Interview: ‘Dr. Horrible’ Co-Writer Maurissa Tancharoen on “Breaking” the Help Nathan Buy Firefly Movement and Reviving ‘Dollhouse’

Last week we shared seven behind-the-scenes tidbits from the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog companion guide, which featured memories and photos from the cast and crew. Now we’ve got an exclusive interview with Maurissa Tancharoen, writer, actress, and singer, who has been welcomed into the Whedon clan both personally and professionally — she co-wrote Dr. Horrible in 2008 and married writing partner Jed Whedon (Joss‘ brother) in 2009.

Since the musical’s unprecedented success, she’s worked on Drop Dead Diva and Dollhouse, and is currently writing for Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. She’s also appeared on Dr. Horrible co-star Felicia Day‘s webseries The Guild. Crushable spoke with Tancharoen about her geek past and future, including her favorite TV show growing up, responding to the misguided Help Nathan Buy Firefly movement, and upcoming musical projects.

Did you consider yourself a geek growing up? If so, what kinds of fandoms were you involved in?

I considered myself a small Asian girl who was terrible at sports.  So yes?  But I was overjoyed when Dance became part of the PE curriculum during my sophomore year in high school.  I could finally prove I was coordinated.  Growing up, I was a huge syndicated-television fan.  I watched endless hours of I Love Lucy (I had clothing, lunchboxes plural, magnets, figurines, and would walk around saying “Luuuuuucyyyy…”), The Three Stooges, Gilligan’s Island, Fantasy Island, and Three’s Company.

How did Joss approach you to work on Dr. Horrible?

The character, Dr. Horrible, a supervillain who is basically villainy-challenged, was an idea Joss had been toying around with for a bit.  He originally envisioned it as a podcast until he saw the brilliant hilarity that Jed, Zack and I (along with our friend, Nick Towne) posted on the youtube.  I like to call it “the youtube”.  This brilliant hilarity I’m speaking of was one of the countless strike videos that bombarded the internet during the Writer’s Guild Strike a few years ago.  But OUR strike video was a gem. And Joss knows when he needs to grab a hold of something so precious. Covet it, and crush it with love, and then snort it.  That’s just how he lives.  So what was the question?

From looking at your IMDb page, it appears that Dr. Horrible was your first songwriting credit. How, then, did you approach the songwriting process; and was it more exciting, or nerve-wracking?

During my singing group days, I wrote a few songs.  Are these songs I want you to hear?  A resounding NO.  And over the years, Jed and I have written a lot of songs together.  I guess you could say our relationship started in music.  I guess you could also say barf.  But he is the musical genius and I am his sidekick.  I’m usually like, “What if it goes something like this?”  And he says, “Shut up.”  And then I’ll suggest, “Or maybe la la la?”  And he says, “Go to your room.”  That’s basically our process.  It’s totally fun!

Share This Post:
    • Sarah Morehouse

      <3 <3 <3

      I am so sorry some people got their knickers in a twist and were nasty to and about you.

      I still hope we see new Firefly episodes or movies, but without Joss and his own people fully on board, it wouldn't be worth it.

    • Peter

      I’m honestly sick of people saying that true browncoats won’t say anything negative about Maurissa Tancharoen’s tweets. What???? Captain Mal was always about telling the truth and not sugarcoating things, so that really doesn’t fly with me. The bottom line is that MT is a poor spokesperson and clearly lacking in public relations skills. No, I don’t think Whedon owes HNBF fans a response, per se, but it isn’t particularly good PR to have an amature deliver that message (assuming that she made that tweet per his request as she has intimated). The fact is, MT wrote an abrasive, easily misconstrued tweet and now fancies herself a bit of a victim because the fans reacted viscerally to her nasty tone. MT may indeed be a lovely person who never intended to offend anyone, but the one thing any professional writer needs to know is that your intentions run a very distant second to the actual effect of your words. The effect here, let’s face it, has been considerably negative and MT would be smart to claim responsibility for what she wrote. Although I completely understand Whedon’s reluctance to back the movement, why he would have this amature do his PR work is puzzling.