It wouldn’t be SDCC 2020 without the geek god himself, Nathan Fillion! The charismatic actor sat with moderator Alexi Hawley (The Rookie) to discuss his expansive legacy in film and TV. Special guests Joss Whedon, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres, Molly Quinn, Mekia Cox, Seamus Dever, and Jon Huertas also paid the panel a visit.
Now, the panel is a culmination of conversations — Fillion chatting with Whedon and Torres, for example. Then, it would cut away to Fillion and Cox exchanging dialogue. Firstly, Whedon was brought into the fold. Fillion revealed that he initially auditioned for Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, he went on to portray Caleb the priest. Tudyk and Torres soon joined the fray. All three agreed that Firefly changed their lives, as well as the trajectory of their careers, for the better. “They do want to talk about specific moments…those moments were a long time ago,” Torres joked regarding fan interest in Firefly 17 years after it went off the air.
“You never lose Firefly fans…once a Browncoat, you’re locked in,” Fillion chimed in. “Firefly is such a staple…there’s a certain number of things you have to have under your belt and Firefly‘s one of them,” Tudyk added. The show has certainly ascended to cult classic status over the years and secured itself a place at the “geek staple” table.
Quinn also joined the SDCC 2020 panel. “I’ve had some really fun experiences and I’ve had some really crazy experiences…I love thinking back to our days on set,” she said regarding her time with Fillion on Castle. Fillion reminisced on the societal impact of Castle. Fans would often approach him and confess how much the series provided them a sense of relief during troubled times.
Next, Whedon delved into the writer’s strike of the late aughts and how Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog came to fruition. Initially, he pitched the web series to Amazon, but eventually took up the distribution mantle himself. Tudyk also talked about creating Con Man, which Fillion co-starred in. “I loved it. It almost killed me,” he said. In addition to creating and writing Con Man, Tudyk was also the star. Shortly after getting the web series funded, Tudyk received the call that he scored a role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He recalled scrambling to finish filming Con Man before production began on Rogue One.
Hawley asked Fillion and Torres if Firefly‘s success was dependent on one lead character or the ensemble as a whole. “Every lead show eventually becomes an ensemble show, because that’s what’s interesting,” Torres explained. It takes a village to make a project successful.
Then, everyone discussed advice they wish they’d known when starting out in their respective careers. “For me, ultimately, was you got to be good in the room…you have to tell them a story,” Hawley said. He went on to say his introverted nature made it difficult to be “charming” when pitching ideas as a writer.
Cox revealed honing her auditioning skills would’ve proved beneficial in the beginning of her career. Auditioning properly is a wholly separate skill. “Learning to say ‘I love actors,'” Whedon added. He explained how crucial it is to collaborate with actors as a writer. Quinn delved into her approach when it came to new projects. She absorbs everything “like a sponge.” “I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t know everything,” she said.
Next, Fillion discussed the lesson he learned about comedy. “It’s very hard to make someone laugh. It’s very easy to make someone laugh at you,” he stated. The secret to properly executing comedy, only at SDCC 2020!
Time to heap praises upon Fillion! This is his panel, after all. Cox launched into an anecdote about how Fillion glanced at a script once on The Rookie and instantly had it committed to memory. Not an easy feat. Whedon mentioned what he usually tells directors before they work with Fillion. The actor is very technical and intuitive as a performer. Additionally, he’ll ask for a backstory for his character. Whedon explained there’s a difference between working with someone and collaborating with them. He wholeheartedly believed that Fillion fell into the latter category.
Hawley hopped on the Praise Fillion train as well. He complimented the actor on his ability to “collect” people as he traveled from project to project. Fillion is also quite empathetic. In fact, several times throughout the panel Fillion lavished his costars/collaborators with compliments.
Lastly, Whedon voiced how impressed he was that the Firefly crew managed to stay connected decades after the show went kaput. “You kept the team together — almost like a captain!” he addressed to Fillion. In turn, Fillion credited Whedon and Hawley for the positive trajectory of his career.
That’s a wrap on Nathan Fillion at SDCC 2020!
Check out the full panel here.