Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Obviously, the western influences in the film are
pretty obvious but apparently it was a particular book on the
Civil War that originally kicked this whole thing off?
Joss: Yes, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, which
is an account of the battle of Gettysburg. It wasn't really the
battle itself, it was just how deeply into these people's lives
he got, the minutia of frontier life that started to obsess me.
It wasn't anything in the book, exactly, it was just the way it
was presented - everybody's lives. I found that kind of very interesting
because we're not leading it any more.
Q. Was there any pressure from Universal to use big names
or were they happy to go along with the people used in the series?
Joss: They didn't want bigger names, they wanted longer
names. They never ever said cast famous people. They never said
cast Tom Cruise as River - and he was lobbying for it! He's good
but he's no Summer!
They knew that the package was this world, this cast. They did
talk about getting a name for the villain but the more they thought
about it, they just came back and said 'just get the best actor
you can find'.
Q. Can you describe the experience of walking back onto
the set, given that they had been destroyed from the series?
Joss: I got emotional! Particularly because we were filming
Nathan's scenes in the locker, which were pretty emotional.
And also because when Nathan and I walked on for the first time
together, he said 'captain on deck'. I still don't know if he
was talking about him or me, but it really moved me either way.
For me, it was extraordinary. The one part of filming I remember
the best was when we were actually on the ship again, kids...
Nathan: I remember when we came and we visited
the cargo bay. We got a tour of the ship before it was actually
finished being created. I remember a couple of us were a little
put out... 'this isn't the same, this is round in the original
ship and this isn't round; and these stairs go down, they're supposed
to go up'.
There were some minor differences and people didn't take right
away to any changes to the ship. It was quite personal they were
taking it. But once the ship was actually finished it looked very
home-like; it looked very much like home and we took a liking
to it real quick.
There are some subtle differences and a couple of us were thrown
a little bit - Alan Tudyk cried a little bit but that's his way.
Summer: The thing is it doesn't feel like a set,
it's really built like a ship. It's a real ship. It's not just
like a wall here or a wall there. You really feel like it's your
home. I remember when we were doing the series even, people would
have their special places and we would never go back to our trailers.
We would just find a couch and rest on the couch.
And during the lunch break, a crew guy would always sleep in my
bed. It was just my little room but it still feels like our home,
which is why I think we got so attached to every little detail.
Joss: A different crew guy in your bed every
lunchtime. My God!
Q. How did you inform the guys they were coming back.
And how did they feel when they were told?
Nathan: I didn't believe him. I thought he was drunk
- again! And he was but he was telling the truth. It was mixed
emotions. I was very, very excited about it but I had a hard time
believing it was true.
It wasn't until the third week of filming I remember because we
did two weeks of exteriors. Then after the first week, we went
back on the ship and we just kept coming back to the same place
day after day after day. That's when I was finally able to relax
and understand that it wasn't going to be taken away. It was actually
going to happen. That was three weeks into filming.
Summer: I cried a little. I always say I cried
on my crocodile pumps. I remember by outfit, I remember what I
was drinking, I remember everything about it. It's one of my favourite
Q. It's entirely likely that the film wouldn't be as
good as it is had you not had the experience of making 14 episodes
of the series. Did it give you a sort of fatalism about what will
be will be and perhaps things do turn out for the best?
Joss: No. I don't tend to go to that place. I do have
a certain amount of fatalism but I don't believe in things turning
out for the best. I regret the things I've lost and I love the
things that I have. I loved Firefly and I loved Serenity but they're
two completely different things.
It's like losing a child and having another child. It doesn't
mean you don't feel the loss. But it is true that I think one
of the things going into the movie that really helped it have
texture and a lot of life was the 15 episode workshop that we
got to do before we started filming. It also saved us a lot of
Q. Critics I thought would hate the film love it. It's
universally seems to have generated positive reviews. Where does
the groundswell of support come from?
Joss: I make movies for everybody. What's interesting
to me about science fiction is fiction. So ultimately, everything
that I do - no matter how many monsters or space ships might be
in it - this is just going to be a story about people and they're
going to be people that we can identify with. There's going to
be humour where you don't expect it and romance where you don't
I have to admit that I get very surprised. I was very surprised
at Buffy when people not only enjoyed it but critically understood
what we were trying to do with the metaphor.
With Serenity I've been incredibly gratified by the reviews because
a lot of them have come from people who tend to discount sci-fi
as a silly genre. But while I love sci-fi, in particular as a
genre, I am trying to make something that speaks to people who
don't. It's just a story about people whatever the surroundings
are. If it's a period piece and they all have parasols, great;
if it's a sci-fi movie and they all have spaceships, great; it
doesn't matter, it's the same basic stuff. You care about these
characters and that comes from the humour, the attention to detail
and most of all it comes from the cast.
Q. Was it always your original dream to make it as a
Joss: In this particular case it started off as a series.
I've always wanted to make a big science fiction movie. That's
been a dream since, you know, I was old enough to dream. This
I had not expected to get the opportunity to make it as a movie.
It was kind of low rent and deliberately so.
Then Universal stepped in and said 'here's a lot of rent money'.
So it was a question of taking something low rent and putting
it in something much bigger. I think that's what actually makes
the movie work because instead of people who have 'destiny, destiny,
destiny', we have these schmucks and they're the people that I
think people like to see.
Q. Apart from lots of Serenity
sequels what other projects would you like to work on - I still
they're still looking for a decent script for Indiana Jones?
Joss: [rubbing his fingers] And then of course they're
doing that Star Wars TV show and it's like 'what's that all about,
what's going on there?' There's a million things. There's also
a bunch of original stuff that I want to do. My problem is there's
almost nothing that I don't want to do. I love stories. I just
love them. I eat them up. My family used to make fun of me for
years because I never met a movie I didn't like. Eventually I
developed something called critical judgement, I think it happened
while I was watching Bad Boys 2. But I just adore them. You could
take any of those franchises and I'd be like 'oh let me do a Batman,
I have a thing; or let me do a Star Trek, I have a thing!' They
all fascinate me.
Right now, I'd say I'd pick Serenity about fifth or sixth among
them - maybe even fourth!
Q. There are two series in recent years that have not
been commercially successful - Firefly and Family Guy. What do
you think it says that the networks have cancelled the shows but
it's the fans that have realised that they can be bigger, better
Joss: Well I think it's disgusting. The networks are
mummy and daddy and they know what's best for us. Ultimately,
it's great. It says that what happened with Star Trek is just
more concentrated, because of the internet community, because
of the extraordinary amount of feedback and back and forths between
fans and the people in power. Because of the ability to sort of
I literally have friends who were writing Starsky and Hutch fan
flicks. That was back when you'd copy it on the mimeographs machine
and send it to five of your friends. Now something like that is
read by millions of people if they want to.
It's something that's always been there. The fans have spoken
to some extent because people have decided what movies they like.
Ultimately, they always do. But in situations like this it just
shows that things are breaking apart a little bit which is something
that frightens the networks a little bit and therefore pleases
It's happening in the music industry and it's happening in film
as well. But I think this is kind of a stepping stone; this is
kind of an unprecedented thing that happened with this film. The
other thing went back to the TV medium that they were in, even
Farscape was ultimately a TV movie, whereas this became a big
budget movie. That's a different animal. Some of that has to do
with the fact of the show itself. I mean, Universal stepped in
before they realised how big the fanbase was but then the fanbase
really made themselves known. They affected the marketing, the
green light, they sort of kept it going throughout. And that's
because we were plugged in to an extent that we have never been
before and that's one of the great things about it.
There are some negative things about it, but that's not one of
Q. This idea of a Universal Alliance is a bit similar
to film companies telling people what's good for them...
Joss: I'm sure I don't know what you mean!
Q. We get radio programmes with playlists as well, so
this is quite a good message in the film...
Joss: Well I think the system is becoming even more monopolistic
and giganticness and there will be three companies in ten years'
time - and only three. That's something that's in the show and
it's something that's in the movie. The fact of the matter is
that when something gets that big, no matter how progressive its
intentions, it's going to start damaging the people around it
because it's going to start over-reaching and eventually is going
to decide that everyone is going to have to think the way that
it does. Even if it's just to sell a product, or out of genuine,
decent idealism it's going to cause some horrible horror. I think
this is more timely a movie than I wish it would be.
Q. Does the film take your ideas basically for what would
have happened in the second series?
Joss: That was the basic idea, yes.
Q. We never saw the Reavers in the series. What made
you show them in the film?
Joss: Well it's one thing in a pilot or early part of
a series to hint at something that you're going to pay off later.
You can't really do that in a movie. It's rude because then the
movie's over and they never saw any Reavers. We were always going
to have a confrontation with the Reavers. We were building up
to it so it was inevitable that we were going to have Reavers
in the film because they were just way too much fun not to have.
Q. Suppose Universal had said that your script was fine
but they wanted a different director, would you have been happy
to hand it over to someone else?
Joss: I would have set the script aflame in the very
lobby of Universal. I have been directed by other people and it
hasn't always gone very well. There was never any question that
I was to be the director. Universal and the executive who preceded
the film had been talking to me about directing something before,
just in general. I spent many, many, many years getting to the
point where they would consider me as a director. When I was just
a screenwriter nothing was further from their minds. But after
years of directing television some of them got it in their heads
that I might be able to helm a film. It never crossed their minds
that anyone else should handle this material and it certainly
never crossed mine. Had it come up I actually would not have set
anything on fire, I actually would have laughed and laughed.
If I had been struck down with a terminal illness I would have
been happy to hand the reigns over to Tim Minear, who ran the
show with me and is responsible for much of what made it great.
There is no other living person I'd say that about.
Q. The fans get the big pay-off with Kaylee and Simon.
Does this give us any indication about future films and where
we'll see Mal and Inara heading?
Joss: Yes I can't stress this enough. There will be sex
scenes in the sequel. I'm sorry we left them out!
Nathan: And I'm method!
Q. You kill off a couple of main characters. Do you think
this might upset fans?
Joss: Ultimately, I was in the service of the narrative
and the narrative said if we don't make this hard on people, then
by the time we get to the big fight at the end nobody will care.
No one is going to believe that anyone can get hurt, and if they
don't believe that going into the fight then it's just so much
noise. These people are willing to lay their lives on the line,
so when you're saying that you have to mean it.
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