ABC launches Castle on Monday (perhaps you've seen one of the many promos running on the network), and its survival is going to rely heavily on its lead actor, Nathan Fillion. The 36-year-old actor plays Richard Castle, a best-selling horror novelist who gets into police work after he tires of writing.
But because Castle is so dependent on strong leads, much of the weight of the show's success will fall on Fillion's shoulders, and he carries the load with ease. Fillion has plenty of hardcore fans thanks to Joss Whedon's Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog, but it's normal America that he's going to have to charm if Castle is going to be a hit. And you know what? He's got a shot.
Fillion called TV.com to chat about his new show, discusses the possibilities of sequels to his Joss Whedon projects, and cleans up a hairball or two.
TV.com: So let's start talking about Castle. Why don't you tell us what it's all about in your own words?
Nathan Fillion: We have two people here solving murders. We have Detective Kate Beckett, a police officer who finds an amazing--aah, geez. My cat…with the hairballs, it's driving me crazy. I'm chasing her over the house as she…aah, there it goes. Sorry, Tim give me one second.
TV.com: [laugh] No problem.
Nathan Fillion: Or I'll be mopping this up later. There we go.
TV.com: [laugh] As long as I get to put that in the interview.
Nathan Fillion: There you go. So let me start with Richard Castle. You have Richard Castle. Here he is a murder mystery novelist who has killed off the title character of his very successful series of books. He's bored. Out of sheer boredom, he kills off this character, because he's tired of writing these books. They're very successful, but they're no longer fun to him.
And after killing off this character, he feels maybe he'll never find a character as good as Derrick Storm (the character he killed off). But then circumstances lead him to meeting Detective Kate Beckett, in which he finds a very driven, beautiful, intelligent woman that becomes the new muse for her--for his new series of novels.
TV.com: A lot of the show is going to rely heavily on the chemistry between you and Stana Katic (Quantum of Solace), who plays Beckett. How did you guys work on that? Did it come naturally, or did you guys actually spend a lot of time together?
Nathan Fillion: Well, no, we didn't spend a lot of time together. I met her when she auditioned. And when she screen tested, I was there just for that process reading with her. She did a great job. She impressed everybody. We had her come do the show. And we actually said, "Listen, before we start filming, you know, tomorrow, let's go out and hang out and chat a little bit."
And we were in New York City. We went up to the Upper West Side, sat in one of my favorite restaurants. That's my old neighborhood where I used to live.
On the way back, walked through Central Park, and ran into a Duran Duran concert just coincidentally, and slipped in the back door of the Duran Duran concert, had a great time, this and that. But that's as much time as we spent together before we actually started working together.
TV.com: It seems like Castle is going to be divided into a case-of-the-week and this ongoing flirtation/romance between you two. It's got a Moonlighting thing going on. Is that correct?
Nathan Fillion: Well, you know what, if I remembered Moonlighting a little better, I think I'd be more accurate. But you're absolutely right in that every week will be a stand-alone mystery. But as would be in real life, the more time you spend with someone, the more you're going to learn about them, and the more your relationship with that person will develop.
TV.com: What character would you say Richard Castle is most like that you've played before?
Nathan Fillion: Hmm, a good question. Ah, you know what? I'll put Richard Castle up against Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog's Captain Hammer. Here he is, he's a guy who--he's fairly into himself. He's quite vain. He thinks very highly of himself anyway, and whereas Captain Hammer is a bit stupid, Castle is rather just a bit childlike. He lacks a bit of a filter, where some of us might say, "Ooh, you know, this might be true but I'm not going to say it." Castle would say it.
TV.com: Yeah. Don't take this the wrong way, but you play pompous characters very well.
Nathan Fillion: You know what? It's something I like to do for fun with my friends [to play] pompous. I like to pretend I'm pompous often. I think it's funny because it's also fun to take that pompous guy down. It's not so easy to play stupid when you're pompous, because you just play that you don't know that you're stupid.
TV.com: With a lot of the characters that fans know you for, you're pretty much a leading man, or the rough-and-ready type of guy. But in Castle you take a backseat to Stana's character who--you know, she wears the gun. Is it a nice change of pace to play the non-hero?
Nathan Fillion: Absolutely! And I think that that's real life. I mean in real life, I don't know a whole lot of go-to guys. So if the chips were really down, and something was really actually important and dangerous and there were guns involved, I don't know a lot of the guys that you would turn to, "Hey, I need your help on this one." And Castle is certainly not that guy. That's Kate Beckett. Kate Beckett's ready to go. She's trained. She knows what to do. She's sharp.
Castle's--he's not the go-to guy. [laugh] He's a bit of a douche.
TV.com: [laugh] I have a responsibility to the TV.com readers to ask the next few questions. Firefly is huge on this site. Do you have any interest in pursuing and exploring the character of Mal a little more?
Nathan Fillion: Absolutely! That was the best job I've ever had. Yeah, if there's ever an opportunity for a sequel or anything like that, yeah, we're up for it.
TV.com: Has there been any talk about that, or is it pretty much laid to rest right now?
Nathan Fillion: There has been no talk.
TV.com: No talk? And pretty much the same question about Dr. Horrible.
Nathan Fillion: When we were filming Dr. Horrible, we were talking about a sequel. When we were in post for Dr. Horrible, we were talking about a sequel. When we recorded the musical commentary for Dr. Horrible, we were talking about a sequel. So we're always talking about it. There's been no dates set or anything like that. But everybody's into it.
TV.com: Awesome, I can't wait for more Captain Hammer. That's my time, but wanted to say I was just watching Castle right before you called and it looks great.
Nathan Fillion: Tim, thanks very much. You're very kind.
TV.com: Take care of your cat, and thanks for talking to us.
Nathan Fillion: You bet. All right. Thank you.
Castle airs Monday, March 9 on ABC at 10 p.m. after Dancing with the Stars.