Next up is leading man (in every sense of the word) Nathan Fillion , who plays Abraham Dale in WHITE NOISE 2: THE LIGHT, a man who after his own near death experience, finds he can see who among the living is about to die. Fillion is a jokester, a guy who is rarely serious, but when he is, itís a sight to see. Seeing the guy who gave the sci-fi world a great character like Captain Malcolm Reynolds and recently played small town sheriff Bill Pardy in SLITHER was a real treat, but also showed me a side of the star that most will never see - a human one. The native Canadian actor, who walked in with a red gash on his head, sat down to talk about dealing with fame, his character in WHITE NOISE 2, and the fate of SERENITY.
NATHAN FILLION INTERVIEW
Is that a real cut?
(Jokingly) What? (Looks around surprised) No, itís fake, itís fake for the movie. (Smiles) I try not to let anything happen to my face, my beautiful face.
How did you get that wound in the film?
Fisticuffs with the rapist killer, I guess, kidnapper, rapist killer in the parking lot, saving somebodyís life. Thatís my job in the film, besides me saving the movie. (Laughs) I say that all the time
Whatís your characterís occupation in the film?
Heís a designer, heís like a web designer, heís in advertising, itís kind of here nor there. The deal is he witnesses the murder of his wife and son and then the murderer then turns the gun on himself and kills himself. So heís left with nothing, heís extremely sad in the sense that he actually commits suicide and is brought back. So he has this near death experience, after which he has the ability to tell in a crowd of people whoís going to die. And then the movie kind of becomes about what would you do with that kind of power, that kind of responsibility. Heís not a strong, strong guy; heís not a prepared man. Malcolm Reynolds experienced loss and he was hardened, he became a rock. Bill Pardy was unprepared, but he still really kind of did his best to take care of business. I mean Abraham Dale, his first option was to opt out and clock out; heís a different kind of guy, Daleís loss is different.
Given the subject matter, has this role been very demanding on you?
(Jokingly) Absolutely! No, no, no. I say it everyday, of all the jobs Iíve had, this is the least demanding. I have next to no dialogue. Thereís a lot of brooding, thereís a lot of moping, thereís a lot of confusion, frustration dawning, lots of dawning. This is actually something Iíve learned in the soap operas, we used to do this all the time. In a soap opera youíll have a scene, with two characters, at the end of the scene thereís a slow close up on one of the characters, right? What are they gonna say next? And itís always kind of a long, drawn out close and seems to never end and youíre left there, kind of (smiles) acting. So what we used to do, was we called it ďthe three phases of a soap takeĒ, it works for any scene, any show, whatever your doing. And these are the phases Ė first phase is ďDid I leave the stove on?Ē (he gives a questioning look), next phase, ďI did leave the stove on!Ē (the look changes to a subtle acknowledgement), third phase, ďNo, I turned the stove off!Ē (then a look of both combined).
I read that you had a near death experience yourself. How much did that affect you during the making of this film?
Little to none. I try to leave that in my past. If I try to take anything from that experience, itís the desire to extract revenge on all my friends, who (jokingly) were watching me die! Iím waving to them with both hands in the air, as Iím getting pulled into the undertow in Costa Rica and theyíre on the beach and they look back at me and give a good bye wave and turn their back on me. (Jokingly) Since when is this (waving both arms in the air) hello, from the water, from churning water? (Laughs) Oh my god, itís absolutely true! And then my friend, he mailed me a letter that said ďHey I just read an article said youíre still sore about that!Ē
So what are you preparing to shoot today?
Actually, I had a list, Iíve always had a list of things I wanted to do on TV. I kind of came up with it with another friend of mine when we were doing the soap opera and I wanted to shoot a gun, get shot and ride a horse. In the Firefly pilot I got to shoot a gun, get shot, ride a horse and then shoot a horse. So that one picture kind of took care of everything, so I had to kind of come up with a new list. So when Iím watching TV, Iím watching films, I always trying to say ďOh, thatís something I want to do on filmĒ and today was one of them. (Jokingly) Where the cameraís over my shoulder and Iím writing, you know, Iím showing everyone my penmanship.
Did anything change with the script or your character, after you signed on?
(Jokingly) Originally, Abraham Dale was five foot. They changed that. Him being short was integral to the story, but we kind of shelved that story line. You know, Iíve worked on one program where everybody was so tall I had to stand on a box the whole time. And when I had to walk around, they would just line up boxes.
Whatís been the most challenging thing about WHITE NOISE 2?
You know, after SLITHER, everything is a cake walk. I mean, I read scripts differently now after SLITHER. Like I read SLITHER and I was like ďOh, this will be really fun, this is gonna be great.Ē But now I know that when it says exterior night woods, youíre gonna spend two months, at night, in the woods. All night, every night. And for me no problem, Iím doing my thing, but for the crew and everything, there completely nocturalized, if they have a family, theyíll never see them. There was a lot of pain and suffering in SLITHER, out in the woods, in the rain, in the mud. It was a hell of a lot of fun and we were all doing it together, to persevere through those kinds of hardships together, it brings the group closer and weíre all suffering together. It was great.
Are you a believer in the paranormal?
You know, Iíve never had a paranormal experience. I donít want to have a paranormal experience. I think it would shake the very foundations of my belief system and I donít want to have to be faced with the reality that thereís something else. I mean people I love and trust tell me stories of stuff thatís happened to them, but Iím not looking forÖI love ghost stories, I love them. Iím not looking to see them for real. Please God, no ghosts.
With the film itself being so somber, was there any outlet for your sense of humor?
Thereís a really funny bit, really quick, tiny little thing. They made a little homage to Captain Reynolds actually and if you blink youíll miss it.
How do you feel about shooting in Vancouver again?
I love it. I really like it here. (Jokingly, as the rain comes down) I mean, the weatherís finally cleared up. I have a lot of friends here, I love being in Canada, I love working with Canadians, I am Canadian, Iím from Edmonton, Alberta. Working out of town can be stressful, staying in a hotel, you donít know anybody, you donít have anything to do. If you want your laundry done, you donít know where the Laundromat is, itís kind of a pain. Here, I know where everything is, I got favorite restaurants, movie theatres, a few friends, I got a bunch of friends here. Jewel Staite is here, she was in Firefly. Some of my friends Iíve made through jobs here.
What are some of your favorite hangouts here?
I worked at the very first Earls, thereís an Earls in Edmonton, Alberta, itís the original Earls. I got fired twice, long story. (Laughs) But in that time, I just, I justÖthe Leroyís Crispy Dry Ribs and the hot wings, extra crispy, easy sauce, that and a Ceaser (a Canadian drink made with Clamato), cause you canít get a Ceaser in the states, a bloody Ceaser that is. A bloody Ceaser is like a Bloody Mary, only its bloody better. So I like to go to an Earls, thereís one right by my place, thereís an Earls on Robson (Street), thereís an Earls over on Kitsilano, thereís Earls everywhere. That and The Cactus Club.
Are you more famous in Canada then America?
Yes. Yes and Canadians have a really particular way about showing theyíre excited. In the states I get a lot of ďHey, thatís that dude on TV!Ē right behind me in the bank. I mean, you didnít just say it, I know you want my attention, but itís certainly not designed to make me comfortable. I can hear you, I can hear you, I know you know I can hear you. But thereís nothing you can say or do, you canít make anybody smarter or smarten up. In Canada, Iíll walk down the street and youíll see that dawning as you walk past them and they might come up and say ďExcuse me sir, I just want to say, I know who you are and I donít want to get crazy about it or anything, but we really enjoyed Firefly, my wife and I watch it every night and we also thank you for SERENITY.Ē And theyíre so extremely pleasant and sincere. They keep a respectable distance, they donít want to come too close, whereas I remember in New York, ďHey, kiss my sister, kiss my sister!Ē Thatís not for me. ďWhat are you, an asshole?Ē Yes, Iím an asshole. So itís different, yeah, Iím definitely more famous in Vancouver.
Both you and your co-star Katee Sackhoff come from a television background, you guys sharing a lot of war stories?
We can share because we both have the experience of the sci-fi conventions. Her experience is a little different, I think itís always gonna be different for girls. And as wonderful as fans can be, sometimes, you know, one in a hundred is gonna be creepy. And itís always gonna be creepier for the girls, I think.
In a sci-fi hypothetical, if Malcolm Reynolds were to fight Starbuck, who would win?
Well, I would think Starbuck would try to do the right thing and fight honorably and I think Malcolm Reynolds would fight dirty and cheat, heíd probably hit her when she wasnít looking. Cause Malcolm Reynolds isnít above hitting a woman, heís not above that, thatís something I like about him. What I truly appreciate and I try to remind Katee of all the time, is that I outrank her. Captain, Captain Reynolds.
Thereís been rumors that NBC, Universal and Sci-Fi Channel were planning to do a sequel of sorts to SERENITY, it would basically broadcast premiere on the Sci-Fi Channel, have you heard anything like that?
This is the first Iíve heard of that. I remember the Sci-Fi Channel said no. I believe their reaction was, when we got canceled by Fox we approached them to pick up the show and if Iím not mistaken, their response was ďItís too sci-fi.Ē But as far as SERENITY goes, all I wanted with Firefly was another crack at it. When it was taken away, it really hurt, I really felt it. I wanted another crack and I wanted SERENITY to be really good. I got those things; I got everything I wanted out of SERENITY. Would I want to do sequels? Yes. Do I feel like a shit for asking for more, after Iíve gotten everything Iíve ever wanted? Yeah, I feel kind of crappy asking for more. But Iím quite happy with the way things have turned out. Would I do a sequel? Yes. Do I demand it? No.
SERENITY director Joss Whedon describes you as being the next Harrison Ford. What are your thoughts on that?
Itís a compliment, itís a wonderful compliment. If someone said I was the next, you know, Philip Seymour Hoffman Iíd have to say, ďWhy would they say that?Ē But Iím glad that itís Harrison Ford. Itís a compliment, I take it in stride. (Smiles) Iíll take it, Iíll take that compliment.
Why would you be so surprised to be the next Philip Seymour Hoffman?
(Jokingly) I donít think we look alike!
With Whedon doing the WONDER WOMAN, has he talked to you about being the male lead?
(Jokingly) Iím telling him I could play WONDER WOMAN! (Laughs) I spent a couple of weeks camped out on his lawn. Iíve heard thatís worked for some actors. Heís got a very bumpy lawn and Iím wearing him down, Iím wearing him down. Nothing positive yet, nothings on paper, but Iím wearing him down.
Someone recently posted a topic on the message boards for IMDB.com for WHITE NOISE 2, under the heading of ďWhoís gonna see the film for Nathan Fillion?Ē I would say that 99.9% of the comments were all positive, including a guy who stated that he may not like the film itself, may even hate it, but he would even go see GIGLI 2 if you were in it. (Fillion laughs, hard) How does that make you feel coming up as an actor and now hitting your stride?
That makes me feel really good. Hereís the fortunate part - Iíve had you know, the experience to have a couple of cool projects in a row, where I can play, quite frankly, the coolest characters Iíve ever played in really extraordinary circumstances. So, I mean, Iíve had a great deal of fun, I enjoy it immensely. If people enjoy watching it half as much as I enjoy doing it, weíre on the right track. Makeís me feel good, makeí
STAY TUNED FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH KATEE SACKHOFF