.Joss Whedon? ability to create a self-contained universe stocked with compelling characters, unexpected humor and imaginative stories has resulted in a myriad of projects during his career. In addition to creating and executive producing the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (as well as writing and directing multiple episodes of each), he has brought his trademark wit and compassion as a writer to films such as Speed, Alien: Resurrection and Toy Story, for which he received an Academy Award?nomination.
Whedon conceived of the television series Firefly after reading Michael Shaara? Civil War novel, ?he Killer Angels.?The appeal of post-war survivors scraping by on the outskirts of society?n a science-fiction context?truck a chord with Whedon. ? was taken with the idea of a civil war and rebuilding from the point of view of people who had lost the war,?he says. ?here were people after the war who internalized it so terribly that it completely destroyed them.?
Starting by dreaming up the different characters, Whedon then wove a humanistic tale set in a frontier world of planets instead of plains. ? wanted to tell a story about people who were living in space, but not living in grandeur,?he describes.
?e?e used up the Earth, so we?e moved on to a new solar system,?he continues. ?here once we had new countries to explore, now we have planets. There? no alien life of any kind that we have discovered. It? still just us. It? a vision of the world more or less as it is today.?
?he idea of the show was that in the future, nothing has changed,?Whedon notes. ?e?e got more technology. We?e got more people. But we?e got the exact same problems: personally, politically and ethically.?
In this world we find Mal (NATHAN FILLION), a soldier on the losing side of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and captaining the transport-for-hire ship Serenity. He leads a small crew who are the closest thing he has left to family: his second-in-command Zoe (GINA TORRES); Zoe’s pilot husband Wash (ALAN TUDYK); the mercenary Jayne (ADAM BALDWIN) and ship’s mechanic Kaylee (JEWEL STAITE) who together provide Mal the opinionated, insubordinate and ultimately loyal mates he needs to survive in the outlands.
Threatening their survival are two of the most formidable enemies: first, the establishment known as the Universal Alliance (those on the winning side of the war); and second, the horrific, cannibalistic Reavers?avages who roam the edges of space. The crew find themselves trapped between the Alliance, who seeks to bring order?anted or unwanted by their subjects?o these various planets, and the Reavers, who seek wanton chaos and destruction.
Further complicating matters for Mal are the beautiful courtesan Inara (MORENA BACCARIN), a woman who alternately inspires and infuriates him; Shepherd Book (RON GLASS), a preacher who challenges Mal to the fullest; and two mysterious passengers: the young doctor Simon (SEAN MAHER) and his unstable, telepathic sister River (SUMMER GLAU). Her talents long-used by the Alliance, she possesses dangerous secrets buried so deeply, even she doesn? know what they are.
The series garnered acclaim from critics and a burgeoning fanbase, but Firefly nonetheless lasted only 11 episodes before leaving the air, a casualty of its frequently pre-empted time slot and the show? own hard-to-pigeon hole tone and content.
?veryone had gelled together into a big family,?remembers Serenity Executive Producer CHRISTOPHER BUCHANAN. ?e were very fortunate in that way. But when the show was cancelled, it was a real gut shot to everyone involved.?
But Whedon chose to see it merely as a postponement rather than an end. He vowed to his Firefly cast and crew that he wouldn? rest until he found a new home for the project. ? actually wrote Christmas letters to all nine of them letting them know where I was in my progress, and they kept me informed if they were going to do something,?Whedon says. ? just believed so strongly in these characters, and particularly in these actors, that I refused to believe that the show had been cancelled. I went into a severe state of denial.?
As the series?set was being dismantled, cast member Alan Tudyk salvaged a prop for Whedon from a pivotal episode. ?he ship is dying and the only chance the crew has is to take off in other ships and try to find help, leaving Mal behind,?describes Tudyk. ?n this episode, Wash installs this special button and says, ?hen your miracle gets here, pound this button one time and it?l bring us all back.?? still have that button in my office,?Whedon says fondly.
Whedon? faith in keeping Firefly alive was infectious. ?very time I? be about to give up, one of the actors would just call and say, ?e?e still waiting. We still believe,? he remembers.