Entertainment Weekly dubbed him a "Geek God." TV Guide seems to document his every move. Firefly/Serenity fans follow him in any direction he goes.
And all the while, Nathan Fillion contines to go his own way, his boyish charm and "ruggedly handsome" exterior constantly reflecting the enchanting attitude of the proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store.
Make no mistake, Nathan Fillion is having the time of his life.
Fillion’s primetime series Castle is enjoying its best ratings, cracking Nielsen’s Top 10 as the popular ABC drama culminated its third season. And despite the five-plus-days-a-week grind of 14-plus hours on set, Fillion still finds time to fulfill his own guilty geek pleasures.
Thus, on the Sunday of the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend in 2010, the Edmonton-born actor could be found recording the voice of Hal Jordan for Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original Movie coming to Blu-Ray™, DVD, On Demand and for Download June 7, 2011.
Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, and distributed by Warner Home Video, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights weaves six legendary stories of the Green Lantern Corps’ rich mythology around preparations for an attack by an ancient enemy. As the battle approaches, Hal Jordan mentors new recruit Arisia in the history of the Green Lantern Corps, telling tales of Avra, Kilowog, Abin Sur, Laira and Mogo. In the end, Arisia must rise to the occasion to help Hal, Sinestro and the entire Green Lantern Corps save the universe from the destructive forces of Krona.
Fillion has starred in several primetime television series, including Desperate Housewives, Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has also developed a popular cult following as a pair of Joss Whedon’s heroic captains: Capt. Mal Reynolds in the space-western series Firefly and follow-up film, Serenity; and Captain Hammer in Whedon’s internet sensation Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Fillion returns to the DC Universe after his successful turn as Steve Trevor in the animated film Wonder Woman, having also performed voice work on Justice League, Robot Chicken, The Venture Bros., and several Halo video games.
The ever-genuine Fillion spent some time following his initial recording session to discuss comic book justice, the perils of space travel, his love of comic books and the origin story behind his famous Green Lantern t-shirt. Read on...
CBB: Among the superhero role play games of your childhood, did you ever pretend you were the Green Lantern?
Nathan Fillion: As a child, when you're pretending you're different super heroes, Green Lantern was the easiest because all you needed to light the fire in the imagination was the ring. Superman you need a cape; Spiderman you need a full face mask. That wasn’t tough to come by in a winter town like where I’m from, but they’re just too hot to wear in the summer. So to be Green Lantern, all you needed to do is suck a lifesaver down to the right size, and to make sure it's a lime one – slip it on your finger, and you were good.
CBB: What is it about Green Lantern that most appeals to you?
Nathan Fillion: As a kid, what I liked about Green Lantern was that he could do anything – anything you could think of. It's like "Wow, all I need is a giant mallet, or a catapult circa 1200s," and suddenly he had it. I just thought that would be pretty cool to have anything you could kind of imagine. Imagination was always a big thing for me.
You fit comfortably into animated super hero roles. Why do you think you keep getting chosen to play these comic book legends?
Nathan Fillion: I will say that I've been very fortunate. I can't tell you why people are willing to offer me the opportunity, but I can say how it pleases me because as a kid collecting comic books, I had a great time with the way it kind of lights the fire in the imagination.
I always thought I had an overdeveloped sense of justice. Now looking back on my comic book days, my world kind of was formed around comic book justice. I think I have a very strong sense of comic book justice. Maybe that has something to do with how you take on a role. I mean, I'm steeped in the history of these characters. I know it and I love it.
CBB: Between Firefly/Serenity and Green Lantern, you seem to spend a lot of acting time in space. Did you ever have desires to be an actual astronaut?
Nathan Fillion: I fear space the same way I fear drowning. I would think it would be a little bit claustrophobic. Sure, you have the vastness of space, but yet you're probably going to be in some kind of little miniature (capsule) and, you know, anything could go wrong. I mean. if you're scuba diving, let's say you're 10 feet underwater – if something goes terribly, terribly wrong, you've got 10 feet to swim to the surface, and you're good. If you're in space, you're boned. That's like being in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean. Uh-oh ... Oops. (he laughs) Things you don't want to hear in space or in submarines: "Oops."
CBB: Castle is a runaway hit. You’re a cover boy for national magazines with great regularity. There’s never been greater demand for Nathan Fillion. How do you stay humble through all this adoration?
Nathan Fillion: I'll tell you there sure is nothing like being an actor and having something to do every day. Get up 5:00 a.m. – I’ve got someplace to go and I’ve got a place I need to be. I’ve got stuff I gotta do. I’ve got stories I need to tell. This career that I've chosen, I'm employed gainfully in it – so I’m living the dream every day. That's a good feeling. It does good things for how you feel about your choices.
There was a period of time, I'll say it was 1998 approximately, where I didn't work for nearly a year. I was really questioning my judgment. What have I done? I've made a colossal error in judgment. I'm paying my rent on credit. What am I gonna do?
It's a much, much nicer feeling to know that you're doing something -- that you're playing some music that people want to hear. So I'm gonna play these notes – you tell me if you like them and we'll keep playing if you keep liking them. That's a good feeling. It's nice to walk down the street and have someone stop and politely say "I love your show." That’s always great. As opposed to doing plays, where there’s immediate feedback, you don’t get that so much in television. So it’s really nice to hear. It doesn’t get old.
CBB: You’re on the Castle set at least five days a week, upwards of 14 hours each day. Given all that work, what makes you take time – on a Sunday of a holiday weekend – to record the voice of an animated superhero?
Nathan Fillion: I take the time to (voice characters in DCU films) exactly for the reason that it's fun. I get a call saying "Hey, how would you like to come on down to record Green Lantern?" And I’m asking back, "Can we squeeze it in on a Sunday because that's pretty much my only day off?" I want to make it work because I love doing it. More than that, I love being part of this lore. These are great characters – you’ve got Green Lantern, you have Superman, you have Batman, you have the Flash, all these wonderful pieces of American pop culture. And now I've got a little piece. I can say, "Oh yeah, I was Green Lantern for a DVD movie." Not a lot of people can say that. "Oh, Steve Trevor? Funny you should mention him." (he laughs) It may sound silly, but it means something to me.
CBB: You have been seen – on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, walking around Comic-Con on a Saturday, at your initial Green Lantern recording session – wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt. Did you own that shirt before being cast as Hal Jordan for Green Lantern: Emerald Knights?
Nathan Fillion: Debbie Zoller is the head of my makeup department on Castle. She saw that fan-made Green Lantern trailer and thought the t-shirt would be an appropriate Christmas present. And I wholeheartedly agree with her. I’ve been known to wear a few superhero shirts... and where better than a Green Lantern recording session to wear it today? So thank you Debbie – I told you it would come in handy someday!