In Awe of Genius – Sean Maher (The VH Interview)

Joss Whedon’s short-lived cowboys of the final frontier, Firefly, has garnered a cult status over the last decade and a half, and is, to this day, one of the most beloved shows of the century. To celebrate its fifteenth anniversary, 20th Century Fox are proud to present a brand new commemorative boxset, available from September 11th.

In the lead-up to the festivities, we were lucky enough to chat with ship’s doctor, Sean Maher, to discuss the longevity of the show, as well as his other work in the Whedonverse, and his Marvel-ous jawline…

Even though the show ran for such a short amount of time, why do you think it has such a special place in so many people’s hearts?

I think there are just so many magical things about the story. The story was universal and timeless in many ways. There’s a new generation now that are watching the show. But I also do think, back with the whole cancellation thing, there’s something about it being snatched away so soon that started the movement. That has a huge part of it. It was too soon and people weren’t okay with that. I think that’s part of the allure.

Was it difficult having said goodbye to the character to go back and do the film?

No, not at all. I think I was a little worried about it, but I remember the read-through and we all sort of sat there, all these people that I love, who have grown to be my family, reading the words of these characters who I had missed… Stepping back on the set was like riding a bike. We had Joss directing, and Joss is always so clear in what he wants, and he’s always so accessible. I was just always in awe of his genius. He’s one of the most delightful men to just hang around and pal around with. Then, of course, you’re supported by your cast and your crew, so it was just so familiar in so many ways that it was very easy to step back into that world.

With the movie having wrapped most things up so nicely, does everyone want to go back and continue?

When we’re asked if we’d go back, yeah, of course! But I think we also wonder if we should maybe leave it as it was and don’t touch it because it was just so special. There are both sides of that coin.

Have you read any of the comic book continuations?

Y’know, not so much. I’ve seen them. I think there’s a lot that I’m not privy to; I’m not a comic book person. But I hear of them. Personally, I’d want Simon to have babies with Kaylee. I think the ship needed a few little feet… Give River someone to play with…

Speaking of the idea of family, Joss is renowned for his ability to create ensemble casts. What do you think Simon specifically brought to the table?

Wow… Erm… I dunno… I think from a comedic stand-point, Simon is the straight and narrow, bouncing off the absurdity of what’s happening around him. If we talk about each character, there was just so much for everybody in that show. There was one or two that you could relate to and I think that’s also what made it so universal. I love meeting fans because it’s so refreshing as an actor for people to tell me what they saw in the character, because sometimes, as actors, we’re not consciously trying to put forth a certain way of being… I dunno… (mysteriously) What do you think…?

You later went on to work with Joss again on Much Ado About Nothing…

That was terrifying and exhilarating all at once! I was shooting a series in Chicago and Joss emailed me out of the blue; I’d had no idea that he was doing it. He told me what he was doing and he said “I need a sexy villain! What sayeth you?!” And I emailed back and said “Joss, does this mean you think I’m sexy?” And I get back “Stop fishing for compliments! Of course I think you’re sexy! Are you in or out?” I was actually so scared to do it, but my manager was like “Email him now and just say yes!”. I was terrified. We had so much rehearsal, which was great, and we were doing it in Joss’ house, which we all knew. We had many a drunken night in Joss’ house. What was so exhilarating is it was like live theatre caught on film. It was one of those moments where he gathered everybody; cast, crew, service… Everybody was part of it and it was just so special.

Having done so much with Joss, are you bummed that he didn’t bring you into the Avengers universe?

(laughs) Well didn’t you know! There’s a shot of me from behind… No, really, it’s a funny story; I’m actually in it. My jawline. Avengers 2, he called me and said he needed an actor to play off Scarlett. So, I turned up and it was just a day of re-shoots. They put a wig on me to look like Mark Ruffalo ‘cause he wasn’t available for the reshoots, so they just shot everything over my shoulder. I’ve seen a movie still, and it’s clearly my jaw from behind! It was fun. I got to hang out with Joss all day. And kiss Scarlett, which, even as a gay man, is fine and delicious! (laughs) I think I trust though that if there is something for me, he’s always looking out for all of us.

A 15th Anniversary FIREFLY Blu-rayTM and DVD Box Set Will Help Fans Find Serenity on September 11th