Talking up the DVD release of “Serenity”
With the anticipated release of “Serenity” on DVD next week in Australia (Feb 8, for those that are counting down the days), Moviehole thought it right to catch up with two of the films stars, Summer Glau and Sean Maher, to talk shop – and, well, sequel.
Q: What is so unique about this material that it deserves to be on the big screen?
SM: I think it’s the characters. Just this world that Joss created, people seem to be captivated by it. From the very beginning people who saw the show loved it, this sort of bubbling small group was always there from the very beginning, they were the driving force that inspired us and kept us going, because we knew that there were people out there that really liked it. Then the show is cancelled and the DVD sales went through the roof, so it’s apparent that still people were catching on to it and loved it, so there should have been another venue to tell the story again. And Joss, I think, was sort of a miracle worker in a sense that he kept it alive and fought so hard for this. It’s really his baby.
Q: What kind of training did you go through?
SG: I met my stunt coordinator, Chad Stahelski, months before we started and he watched me move, he taught me some different steps and stuff, and he saw that I was a ballet dancer. He created a kind of hybrid technique for me that was a more “balletic” way of doing martial arts. He said that it was a combination of wuchu, kung-fu and kick boxing. And it was very different from dancing (laughs). I worked hard, we all worked hard.
Q: Did you keep the workout going after the movie?
SG: You know, they offered to let me keep coming to the class and I said no (laughs).
Q: Did you get injuries other than bruises?
SG: Oh, yeah. I have a big scar on knee from one stunt going wrong, and I pulled every muscle in my body – dancers are very strong but it’s a completely different kind of muscle memory. Martial arts is kind of like a snake: it snaps and then it comes back in. Dancing is always up, always lifting and it’s very fluid. I can hold my leg out for a long time as a dancer, but in martial arts you have to get your leg up that high but you have to get it down in one second. So I kept pulling hamstrings, I was limping home, I’d do ice baths where I just had to carry ice bags home and lie in a bathtub because I pulled everything. My body really changed a lot. And I was a vegetarian and I ate meat by the end of the movie. I was eating steaks (laughs).
Q: Was there any improvising or was Joss not allowing it?
SM: No, we pretty much…maybe we finish his words and if it’s rolling and if he likes what goes on afterwards we’d do it.
SG: I’m not that brave. I always do just what Joss says.
Q: Do you have siblings?
SG: I have two sisters.
SM: I have a sister and a brother.
Q: Does that feeling just instinctually kick in when you have to play close siblings on screen?
SM: It does, you obviously draw from your own life. You find similarities between yourself and the character, and they bleed into the way you portray the character.
Q: You have tremendous patience for your sister?
SM: (laughs) Yeah.
SG: Poor guy.
Q: What kind of message do you want the fans to pick up from “Serenity”?
SG: One thing that we keep talking about is believing – whatever you believe, you have to believe it with your whole heart. That’s one theme that keeps running through. And love. Taking care of the people around you, taking care of the people you love, it’s simple. There are many layers and everybody that comes to see it feels something different when they walk away.
SM: What I love about the world of Firefly, the world of Serenity, is it’s 500 years in the future but there’s this big ‘what if?’, like, what if we used up the resources of Earth and here we are, people are trying to survive, trying to get by, trying to just eat and get a job. There are these dynamics between these wonderful characters and I think the movie…yes, it’s this huge spectacular, great ride and when you really think about it, for me it instilled this faith in humanity that like yes, 500 years in the future we have this Alliance trying to do this horrible thing to this girl and trying to just change people, and at the end of the day it’s like “OK, let’s just have faith.” There is innate goodness and people will prevail as human beings and there’s just wonderful sense of humanity to it. No matter how far in the future you go, hopefully people are people in how they work and function together. We are trying to rebuild and figure things out, and make adjustments.
Q: Does being a ballet dancer benefit you in acting?
SG: The thing about River that I like, is that she doesn’t have a lot of lines. Especially in the series she had to show what she was thinking just by the way she moved or by how her face was moving. I think that has helped me a lot as an actor. I still have hard time sometimes, expressing my anger with words, I’m better at moving and being in a room and showing how I feel that way. It’s a thing that I had to work on because I was very shy as a kid. I think that’s why I love dancing, because I felt that people were watching me but I didn’t have to connect with them. They were out there and I could feel that they were watching me but I didn’t have to look at them. Now with acting it’s very therapeutic for me, having to actually say and communicate.
Q: When the DVD sales of “Firefly” went through the roof did it give you hope or was it just a consolation prize?
SM: For us it was a reassurance that everybody was out, it was inspiring to us. To executives and people in suits it was like “oh, look at that. There are people, this could be successful”. I think it was a great tool for people who hadn’t had the chance to see the show. There were fans of the box set and they passed it around, and it spread sort of word of mouth in that regard.
Q: What’s happening next with you, are you hoping for a sequel?
SM: Sort of.
Q: Do you collect DVDs and what are your favorite ones?
SM: I have a very small collection. Streetcar Named Desire was my first DVD gift which I like.
SG: I don’t collect them, no. Most of my favourite movies haven’t come out on DVD yet, I like all the old stuff. My favorite is Camelot, the musical (laughs) with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave. I have the old box set.