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.”

Serenity

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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