Beloved Joss Whedon alum Nathan Fillion will be cracking wise on the small screen once more, this time while walking the gumshoe beat in his new role as a jaded crime-novelist-turned-police-sidekick on ABC’s Castle. Fillion talked to Fancast about how his new fictional alter ego is not the typical “go to guy” character that has populated his resume in the past, plus he discloses what he thinks of life as a Whedon icon, and which shows he counts amongst his own guiltiest viewing pleasures. (Hint: it involves the juxtaposition of otherwise adversarial concepts like ‘animal fangs’ and ‘human limbs’….)
Have you had any new experiences in playing Rick Castle that you hadn’t yet experienced in other roles?
Nathan: I’ll tell you…….Rick Castle is not the “go to” guy that my other characters have been. Certainly the other characters I’ve played have been more heroic and more prepared to kind of be the guy you turn to in times of crisis. Rick Castle is not that guy. He’s just kind of having fun, and kind of rides through life on charm and success. People like him – everyone except Detective Beckett who he’s been partnered up with….he drives her crazy.
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So you play a writer who’s a bit spoiled by success……
Nathan: He’s actually so bored by his series of crime novels – the Derek Storm series – that he kills off his main character. It’s just too easy. It becomes too much like work – it’s not fun for him anymore. He’s depressed, he’s in a slump, he drinks, he’s got nothing going on. It’s been almost a year, and he’s not written anything. He’s terrified he’ll never come up with another character as great as Derek Storm. And then he’s approached to work on this case where someone is copycatting the crimes in his novels…and that’s how he meets Detective Kate Beckett. He’s never met anyone like her. He’s smitten. He’s fascinated. And he uses the influence of the mayor to get partnered up with her so he might get research for his new series that he’s going to create. And in Kate he finds a new character for his new series.
And it sounds like she’s a long ways away from the typical groupie he’s used to.
Nathan: Yes, I mean, with all his success, he’s a bit of a womanizer. He’s well-liked, but…..with her, he finds a great challenge. She will not be fooled – she will not be taken in.
You’re doing really well in your career, of course. Could you kind of relate a bit in some small way to a character who is getting caught up in the trappings of success?
Nathan: I don’t really find that I’ve had any trappings with success. I share this much with Richard Castle: Richard Castle is having an adventure every day. He’s giddy. He’s on a field trip. When he finds out someone’s been murdered, he claps his hands together and he can’t believe it. That’s my day. I was going to be a high school teacher in Canada. I was going to freeze my butt off with two months off a year, working really, really hard for very little pay. And now I’m an actor living in sunny California. I’m having a beautiful day every day.
I know you have very loyal and diligent fans of your sci fi stuff and Joss Whedon work in particular. How can this series win them over?
Nathan: By the fact that I’m in it! No….my fans have been very, very kind. I will never deny that. They’ve been very, very good. I find that Joss Whedon fans in particular are very, very clever people. Clever and passionate and motivated. A very good kind of fan. Very sensitive….when someone approaches me and is a fan of stuff I’ve done for Joss Whedon, they’re usually a very intelligent person and has a very well thought-out presentation of why they like what we’re doing. I think they’re going to enjoy and have fun watching Castle. I’m having fun doing it. It’s my taste.
It sounds like the fans are very willing to follow you along. So…is there any downside to being a sci fi icon?
Nathan: Hmmm….downside……[long pause]….
It sounds like mostly good stuff you’re experiencing, then?
Nathan: Yeah! I’m in a very small but exclusive club of people who have captained spaceships. It’s like an exclusive fraternity….with the secret handshake and the weekly meetings. Again, those kinds of fans I find to be very intelligent. And passionate. I find them to be passionate people. I’m a fan of stuff I did for Joss Whedon. I’m a fan of Firefly. So we immediately have that much in common!
What other TV shows – either past or present – are you personally a fan of? And what’s your guiltiest viewing pleasure in particular?
Nathan: My guiltiest pleasure? Untamed & Uncut. Videos of people being attacked by animals. Yeah. I don’t know why. I just love seeing guys who say, “I’m gonna stick my hand in that crocodile’s mouth and see what happens.” And then it snaps down on them. There you go – that’s what you get! It’s a wild animal, my friend.
So that’s my guiltiest pleasure. But the shows that I truly enjoy and love…..The Office. Love it. 30 Rock. Love it. And Dirty Jobs. That Mike Rowe……that guy’s brilliant. You wanna talk about fast on your feet? That guy is so quick and so clever….
Yes. Well, when you’re navigating through a sewer, I think you have to be.
Nathan: Exactly. That guy’s had his hand in more places……
Being Canadian, do you have any strong feelings toward the movie Strange Brew?
Nathan: I love Strange Brew. I quote that movie all the time, and no one knows what I’m talking about.
Take off, eh! Your movie Waitress focused a lot on pie, and then there’s Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place….there’s a very vague food motif in your work. If you had to do another food-themed movie or show, what food would you focus on?
Nathan: Lasagna! No…….sandwiches. Because sandwiches, you can vary what’s inside. Lasagna, there’s only a few permutations you can go with. So I’m gonna go with sandwiches.
So, what’s your closing sales pitch for Castle? What’s the can’t-miss aspect here?
Nathan: If you’re like me, you’re watching crime shows and you say, “That would have been really funny if he’d just said…..” And the joke’s right in front of them. That’s Castle. I think, number one, it’s real life. In real life, people see a joke, they go for it. Not all homicide detectives are dark, brooding, haunted, empty, soulless, tortured people. They’re real people. There’s comedy even in tragedy. There’s comedy in life. And in Castle, we go for that comedy.
Castle premieres March 9th at 10/9 c on ABC. If you love watching Nathan go for the punchline (and who doesn’t?!), be sure to tune in! And between now and then, watch Castle preview clips and cast bios right here on Fancast.