Nathan Fillion talks fan campaign to resurrect 'Firefly': 'I think that that's love. I don't think that's fanaticism'


Image Credit: Science Channel

The first time we talked to Nathan Fillion for this week's cover of Entertainment Weekly, it was shortly after 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 6. Fans of Firefly, which was canceled by Fox in 2002 after 11 episodes, will recognize that date and time as the day reruns debuted on the Science Channel. Fillion did not. "Is that tonight?" he asked. "I knew it was going to record because I got the old search term 'Nathan Fillion' [programmed on my TiVo]

, so if I’m doin’ somethin’ it pops up. But am I doing anything special? No, I am not doing anything special. I thought I might go to a movie tonight.”

That sounds like the (healthy) response of a man who’s let go of the past, but, of course, one of the reasons fans love Fillion is because he hasn’t. Speaking to in February about Science Channel’s plans to rerun the Joss Whedon space Western — and seriously, how many actors with a current show, ABC’s Castle, averaging 10.6 million viewers do interviews for reruns? — Fillion innocently mentioned that were he to win $300 million in the California lottery, he would buy the rights from Fox and don Capt. Mal Reynolds’ tight pants again. Within three weeks, a fan-created Web page had received $1 million in pledges toward the cause of resurrecting the show. “Would I want to do [Firefly] again? Yes. Do I want people sending in money? No,” Fillion said, admitting the thought made him nervous. “But it warms my heart that people are going, ‘Wouldn’t this be great?'”

And that still includes Whedon, who Fillion said hadn’t mentioned the campaign to him but must have heard about it. “Joss sent me a text that said he had a dream that we were all shooting Firefly again and, you know, this was happening, this was happening, this was happening, and the scripts were coming in late — ‘It was like a little slice of heaven.’ Which is just like it used to be,” Fillion told us. “We were always under the wire with scripts. Scripts were coming in the day before, or the day of, or would change for that afternoon, and everybody said ‘Okay. No problem.’ We loved it. We loved it. Because what you see on TV is what we ended up with in our hands. So it was always great. There was never a day I went to work on Firefly where I looked at the script and went, ‘Eh, today will be alright.’ Everyday I was doing something so great. So great.”

If it was so great, fans might be asking themselves why he doesn’t want them to help make that dream a reality. (Some are now exploring other ways to raise funds and return the rights to Whedon, who’s currently consumed with preproduction on The Avengers, with hopes that the spaceship Serenity would someday fly again.) “I don’t think people understand the infrastructure that goes into actually making a TV show, and whether or not Fox would even be willing to let go of those kind of rights,” Fillion explained. “Let’s say you did buy the rights to Firefly. I think it cost about a million bucks an episode to make. There’s a lot going on that I think people oversimplify. But, that having been said, I appreciate so much people who still have such love for it. And I think that that’s love. I don’t think that’s fanaticism. I might be biased, but I think something like Firefly rises above fanaticism. I think it touches people in their hearts. It makes them feel, and it makes them feel something good. I feel it, too.”

For more from Fillion — including how he tells Firefly and Castle fans apart, and his reflections on 12 roles that have taken him from Geek God to one of primetime’s favorite leading men — pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands today. Or, you can click here to buy this issue online.

Read more:
This Week’s Cover: Geek God Nathan Fillion goes mainstream
Firefly returning to cable; Fillion says he’d play Mal again
Nathan Fillion makes our list of 50 actors we’d watch in anything
Nathan Fillion answers Stupid Questions
Nathan Fillion answers a bonus Stupid Question about his lightsaber
Nathan Fillion takes the EW Pop Culture Personality Test

Comments (126 total) Add your comment
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  • Ada

    Love it. I love that he doesn’t forget his roots.

    • Wilhemina

      No, Nathan. It is fanaticism. To actually care so much about fictional characters that you are willing to spend money on producing a film that will only work to take more money away from you and will make some rich people they don’t even know even richer…that’s not love…that’s being a Browncoat nerd and a loser…

      • Cris

        Gee, who peed in your corn flakes this morning?

      • Josh

        Wilhemina, you nailed it right on the head. Fanaticism at its worst. Browncoats may not be a whole lot (as seen by Firefly and Serenity’s horrible ratings and box office) but they are worse than Twihards and Nolanites combined.

      • alimentum

        “take more money away from you and will make some rich people they don’t even know even richer”

        Actually, that’s not fanaticism, it consumerism. Ever bought a movie ticket? Some studio exec has fuzzy dice hanging from their solid gold Hummer thanks to your $10.

        Happy day Wilhemia! By your own definition, you’re a fanatic!

      • alex

        actually…life is short…people love different things for different reasons.

        I was born with a crippling disorder that leaves me in nothing but pain…and completely unable to walk…im 25….

        is it wrong to want a show that takes you out of that reality with its brilliant writing and acting?

        I will forever be a browncoat, that doesnt make me a loser…it just makes me someone who loves great television…and in the case of serenity a great movie…

        your comment simply makes you someone that fails to understand that what we all enjoy in life is really all that matters…what you say about it and judge it…really means very little except that you have some serious underlying anger issues towards those who find joy through cinema

      • Trey


        Clearly you’ve never even looked at the ratings for either the TV Show or the movie. Firefly is considered amongst the “best Sci-Fi TV Show” in history. Also, while the movie, ‘Serenity’, did not do too well in box office sales, it did fantastically as a movie itself, according to critics.
        “Serenity received mostly positive reviews from film critics, with 81% positive ratings at the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes. Ebert and Roeper gave the film a “Two Thumbs Up” rating, and The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a triumph”, while The New York Times described it as a modest but superior science fiction film. Science fiction author Orson Scott Card called Serenity “the best science fiction film ever”, further stating “If Ender’s Game can’t be this kind of movie, and this good a movie, then I want it never to be made. I’d rather just watch Serenity again.”

        So shut the f**k up, nub. If you’re going to bash people, at least have the courtesy to read the facts, instead of spewing troll bullsh*t. Ass.

      • @alex

        You are a loser, a Browncoat AND a cripple. LMAO!!

      • S.Rhea

        Assuming it had ever gotten off the ground, someone contributing to the creator or actors acquiring rights to a show so that it could be resurrected is not more or less fanatic than you paying $13 to see a movie in the theater. The fact that you jump to the terms “nerd” and “loser”, however, speak volumes about just what lowest-common-denominator shows you likely support. Frankly, people who are quick to call other people names are usually more than a little worthy of a few themselves.

      • Aureus

        I’d rather be a Browncoat and a nerd than some loser who gets his/her kicks insulting people in the comments section of an EW article.

      • William

        Nathan Fillion…the less-talented, less-charming, less-famous, less-hot younger version of Han Solo. Never-was may not sound as clever as Has-Been, but that’s what Fillion is…a no-talent never-was

      • Niix Starkyller

        Man, the snobby jocks sure are upset over a little Firefly love. Hope I don’t get stuffed in my locker again. Still have my gym socks in there.

      • Operative Bloke

        It’s something far more dangerous, it’s love…..and they don’t like it.

      • Kane

        Man, all the e-bullying…what’s the electronic version of pulling a Casey Heynes?

      • brinderwalt

        Wilhemina, welcome to the world of the transient artist’s life.

      • Nico

        The assumption that people who love the show Firefly, ‘over-identify’ with the characters is just that; an assumption. There will be some that do (Browncoats), and some that don’t. Whether over-identifying is wrong or right, depends mainly on the awareness of people. And since I don’t know the level of awareness of every ‘browcoat’ I don’t judge it.

        In the creative arts, such as when writing a TV show or a book. You want the audience to be moved by the characters. So for me it’s a great creative achievement from Josh Whedon and the team, that they created great storytelling in the show called ‘Firefly’ that I just love!

      • Antonia

        Just because people identify with a certain bunch of characters does not mean they are written well. Serenity in fact is a mediocre hodge-podge of ridiculously “cute” ideas, pop culture winks and hackneyed “humor” that reeks of the same kind of puerile, stagnant jokes that Whedon has been saddling his characters with since day one. The thing is that Whedon connected with his fans profoundly through his own nerd-cool pseudo-language of writing. But the actual writing was wildly inconsistent and sloppy. That’s why the show never got any pop culture traction…and tanked.

      • Mike Goddard

        Some people value more than money.

      • Mike Goddard

        The DVD sales for both the show and movie have been through the roof. No reason to think it wouldn’t make a profit.

      • Manda

        @Antonia…I suppose all the critical acclaim that Firefly and Serenity got is further proof that they are “mediocre hodge-podge of ridiculously “cute” ideas”? While we’re at it, the network couldn’t have had anything to do with Firefly tanking, seeing as how they gave the show no support, and aired all the episodes out of order making it near impossible to follow? I guess a tv show that was canceled 9 years ago and is still getting media attention is definitely a show that never got any kind of pop culture traction, either….

      • Nick

        To Wilhemina, Antonia, Josh, and especially William:
        No matter what you say, no matter the trash you throw at this great show, it all comes down to this:
        You Can’t Stop the Signal.
        No one can. Firefly is not just a tv show, it’s a phenomenon. No one can stop how good it was and the love people have for it. That is all.

    • Chad

      See- a person like this… Not a Browncoat. A person like this… doesn’t love anything. Pitty someone with so much hate or bitterness in their hearts. They’ll just stop the signal.

    • Dejlo

      Reading some of the negative comments… Wow, people, way to kick a show in the nuts when it’s down. I can’t explain the hate except to suppose that the haters are Fox execs or their family members. Either that, or they are confusing the show for its fandom. Browncoats are a passionate bunch sometimes, but hey, look at the show they are trying to bring back. It is a rare, wonderful gem to most people who watch it, not just sci-fi “nerds.” Don’t take word for it — Google “Firefly” reviews and read the praise.

  • Jen E.

    This is exactly why Nathan is so loved. Some actors shy away from old roles with whines of typecasting, but he embraces the character that gave him so many fans. I’ll follow him wherever he goes.

    • Matt

      So many fans? Really? Is that why Firefly and Serenity both flopped? Because if there are so many fans, why didn’t they watch the flop show or buy tickets for the flop film?

      • Sally

        The show “flopped” because of money. It was expensive to make – too expensive for the network to continue. The audience was there.

      • Meg

        The show flopped because the ratings were tepid. The audience was not there obviously, because the ratings were always in the dumpster…

      • charles

        There were several reasons that caused the low ratings (making the show confusing by airing episodes out of order for example).

        Ohh and even tho it’s flopped ratings wise, the DVD-s sold very well. That was the reason why Dollhouse got 2nd season, although its ratings were awful.

      • Deron

        I think it flopped because Fox did a poor job selling the show. I am a sci fan, loving the first episodes, and I never even knew it was on back in 2002. Then putting it on Friday nite was the nail in the coffin.

      • alex

        the show flopped for reasons that have been explained over and over…

        look at the crazy sales for avatar…..

        firefly was before its time and quite frankly screwed over by not airing the pilot till the LAST episode….

        but yeah, must have been the content right?

        what an idiot

      • Mikey M

        Do you feel better about yourself for being such a idiot?

      • jodipo

        man you just keep on posting OVER and OVER again on every single firefly article under different names. Seriously, get a hobby. Ok, sorry… get a new hobby that doesn’t involve the pitiful trolling of internet comment sections.

        Also, the show didn’t flop. It was cancelled, but its ratings were BETTER than several shows into second and third seasons currently. They shuffled the show time slot around, aired it out of order, didn’t advertise, and then canceled it. hell, even a Fox exec would admit they screwed up on it.

      • Antonia

        “Also, the show didn’t flop. It was cancelled”

        …due to crappy ratings. Which made it a ratings…wait for it…flop.
        Google it, it’s all there in B & W.

      • Dri

        Ratings hits, by and large, are successes of marketing first, with critical acclaim and word-of-mouth a distant second. Firefly was not marketed well at all — heck, I should have been watching from day one, but didn’t because i didnt know it was on!

        So yes, the show was a failure, but not due its own content, but rather its marketing. To give a blanket statement that Firefly was a flop, one would have to say that the Transformers films were a success. I thinl

      • Grayfox


        Yeah, I looked it up, and you’re making things up.

        At the time the series [Firefly] was cancelled by Fox, it averaged 4.48 million viewers and ranked 125th.

        To put that into perspective, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s first and last seasons averaged about 3.6 to 3.7 million viewers and were ranked in the 140’s, and Angel’s only season to outdo Firefly in terms of viewers was it’s first, and Supernatural, a show that’s still running to this day, has yet to have a single season that has ranked as high in terms of viewers as Firefly (Only one has even reached the same rating.

        It got good ratings for what it was. It just had horrible marketing.

  • Jacob

    Damn, Nathan Fillion is awesome.

    • ks

      Yes! I do adore him also. He is alson just one of a handfull of actors that listen to their fan!

    • Valley Girl

      I heart Nathan Fillion.

      • Jen

        He’s so adorkable.

  • kevin

    That’s one classy dude

    • A.F. for EW

      Agreed! He’s a class act all the way!

      Not something you see much of in this industry anymore, that’s for sure.

      • Nick

        Amen to that! Nathan Fillion is the best actor ever!

  • Dicazi

    The fans kept Star Trek alive for years until the first movie and then the first spin-off Next Gen. It can be done again.

    • Nick

      I certainly hope so.

  • Sean

    Nathan Fillion = Awesome.

  • Big Fan

    He is his generation’s Tom Selleck. Women love him, and men would like to have a beer with him.

    • Mikey M

      I’d love to do more than drink a beer with Fillion.

      • Jase

        Agreed! Yummy.

  • Joan

    Stop trying to make Fillion happen, EW. It won’t.

    • TLZ

      It’s already “happened”. Catch up.

    • Sally

      Huh? This is the first time I remember EW trying to “make Fillion happen”. While EW harps and rants and raves about Glee, I don’t remember them ever doing the same with Nathan Fillion. The only thing that triggered it now was the Castle win as “most dateable” male character.

  • First Post

    Huge Whedon fanhere. Watched all his series’ begining to end. I love the film “Serenity”– which has better dialogue, story, characters and action than in the past 4 Star Wars films. Yes, I lumped Return of the Jedi in with the prequels. HOWEVER, I was never hooked by Firefly. I’m sure my appreciation for Serenity is much higher because I saw the show but the western vibe just didn’t click with me. The River/Blue Sun mythology would probably have ended up being exciting, mysterious and cool but there just wasn’t enough time for it to develop. So, yeah… I salute the Brown Coats and their passion. I just don’t endorse the show myself– except as a looonnngggg prequel to the terrific sci-fi film “Serenity.”

    • Mikey M

      Funny, I said the same thing. Much better written than most Sci Fi films, especially the Star Wars prequels.

  • mia

    Love him, Love Wheldon, Love Firefly. Keep putting him on the cover! EW!

  • Jen

    This guy is great.
    And that is why fans will always follow Nathan to his new proyects. He has always appreciated what Firefly was in his career and the fans.
    Not like others, that have lost the loyal following they once had because of the way they acted with the fans and the show that made them popular for the first time.

  • alex

    I know it may be tough, but why the heck not…so many people with money who love firefly….lets bring it back…seriously, not on TV, but a 2nd movie…

    we suffer through 6 seasons of lost and cant even get a 2nd movie for firefly? Mind boggling

    • anemailname`


  • alex

    Keep giving us firefly articles…seriously, they need to make another movie…consider how many NEW fans of firefly there are each day, I became one last week! and now I am in love with it.

    please…give us a 2nd movie

    • V

      A 2nd movie would be slightly difficult considering the 1st one killed off a lot of the characters.

      • alex

        can always go into the future with 6 of the characters and lose zero quality

        if its about people WATCHING it….it will get ratings with or without wash

  • The Man they call Jack

    EW, my favorite magazine, I want to thank you for giving so much coverage to a show I loved so much. Nathan is amazing, and I love Castle. Adam Baldwin is also amazing, and I love Chuck as well.

  • Rachel

    Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as a turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she’s hurtin’ before she keels. Makes her a home.

    • Albertkitten/Browncoat

      preach it, sister!

    • EC

      That’s it exactly…If you don’t love the concept/characters/show/movie, you are not appreciating it in the same way those of us who do love it do. Why are you commenting, or even reading anything about the Firefly ‘verse? You either get it, or you don’t. Go comment on Jersey Shore or whatever you’re pining for, and let the fans of this ship appreciate what we can get.

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