After having kids, Steven Spielberg said he wouldn’t do the same ending for Close Encounters. Has having kids changed your perspective on you work at all?
You want to make something they can see. It doesn’t make me re-think the way I made those things. Some of it I go, “I don’t know if I agree with that,” but nothing where I’m like, “I take it back, I take it back!”
Are you a writer who enjoys the process or are you like Dorothy Parker, enjoying “having written.”
If I find out I have to write today and nothing else, that’s a perfect day. I know a lot of people who are great at it and make it look easy who are tortured and miserable people. Writing for me is perfect peace.
What work are you most proud of?
There’s a couple of episodes. [Buffy's musical episode] “Once More, with Feeling,” [Buffy's] “The Body” and [the final Firefly episode] “Objects in Space” come to mind. Those felt transcendent to me.
Do you still write everything in restaurants or cafes given your rising profile?
Oh yeah. Nobody at Starbucks ever bothers me. Somebody might say “I love your work.” Nobody is going to sit down and pitch me something. Everybody there is working on their own screenplay, anyway.
You dance too, which surprised me. At the EW Comic-Con party, you get the floor started. Where did that come from?
I never danced until I was in college. I was dragged on the floor. I think a lot about it. Because on one hand, it’s the most free I ever feel. On the other hand, I’m analyzing everything I do all the time. It’s this weird combination of “dance like nobody’s watching” / “but everybody’s watching, right?” It’s showing off for no one. I’ve never taken a class. I can’t do the foxtrot or the running man. I want to be with my friends, but it’s a weird way of being alone. It’s just about the movement. It’s a way of being at the party and also getting away from the party.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking the Dr. Horrible sequel spot—what would that have been like?
It would be [Dr. Horrible’s] evolution, where he is now. What it was like for him on the bottom, what it’s like for him on the top. We got a bunch of stuff written, and God knows the actors are willing. But I stupidly decided to make a TV show.
With Cabin in the Woods, you literally killed off everybody. Is a sequel possible?
[Co-writer/director Drew Goddard] and I are capable of all sorts of shenanigans. The question is if that’s good idea or is that one where you should really drop the mike. That movie is a very specific structure and a statement.
That’s how I felt about Dr. Horrible. I loved the final image of Billy, Dr. Horrible’s alter ego, alone in his room at his computer, and I didn’t want to know anything after that.
First of all, yay, that means we did well. The thing is, it can’t feel like episode 2. That’s the important thing. A sequel has to be its own movie. You’ve got to look to Godfather II and to The Empire Strikes Back—even though Empire committed the cardinal sin of not actually ending. Which at the time I was appalled by, and I still think it was a terrible idea.
You think The Empire Strikes Back had a bad ending?
Well, it’s not an ending. It’s a come-back-next-week, or in three years. That upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn’t end, I’ll go to a French movie. A movie has to be complete within itself; it can’t just build off the first one or play variations. You know the thing in Temple of Doom where they revisit the shooting trick?
With Indy facing the two swordsmen.
That’s what you don’t want. And I feel like that’s what all of culture is becoming—it’s becoming that moment.
That must put some pressure on you, since you’re doing a movie with a “2” in the title.
It’s the Age of Ultron. It’s a different story with a different feel, and it’s about something else. Doesn’t mean it will work. It doesn’t mean it will be better. But it needs to be its own thing.