INT: Nathan Fillion
Handsome, charming, intelligent, and talented, are just a few of Nathan Fillion’s attributes that solidify this Canadian’s dream man status. Having appeared in a handful of films such as SLITHER and SERENITY, he is predominantly recognized for his noteworthy TV roles. In the upcoming Indie film WAITRESS, Fillion exhibits his comedic skills and delivers a captivating, stimulating, and commanding performance while portraying a gynecologist who falls for his patient.
WAITRESS is a compelling, romantic-comedy, cleverly
written/directed by the late Adrienne Shelley. Through her talented
ensemble cast, she conveys the importance of recognizing the
existence of choices and pursuing happiness. Fillion is cast
opposite Kerri Russell with whom he shares an irresistible onscreen
chemistry, whilst in pursuit of gratification. If gynecologists
looked like that in the real world, ‘paps’ would become the new
pastime fad. It was a pleasure meeting Fillion and uncovering his
perceptions of the film and experience in working with Shelley on
the set of WAITRESS. Check out what he had to say.
What kind of message do
you see being sent out with this film?
I don’t see this as a women’s movie. I don’t see this as being about motherhood; I don’t see this as being about being pregnant. I see this as about people trying to be happy. Same thing we are all doing in our everyday life, everybody’s just trying to make choices to try to be happy. It becomes about making easy choices that might make us happy or hard choices that might bring us true happiness.
Can you talk about your
He’s hardly a dog. We have two people here and they are both being unfaithful to their partners, yet we forgive Jenna so very easily because she’s obviously in an abusive relationship, although from what we see of Dr. Pommater’s relationship, his wife is beautiful, she’s a doctor, she’s affectionate, they seem affectionate. But, we all know these couples right? Oh my God they’re getting a divorce, they seem so happy together, they seem so perfect, what could possibly [have happened]– but who are we to say about how hearts communicate and what might either draw people together or pull them apart and again it’s people who are obviously searching for something to fill something within themselves and making choices to try do be happy. These two people came together but they were trying to be happy.
What made you say yes to this film?
Well first of all I thought it was a very pretty little story. I thought it was a very cute little slice of life story. I had no idea how emotional it might be. I didn’t have the vision that Adrienne obviously had as to how this – what seems to be larger than life yet just a simple tiny little story, it speaks to me so clearly and so much. It’s something I think a lot about, about my choices, my daily choices about being happy.
What are your memories of Adrienne, what’s your most vivid memory of working with her and knowing her?
My most vivid memory about Adrienne is the first time I ever met her. I was going to have a meeting with her in Los Angeles and then I had a trip planned to come to New York to see a friend of mine on a Broadway show. So, I wasn’t going to miss the trip, but I really wanted the meeting. She was leaving town, it wasn’t going to work out, so it started to get a little stressful. Then I found out she was leaving town to go to New York City so problem solved. I got to meet her in a little diner on the lower east side somewhere, I can’t even remember the name of it but I remember the booths where she was sitting were raised up a bit from the floor and she was sitting in a booth actually sitting kneeling on her feet.
When she got up to greet me when I arrived, she actually got shorter than she was when she was sitting down. When she was standing, she was a very tiny little lady and such an easy smile about her. She’s one of those - there are people who talk to you all the time but their body language says ‘stay away don’t talk to me’ or ‘come on in, get close’. And even in times of stress or pressure when we‘re filming, she always has that energy that draws you. She’s one of those people and she always wears hats, which is an excellent metaphor because she wore a lot of hats in this movie as an actor, director, writer.
Were you in any scenes when she was acting?
Yes I was, right at the end of the movie. I had a very brief, very brief scene with her and Cheryl Hines. Another reason I wanted to do the movie so badly was that I wanted to work with Keri Russell. I wanted to work with Cheryl Hines. Andy Griffith was a latecomer but I couldn’t believe I got to work with him. Jeremy Sisto I’d known before. We used to play beach volleyball. I’d seen his work but I’d never actually had the chance to actually work with him. So that was an exciting prospect for me too.
How much research did you do to play the gynecologist?
Zero, if you noticed, I never had to get into any kind of putting on the rubber gloves awkwardness or anything really technical, but I moved around a sonogram at one point. All I had to do was put on a white coat and be awkward.
How did you find Keri?
I am very proud of the job we did. What we wanted to do was communicate an attraction, a passion. Two people who need, long for something grand and passionate in their lives and obviously they can’t express that in their lives on their own, but together they have this magnetic thing. As romantic, intense, and passionate as those scenes are, obviously we’re relative strangers, Keri and I and all you can hope for is that it not be awkward. Keri is absolutely wonderful and just making such a collaborative [effort and suggest what we can do to spice up the love scenes]. She’s just so wonderful and all you want to do is be comfortable in what can be a very awkward situation.
How do you feel about Adrienne and being back in New York?
New York aside, anytime I think about this film the screenings, the premiere how well the show is doing, how it seems to affect people, the critics obviously are just loving it. It seems to be hitting people in just the right spot. What makes it hard for me is that she’s not able to see how – just how much – I think she knew she was doing a project, she was putting her heart into it obviously and it meant something to her obviously. I don’t think she could ever imagine how much it would affect people.
When you were making it, did you have any idea of the kind of impact it was going to have? Was there a special atmosphere?
You know in reading it, I thought it was a sweet story. In reading it, I thought it was more about motherhood…I missed the point being in it. Not until I actually got to see it for the first time at the Sundance Film Festival was I actually to see the vision that Adrienne had. This movie - like a lot of people watching, this movie affected me and like I said, about things I’ve been thinking about in my own life as far as just pursuing happiness.
You were talking about how it touches upon things in your own life, what do you mean by that?
I think however consciously we do it or not, we’re all just trying to be happy. We make decisions not to destroy ourselves, not to be trapped. We don’t want to box ourselves into a corner where we’re just suffering constantly. I think we’re all trying to be happy. I try to be just more conscious about what it would actually take to make me happy. I try to make decisions that will keep my life stress free, relaxed and calm and keep love in my life and something real that makes me happy.
Do some roles make you
happier than others?
It’s not roles that make me happy. Working makes me happy. Entertaining makes me happy. I’m not going to pick ‘cause I don’t think that a role is about being happy. It’s not about that. Maybe the next role I play will be a villain, someone dark and someone terrible. What makes me happy is telling a story, affecting people, entertaining.
What is next?
We’ll have to discover that together…my show on Fox just got cancelled. Thank you very much … we spent a whole ten days on the air so you know.…
Were you surprised?
In one way extremely in another way not at all.
Why and why?
Because it’s Fox. Fox is notoriously trigger-happy canceling shows - at the same time, I know that the critics are loving the show, that the people who are watching it are really digging it. I was having a good time playing the character. I truly believe? Kristin Lehman is an incredibly talented actress. We were telling some great stories and I was having a great time being the dude, who’s just a regular guy; one part super hero, two parts regular guy.
When your show gets canceled, do you say to yourself, “I picked the wrong thing, this isn’t my luck? Do you have any regrets?"
Good question. And no. I learned a long time ago that you just never know what’s going to happen. There are certainly no guarantees in life. And even more so in Hollywood. In the pursuit of happiness, there’s only so much that I can control. I can go to work everyday, and I’m in control of the kind of day I’m going to have. I’m in control of how I perform and how I deal with the people around me; I keep the people around me close to my heart. I’m in control of these things. Once it’s beyond my control, I let go. I’m not above having feelings or emotions about it, but I certainly don’t go, “Ugh. I shouldn’t have done that, and I’ll never do it again.” I can’t live in fear.
Why did you choose to
act when you originally intended to teach?
Yeah, I was going to be a high school teacher. I was studying at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, up in Canada. I was acting in a wonderfully supportive theater community in Edmonton. There’s a lot of support for theater in Edmonton. So I was having a great time, but still, even the most successful actors that I know in Edmonton are not super-successful, because it’s just not a success-oriented career. Never mind Los Angeles, I was in Edmonton.
So I’d watch TV and I’d see movies, and I’d think, “God, I could do that. I’d love to do that. How do I do that?” It was a window to a world that seemed so far away, and now I understand that it’s not far away, and it’s just a job, and here I am and I’m having a great time. I’m not a famous celebrity of any kind. I’m a guy from Edmonton who got a great job, and I’m having a great time.
You’ve been compared
to Harrison Ford…
Yes, and I think that might be because I steal from him
constantly. People say, “Is that an homage to Harrison Ford?”
And I say, “Not so much a homage as it is copying exactly, but
How old were you when
you left Edmonton?
22 years of age. 1994. I was working right down the street,
on 66th between Columbus and Central Park West on One
Life to Live, where I sat for three years.
How much do you relate
to your Han Solo-type characters?
Somebody said once that you can never act and be another person; you’re only acting facets of yourself. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. I look at a role, and I think it basically boils it down to, “What would I do, had I experienced those things, now faced with this? How would I react? I know what I would say, but how would it make me feel?” I lean very heavily on that. So I relate to those characters—and any character I play—in as much as how I would personally deal having had those experiences.
So, is White
Noise 2 the next one we’re going to see?
God, I sure hope so. I don’t even know what’s going to
happen with that. We finished it up so long ago… (Note: You can
read the Arrow's review of that film HERE).
Give us a sense of whom
you play, why you signed on…
I’ve been very fortunate—the last four or five jobs I’ve had, that I’ve worked with people that I’ve worked with before. So there’s always that competition—I’ve got to go audition, or be at a meeting, or whatever it might be—but I’ve had a lot of jobs lately where it’s someone I know, or someone I love, who’s talent that I trust, who calls me up and says, “I’ve got something, I’d love to work with you again. This is what it is. What do you think?” And I’m only too happy. So with White Noise 2 it was with Patrick Lussier. I was able to go and have a great time in Vancouver, a town I love.
Who do you play?
The character I play is a man who suffers the loss of his wife and son, and feels that he failed them in that he couldn’t do anything to save them. He attempts suicide, is brought back, and then, from this near-death experience, comes back with the ability to tell when someone is going to die. And then it becomes about what would you do with that ability of knowing that someone is going to die, and then what are the repercussions.
So DRIVE isn’t your
first series that got canceled…
Actually, all of my series have been canceled.
How many have you done?
2 GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE, FIREFLY, I was in BUFFY...
That wasn’t your
I’m not saying it was my fault, I’m just saying I’m in them, and now they’re gone. I guess the only series that I was in that’s actually still going is One Life to Live.
What are your goals in general?
This whole direction that my life has taken—after I left Edmonton—has been an incredible ride. It’s a rollercoaster for sure, and I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m enjoying it the whole time. I’ve been fortunate enough that every job I do seems to be, at the very least, teaches me something fantastic. I make new friends. I work with talented people. And each seems to be better than the last. I seem to be topping all the time. I think to myself, “It can’t get better, it can’t get better,” and then something happens that makes me feel like I’m truly richer for the experience.
Would you want to do
another series after the last Fox thing?
Yes, do you have something in mind? Because I’m unemployed,
so I’m always looking…
You must have generated
lots of interest since doing WAITRESS.
Let’s hope so. I haven’t heard a lot of—I mean, I’ve
heard critical reviews, people saying wonderful things about the
work I did—and I feel really bad, because I had six, maybe seven
working days on that film. We filmed it in 21 days.
You shot your big part
in only six or seven days?
You’d think, you’d think, but I’m spread out all over the movie, and it really it was less than a week of actual filming.
What was she like on
set? What sort of director was Adrienne?
Here’s what I’ve learned about writer-directors.
There’s less lost in the translation between what the writer’s
trying to say, and what the director’s trying to translate
visually. I think with the writer-director, it’s far more accurate
to the script, to the story, to the spirit.
So, it’s closer to
what you read?
Not so much to what I was thinking, but to the intent of the writer, the intent of the story. Less is lost in the translation to the director. On top of that, Adrienne is an actress, so now you have a director who can communicate in that language of emotion, the way wine tasters live in that realm of sense and smell and taste, and they have those words and that language that they use and that I don’t understand. Adrienne could communicate extremely well to actors.
I remember there were times when I said, “I can do it like
that, but I had no idea that that’s how you wanted it done,” But
it wasn’t my instinct or whatnot. And I didn’t learn until I
actually got to Sundance and saw the film and thought, “Oh,
that’s what she meant. It makes perfect sense, and it’s
Did she like to do a
lot of takes?
She was one of those directors—someone said this to me once, and she didn’t put it in these words—I found that once you have it, she didn’t chase it. And two, we were fast. We had to film it so fast. It was a real team effort just to get this thing out. It was very collaborative—the crew, everybody was making it work.
What are your interests
outside of acting?
My friends, my family, I like to go see movies. I like to do
a lot of hiking. I live a very relaxed life. I think that acting can
be a very pressurized existence. So in my off-time I spend very
loose and un-pressurized, and I [like] to meet people that are the
Do you have pets?
I have a cat. I’m not a cat-person, but she came with the house that I’m renting. I was told she was 18 when I moved in, so I thought, “How long can she possibly last?” And that was 6 years ago. And I don’t know how many dollars worth of bump removals, teeth removals, cleanings..
Do you still live in
No, I live in Los Angeles, for the last 10 years.
Is there any pulse at
all on a Firefly or Serenity
in the future?
Flatlined. I’m not going to say anything about
resuscitation, because the show was canceled and we got that movie.
It’s hard for me to ever ask for more, after having a kind of
enterprise like that.