliverance of it, but he really tells us how to do it (laughs). It's in the writing, it's all there.
N: That's real life. It's dry humor, not punch-line funny, but it certainly is dry.
M: It's ironic. Joss mirrors life very well. I love that part where you're trying to get into the Gore-Tex and you say "it's hard to get into!" It's funny because we feel your pain. It's not funny because it's a funny line.
N: "Dead guy gave me an understatement!"

Q: How did you originally get the roles on Firefly?
N: My manager told me about this new sci-fi western, and I said "what???" And he said "yeah, it's Joss Whedon", and I had auditioned for Angel when Buffy first came around. So I was well aware of his talent and I had a couple of friends on Buffy. So I was intrigued, read it...
M: Did you have a script?
N: No, it was the treatment written by play by play how the script was going to be, it hadn't been written yet. I had a holding deal with 20th Century Fox. It was like "we'll give you a job, we don't have anything yet but just hang in tight", and they set me up with a meeting with Joss Whedon. I was in his office, Amy Brit was there I remember, she's lovely, and there's this guy in the corner with this purple sweater with a big hole in it, scraggly red hair and big red wiry beard. I was thinking "who is this guy and when is Joss Whedon going to get here?" We sort of started chatting and I realized that that was Joss. We spent about 45 minutes chatting about the show, and that's how I got my audition and eventually the show.
M: I came in last. They had already cast somebody in my role. The treatment came to me similarly as to Nathan, but I was in New York. And I was so sick of going to tape things and not getting jobs, that I passed on it and said "no, I don't want to audition for this". I went to do a play and came back, and decided to go to L.A. for a week. Somebody already had the job but got fired, and the part was open again. I saw it as fate. I had to audition at 3 p.m. and at 5 p.m. I had to go to meet Joss. I was also wondering who this guy was, but we just chatted for 30-45 minutes and I was like "I'll do anything this guy does". He's so passionate and intelligent. And you're just playing, he had me do this Russian accent. Then I tested the next day and got on set. These guys were all there, and they're already shooting. I was like "what??"
N: We were a week in and she came wide eyed to the set. Joss explained everything to her.

Q: You started in soap opera One Life To Live. It's a double edged sword; a great starting point but you get easily stuck?
N: Bob (Robert) Woods, he played my uncle, he played Bo Buchanan, I was Joy Buchanan, and two years into my three year contract he pulled me aside and said "look, I'm here to tell you that they are going to come and renegotiate your contract. I'm telling you, say no. The harder you say no, the harder they are going to make it to leave. They offer you more money, but daytime drama is the golden handcuffs; they're gold but they're handcuffs. If you leave and go to L.A. and try it out, and if it doesn't work out they'll take you back, so go out there and try your luck". So every time I go to New York, I buy Bob a bottle of something nice.

Q: What are your expectations on the movie?
M: I don't know what's going to happen. I'm trying to take it day by day at the time. I just hope that it does really well. I'd love to do another movie.

Q: What if they came back and said that they're going to bring back the TV show?
M: Twist my arm (laughs).

Q: Would you do it?
N: Sure.
M: As long as all these guys are in it and Joss is involved, yeah.

Q: Did you go to Comic-Con?
M: Yeah.
N: Four times I think.

Q: What kind of feedback did you get this time when the movie was coming out?
M: They were so excited about the movie. We showed them a little clip and people just wanted more and more.
N: We stopped. Nothing wrapped up. So there are a lot of people out there who invested and are left hanging.
M: Including us.
N: Yeah. I remember watching the first season of Alias and they had those wonderful cliffhangers. At the end of each episode I wanted to see the next one, thinking how were they going to get out of this one. And Firefly fans have been left like that for almost two years. That's a long time to wait for the cliffhanger.

Q: Who did you base your character on, is he like a John or something else?
N: A friend of mine grew up in Texas and he worked on a farm with his grandfather. He would tell me these amazing stories of his grandfather who can't be flustered. This one story that particularly struck me was, they were castrating bulls. The process is that you throw them into this stall, close the gate behind them, do your business and get the next one in there. While they're getting this one bull in, they're shutting the gate, the bull kicked and hit the gate between his thumb and a post. And it severed his thumb which remained inside his glove, but it was hanging. He was "oh well, we have six more to do, so let's keep this going". He didn't show the pain in any way. And there's my friend Cory, 9-10 years old going "grandpa, you have to go to the hospital", crying. Because of him he decided to go, but I think he was a tough man. He's had some hard living. That's the kind of man I imagined Malcolm to be, he grew up on a ranch. He's a hard worker, not somebody who cries from a little pain.

Q: Is there some Han Solo in him as well?
N: That comparison can be made, and it's often made. I'm glad for it because I'm a big fan of Han Solo, but if you're going to this movie expecting Han Solo I think you'd be disappointed. But I do enjoy this character. Malcolm is a little crankier and more weird than Han Solo. If I invited Han Solo to a party, I wouldn't invite Malcolm.

Q: Were there any scenes that you remember thinking were silly because the sets were not that detailed and got finished later digitally?
M: Anything with action in, personally I sort of shy away from, because I don't think I'm so good at it, especially the scene where the ship is rotating out of control, and we were basically all sitting in a circle in the dining room area, like this going (moves her upper body to the left) and then Joss would go "to the right!" and you're like (moving towards right), and you're making these faces and thinking that "this is going to look terrible" (laughs). But that looks great.
N: Anything with green screen you have to release. When I'm on set anything I do when I'm acting I have complete control over, when I have interaction with other people I share that control with them. When you're looking at the green screen you're sharing that power, relinquishing that end of it to somebody else entirely, with a computer who is going to work on it for months. And we've got some clever guys doing that. So when you're staring at the green screen and Joss is telling you that there's something really scary up there, and you look at a big pink taped X on the screen, you're going "This will be good, I know it. I'll leave it up to these guys".

Q: Are you big on DVD's, and do you collect them?
N: I'm trying to back away, actually.
M: I know, it's hard. Like you said the other day, I don't watch half of the things I buy. For some reason I have to have them.
N: I loaned a stack of DVDs to somebody who was laid up with a bad foot or something, actually to a friend whose sister was laid up, and she said "oh, I've got to get those movies back to you". Her sister had returned them to the restaurant, and they were gone but she said that she could get them back. Now there's this big stack of DVDs gone, and I couldn't tell you what was in it.
M: But something's missing, right?
N: Not for me. I've stayed pretty much the same.

Q: What are your three favorite DVD's?
M: I'm obsessed with Friends.
N: Do you watch the DVD sets of Friends?
M: I do. I bought every single one that's out already (laughs). I have seasons 1-8. I like the practical jokes like the one in Joey's and Chandler's apartment where the bedroom door gets sliced in half, and when Chandler goes to open the door he falls over the other half. And I love The Family Guy, it's a great show. And I just recently purchased my favorite childhood movie which is Labyrinth. It's kind of goofy now when you see it.
N: I would say The Incredibles. I like that movie, I see something new every time I watch it. Sin City I have. Somebody bought it and left it at my house. And Firefly (laughs). And I bought the Lost box set.

Q: Are you into comic books?
N: I collected comic books when I was a kid, yeah, until they got too expensive. I don't know what kids do for money nowadays but back in my day we had to earn it.

Q: We heard the Wonder Woman rumours surrounding you, are they true?
M: It's one of those things, it's not up to me. I'd love to be Wonder Woman. That would be awesome, but you have to ask Joss about it. I think he's still trying to write the script. It's very premature.

Q: What kind of training did you do for Serenity?
M: I was in a 'fight club' for three weeks. I was trying to do one kick for probably two weeks.
N: I was there barely three weeks. And I would complain about my time there, and every time I'd come in there I'd see Summer doing her thing, kicking something above her head about 60 times. I'd be warming up and doing my stuff, cool down and leave, and she's in the corner fighting 9 guys. And she had to start months before us. She worked really hard.

Q: What about with guns?
N: We got to fire off a lot of really cool looking futuristic weapons and they brought in a quick draw artist; the fastest drawer in the world. And he taught me how to quick draw.

Q: How fast are you?
N: I wasn't bad. My drawback is that my gun is very long, so you have to pull it high and then drop your shoulder. Instead of pulling it up in front of you, you actually have to pull it back first.
M: I did archery which I really liked and that was all. I didn't get to do any guns.

Q: What's next for you?
N: I got a horror movie coming out called Slither.
M: I'm auditioning a lot, that's about all I'm doing here. I almost went to Brazil to do a new soap opera but it would be for 8 months and I wouldn't be here for any of this stuff, so I couldn't do it.



Summer Glau & Sean Maher Exclusive Print Interview by Johanna Juntunen
"Serenity"
LA, September 2005


Q: Are you surprised to be back; from a cancelled TV show to the big screen?
SG: It just surprised me, the scale of it. Joss told us from the moment the show was cancelled that he was going to find a way to keep telling the story but we didn't exactly know what that meant. So here we are.
SM: The actual day we got cancelled we all went to Nathan's house and he (Joss) said that he would not rest until he found a home for us. So we believed, we never got the official "it's dead" so the result is this lingering sense of hope. But like Summer said (laughs) we never envisioned it to be this big movie, and now to have finished it and out there... the response has really been wonderful, so it's continually surprising.

Q: How did you take the bad news about the show's cancellation?
SG: It was a shock.
SM: A blow, it was devastating.
SG: It took us a while. When we got cancelled it was right before our holiday, so we didn't even get a chance to let it settle. We went to Nathan's house and we were together for the one last time and then we all went home for Christmas, so it was just a shock.
SM: We weren't sure what was going on with the network, we were struggling, so we were on pins and needles for a while. But that takes you by surprise, it was so abrupt.

Q: What is so unique about this material that it deserves to be on the big screen?
SM: I think it's the characters. Just this world that Joss created, people seem to be captivated by it. From the very beginning people who saw the show loved it, this sort of bubbling small group was always there from the very beginning, they were the driving force that inspired us and kept us going, because we knew that there were people out there that really liked it. Then the show is cancelled and the DVD sales went through the roof, so it's apparent that still people were catching on to it and loved it, so there should have been another venue to tell the story again. And Joss, I think, was sort of a miracle worker in a sense that he kept it alive and fought so hard for this. It's really his baby.

Q: Is it different for you actors when it was a TV show than when it was a film?
SG: Not as much as we were preparing for. Everyone was saying that this was going to be so different, but our dynamic was already set up from when we worked together and when we worked for Joss. So when we went to set to do the film, the things that were different were not us. It's was more like the sets were bigger, we had more money, and more time.

Q: What time frame did you have to shoot each episode?
SM: Eight days, and then we had three months to do the movie (laughs). It was a little bit different.

Q: Was it more physical?
SG: Absolutely for me. And I think for everyone, for Sean, he ended up getting in there and fighting the battles too. But I trained for three months before we even started shooting anything.

Q: Was there anything they told you to do and you thought 'no way'?
SG: (laughs) The split on the ceiling, but we got up there and we did it. When I was up there it didn't hurt. There was a guy who was helping me, and they had to rebuild the hallway three times because they had to measure my legs. If it's off an inch I can't hold my leg up. So I would get in a split and get situated and I stood up there between takes. It was easier than I thought.

Q: Did your co-stars attempt to do it?
SM: (laughs) I had to show her how to do it. She had to learn it from somebody.

Q: What kind of training did you go through?
SG: I met my stunt coordinator, Chad Stahelski, months before we started and he watched me move, he taught me some different steps and stuff, and he saw that I was a ballet dancer. He created a kind of hybrid technique for me that was a more "balletic" way of doing martial arts. He said that it was a combination of wuchu, kung-fu and kick boxing. And it was very different from dancing (laughs). I worked hard, we all worked hard.

Q: Did you keep the workout going after the movie?
SG: You know, they offered to let me keep coming to the class and I said no (laughs).

Q: Did you get injuries other than bruises?
SG: Oh, yeah. I have a big scar on knee from one stunt going wrong, and I pulled every muscle in my body - dancers are very strong but it's a completely different kind of muscle memory. Martial arts is kind of like a snake: it snaps and then it comes back in. Dancing is always up, always lifting and it's very fluid. I can hold my leg out for a long time as a dancer, but in martial arts you have to get your leg up that high but you have to get it down in one second. So I kept pulling hamstrings, I was limping home, I'd do ice baths where I just had to carry ice bags home and lie in a bathtub because I pulled everything. My body really changed a lot. And I was a vegetarian and I ate meat by the end of the movie. I was eating steaks (laughs).

Q: What was the most difficult sequence to shoot?
SG: The storage locker was hard for me to do.
SM: Yeah, the storage locker was hard. The end of the movie was definitely most grueling schedule-wise, we shot that for days and days. But emotionally, probably the storage locker.
SG: And also the mule chase because we were actually in the mule and then it was green screen. They made this incredible rig and we all sat up there in the desert for days and days and shot that mule chase. The boys loved it and the girls wanted to get out of the sun.

Q: Was it easier to shoot the TV show or the film?
SM: I liked the film. They're so different, obviously our schedule, it was eight days versus three months. Sometimes for the episodes we didn't get scripts until the night before so it was difficult to get a chunk of dialogue that we were shooting the next day, but it's just TV versus film. But the film was fun for me, because I felt that all the ground work was done, we had this incredible foundation because we had been working together as actors and we had been with these characters for so long. That, I think, is the hardest part to find. You find who your character is, how he walks and talks, and how he is with the other actors. So all that was done and we just stepped back into those shoes. There was a great sense of ease to it.

Q: Was there any improvising or was Joss not allowing it?
SM: No, we pretty much...maybe we finish his words and if it's rolling and if he likes what goes on afterwards we'd do it.
SG: I'm not that brave. I always do just what Joss says.

Q: Do you have siblings?
SG: I have two sisters.
SM: I have a sister and a brother.

Q: Does that feeling just instinctually kick in when you have to play close siblings on screen?
SM: It does, you obviously draw from your own life. You find similarities between yourself and the character, and they bleed into the way you portray the character.

Q: You have tremendous patience for your sister?
SM: (laughs) Yeah.
SG: Poor guy.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to get into acting or did it just happen?
SM: I picked it up in high school where we had a great theatre program. Towards the end of my senior year we were putting up like six shows a year, and then I went to college to study drama. Right out of college I started pursuing it and I've been blessed that I've been lucky enough that things worked out.
SG: I was going to be a ballet dancer all my life. I started dancing full time when I was 14, and I had some really bad injuries, one in particular when I was 19. It would not heal. I was really stubborn, I would not give my roles to anybody so I kept dancing. Finally I just couldn't take class anymore, and I had to admit that I had to stop dancing classical ballet. So I came to L.A. for a summer, basically following a crush that I had out here and he ended up moving to New York the minute I got here (laughs). So I started auditioning for anything, and found that, I guess, I could act and maybe I could get work doing that. And I had this secret feeling when I was a little girl that I was going to end up acting. So it felt right.

Q: What kind of message do you want the fans to pick up from Serenity?
SG: One thing that we keep talking about is believing - whatever you believe, you have to believe it with your whole heart. That's one theme that keeps running through. And love. Taking care of the people around you, taking care of the people you love, it's simple. There are many layers and everybody that comes to see it feels something different when they walk away.
SM: What I love about the world of Firefly, the world of Serenity, is it's 500 years in the future but there's this big 'what if?', like, what if we used up the resources of Earth and here we are, people are trying to survive, trying to get by, trying to just eat and get a job. There are these dynamics between these wonderful characters and I think the movie... yes, it's this huge spectacular, great ride and when you really think about it, for me it instilled this faith in humanity that like yes, 500 years in the future we have this Alliance trying to do this horrible thing to this girl and trying to just change people, and at the end of the day it's like "OK, let's just have faith." There is innate goodness and people will prevail as human beings and there's just wonderful sense of humanity to it. No matter how far in the future you go, hopefully people are people in how they work and function together. We are trying to rebuild and figure things out, and make adjustments.

Q: Does being a ballet dancer benefit you in acting?
SG: The thing about River that I like, is that she doesn't have a lot of lines. Especially in the series she had to show what she was thinking just by the way she moved or by how her face was moving. I think that has helped me a lot as an actor. I still have hard time sometimes, expressing my anger with words, I'm better at moving and being in a room and showing how I feel that way. It's a thing that I had to work on because I was very shy as a kid. I think that's why I love dancing, because I felt that people were watching me but I didn't have to connect with them. They were out there and I could feel that they were watching me but I didn't have to look at them. Now with acting it's very therapeutic for me, having to actually say and communicate.

Q: Can you talk about what makes Joss Whedon so special?
SM: He's just this incredible man, he's really a wonderful guy, a friend and a mentor. The instant I met him, because there was no script with the pilot, there were like a few pages of sides, like one scene, and I really liked the scene and sat down with Joss. And instantly I was so intrigued. I really wanted to work with him. And it just continually grew, like every time on set, watching him work, everything he said was so smart. I felt that I was being steered into the right direction. He's this incredible ring leader.
SG: If you stand by him on set for 10 minutes you realize every detail that runs by him, you realize how special, creative and patient he is. He is kind, and he speaks well to everybody. He gave me what I have now in my career, he cast me in my very first TV show, he believed in me when nobody believed in me. He saw something that other people were not seeing. He's my hero in a way. I'll never forget what he's done for me.

Q: When the DVD sales of Firefly went through the roof did it give you hope or was it just a consolation prize?
SM: For us it was a reassurance that everybody was out, it was inspiring to us. To executives and people in suits it was like "oh, look at that. There are people, this could be successful". I think it was a great tool for people who hadn't had the chance to see the show. There were fans of the box set and they passed it around, and it spread sort of word of mouth in that regard.

Q: What's happening next with you, are you hoping for a sequel?
SM: Sort of.
SG: We have to see who comes to see it.

Q: What are your expectations of the movie?
SM: I read somewhere, in Entertainment Weekly or Us Weekly, that Universal said that they are entertaining the idea of part 2 if we make $80 million worldwide. I think we're all hoping but nobody wants to talk about it the possibly there will be... because there's nine of us and there are so many which ways the story could go. But you never know, I don't even know if Joss has an idea for part 2, he hasn't shared it with me. But we know the fans love it and I know that people who are not familiar with the series and check out the movie are really... it's a wonderful response. I'm just hoping that people see it.

Q: Was there an alternative ending with you dying?
SM: No. I think he says he thought about it.
SG: God!

Q: But you were needed for the sex scene?
SM: Yeah, part 2 will be all sex.

Q: Do you collect DVDs and what are your favorite ones?
SM: I have a very small collection. Streetcar Named Desire was my first DVD gift which I like.
SG: I don't collect them, no. Most of my favourite movies haven't come out on DVD yet, I like all the old stuff. My favorite is Camelot, the musical (laughs) with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave. I have the old box set.



Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite & Gina Torres Exclusive Print Interview by Johanna Juntunen
LA September - 2005
"Serenity"


Q: What happened in your mind when you found out that the movie was getting made?
J: I was incredibly happy (laughs) and I didn't entirely believe it until I was on set with my name on that contract, because it was so heartbreaking when the series got cancelled that I didn't want to attach myself to anything emotionally until it was a done deal.
G: Exactly. I was shocked. Even if I thought that it might, could happen, that it was possible if everything was aligned the right way, I certainly didn't think it would happen as fast as it did, so that was a gift, and shocking and wonderful, and when I got off the floor I was happy (laughs).

Q: The women are in very prominent and strong roles in Serenity. What did you think about it?
G: I was happy about it. Clearly when you are looking into the future...as far as we've come now, you have women in the trenches now, they are in Iraq and in the work place. If you project that 500 years into the future, of course we are going to be in positions of power and even more capable because we are part of the workforce. As human beings we have to use each other and what we're best at. And my character Zoe is clearly a fabulous, kick-ass, capable soldier. Why wouldn't you want that person to be your right hand?
J: I love that Kaylee is young and fresh and nave and comes from a small town, a little bit lower class, but when she gets next to an engine she becomes this brilliant, amazing mechanic. It's fun. It's hard to say that techno babble, though, it's not so fun (laughs).

Q: She's a little sexually repressed too?
J: Yeah (laughs). She wants some lovin', there's nothing wrong with that. She's a regular girl, she just likes machines. A lot.

Q: "I'm not going to die now"...
J: I love that, that's brilliant.
A: It's a testament to Joss's creativity, he loves writing strong women characters, that flows from him. He casts some pretty women too.

Q: Sometimes the dialogue in sci-fi films can be very cliched, it wasn't the case here. Did you know that it was going to come out as funny as it did?
J: We got lucky, Joss is such a great writer.
A: But the sci-fi element is just a setting. You have these nine very strong characters that are able to function or dysfunction on this space ship, and that's really what's interesting, for me anyway, just to watch actors struggling to win that conflict. It's Joss's writing and we just kind of play and run with it.
G: And what is so interesting about the writing too, is that he has taken this futuristic world that he has created and all the circumstances that have sort of fed into this world that you see in front of you, and an element of that is what we sort of refer to as 'Joss speak'. It the English language ever so tweaked enough to make you a little crazy (laughs) as an actor, but it sort of informs everything else surrounding it, so maybe a line that you may have heard before doesn't sound the same. Because it doesn't sound the same it holds a different weight, or it resonates differently in the ears, and I think that just makes it more interesting.
A: He writes with a unique rhythm. If you can key in to that rhythm, you can be successful.
J: Yeah, once I got used to it, it became really easy. I can't help myself doing it off set, that broken English he sometimes writes for us.

Q: That's a good thing about the movie - it has real dialogue, but what do you think was so special about the series that it had to be made into a feature film?
A: I think there are three elements that I see. One is certainly Joss's dedication and love for these characters, he really wanted to tell the story. Number two would be his ability to reach out to Universal Studios after the show got cancelled and number three which is very important, is the fan base. The fan base that found the TV show and bought all those DVDs made Universal's decision that much easier.

Q: What is your interaction with the fans like, especially right after the show got cancelled?
G: Some were angry (laughs), most of them were sad. They found us early, they were sort of shocked that we disappeared because we were really on the air for 11 episodes and we were pre-empted as often as we aired. We might be on one week and then we wouldn't be on for two weeks because of the baseball playoffs or whatever it was. They felt like they were teased with the promise of a show that they could be dedicated to and be interested in and see how it played out. And then we were gone as quickly as we appeared. I think that's what sort of helped with the sales of the DVD, suddenly there was enough talk about it, maybe enough people had seen it but they were just completely dissatisfied and wanted to know what happened. Because it is good story telling, because they are intriguing characters, and you know, how do you feel when you favourite show is cancelled? You feel lost a little bit. Cheers was on the air for 30 years and people still miss that show (laughs). I think we just sort of filled a niche that wasn't available on television at the time.

Q: Was the movie making experience better because you were able to prove the network wrong?
A: No, no, no. It's a story of redemption, it really is. Television is hard enough, it's hard enough to get a show even made, even to get one pilot made. So, we are unique in that we even got on the air, period. Most shows don't. The fact that it was on for 11 episodes and then got a box set, is... you know, it's a numbers game. Bottom line, we didn't get the ratings, but we sold enough DVDs and now we are a major motion picture. That's a good story. I don't think there's another story like that. So, we can't go into it with vindication and revenge, that's negative. We have a very positive product here, a wonderful movie we love, and we want to just drive forward with that. You can't go backwards.
G: But it is incredibly gratifying to be a part of something that you knew was special from the very beginning that was not understood. There was really no effort, that we could see, to make that happen and then it sort of released to the world and the world responded in the way that it has been...yes, absolutely it's incredibly vindicating.
J: I think we were always very proud of what we had and I think that we appreciated it for what it was. So to be here now, we just feel even more pride. The sense of validation...
G: The sweet sense of validation.
J: We just all feel a lot of love towards this project.

Q: How was the fight camp for you?
A: I've been at fight camp all my life.
J: I didn't have to go to fight camp.
G: I went for a day (laughs), and that's mostly because I have a relationship with the stunt coordinator and he knew what I was capable of and it was fine. But most of the action rested on the shoulders and legs and arms of Nathan and Summer.
J: We rehearsed all day long, the dialogue and the scenes for the first two weeks, and then after that long day of rehearsal Nathan and Summer had to leave to go to fight camp. At the end of a long day on set they had to go to fight camp. I felt sorry for them because I could lounge by the pool after my workday was done and they had to go to get bruised and tired out. But I was a little envious when I saw the final product (laughs). It looks really good. So all their hard work definitely paid off.

Q: Did you ever feel silly for acting against the green screen because nothing was there?
J: I don't think that I ever felt stupid, but it was definitely difficult to react to things that weren't there. I remember filming the sequence where we were going through Reaver territory and we were watching the ships out the window, and there's nothing there except the camera guy with lights, so that was challenging, but as an actor it's always fun to be challenged and see how that plays out when the special effects are in place.
A: But there was minimum green screen used here. They had actually animated this whole chase scene where we were going to be as a form of a story board and they had also animated the trucks, the support vehicles behind it, so everyone knew where the positioning was going to be. And that's what we did first. So it was this very well organized machine in place because we were on a tight budget, relatively speaking for this kind of a film, and it was good and right, and here we go again. Rough cuts are tough to watch sometimes because of the skeletal mock-ups of the space ships look a little like "oh? Well, okay, it's a rough cut". But that all got smoothed over.
G: It's hard for me to watch myself on screen but because there are so many elements missing when you're shooting something like this, I'm happy to watch it because I don't know how it's going to look when it's finished. So I'm outside myself being engaged in this world that I participated in but never really saw all of. The end product is great, but when you're in it, you have to use your childlike imagination (laughs).

Q: How different is the movie from the series?
A: It's bigger, grander.
G: Darker.
J: A little scarier. The stakes are higher.
A: The threat of death is really looming over us.
G: In the series you were pretty sure that they were coming back next week but in the movie you are not sure.

Q: Adam, was it hard for you to balance the humour but still be the toughest guy on the team?
A: Jayne is this guy who says what everybody wishes they could say. He's that big elephant in the room that will just spew the truth and I think people relate to that. My inspiration was really drawn from the shoot-them-up westerns that I grew up watching, like The Wild Bunch and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Once Upon A Time In The West and great character actors like Eli Wallach, Jason Robards, guys like that who I modeled Jayne after. But Joss gave me some really fun words to say and I just got to drop my voice like this.

Q: What is your favourite scene or moment in the movie?
A: My favourite moment is a quirky little moment with River and Simon when he says to River "am I talking to Miranda now?" and she just looks at him like "no, idiot!" But my favourite scene to shoot was that whole initial chase scene on the 'mule', that was just great. That's some of the most fun work I ever had: it was hot, hard, it was great.
G: My favourite moment is when Serenity comes up on screen and all our names scroll down (laughs) "oh, yes! It is real." I still get a rush, I still get the smile.

Q: It sounds like you had so much fun during shooting, so there must be some funny moments behind the scenes?
G: I think it's probably with other people because I'd see that second camera crew coming and I'd just go off in the other direction (laughs). It was too much. It's too much pressure. This whole "special features" on the DVD has sort of spun this... it used to be your 'on' between action and cut when you were doing the movie, and now "cut!" comes and here comes the other camera crew. So I'm not in it that much.



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