Where Are They Now ~ One Life to Live's Nathan Fillion

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Nathan Fillion (Castle, ABC)From daytime to Sci-Fi to primetime as ABC's Castle, Nathan Fillion has it all covered!

Daytime fans remember Nathan Fillion well from his days as Joey Buchanan on One Life to Live.  Fillion left the soap 10 years ago.  From there, he went on to play numerous television and film roles including Two Guys and a Girl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Drive, and...

...Desperate Housewives.  He also played opposite Keri Russell in the popular independent film, Waitress.  This year, fans are thrilled to see Fillion on ABC’s new hit show, Castle.  Fillion plays mystery writer, Richard  (Rick) Castle in the drama created by Andrew Marlowe, who also writes and executive produces the show.   The funny and articulate Fillion was kind enough to grant Soapdom an interview recently.  Here’s what he had to say:

SOAPDOM: You’re from Canada but you don’t sound Canadian.  Do work on losing the Canadian accent?

NATHAN FILLION: I’ve been down here for 15 years.  I do still have some words – my girlfriend and I have been working on just the other day – I say, “borrow” (in full Canadian accent) instead of “borrow” (in full American accent) and I say, “tomorrow” (in full Canadian accent) instead of “tomorrow” (in full American accent).  Those are the next two on my list that I’ve gotta work on.  The “outs” and “abouts” were the first ones that had to go. 

SOAPDOM: You come from a family of educators.  Is it true that you originally wanted to teach high school?  Did you plan on teaching drama?

FILLION: I originally wanted to be an actor but it’s not a success-oriented career especially in Edmonton and Alberta, never mind Los Angeles.  It’s hard going.  So I needed a “plan” and education was the plan.  I was gonna be an Art and drama teacher.  Drama was actually my minor. 

SOAPDOM: Lets talk a little about One Life To Live – as a young up and coming actor, was it at all intimidating to work with legends like Erika Slezak, Robert S Woods, Phil Carey, etc?

FILLION: The first time I tuned into One Life to Live was when I got the audition.  So I wasn’t really aware of the status of the people that I was about to go and work with.  I was intimidated surely because these people are obviously on television and I’m obviously not.  Phil Carey intimidated me just because he’s a big, gruff man.  Clint Ritchie was a little bit scary – I’m not gonna lie (laughs).  But they treated me really well.  They took me in. 

SOAPDOM: You’ve been gone for 10 years and you came back recently just briefly? 

FILLION: I did two episodes when I came back for the funeral for Asa Buchanan. 

SOAPDOM: Would you go back to One Life to Live again if they asked you to?

FILLION: Yes.  Those people were super kind to me.  Those people were very, very good to me.  So as long as there are people there that I still know, that place will still be a home.

Nathan Fillion (Castle, ABC)SOAPDOM: You’re very funny.  I’d like to talk a little about Castle.  I think Rick Castle has a sort of dry sense of humor, which seems to come really natural for you.  I know you have other comedy in your background, including Two Guys and a Girl.  I also loved you in Waitress.   Do you prefer comedy to drama?

FILLION: That’s an excellent question.  I found out a number of years ago that there’s no difference between drama and comedy except maybe a little bit in the timing.  You know, I won’t even say that.  I’d say the less you make a distinction between comedy and drama in your acting, the funnier you’re gonna be. 

SOAPDOM: Have you ever done stand up?

FILLION: I’ve never done stand up.  That’s a different animal, all together.  I got my start in school plays.   There’s a theater in Edmonton and a company there called Theater Sport.  It’s live, improvised comedy theater.  They taught me how to go up on stage with nothing prepared and they gave me the tools with which to entertain.  I use that daily when I’m acting.  I go to these Sci-Fi conventions with 2,000 people in the room and I’m going up in front of them with a microphone and I’ve got nothing planned.  It’s all just improvised right there on the spot.  But my father is a very entertaining guy.  He taught me how to tell an entertaining story. 

Nathan Fillion as Castle (ABC)SOAPDOM: Rick Castle is sort of like a younger James Patterson type writer.   Have you ever done any writing and is that something you have an interest in doing?

FILLION: I’ve written enough to know that I’m gonna leave writing to smarter people (laughs).  It’s a lot of hard work.  I wrote a pilot and we got so far as to get the pilot bought by a network.  We were developing it and just trying to put it together.  The stress was enormous.  I can’t imagine that stress on a weekly basis. 

SOAPDOM: Do you read the crime/mystery types of novels that Rick Castle and James Patterson write?

FILLION: Once I got on the show and I was looking for something to read, a friend of mine recommended the Spenser novels.  There’s about 27 of them based on Spenser For Hire, that TV show with Robert Urich.  He’s (Spenser) the third toughest guy in Boston, he’s an ex boxer, incredibly smart, just a funny guy – he’s incredibly dry and funny.  So I find it very entertaining.  I read it on set constantly – there’s so many of them I haven’t run out yet.  It’s a nice little entertaining escape and it keeps me in the mindset of what I’m doing for work.

SOAPDOM: So back to Castle – he’s a mystery writer who killed off his main character then had a problem with writer’s block.  Now he’s sort of inspired by, Kate.  They have sort of a love/hate relationship.  Do you see that turning around in Castle’s favor?  Is a romance with Kate something you would like to see happen or do you prefer the banter they have right now?

Stana Katic, Nathan Fillion (Castle, ABC)FILLION: You have to be careful.  If you build tension, you build tension, you build tension, it keeps everybody thinking what’s gonna happen, when’s it gonna happen?  If you break the tension, I think you lose an entertainment factor.

SOAPDOM: So you like the way things are happening right now?

FILLION: Yes, I sure do.   

SOAPDOM: Tell me about Joss Whedon – you’ve worked with him on a number of projects (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog).  I think he’s brilliant – do you agree?

FILLION: When I first met Joss Whedon, I talked with him for 45 minutes about Firefly and I realized he was brilliant because he was telling a story on about six different levels.  He’s telling a story with light, he’s telling a story with costume, he’s telling a story with music.  He’s telling a story visually, of course.  But just the way he sets things up, he’s got it all worked out. 

SOAPDOM: I have friends who are fanatical about Firefly.   Were you surprised at the popularity of it since there were only 13 episodes and one movie?

FILLION: I was actually surprised that we got cancelled.  I really believed and still do believe in what we were doing.  Telling fantastic stories.  It’s a lot of fun – a lot of ladies love it.  Sci-Fi tends to scare some people away.   When you watch it, you understand that Joss Whedon isn’t into Sci-Fi either.  Joss Whedon is just into people and characters. 

SOAPDOM: Do you really have a Firefly action figure?

FILLION: I do.  I have two of them.  They’re hard to track down now a days.  There are statues, there are busts, there are plush toys.  A lot of them, people make on their own.  I just did a guest shot on Jimmy Kimmel and one of the ladies in the audience made a Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible. 

SOAPDOM: I love Dr. Horrible.  For those who don’t know, can you explain what that is?

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FILLION: Dr. Horrible was born of the writer’s strike that happened last year.  Joss Whedon had always wanted to do something both for the Internet and for Strike TV.  He wanted to do another musical.  He’d done a musical episode of Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) and it was a hugely popular episode.  He (Joss) also wanted to work with his family.  They had this idea and it became this giant metaphor for the writer’s strike about taking power and putting it into other people’s hands.  

SOAPDOM: Tell me how it was working with Neil Patrick Harris in Dr. Horrible?

FILLION: Fantastic.  Neil Patrick Harris is actually a friend of mine.  He’s so incredibly talented. 

SOAPDOM: Was that your first time singing in a role?  If so, were you nervous?

FILLION:  In a role, yes.  I was a Karaoke host working my way through college.  I was nervous because Felicia Day is an incredible singer.  And Neil Patrick Harris – these guys are Broadway quality.  So it was a little daunting, to say the least.

SOAPDOM: I also found PG Porn – Nailing Your Wife, hysterical.   Explain that a little if you will.


FILLION: With (writer, producer, director) James Gunn.  That was during the writer’s strike as well.  There were these producers, directors and writers who wanted to work.   I worked really hard at acting really bad (laughs). 

SOAPDOM: One question I find interesting to ask is this – have you ever done any roles that required nudity and if so was it difficult for you? 

FILLION: In Firefly I did a nude scene.  The episode opened up with me sitting naked on a rock in the middle of a desert.  I’m not fond of whipping off my clothes in front of a bunch of people.  Then you gotta kind of weather the comments from people – you know like “take off your pants”  Oh, really,  thanks - obviously a huge fan of my work (laughs).  If it’s funny and if it’s grounded in the story and it’s important, then I’m all for it.  I want to do it. 

SOAPDOM: I would imagine, for example with soap opera love scenes – there’s probably nothing romantic about filming them.  Is it weird or uncomfortable if you’re in a relationship and you have to film a love scene?

FILLION: There’s nothing romantic in the least.  It’s certainly not weird for me.  I once had a girlfriend who had jealousy issues and that obviously didn’t last very long, that relationship.  By and large if you have to do a love scene, a sex scene of some kind, it’s the first scene you do.  It’s on the first day.  They put that out there first and get it out of the way.  It’s not romantic.  I just try to get through it.  I want it to look great.  You just wanna do it and make it look great.  And when it’s done you can have a laugh about it. 

SOAPDOM: You did an animated film recently, didn’t you?

FILLION: Yes.  The Wonder Woman animated feature.  It turned out really well.  I’ve done a couple things for the WB.  I’ve done some Justice League of American voice work.  But this Wonder Woman feature I thought was really well done. 

SOAPDOM: Didn’t you also do a voice for a video game – Halo?

FILLION: Halo - yes, I did.  I was playing this video game, Halo, with my friends and I was public about liking it.  Then the guys who make the game called me up and said, “we’re doing another Halo game, would you like to do one of the voices.”  I said, sign me up!

SOAPDOM: So are you finished filming Castle? 

FILLION: We’re all done.  We’re just hanging out, waiting to see if we get the pick up (for another season).

And we here at Soapdom are keeping our fingers crossed.  If you haven’t watched Castle yet, you’re in for a real treat.  The cast is stellar and alongside Fillion, it includes: Stana Katic (Detective Kate Beckett), Susan Sullivan (Martha Rodgers, Rick’s mother), Molly Quinn, (Alexis Castle, Rick’s daughter), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Captain Roy Montgomery), Tamala Jones (M E Lanie Parish), Jon Huertas (Detective Javier Esposito) and Seamus Dever (Detective Kevin Ryan).  Daytime fans will remember Dever from his days as the devious Dr. Ian Devlin on General Hospital.

Castle airs on Monday nights on ABC so check your local listings.  I’m hopeful that Castle will be picked up for a second season because the story possibilities are endless.  And whether he does comedy, drama, or something in between, Nathan Fillion is a joy to watch.

Thanks so much to Nathan Fillion for taking the time to talk with Soapdom. 

For more on Castle, visit http://abc.go.com/primetime/castle/index?pn=index
You can visit Fillion’s official MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/nathanfillion

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