Nathan Fillion: On voicing Steve Trevor
Nathan Fillion, star of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” and “Serenity,” will do double duty this March as the voice of Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, the next entry in the series of DC Universe animated original PG-13 movies due on March 3, 2009, with a preview showing at the New York Comic Con, and is also taking the title role in “Castle”, premiering on March 7th on ABC, which features Fillion as a hugely popular mystery/horror writer who helps police solve crimes– think "Murder She Wrote" with Stephen King, but nowhere near as stiff.
Fillion, a fan favorite as Captain Mal Reynolds, as well as Captain Hammer in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” found time away from the grasp of DC Voice Director Andrea Romano (right) and his unrelenting Halo addiction to chat.
QUESTION: Can you describe the challenges of bringing Steve Trevor to life?
NATHAN FILLION: The challenge I find is just trying to use my natural voice and trying not to put on too much of a voice. I tried to just keep it nice and easy and relaxed. He’s a little bit wry, he’s a little bit dry. I can do that. And a couple of times I actually slipped in a little bit of a southern accent.
Steve Trevor is not a complex guy. He’s got a façade up, he’s got a defense up, but he drops it a little bit because he does care about Diana. I like that he’s got a bit of an arc, he’s got something to learn. I think that’s what makes a good character and a good story.
QUESTION: Did you have any preconceptions about this role?
NATHAN FILLION: What I know of Steve Trevor is everything that I learned from “Wonder Woman,” the television series with Lynda Carter. And I don’t remember much. I do remember his uniform, though.
QUESTION: Steve Trevor is not a super hero, but more of a hero by default. Does that kind of fall in line with many of your acting roles?
NATHAN FILLION: I think I’ve carved out a niche for myself in playing the not-so-hero. He’s the guy, but he’s not really quite THE guy you’d maybe turn to right away. Steve Trevor is a real guy – he’s very natural, he’s very honest. He doesn’t apologize for much. He seems to be a pretty normal guy, or as normal as a guy hanging out with Wonder Woman can be.
QUESTION: Prior to recording this film, were you familiar with Greek mythology?
NATHAN FILLION: My brain is like a hard drive. Once you start adding new information, you start cutting off old information. About four years ago is when my university art history lessons starting getting deleted for new and more exciting information. Well, I don’t even know if it’s really more exciting. But it sure is new.
QUESTION: You’ve been involved in a lot of primetime television and feature films in recent years. What prompted you to accept a voiceover role?
NATHAN FILLION: I find that I’m in a spot in my career right now where a lot of my jobs come around from people I’ve worked with already. People keep inviting me back. It’s nice to work with the same people when you’ve had a good time previously, and this is one of those cases. So when you get a phone call saying, ‘How would you like to be Steve Trevor in the new Wonder Woman animated movie?’, you naturally answer ‘That would be great.’ And you smile all day.
QUESTION: You’re paired with Keri Russell again. What are her strengths for playing “Wonder Woman”?
NATHAN FILLION: Keri Russell is a really wonderful actress and truly a wonderful human being. It’s excellent working with her. Playing second fiddle to Keri, that’s a wonderful fiddle to play. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. As for her strengths as Wonder Woman, well, first of all, she has a jet. It’s not invisible, but it’s close. And she does wear a tiara. Not all the time – you’re not going to see her walking down the street in it. But she’s got it. And it looks good. She wears it well.
QUESTION: A decent percentage of your work has been in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Do you gravitate toward those scripts, or is that just coincidence?
NATHAN FILLION: Good question. I think people imagine that I have about five scripts sitting in front of me and I say, ‘I think I’m going to go with the super hero thing and after that I’ll wrap it up with some more sci-fi and then do a romantic comedy.’ But it doesn’t quite work out that way. With scheduling and the way projects come up, I take the first thing that interests me and that moves me. If it’s going to be fun, if I’m going to have a good time, and I’m going to enjoy the people I’m with, then that’s a good enough reason to do it.
QUESTION: Were/are you a comic book fan?
NATHAN FILLION: I was a huge comic book fan as a kid. The only problem I had with comic books is how expensive they got. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I had to be very specific about what I wanted to collect. I think they’re all somewhere in the basement of my folks’ house. I enjoy the art, and I enjoy drawing. I think my printing to this day looks like the printing right out of a comic book. Actually, I always wanted to be IN a comic book. I watched cartoons when I was a kid, too, and both comics and cartoons lit fire in my imagination. This realm holds a lot of interest for me, a lot of passion for me. So to be comic-ized, yeah, that’s cool.
QUESTION: So you’re still a geek?
NATHAN FILLION: My mother always tells me, ‘Nathan, you’re very much a geek, but your strength is that you look mainstream. So no one can tell just by looking at you.’ I think this is true. I do have a light saber at my front door, but that’s for home security. In case anything should happen, I’ll be there.
QUESTION: Aside from the light saber, has this cult following in the fanboy realm led to any unusual experiences?
NATHAN FILLION: I’ve had people dress up like me at Cons and the like. That’s always unusual. That the fans have such passion is amazing to me, but you see a guy who’s dressed out to the “T” like you, that’s kind of cool. Then there was a woman who had created a costume that had a dummy behind her, but the dummy was me. It looked like me, it was as tall as me, it had a tattoo that looked pretty similar to the tattoo I have which you can glean on the (Firefly) DVD … and he was naked. It was me, naked, carrying her. Honestly, it was kind of flattering, and really well done. Claire, you know what I’m talking about.
QUESTION: In light of experiences like that, do you ever see yourself suffering the William Shatner “get a life” syndrome?
NATHAN FILLION: That’s a good question. I wonder if in 25 years, I’ll feel that way. In the meantime, I go to these sci-fi conventions with these people that dress up and I still find it a joy because they’re passionate about something that I’m passionate about. They’re big fans of something I’m a big fan of. I’m a huge fan of the sci-fi stuff I’ve done. I really thought it was great. I love to watch it. I love being in it and watching other people be in it with me.
QUESTION: If you hadn’t become an actor, what profession would you have chosen?
NATHAN FILLION: My parents being English teachers, they always pushed the writing and the grammar. You know, don’t split your infinitives and watch those double negatives. But I tried my hand at writing, I tried to write out a little script – and it’s not too bad. Mostly, though, it let me understand how incredibly difficult that job is. I can’t even imagine doing it on a weekly basis for a series in any way. That’s tough. I think I’ll try to leave that to smarter people than me.
I always wanted to be an actor, but in Edmonton, Alberta, that’s not a success-oriented career. So I said, ‘I’ll get my (teaching) degree and then I’ll see what happens, but I’ll always have that to fall back on.’ So if anybody were to look at me and say, ‘Oh, you’re an actor,’ I could always say, ‘Hey man, I’m a teacher!’
QUESTION: Have Canadian super heroes been neglected?
NATHAN FILLION: We had a whole handful of super heroes. Wolverine was Canadian. A lot of Americans don’t want to hear that. You’ve got Guardian, you had Sasquatch. You had those twins. You had Puck, the little guy. I think maybe, if I could be a Canadian super hero, I’d have some kind of freezing power and some sort of maple syrup weapon. Could be a little sticky.
QUESTION: Are you much of a gamer?
NATHAN FILLION: I’m a Halo guy. The Bungie folks were kind enough to have me do a voice for Halo 3. So there’s nothing like sitting down to a nice game of Halo and shooting at myself. I like to get online, and the reason I like it is I’ve got a lot of friends in Canada and New York, all over Los Angeles and at great distances. Sometimes I take off for months at a time to go work, and my social time is on that box. You put on a little headset and unwind with your friends. You hang out, you laugh, it’s good times. And when it’s all done, you don’t have to send anybody home. No one’s drunk all your beer. You just say, ‘Good night, I’m going to bed,’ and it’s off and it’s done.