Serenity Interviews.

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Adam
Baldwin, Jewel Staite & Gina Torres

Interview
by Johanna Juntunen

LA
? September – 2005

“Serenity”

Q: What happened in your mind when you found out that the movie
was getting made?

J: I was incredibly happy (laughs) and I didn?t entirely
believe it until I was on set with my name on that contract, because
it was so heartbreaking when the series got cancelled that I didn?t
want to attach myself to anything emotionally until it was a done
deal.

G: Exactly. I was shocked. Even if I thought that it might, could
happen, that it was possible if everything was aligned the right way,
I certainly didn?t think it would happen as fast as it did, so
that was a gift, and shocking and wonderful, and when I got off the
floor I was happy (laughs).

Q: The women are in very prominent and strong roles in
Serenity. What did you think about it?

G: I was happy about it. Clearly when you are looking into the
future…as far as we?ve come now, you have women in the
trenches now, they are in Iraq and in the work place. If you project
that 500 years into the future, of course we are going to be in
positions of power and even more capable because we are part of the
workforce. As human beings we have to use each other and what we?re
best at. And my character Zoe is clearly a fabulous, kick-ass,
capable soldier. Why wouldn?t you want that person to be your
right hand?

J: I love that Kaylee is young and fresh and na?ve and comes
from a small town, a little bit lower class, but when she gets next
to an engine she becomes this brilliant, amazing mechanic. It?s
fun. It?s hard to say that techno babble, though, it?s
not so fun (laughs).

Q: She?s a little sexually repressed too?

J: Yeah (laughs). She wants some lovin?, there?s nothing
wrong with that. She?s a regular girl, she just likes machines.
A lot.

Q: ?I?m not going to die now??

J: I love that, that?s brilliant.

A: It?s a testament to Joss?s creativity, he loves
writing strong women characters, that flows from him. He casts some
pretty women too.

Q: Sometimes the dialogue in sci-fi films can be very cliched,
it wasn?t the case here. Did you know that it was going to come
out as funny as it did?

J: We got lucky, Joss is such a great writer.

A: But the sci-fi element is just a setting. You have these nine very
strong characters that are able to function or dysfunction on this
space ship, and that?s really what?s interesting, for me
anyway, just to watch actors struggling to win that conflict. It?s
Joss?s writing and we just kind of play and run with it.

G: And what is so interesting about the writing too, is that he has
taken this futuristic world that he has created and all the
circumstances that have sort of fed into this world that you see in
front of you, and an element of that is what we sort of refer to as
?Joss speak?. It the English language ever so tweaked
enough to make you a little crazy (laughs) as an actor, but it sort
of informs everything else surrounding it, so maybe a line that you
may have heard before doesn?t sound the same. Because it
doesn?t sound the same it holds a different weight, or it
resonates differently in the ears, and I think that just makes it
more interesting.

A: He writes with a unique rhythm. If you can key in to that rhythm,
you can be successful.

J: Yeah, once I got used to it, it became really easy. I can?t
help myself doing it off set, that broken English he sometimes writes
for us.

Q: That?s a good thing about the movie – it has real
dialogue, but what do you think was so special about the series that
it had to be made into a feature film?

A: I think there are three elements that I see. One is certainly
Joss?s dedication and love for these characters, he really
wanted to tell the story. Number two would be his ability to reach
out to Universal Studios after the show got cancelled and number
three which is very important, is the fan base. The fan base that
found the TV show and bought all those DVDs made Universal?s
decision that much easier.

Q: What is your interaction with the fans like, especially
right after the show got cancelled?

G: Some were angry (laughs), most of them were sad. They found us
early, they were sort of shocked that we disappeared because we were
really on the air for 11 episodes and we were pre-empted as often as
we aired. We might be on one week and then we wouldn?t be on
for two weeks because of the baseball playoffs or whatever it was.
They felt like they were teased with the promise of a show that they
could be dedicated to and be interested in and see how it played out.
And then we were gone as quickly as we appeared. I think that?s
what sort of helped with the sales of the DVD, suddenly there was
enough talk about it, maybe enough people had seen it but they were
just completely dissatisfied and wanted to know what happened.
Because it is good story telling, because they are intriguing
characters, and you know, how do you feel when you favourite show is
cancelled? You feel lost a little bit. Cheers was on the air
for 30 years and people still miss that show (laughs). I think we
just sort of filled a niche that wasn?t available on television
at the time.

Q: Was the movie making experience better because you were able
to prove the network wrong?

A: No, no, no. It?s a story of
redemption, it really is. Television is hard enough, it?s hard
enough to get a show even made, even to get one pilot made. So, we
are unique in that we even got on the air, period. Most shows don?t.
The fact that it was on for 11 episodes and then got a box set,
is?you know, it?s a numbers game. Bottom line, we didn?t
get the ratings, but we sold enough DVDs and now we are a major
motion picture. That?s a good story. I don?t think
there?s another story like that. So, we can?t go into it
with vindication and revenge, that?s negative. We have a very
positive product here, a wonderful movie we love, and we want to just
drive forward with that. You can?t go backwards.

G: But it is incredibly gratifying to be a part of something that you
knew was special from the very beginning that was not understood.
There was really no effort, that we could see, to make that happen
and then it sort of released to the world and the world responded in
the way that it has been…yes, absolutely it?s incredibly
vindicating.

J: I think we were always very proud of what we had and I think that
we appreciated it for what it was. So to be here now, we just feel
even more pride. The sense of validation?

G: The sweet sense of validation.

J: We just all feel a lot of love towards this project.

Q: How was the fight camp for you?

A: I?ve been at fight camp all my life.

J: I didn?t have to go to fight camp.

G: I went for a day (laughs), and that?s mostly because I have
a relationship with the stunt coordinator and he knew what I was
capable of and it was fine. But most of the action rested on the
shoulders and legs and arms of Nathan and Summer.

J: We rehearsed all day long, the dialogue and the scenes for the
first two weeks, and then after that long day of rehearsal Nathan and
Summer had to leave to go to fight camp. At the end of a long day on
set they had to go to fight camp. I felt sorry for them because I
could lounge by the pool after my workday was done and they had to go
to get bruised and tired out. But I was a little envious when I saw
the final product (laughs). It looks really good. So all their hard
work definitely paid off.

Q: Did you ever feel silly for acting against the green screen
because nothing was there?

J: I don?t think that I ever felt stupid, but it was definitely
difficult to react to things that weren?t there. I remember
filming the sequence where we were going through Reaver territory and
we were watching the ships out the window, and there?s nothing
there except the camera guy with lights, so that was challenging, but
as an actor it?s always fun to be challenged and see how that
plays out when the special effects are in place.

A: But there was minimum green screen used here. They had actually
animated this whole chase scene where we were going to be as a form
of a story board and they had also animated the trucks, the support
vehicles behind it, so everyone knew where the positioning was going
to be. And that?s what we did first. So it was this very well
organized machine in place because we were on a tight budget,
relatively speaking for this kind of a film, and it was good and
right, and here we go again. Rough cuts are tough to watch sometimes
because of the skeletal mock-ups of the space ships look a little
like ?oh? Well, okay, it?s a rough cut?. But that
all got smoothed over.

G: It?s hard for me to watch myself on screen but because there
are so many elements missing when you?re shooting something
like this, I?m happy to watch it because I don?t know how
it?s going to look when it?s finished. So I?m
outside myself being engaged in this world that I participated in but
never really saw all of. The end product is great, but when you?re
in it, you have to use your childlike imagination (laughs).

Q: How different is the movie from the series?

A: It?s bigger, grander.

G: Darker.

J: A little scarier. The stakes are higher.

A: The threat of death is really looming over us.

G: In the series you were pretty sure that they were coming back next
week but in the movie you are not sure.

Q: Adam, was it hard for you to balance the humour but still be
the toughest guy on the team?

A: Jayne is this guy who says what everybody wishes they could say.
He?s that big elephant in the room that will just spew the
truth and I think people relate to that. My inspiration was really
drawn from the shoot-them-up westerns that I grew up watching, like
The Wild Bunch and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once
Upon a Time in the West
and great character actors like Eli
Wallach, Jason Robards, guys like that who I modeled Jayne after. But
Joss gave me some really fun words to say and I just got to drop my
voice like this.

Q: What is your favourite scene or moment in the movie?

A: My favourite moment is a quirky little moment with River and Simon
when he says to River ?am I talking to Miranda now?? and
she just looks at him like ?no, idiot!? But my favourite
scene to shoot was that whole initial chase scene on the ?mule?,
that was just great. That?s some of the most fun work I ever
had: it was hot, hard, it was great.

G: My favourite moment is when Serenity comes up on screen and all
our names scroll down (laughs) ?oh, yes! It is real.? I
still get a rush, I still get the smile.

Q: It sounds like you had so much fun during shooting, so there
must be some funny moments behind the scenes?

G: I think it?s probably with other people because I?d
see that second camera crew coming and I?d just go off in the
other direction (laughs). It was too much. It?s too much
pressure. This whole ?special features? on the DVD has
sort of spun this?it used to be your ?on? between
action and cut when you were doing the movie, and now ?cut!?
comes and here comes the other camera crew. So I?m not in it
that much.


Summer
Glau & Sean Maher

Interview
by Johanna Juntunen

“Serenity”

LA,
September 2005

Q:
Are you surprised to be back; from a cancelled TV show to the big
screen?

SG:
It just surprised me, the scale of it. Joss told us from the moment
the show was cancelled that he was going to find a way to keep
telling the story but we didn?t exactly know what that meant.
So here we are.

SM:
The actual day we got cancelled we all went to Nathan?s house
and he (Joss) said that he would not rest until he found a home for
us. So we believed, we never got the official ?it?s dead?
so the result is this lingering sense of hope. But like Summer said
(laughs) we never envisioned it to be this big movie, and now to have
finished it and out there?the response has really been
wonderful, so it?s continually surprising.

Q:
How did you take the bad news about the show?s cancellation?

SG:
It was a shock.

SM:
A blow, it was devastating.

SG:
It took us a while. When we got cancelled it was right before our
holiday, so we didn?t even get a chance to let it settle. We
went to Nathan?s house and we were together for the one last
time and then we all went home for Christmas, so it was just a shock.

SM:
We weren?t sure what was going on with the network, we were
struggling, so we were on pins and needles for a while. But that
takes you by surprise, it was so abrupt.

Q:
What is so unique about this material that it deserves to be on the
big screen?

SM:
I think it?s the characters. Just this world that Joss created,
people seem to be captivated by it. From the very beginning people
who saw the show loved it, this sort of bubbling small group was
always there from the very beginning, they were the driving force
that inspired us and kept us going, because we knew that there were
people out there that really liked it. Then the show is cancelled and
the DVD sales went through the roof, so it?s apparent that
still people were catching on to it and loved it, so there should
have been another venue to tell the story again. And Joss, I think,
was sort of a miracle worker in a sense that he kept it alive and
fought so hard for this. It?s really his baby.

Q:
Is it different for you actors when it was a TV show than when it was
a film?

SG:
Not as much as we were preparing for. Everyone was saying that this
was going to be so different, but our dynamic was already set up from
when we worked together and when we worked for Joss. So when we went
to set to do the film, the things that were different were not us.
It?s was more like the sets were bigger, we had more money, and
more time.

Q:
What time frame did you have to shoot each episode?

SM:
Eight days, and then we had three months to do the movie (laughs). It
was a little bit different.

Q:
Was it more physical?

SG:
Absolutely for me. And I think for everyone, for Sean, he ended up
getting in there and fighting the battles too. But I trained for
three months before we even started shooting anything.

Q:
Was there anything they told you to do and you thought ?no
way??

SG:
(laughs) The split on the ceiling, but we got up there and we did it.
When I was up there it didn?t hurt. There was a guy who was
helping me, and they had to rebuild the hallway three times because
they had to measure my legs. If it?s off an inch I can?t
hold my leg up. So I would get in a split and get situated and I
stood up there between takes. It was easier than I thought.

Q:
Did your co-stars attempt to do it?

SM:
(laughs) I had to show her how to do it. She had to learn it from
somebody.

Q:
What kind of training did you go through?

SG:
I met my stunt coordinator, Chad Stahelski, months before we started
and he watched me move, he taught me some different steps and stuff,
and he saw that I was a ballet dancer. He created a kind of hybrid
technique for me that was a more ?balletic? way of doing
martial arts. He said that it was a combination of wuchu, kung-fu and
kick boxing. And it was very different from dancing (laughs). I
worked hard, we all worked hard.

Q:
Did you keep the workout going after the movie?

SG:
You know, they offered to let me keep coming to the class and I said
no (laughs).

Q:
Did you get injuries other than bruises?

SG:
Oh, yeah. I have a big scar on knee from one stunt going wrong, and I
pulled every muscle in my body – dancers are very strong but it?s
a completely different kind of muscle memory. Martial arts is kind of
like a snake: it snaps and then it comes back in. Dancing is always
up, always lifting and it?s very fluid. I can hold my leg out
for a long time as a dancer, but in martial arts you have to get your
leg up that high but you have to get it down in one second. So I kept
pulling hamstrings, I was limping home, I?d do ice baths where
I just had to carry ice bags home and lie in a bathtub because I
pulled everything. My body really changed a lot. And I was a
vegetarian and I ate meat by the end of the movie. I was eating
steaks (laughs).

Q:
What was the most difficult sequence to shoot?

SG:
The storage locker was hard for me to do.

SM:
Yeah, the storage locker was hard. The end of the movie was
definitely most grueling schedule-wise, we shot that for days and
days. But emotionally, probably the storage locker.

SG:
And also the mule chase because we were actually in the mule and then
it was green screen. They made this incredible rig and we all sat up
there in the desert for days and days and shot that mule chase. The
boys loved it and the girls wanted to get out of the sun.

Q:
Was it easier to shoot the TV show or the film?

SM:
I liked the film. They?re so different, obviously our schedule,
it was eight days versus three months. Sometimes for the episodes we
didn?t get scripts until the night before so it was difficult
to get a chunk of dialogue that we were shooting the next day, but
it?s just TV versus film. But the film was fun for me, because
I felt that all the ground work was done, we had this incredible
foundation because we had been working together as actors and we had
been with these characters for so long. That, I think, is the hardest
part to find. You find who your character is, how he walks and talks,
and how he is with the other actors. So all that was done and we just
stepped back into those shoes. There was a great sense of ease to it.

Q:
Was there any improvising or was Joss not allowing it?

SM:
No, we pretty much…maybe we finish his words and if it?s
rolling and if he likes what goes on afterwards we?d do it.

SG:
I?m not that brave. I always do just what Joss says.

Q:
Do you have siblings?

SG:
I have two sisters.

SM:
I have a sister and a brother.

Q:
Does that feeling just instinctually kick in when you have to play
close siblings on screen?

SM:
It does, you obviously draw from your own life. You find similarities
between yourself and the character, and they bleed into the way you
portray the character.

Q:
You have tremendous patience for your sister?

SM:
(laughs) Yeah.

SG:
Poor guy.

Q:
Did you always know that you wanted to get into acting or did it just
happen?

SM:
I picked it up in high school where we had a great theatre program.
Towards the end of my senior year we were putting up like six shows a
year, and then I went to college to study drama. Right out of college
I started pursuing it and I?ve been blessed that I?ve
been lucky enough that things worked out.

SG:
I was going to be a ballet dancer all my life. I started dancing full
time when I was 14, and I had some really bad injuries, one in
particular when I was 19. It would not heal. I was really stubborn, I
would not give my roles to anybody so I kept dancing. Finally I just
couldn?t take class anymore, and I had to admit that I had to
stop dancing classical ballet. So I came to L.A. for a summer,
basically following a crush that I had out here and he ended up
moving to New York the minute I got here (laughs). So I started
auditioning for anything, and found that, I guess, I could act and
maybe I could get work doing that. And I had this secret feeling when
I was a little girl that I was going to end up acting. So it felt
right.

Q:
What kind of message do you want the fans to pick up from Serenity?

SG:
One thing that we keep talking about is believing – whatever you
believe, you have to believe it with your whole heart. That?s
one theme that keeps running through. And love. Taking care of the
people around you, taking care of the people you love, it?s
simple. There are many layers and everybody that comes to see it
feels something different when they walk away.

SM:
What I love about the world of Firefly, the world of Serenity,
is it?s 500 years in the future but there?s this big
?what if??, like, what if we used up the resources of
Earth and here we are, people are trying to survive, trying to get
by, trying to just eat and get a job. There are these dynamics
between these wonderful characters and I think the movie?yes,
it?s this huge spectacular, great ride and when you really
think about it, for me it instilled this faith in humanity that like
yes, 500 years in the future we have this Alliance trying to do this
horrible thing to this girl and trying to just change people, and at
the end of the day it?s like ?OK, let?s just have
faith.? There is innate goodness and people will prevail as
human beings and there?s just wonderful sense of humanity to
it. No matter how far in the future you go, hopefully people are
people in how they work and function together. We are trying to
rebuild and figure things out, and make adjustments.

Q:
Does being a ballet dancer benefit you in acting?

SG:
The thing about River that I like, is that she doesn?t have a
lot of lines. Especially in the series she had to show what she was
thinking just by the way she moved or by how her face was moving. I
think that has helped me a lot as an actor. I still have hard time
sometimes, expressing my anger with words, I?m better at moving
and being in a room and showing how I feel that way. It?s a
thing that I had to work on because I was very shy as a kid. I think
that?s why I love dancing, because I felt that people were
watching me but I didn?t have to connect with them. They were
out there and I could feel that they were watching me but I didn?t
have to look at them. Now with acting it?s very therapeutic for
me, having to actually say and communicate.

Q:
Can you talk about what makes Joss Whedon so special?

SM:
He?s just this incredible man, he?s really a wonderful
guy, a friend and a mentor. The instant I met him, because there was
no script with the pilot, there were like a few pages of sides, like
one scene, and I really liked the scene and sat down with Joss. And
instantly I was so intrigued. I really wanted to work with him. And
it just continually grew, like every time on set, watching him work,
everything he said was so smart. I felt that I was being steered into
the right direction. He?s this incredible ring leader.

SG:
If you stand by him on set for 10 minutes you realize every detail
that runs by him, you realize how special, creative and patient he
is. He is kind, and he speaks well to everybody. He gave me what I
have now in my career, he cast me in my very first TV show, he
believed in me when nobody believed in me. He saw something that
other people were not seeing. He?s my hero in a way. I?ll
never forget what he?s done for me.

Q:
When the DVD sales of Firefly went through the roof did it give you
hope or was it just a consolation prize?

SM:
For us it was a reassurance that everybody was out, it was inspiring
to us. To executives and people in suits it was like ?oh, look
at that. There are people, this could be successful?. I think
it was a great tool for people who hadn?t had the chance to see
the show. There were fans of the box set and they passed it around,
and it spread sort of word of mouth in that regard.

Q:
What?s happening next with you, are you hoping for a sequel?

SM:
Sort of.

SG:
We have to see who comes to see it.

Q:
What are your expectations of the movie?

SM:
I read somewhere, in Entertainment Weekly or Us Weekly, that
Universal said that they are entertaining the idea of part 2 if we
make $80 million worldwide. I think we?re all hoping but nobody
wants to talk about it the possibly there will be?because
there?s nine of us and there are so many which ways the story
could go. But you never know, I don?t even know if Joss has an
idea for part 2, he hasn?t shared it with me. But we know the
fans love it and I know that people who are not familiar with the
series and check out the movie are really?it?s a
wonderful response. I?m just hoping that people see it.

Q:
Was there an alternative ending with you dying?

SM:
No. I think he says he thought about it.

SG:
God!

Q:
But you were needed for the sex scene?

SM:
Yeah, part 2 will be all sex.

Q:
Do you collect DVDs and what are your favorite ones?

SM:
I have a very small collection. Streetcar Named Desire was my
first DVD gift which I like.

SG:
I don?t collect them, no. Most of my favourite movies haven?t
come out on DVD yet, I like all the old stuff. My favorite is
Camelot, the musical (laughs) with Richard Harris and Vanessa
Redgrave. I have the old box set.

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