Serenity Now ó A Conversation with ĎSerenityí Director Joss Whedon
Interview by Louis Miller
December 19, 2005
What was your first reaction when you heard that Firefly was being cancelled?
Joy. Unbridled, giddy joy. I laughed and laughed. Um, next question (laughs). No, my first reaction was, quite simply, denial. Denial that sits on your DVD shelf. I would not accept it. I was like Ed Harris in ĎThe Abyss.í I just wouldn't let her go.
Do you usually put so much of yourself into all of your work?
Yeah, I really do. From the very first [time], when they were making the movie of ĎBuffy,í if you had asked me when I was wringing my hands over lines being rewritten by actors if I can just grow up and get over it, but actually no, you canít. Because you canít sit down at your desk and say, ĎOh, well, this will do,í or, ĎThis will be ruined later.í If youíre not in love with what youíre making, then you have no business making it. It is always completely personal to me. That doesnít mean that I donít pay very close attention to the technical things. If I made utterly personal films, they would be boring and really just histrionic. But the fact is, I create a connection to what Iím doing [with my movies] that is as real as any connection in my real life, sadly (laughs).
Youíve basically said you would do anything in your power to bring the Firefly series back. Whatís the craziest thing that has entailed?
You know, even though I think the last three years of my life have been one unending string of crazy, there wasnít any single thing that ó I wasnít buying a car next to actor Dennis Woodruff saying, ĎMake my movie.í Ultimately, Universal stepped in and made things easier than I ever expected. They Ďgot it.í And if somebody gets it, you donít have to explain anything. So it never got really crazy. I went about it pretty methodically, in fact. I sat down with people and asked, ĎWho is everybody we can go to? Where can this land? Where does this have a chance?í I just kept my head in the game, which is not usually where it is.
So is the story finished?
The, um, the movie is finished. And the story is told. The world is not finished. Thereís more to tell, but thatís always the case with everything I do and whether I get the chance to tell [it] or not it is up to somebody else. So I made sure that this movie had completion and didnít feel like a glorified prequel. Itís its own piece and it wraps everything up. I have a sense of closure that I never had, and I can walk away satisfied. But if somebody tells me not to walk away, Iíll turn right back around.
There were originally plans to make this a trilogy, right?
No, thatís a myth. The original plan was to just make a movie. Had Universal said that they would like to make a trilogy, I would have said, ĎHuzzah!í But they were taking a gamble on a movie with no-name actors, a first-time director, a universe thatís damn hard to explain, and a premise thatís the same. It was nothing less than a gamble and bless their hearts for gambling once. They werenít about to say, ĎLetís do a three-fer!í
Your fans [known as browncoats] are ridiculously dedicated to everything you do. Do you ever get scared of them?
(Laughs) Iíve been scared once or twice, but only in reaction to certain character deaths have made me wish I was in another room. But thatís really my own fault. Ultimately, no. Itís a very sweet atmosphere. People are very giving and understanding. You know, Iím not the Beatles. And this is the thing Iím going for: Itís not about me. Itís about the work, which I love, too. So when Iím in a room with a bunch of fans, itís not like theyíre tearing my clothes off. They want to talk about the work, which happens to be the thing that I love talking about. So ultimately, I donít really have scary stories. I thought Iíd have a lot more.
When you were writing ĎSerenity,í how much of the political situation in the movie is fiction, and how much is actually where you see the world headed?
You know, itís all fiction. But it contains what I think are essential truths about humans, which is the way we are. I donít think thatís going to change. I think society will change more in the next 20 years than it does in my movie, which is 500 years. Itís set 500 years in the future. But thatís structurally. In terms of the human condition ó how conflicted we are, how right and wrong we are, our capacities for good and evil, complicated human attractions ó thatís never going to change.
Political movies seem to be very en vogue now. What I like about the Firefly series and this movie is that they show the humanity on both sides of the equation.
I think the Alliance comes off very evil because we didnít really have the time in the movie to show the other side of that, which we did on the show. We only showed it at its worst, but at the same time the villain has a point of view and everyone [else] has a different point of view. If they donít, then theyíre not antagonists. Theyíre just bowling pins. Absolutely have to have a dissenting point of view that is valid, even if the person who has it is a thug.