King of His 'Castle' - Nathan Fillion Tries TV ... Again

Nathan Fillion on Returning to TV

By all rights, people should hate actor Nathan Fillion. Not just dislike, but really hate him. With his matinee idol good looks, mighty fine build and that charming, make-you-smile smile of his, well, that’s the kind of perfection that earns your face on a dart board or at least some good ‘ole cyber bashing online. But over the span of his fifteen year career Fillion has bypassed any jealous backlash from men or women and has instead quietly amassed a devoted following of fans who have been rooting for the guy to become the major star so many inside the business, and out, feel he deserves to be.

Attribute it to his Canadian heritage or just a strong sense of self, but Fillion has navigated the familiar Hollywood disappointments of cancellation, failed box office expectations, and buzz that plain fizzled and faced them all down with his trademark aplomb and wit. Matter of fact, he’s always the first to admit he’s just grateful to be a working actor at all. But with a spate of high profile projects including his voice work in the new animated Wonder Woman movie and his starring role in the ABC mystery series Castle, Fillion just might charm his way into a whole new stratosphere of stardom without even trying.

In Castle, Fillion plays Richard Castle an impish mystery novelist a bit bored by his own success. But when a killer starts copying the murders from his books in real life, Castle is paired with by-the-book detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) in hopes of helping to decipher the clues and solve the case. Of course the pair are oil and water, but the bigger fun is seeing Fillion dive head first into the role with gleeful abandon.

“Yeah, here’s a guy where it’s plain to see that he enjoys his life,” Fillion explains in a call to Newsarama. “He’s having a good day. Everyday for Richard Castle is a bit of a field trip which is a little bit like my life. I’m living an adventure down here in Los Angeles. I’m having a good time.”

It’s been awhile since Fillion has been able to lighten up so fully onscreen. After Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place finished in 2001, the actor jumped into darker roles in Pasadena, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the beloved space Western Firefly, Drive and Desperate Housewives. Though he brought his humor to every character, the characters all tapped into the more angsty side of the acting fence which Fillion says was taking a bit of a toll on him. And that was why Castle really stood out to him.

“There were some other cop roles that I was looking at and some different homicide detective bits that were all dark and heated and tortured and brooding,” he explains. ”So I thought about what I wanted to spend my days doing. Then I read the pilot for Castle, who is this guy having a blast everyday. He’s sees the funny and he goes for it. I couldn’t help it; I wanted [the role]. I needed it badly.”

“And it wasn’t so much that I was looking for something different,” he continues. “But you always want to look for something that interests you and strikes you. You don’t want to look at a job and say [whines], ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ You want to look at it and say, ‘I’m dying to do it.’ So I sat down with the [Castle] producers when I was trying to get the role and I said, ‘Listen, I don’t know who you are looking at for this role but stop looking. I’m this guy. This is for me; I am he.’ I had never spoken to anyone like that before but I was intent on getting this role.”

As so many do in Hollywood, creator Andrew W. Marlowe fell under the Fillion spell and cast the earnest chap. “I just indicated my interest and I had the meeting and gave him my spiel. I don’t know what happened in the interim…but I got the job,” he laughs lightly.

image from the upcoming Wonder Woman DVD
image from the upcoming Wonder Woman DVD
Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman DVD animated feature

But even with his new full-time gig, that doesn’t mean Fillion is leaving behind the genre projects that have gained him such a loyal fanbase. He’s still riding the wave of geek and critical love for his turn as narcissistic Captain Hammer in Joss Whedon ’s webseries Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. And now he’s getting glowing reviews for his voice work as Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s suitor in the eponymous titled direct-to-DVD animated film. Fillion even attributes the role to his work with Joss Whedon.

“The wonderful people at WB are fans of Joss’ work and they’ll look at episodes of Buffy or Angel or Firefly and say, “You know who’d be a great voice for this character…that guy!” And then they’ll pilfer Joss’ casts and guest cast. They know darn well that these guest cast come with their own built in audience thanks to Joss. But they are fans of Joss and fans of what they are doing too so it’s really exciting to go to work for [people] that is excited about what they are doing.”

But what about the s-word? Stereotyping? When asked if he’s worried that his cult-worthy sci-fi roles will ultimately end up pigeonholing his career, the actor frankly seems unconcerned.

“It hasn’t worried me yet,” he admits. “Thank god I haven’t been stereotyped as any one particular role that I have played. I think people understand that they can depend on me. So far I feel like I have been stereotyped as being really awesome,” he teases. “I think that is ok. There’s nothing wrong with being funny and cool and awesome; being able to handle the drama and the comedy.”

But then there’s the other concern of the ephemeral quality of the state of television in general these days. Castle represents Fillion’s fourth leading role in a series; a medium that’s played the man frequently with promises of success only to dump him unceremoniously. Yet the actor says he’s still willing to try even without the certainty of what the future will hold.

“Work is work. I’m an actor. What am I going to do but work?” he asks pragmatically. “I’ve had disappointments in the past and I’ve tried not to fall in love with projects but I can’t help it. I get involved and invested not only with the project but with the people I am doing the project with. You spend a lot of time with these people and you become a family unit. So I can’t say there is a medium in acting I’ve had enough of or won’t do anymore. Give me five more…wait, give me ten more years and ask me again."


Video: Directing Wonder Woman with Lauren Montgomery

Video: Wonder Woman DVD Writer Michael Jelenic

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