It warms my heart that seven years after it came out, Joss Whedon‘s space-western film Serenity is still being screened to enthusiastic audiences, like at this weekend’s Hero Complex Film Festival in Los Angeles. Even better, star Nathan Fillion was there to do a fun Q&A about the show’s legacy—considering that playing Captain Mal Reynolds on Firefly kickstarted his Hollywood career.
The Q&A sounds like it covered the usual bases — Fillion’s cult status, his current gig on Castle – but then he started talking about Much Ado About Nothing. Last October, Whedon, Fillion, and other high-profile Whedonverse stars revealed that they had just spent the past twelve days shooting the Shakespeare play at Whedon’s home. It all started because of a tradition, Fillion explained: Whedon hosts a monthly brunch at his house, where he invites friends to come over and recite Shakespeare, and from that came the idea for the adaptation.
But what’s interesting, Fillion added, is that he nearly wasn’t involved. He was overworked with Castle at the time and just didn’t think he could commit to the project. Here’s the account, from Collider’s recap of the festival:
“I had never done Shakespeare before,” Fillion confides. “I actually tried to chicken out of it… I had to work a lot of late nights for Castle and there was just so much dialogue, too much to memorize.”
Fillion even called Whedon before shooting began, telling him about his difficulties, asking, “Do you have anyone who could replace me?” According to Fillion, Whedon took a moment, then told him “Relax. It’s just a lark. No big deal. Don’t worry about it. Take Saturday off. We’ll work around your schedule… And I don’t have a replacement.”
Fillion was earlier quoted as comparing Whedon’s “Joss-speak” — made famous in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and definitely utilized in Firefly – to Shakespeare, saying that you can’t paraphrase either one. And ultimately he got to do the latter, since Whedon convinced him that they would work around his schedule so he could play the Captain Hammer-like idiot character Dogberry.
One of my absolute favorite things about Whedon is how he’s surrounded himself with people he trusts and likes, and then works with them on multiple projects. It never feels like you’re seeing the same character twice. In fact, Fillion told attendees that the person who did the best Shakespeare was Alexis Denisof, who we know as Wesley Wyndham-Price from Buffy and Angel but who also appeared briefly in The Avengers quite unrecognizable as The Other.
“The guy will make you cry,” Fillion promised of Denisof’s performance as witty bachelor Benedick, who falls for Amy Acker‘s Beatrice. We’ll take his word for it for now, but we want to see the movie as soon as possible!