What happened at the Comic-Con Firefly reunion?

Feature Caroline Preece 16 Jul 2012 - 07:38

The team behind Firefly gathered together to mark its tenth birthday. And here's what happened...

With more than enough to geek out about in San Diego over the weekend, and more spoiler-filled panels than you could shake a stick at, ever-faithful Browncoats still turned out in their thousands to celebrate the ten year anniversary of Firefly with its cast a crew. Writer Jose Molina, executive producer Tim Minear, Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, Adam Baldwin and, of course, Joss Whedon himself, all turned up to spend an hour with fans.

All taking pictures of each other, as well as the crowd, fans could see this was a real reunion of friends, and it was an emotional hour for long-time devotees to the seminal sci-fi series callously shoved off the air a decade ago. When asked what it meant to be there, Whedon answered:

“What else could it possibly mean except that we always knew from the very beginning that everything we were doing we were doing for the right reasons in the right way with the right people? We were making something that was more than the sum of its parts and with the best cast I’ll ever work with. It goes beyond vindication; vindication came a long time ago. It goes to a place of transcendence that I can’t even describe without turning into a girly man.”

And Nathan Fillion chipped in himself, thanking Joss for taking a chance on him when parts he was getting were no more glamorous than “‘#5 guy’ or the lead girl’s ex; the other dude who doesn’t come in until later then leaves pretty early.

“‘He’s good but we don’t know if he can carry a show’ is what I got all the time,” he added. “No one would give me a chance, and then Joss Whedon gave me the best character I’ve ever played.”

Asked what the overall mission statement of Firefly and Serenity was, Joss said, “at this point it’s so much in the vernacular that it seems old fashioned but I just wanted to make something that felt as real as a piece of history. I wanted to buck the system of all science-fiction being lit with purple lights... I wanted to tell an American immigrant story - a western story – but I need spaceships or I get cranky.”
“I never once thought of it as science-fiction,” Sean Maher added. “Someone coined the phrase ‘post-apocalyptic western’ and that’s always how I always spoke about the show.”

As well as getting the actors and writers choked up about the past, fans were offered nostalgia-filled clips from the show and a chance to win Jayne’s hat. Though the real hat has already been sold for $5,000 for charity, a replica was given to the fan who knew which planet Stacey had wanted to buried on in The Message. “This is a goldmine,” Baldwin said while recounting the history of his headwear. “It’s a birthday cake in a wasteland.”

“These are honestly the finest meat puppets that I’ve ever controlled,” joked Whedon of his cast. “It’s hard for me because I do remember a time before these people played these parts... yet these were the people before I wrote it. I feel like at some point I was in a hotel in London, reading The Killer Angels, and thinking ‘this is story I want to tell, but with Han Solo in it’, and the moment that happened I feel like all of them [felt it too].”
Referring to missing cast members Gina Torres (Zoe), Morena Baccarin (Inara), Ron Glass (Book) and Jewel Staite (Kaylee), he added, “people that are not here, my heart is breaking that they’re not. Not just to experience this but because I miss them so much.”

And the tears really started flowing when fans asked the panel to relive the days following cancellation, with Adam Baldwin recalling an encounter with Joss in particular. “Upon cancellation, I went up to Joss’s office and I saw him diligently trying to get it back up in the air, and saw the look of termination in his eyes. I never gave up hope and the fan community that was interacting with us at that point never gave up, and so Joss understood that and never did either.

“One of the most heart-warming times of my entire life was watching that show being resurrected as a major motion picture, and we couldn’t have done it without [the fans].”

In reply, recalling the making of Serenity as “one of the finest nervous breakdowns a man could possibly have,” he said, “I was inconsolable, and it changed me. It changed the way I work and the way I operate because there was no way, no reality, where I wouldn’t get these people back together.”


Reiterating the gratitude they felt towards the fans in the room, Minear quipping “remember that time when we were off the air for ten years, but thousands of people came to see us anyway?” Fillion said, “when Firefly died, I thought it was the worst thing that could possibly happen. What I realize now, 10 years later, looking out on this room, is that the worst thing that could have happened was if it had stayed dead. That it died was OK.”

And it’s clear that the show has never full departed, with one fan asking whether an animated Firefly was a possibility. Joss replied with a preference to radio shows, which Fillion and Tudyk subsequently acted out a scene with alarming detail, and revealed plans he had for more graphic novels. “Zack (Whedon) and I just spent some time figuring out how to do the comics moving forward into the future and not just covering stories from the past. When we started talking about it, we came up with all of this amazing, cool sh*t.

“When you're telling a story,” Joss finished with, “you're trying to connect to people in a particular way... The way in which you guys have inhabited this world, this universe, has made you part of it, part of the story. You are living in Firefly. When I see you guys, I don't think the show is off the air. I don't think there's a show; I think that's what the world is like... the story is our lives.”

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Just re-watched the series for first time in years. What the show lacked in budget it sure made up for with great stories, characters and cast. When I describe Firefly/Serenity to the uninitiated - I say 'image Han Solo's back story as a TV show' to give them an idea. Nathan Fillion is a legend in that series. He should be a grade A movie star now by rights...

Oh this actually made me feel teary just reading it. I love those guys! I've watched the box set umpteen times and still end up howling noooooo - when I get to the last episode :(

Great show, great cast, great writing but it's still nothing more than a less-good rip-off of Cowboy Bebop - one of the best anime ever.

How is their turning up to a fan convention to discuss something they were involved in with the fans of said something any different to any other convention panel? Who is overlooking what they've gone on to do? They were there to discuss Firefly. What's wrong with that?

Did you not like it and feel the need to flame people that did? I honestly can't think of another reason for that comment. Plenty of people obsess over the original Star Trek and know little to nothing of what the cast have done since. But that's okay because you like that show?

While it doesn't matter to me that you didn't enjoy Firefly, it pisses me right off that you think you've the right to give people grief because they did. What are you even doing on site called Den Of Geek if you disapprove of their behaviour?

thanks for the reading comprehension buddy. I think the trekkies were peculiar too. I liked firefly. it was fun and funny. it was also a little show that didn't go anywhere. It's ten years later and the people involved are still required to be on convention panels to pander to obsessed fans who are obsessing about a job they all got fired from a decade ago, a job that was not a success. If you think this is normal behaviour and honours the people involved, then cool, consider yourself flamed.

but i am not particularly concerned with having hurt the feelings of that sort of person. I have the right to express my opinion, i am on topic with the article and I do find it is embarrassing to be people that can like something or even be enthusiastic without going overboard and losing all perspective. It's the same way people at a party drinking responsibly might find a falling down drunk distasteful. Its that level of obsession that for so many years made it embarassing for a more mainstream person to admit to enjoying some geeky past time and risk being associated. It's the creepiness of fans who will argue in a rage that batman is the greatest movie ever--argue with a person who liked the movie, just not as much as they did. its people that think lord of the rings or star wars is a religion and can brook no normal discussion of as if it was simply media, stories, part of a sea of flawed entertainments we divert itself with. It's people that have fanfiction sites for my little pony where they are more immersed than they are in the real world.

all this stuff pisses me right off too, and like you, I spoke my mind about it. we have both enjoyed the catharsis of expression. great, isn't it?

Tell me, is den of geek an elite private club for only the most devoted adherants of fandom? for those whose lives revolve around entertainment properties to the point where they give themselves a culty name, like browncoats, dress up and still lament the evil in the universe that robbed them of a television show. Oh would that people had the same fervour for some real life political cause. I frequent Den of Geek because i watch a lot of sci-fi type stuff in my spare time and am generally enthusiastic about it. its normally pretty fun to read about upcoming or newly released materials and hear what other people think--except when it is one of the geek cult properties--like star trek, star wars, batman, LOTR, Firefly. then i just feel self-conscious and squeamish and everyone hates what everyone is saying unless it is swearing dying devotion. it is frankly gross, and i won't pretend otherwise just so i can come to an entertainment blog.

hope i have been able to answer your confusion about my post

Oh the joy and sadness...bless those fine folks!

People went mental for Star Trek when it was little more than just two series long and cancelled.

What gets people about Firefly is the fact that it was screwed over by Fox and then cancelled only to be revived and given a chance to continue on the big screen, something very rare for cancelled tv shows.

And its not a case of them not able to move on from the show, they are as crazy over the show as the fans are. Hence why all involved worked hard to get it back in someway. The cancellation was enough to kill all careers involved but due to the fans they were given a second chance.

That's why they turn up, and that's why they are more than happy to be continually associated with Firefly.

you are deluded. they are actors, they work jobs, those jobs being to read lines in front of a camera. then they move on and read other lines in other scripts.

Being part of a failed tv show wasn't some great crime. its the nature of the business that a flurry of shows are launched every year, the ones with the best profit margin are retained. It wasn't screwed over, it suffered the normal fate of a tv show. the rabid fans should be happy that the story was given a CONCLUSION in the feature film produced (which also lost money). There is no big conspiracy to rob rabid fans of the shows they love, and the actors involved aren't part of the love fest, they pretend to be because it is a sick perverted part of their job that they are contractually obligated to engage. It's 90% promotion, and 10% narcissism. have you never known an actor? Are you not aware that it is simply an industry.

Their careers were not killed. they work in a precarious business and most of them have gone on and done well despite being fired from firefly a decade ago. It was a little blip in each of their resumes and would remain that except they have now suffered their own case of trekkie obsession---always a danger when working in genre and a reason why some actors won't. I guarantee the only thing they think about the show (when no microphone is in their face) is "I'm going to start drinking if i have to answer anymore questions about firefly or pretend I am rooting for the show to start back up"

They are not working to get it back. they do not care. It is a shitty PR job they are stuck with because of rabid fans. Other than a few unemployed members of the cast, why would they care if it was restarted? Whedon had a functional career before and after--firefly is probably the least of items on his resume, and it was a failure, one of the few. Glau, Fillion, Baldwin all got busy making money on other projects. Fillion is a fat wealthy famous actor on his own tv show--he would be a rank fool to want to be involved in a project that failed twice already instead of his own successful money making project. The PR work they do is simply what is in their contracts or what their agents tell them to do and occasionally favours to help a friend promoting some other project. Part of the act is pretending a similar level of enthusiasm and mirroring back whatever the fans want. Its work. How can any lucid adult fail to get that?

Its just work. Its post like yours that creep me out, because it is one thing to watch a show and enjoy 42 minutes of fantasy. it is another to live in a fantasy world about what it all means, who those people are off camera, and that they are somehow loyally attached to your obsessions. It is gross that the industry validates this mad circle to generate more media noise and get more dollars out of people.

It's not enthusiastic fandom, its pathological. It isn't flaming to not validate this kind of deluded nonsense

Why exactly would an actor's contract include promotion 10 years after the job is finished? What is there to promote exactly? A DVD box set that I can guarantee most if not all of those who attended already own.

Many actors don't hit the convention circuit at all for shows that are
still running and the cast are under no obligation to attend a reunion
if they don't wish to. In fact, most of the cast have done very well
since Firefly. As you pointed out, Fillion is incredibly successful and
certainly doesn't need to do it for the money.

While I understand you don't agree with the level of passion exhibited
by the more hardcore fans, that doesn't mean that the actors don't
appreciate it. Many of the former cast members of Whedon shows are good
friends and enjoy working together. In fact, Fillion in particular has
agreed to do a couple of Whedon projects since Firefly and not for a
substantial paycheck.

While I don't deny that when promoting a film or TV show there can be an
element of false positivity from some cast or crew members, that
doesn't mean it is always the case. The Firefly cast are clearly
thankful to the fans for being so supportive of a project that they have
stated time and again they loved working on. Frankly it strikes me as
an incredibly cynical view to state that just because it's a job they
can't be passionate about it and wish to reminisce about the fun they
had when making it.

Finally, in defense of the fans who choose to go to such conventions and
who will happily pay money to go and hear the stories and views of
people they admire. Perhaps you don't understand it. Fine. But just
because a person is passionate and interested in something doesn't mean
that passion is in any way creepy. The reason that such strong views are
expressed on this site is because many of the people who come here are
passionate about science fiction, fantasy, film etc. We come here
because it is a site where we can feel safe in geeking out without being
judged by those who do not understand where we are coming from, as you
clearly don't.

Some people spend their free time going to see their favorite musicians
perform, some people spend whole weekends reenacting historical events,
some people live for extreme sports. Everyone is entitled to love
something and just because it may seem excessive to you, as long as they
are happy what is the problem? Even if the actors aren't as passionate
as they seem, it is still, in this case at least, their choice to
participate. Who are you to belittle the choices made by people you
don't even know?

I would Sh!t a gold brick if they made a radio drama out of Firefly. That would be fantastic.

Firstly, the cast of Firefly do not find it a chore to go to these sort of things or even hold anything against the fans that love them doing this. Did you not read the above? Or watch any of the videos from over the years where they have done comic con and such? They LOVE it. Firefly may not have been what you would call a success during its air time but over the years with the DVD release, the film, and the comics, it has gone on to be a huge cult favourite and honestly a success. You get shows that make big ratings and you would call them a success but they are forgotten about a year or two after they go off air. Firefly ten years later is still watched by old ad new fans and is still named one of the best cancelled tv shows in the last decade.

I think bad mouthing the fans of Firefly who went to the comic con to see the people who were ACTUALLY there to celebrate the ten year anniversary is disrespectful. Whedon has stated on a number of occasions that Firefly is one of his favourite piece of work as has Nathan.

If you have a problem with fans enjoying seeing their heroes at these sort of things or that still hold Firefly as their favourite tv shows then you should not have really looked or bother commented on the post.

You my friend are definitly not shiney.

Very well put, chap. Erudite in the face of foaming obsessives who'll hunt you down for scorning their devotion to The Mighty Joss

Ummm...it's called having fun. The fans enjoy being fans of the show and the creators enjoyed that panel. You are way overthinking it in your twisted little mind.

Odd, because all I think of Cowboy Bebop is nothing more than a less-good Firefly XD

Interesting how different subjective opinions make the world seem :)

how on earth did you get "obsessive fan" from my comment? I am a big fan of the film which then made me interested to check out the tv show. Though i am judging from your response that you didn't fully understand my comment anyway.

The show was slightly screwed over by Fox as they messed with the order of episodes and constantly changed the time it was shown at. And i meant that the appeal and the love of the show comes from this and the events that followed.

Neither of us have anyway of knowing how they really feel though from what i have read, Joss seemed to get pretty emotional by the fans response. Also there is no way he would of got The Avengers gig without Serenity. And you cannot deny the importance of the show in Nathan Fillion's career as he states that he wasn't getting lead roles and was struggling for substantial acting parts in anything.

And having studied fandom at uni, i understand that to some this sort of affection is strange, but it is ultimately harmless. Despite of course the few extreme cases but then that happens in all aspects of fandom.

Your apparent disgust for these fans seems more obsessive than that of the fans.

Understandably so - although he does seem to do little to dispel a burgeoning quasi-religious devotion from a following too small to sway box office numbers, but large enough to confirm the age-old awkward cliches that science fiction fans have been saddled for decades.
Obsessing (and conversely, screeching 'flame' at those who disagree) over a show to this extent, and openly displaying the tenacity to presume personal knowledge of the (ex) cast's motivations is something bordering on lunacy. To quote Lucas further up this thread "the cast of Firefly do not find it a chore to go to these sort of things".
Seriously? They do NOT find it a chore, and told me so when they all took me to one side and wept over their lost golden moment of science fiction immortality.
Then there's the steepening trend (especially on this website) for the obsessives to celebrate a disproportionately small number of people on a series. Where's the rabid cheering for show runner, head writer and production leader Tim Minear? Composer Greg Edmonson or production designer Carey Meyer?? The show was crafted by more people than the ones that stand in front of the camera

I don't know why so much fighting seems to have popped up on this comment thread. I think it sucks. And I also want to say that Firefly has had some of the most inspirational moments in Sci-Fi for me. Those moments where I feel life is meant to be lived to it's fullest. Where I do feel that "no power in the verse can stop me." And I think anything that makes me feel that way, and that clearly has made others feel similar, deserves all the praise it gets. Firefly rocks!

They have to show up and tolerate being in a room filled with people that love their work? How horrible it must be for them.

I don't think you have any clue what an artist thinks or feels.

i know they already work long hours on their projects, and then instead of having the weekend off, they have to fly out to a crowded convention where lots of sweaty hyper strangers want to hug them, shake hands, take pictures, and ask them stupid questions. and they have to maintain a facade of joyous enthusiasm regardless of how they feel. so, no, i don't know how an "artist" feels, but it doesn't sound that peachy. and i really was just thinking of them as regular old working, living people, not "artists", whatever that means--its not like they are a different species. what do you base your speculations on? your guesses as to how artists feel being paraded about like prized pigs?

I have worked close body protection for celebrities who are making appearances for signing autographs, mainly to make sure they get some breathing room and aren't mobbed. it really isn't a pretty sight. most celebrities make the best of it--but that doesn't mean they are having fun. they are working.

You know I think it's fair to say that unless you have a secret line on Fillion and co, then you have nothing more to go on than any Firefly fan as to how they feel about the show. You're coming at it from a cynical perspective, granted, but you don't actually know whether they find it a chore or whether they're ordered there for PR purposes. However, what is a fact is that they've said on many occasions that they loved the show, that it was one of the best experiences they've had etc etc.

Given that no one except the actors can reasonably know how they *really* feel, doesn't it make far more sense than to take them at their word than construct the elaborate idea that they all hate the show and find the fans weird and yet still return to do "PR" for a show that's been cancelled for 10 years, hasn't had anything new to promote out in ages, and has no hope of being back on the air?

You seem far too attached to your idea that it's all a big con to apply any kind of logic to it other than "in their position, I would be creeped out by the fans". Not everyone thinks the way you do, and maybe that includes the people behind Firefly too.

whatever, i've said my bit. i tried putting myself in their shoes and empathizing, i compared with my own up close experience with celebrities doing publicity, and i tossed in just for shitz and giggles that it is a job to them, not a party, a job they have to do on top of their real job.

i concede, stick with the baseless idea that they love the hell out of being swarmed by obsessed fans, that conveniently coincides with wanting celebs to love us back. go with it, run with it, be free and happy. sorry i poked my nose in such a desperately needed warm fuzzy idea.

Rob Grundy per your comment July 18th (the reply function isn't working, ironically enough perhaps because your comment was flagged as abusive. there's no justice in the world). anyway, my reply read:

yeah, I suppose I have been being that guy. I don't know what gets into
me. its some kind of weird kick the dog syndrome when I've had a
shitty week and the world's got me down.

In my youth, I used to fairly regularly dress up as FrankNFurter for
Rocky Horror screenings. and hang out at sci-fi conventions (the
predecessor to the modern comic convention that seemed more niche and
idea oriented than the hyper promotion tradeshow junket that these
comicons are)

neither here nor there. I don't know why I had a bug up my butt.
something unrelated, I'm sure. I'll have to give it some thought.

Thanks for the reality check Rob. apologies to all for being a buzzkill, it was pointless assholery. Cheers.

Er...Tim Minear got a big cheer. Not as big as Nathan or Joss, but still, a big cheer.
Also, I'll tell you a story about Nathan (particularly) that might show you the kind of person he is.
A few years ago at LFCC in Earls Court, the line for photos with Nathan was so long, that he stayed on 3 hours (basically til he'd seen *everyone*) after he was contracted to, to sign stuff and take photos with the fans. It is not narcissism on his part (ok, it *could* be), it is his recognition of the fact that if not for these people, he would likely not be nearly as successful as he is. He appreciates his position in life and how it came about. I think Alan or someone said it in the clip above: He's very Canadian. In that he's down to earth and pretty humble for a star.
We love them because they obviously loved the show, and each other.
Your snide, superior tone is unwarranted, as you'd see if you check out Whedonesque where they post updates on pretty much everyone who's been involved in the Whedonverse.

I did enjoy this show, shame its gone! :(

So let me get this straight. You think a show... that got cancelled after it's first season, but had so much support and adoration that it was made into a major motion picture, was nothing all that great? I'm just wondering how you come to that conclusion? Perhaps merely random thoughts or you really just feel so insecure that you have to go online and bash whatever you come across?

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