Nathan Fillion, star of "Castle" and long-time Joss Whedon collaborator, is about the politest person you're ever going to meet. He was gracious enough to give us some time to sit down with him and chat, the subject matter was rapid fire and the conversation was engaging. Enjoy!
Laremy Legel: I'll start you off with a trick question, Nathan. You've worked with Joss [Whedon] for the better part of a decade. Have you seen him grow as a director, or has his consistency been one of the reasons you keep signing on to his projects?
Nathan Fillion: There are aspects of Joss that remain constant. He loves what he does, and he's excellent at what he does. But Joss is a very intelligent man, and one of his gifts is that he can be incredibly smart around you but not make you feel stupid. Now, I'm not that bright, I've got street smarts, not book smarts. But I don't think a guy like Joss can stop getting smarter. He's always learning, he's always adapting, he's always creating. I don't think you can be that kind of guy and not change. Still, the important parts, the parts that make him wonderful, those remain constant.
Well played, Fillion, well played. Next up, I've read that "Much Ado about Nothing" was an extremely rushed production, with only eleven days worth of shooting, so you didn't have time for dozens of takes on each scene. Is that the way you prefer to work, or are you a "just give me one more crack at this" sort of fellow?
NF: A director once filmed me, he would do one take and say, "Perfect, print it, let's move on." And what he said was "Nathan, the enemy of good is better. If you've got it, don't chase it."
I've heard that the feel on 'Much Ado about Nothing' was very collegial in the sense that you were filming at Joss's house, and I know you guys often use the word 'family' to describe the relationships you form on set. Which leads to my question - after a day of shooting did you guys hang out? Does Joss have bunk beds you all stayed on? Or was it back to the hotel?
NF: I went home and went to bed, I was pretty tired. But when we discuss "family" [on a set] what we mean is that we really need to be able to trust the people we're working with. That is family, being able to trust the people around you.
The secrecy around the project was pretty serious here. In fact, you were the first one to mention it in any form, you tweeted out "muchadomovie.com". Why did that honor go to you, the announcement?
NF: Was I the first one? We kept it under wraps, but he sent me a text that said, "It's go time. You can now Tweet." So I did!
One of the big discussion points in the industry is crowdsourced funding and Kickstarter. How much do you think Joss Whedon could raise? I'll put the over/under at $8 million
NF: I'd say you're grossly underestimating. For instance, if it had the word "fly" in it … but I like the direction that's going, the "Veronica Mars" stuff.
Can we get "varlet" back into the lexicon as a word we use? At one point your character exclaims, "Thou naughty varlet!"
NF: There's a lot of words I'd like to bring back. I tried "groovy" but it didn't take. But "varlet" might be the one.
With 'Much Ado about Nothing' coming out on June 7, is it counter-programming? Or is this actually a summer movie that just happens to be written by Shakespeare?
NF: I don't think Joss looks at it that way. It's just something he's been dying to do. He's a man who does what he loves.
People always ask me who my favorite person to interview is, and I always tell them Joss. Can you talk about why he's such an excellent communicator, or how he gets the best performance out of you?
NF: I've learned so much from Joss, but I'd say something like, "Hey, Joss, what if I do this one thing?" with this scene. And he'd say, "Oh, that's a great idea! Or …" and then he'd tell me how to do it right. What an awakening it was, his next fallback, if you're not getting it as far as what he's explaining, is to say, "Just do it for me. You can do it."