Three weeks before SDCC ’15, I received an email asking if I was interested in interviewing Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk for their new web series Con Man. I believe that I replied in the affirmative so fast that I may have broken the time-space continuum as they may have actually received my reply before they sent their email. As a fan of both actors since a little show called Firefly, and a big fan of Fillion in Dr. Horrible and Tudyk in Dale & Tucker vs. Evil, I was blown away by the opportunity to interview both actors, and I have to admit that I was more than a little nervous.
Now Con Man is Tudyk’s first venture into writing and directing, with Fillion being one of the producers, and they was able to fund it through one of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns ever, with over 46,000 backers and almost $3.2 million raised. The show is set to start airing on September 30th on Vimeo and you can preorder the whole season now for $14.99 at Vimeo.com/OnDemand/ConMan. If you go there to check out the trailer, make sure to come back to read my interview with the team behind Con Man. Also taking part in the interview was PJ Haarsma, the executive producer of Con Man. One thing to note, throughout the interview below are Author’s Notes, consider that the “audio commentary” portion of the interview.
Joshua Stone: First I want to say when I told my kids that I was interviewing you Alan they were very jealous because they loved Turbo in Wreck-It Ralph.
Alan Tudyk: Ah yes.
JS: And my wife was much more jealous though that I was interviewing you Nathan, well because…
Nathan Fillion: Castle.
JS: No, just Nathan. Captain Hotpants. (Author’s Note: I was nervous, and quite embarrassed after I said this, so back off on the comments. Back to the interview.)
AT: Hotpants! Tightpants!
JS: Tightpants, thank you.
AT: But I like that.
NF: Both are true.
JS: Either way. You had the fan outcry after Firefly was cancelled, the ten year anniversary panel here and its turnout, and now this tremendous success for the Indiegogo campaign. What’s your reaction to the fans and how they’ve been there for you guys?
AT: Its been overwhelming. For me there’s a lot of firsts, there’s a lot of dreams coming true and I think some of those dreams are shared with the fans as far as bringing us back together on a spaceship. So it’s been a shared experience, absolutely. I can’t be more thankful. There were a lot of fans on set. We got a chance to hang out, have lunch, and give them lines, and act with some. Actually a lot. They’re all over Con Man. So when you see, not just crowd scenes, there’s certain people who are in it that were part of the crowdfunding campaign so it was a very inclusive experience. Felt like family. A very large family. I don’t know, who has a large family?
NF: A family reunion.
AT: It’s a family reunion. That tree..
NF: It’s got roots.
AT: Its roots, and it’s weighed down with all those branches. I think it has fruits on it, maybe nuts.
JS: Definitely nuts on it. I saw the trailer with you (To Alan) in the bathroom, it’s hysterical and you guys have obviously been going to cons a lot so I was wondering what’s the weirdest fan interaction that you have had?
NF: I always think it’s a little weird, when you’re talking to someone, and they’re having a very sincere conversation with you about “your work means a lot to me and there was a tough time I was going through,” and they break down. And there’s a moment there where they’re not in control anymore and they’re overwhelmed. I don’t want to say it’s weird, like it’s uncomfortable, I want to say it’s unusual. In my real life I don’t garner that kind of reaction from people, at the grocery store or on the street, when I’m talking to people.
AT: Your housekeeper gets that way.
NF: Well, shes got that condition. But, I always think that is so flattering, so flattering, but very unusual. That does not happen to me very often. I’ve had it maybe three times in my life, and it’s always at a con. Here’s the moment, and they’re finally going to say something, and sometimes they can’t stand up. Sometimes they’re so taken. That’s unusual.
JS: I will admit that when I found I was accepted for this interview I was shaking, I’m going to interview Nathan and Alan.
NF: Could you stand?
JS: No, my hands were literally shaking.
NF: “My wife had to hold me.”
JS: I called her, so yeah I understand. When I was at Nerd HQ a couple years ago there was someone in front of me, and you were auctioning stuff off, and she offered a thousand dollars for a shirt as long as she could get a kiss from Nathan.
NF: I remember that.
JS: I was like, wow.
NF: What’s your weirdest?
PJ Haarsm: We got offered $100,000 on the Indiegogo if we would give Nathan up for lunch.
JS: You had four $25,000 contributors right?
PJ: Yep. But someone called up for a hundred grand if they could have lunch with you (Nathan).
AT: But the weird thing was it was like eating sushi off the naked body, and his was the naked body so it had to be a no.
NF: What do I eat? I’m not touching that, I know where it’s been.
AT: Those sticks, you can get splinters man.
NF: Oh, that’s not good.
JS: Since we are at Comic-Con, I wanted to know if you guys read comics or have in the past? Also specifically, if you have read the Serenity comics, and in your case (To Alan) if you read Patton Oswalt’s Wash followup? If you read those, and what was your reaction, and what your reading now?
NF: Patton Oswalt wrote that?
AT: Yeah, Float Out.
NF: I haven’t seen that yet.
AT: The comic?
NF: Yeah, it’s hard to get.
JS: It’s amazing. I cried reading it. (Author’s Note: I believe someone may have snickered after I said this, but I am unsure who it was.)
AT: When I met him on the set of Dollhouse I walked up to him and said, “I have to say I am the biggest fan”, “Stop, stop. I’m writing a comic book about your character right now, that is to honor your character, to talk about some of his past exploits that we didn’t get to see. So, I win. I’m a bigger fan of yours.” It was great. That was quite an honor because I am a big fan. He’s a very intelligent and funny comic with a lot of great insights.
NF: Do you read comics? Do you go for the Serenity comics?
AT: I’ve seen the Serenity comics. I’ve got the one with the back story on Book. I had to find that out. I got a graphic novel recently, but it’s about the history of the world.
PJ: Who’s writing all that now?
AT: The history of the world?
PJ: No, all the Firefly stuff.
AT: A lot of it is Zach Whedon. I think he oversees it. He always seems to be co-writer on a lot of them.
JS: I bought a few pages of the original art from the different Serenity ones.
JS: Yeah, it’s amazing.
NF: I do Comixology. My cousin is a very good gauge of what I would probably like, and he always suggests great new titles to me. Right now I am reading American Vampire, it’s really cool.
JS: Scott Snyder.
NF: You know it?
JS: Yeah, yeah.
NF: Yeah it’s very cool, very cool story. The new Secret Wars is really, I think rewarding, I find it really, over the last one
PJ: Which one?
NF: Secret Wars, Marvel Secret Wars.
JS: They blew up everything.
NF: The last one felt rushed, and the feet were all pointy. And I just didn’t like the art, it was just really weird. But this one.
JS: They’ve been working towards it for like the last three years. They know where they’ve been going.
NF: It looks like it. The work has been put it. I’ve really enjoyed the Secret Wars.
JS: (Author’s note: I was embarrassed by the joke I am about to ask as soon as it came out of my mouth, but I have left it in for full disclosure.) In everything I’ve seen with Con Man, everything I’ve heard, I couldn’t help but think of the classic SNL sketch with William Shatner when he yelled get a life. So I just thought if you do a second series of Con Man, maybe get Shatner in it, and call it Con Man 2: The Wrath of Con, something along those lines. (Author’s note: That went over like a lead balloon, so I changed paths) I see tons of costars right now in Con Man, is there anyone, if you do a second one, that you would maybe like to get in the future? And will there be a second one?
AT: We hope so. Its contingent on people’s reaction to this one. I just have to really quickly say that the sketch that William Shatner did that isn’t what Comic-Con is.
AT: There hasn’t been a lot of con stuff surprisingly. People talk about Galaxy Quest that dealt with the con, just at the beginning and end. The rest of it was the story on the spaceship which was a completely different story. I just want to say that it isn’t going to be that. I’d love to, I have I think a very fun idea with Lou Ferrigno who I want to work with. I had an experience with him, I was staying at a con, I was in my room and I heard a lot of boom boom boom knocking around in the room next to me. So we shared a wall, and then when I left my room we both opened our doors at the same time and it was Lou Ferrigno. I really wished I had known it was him before because my imagination would have taken over about what’s going on in there?
The idea is definitely, it’s a lot of people outside of what we understand them to be. Like Sean Astin is a big drinker in this, which he’s not in real life. Wil Wheaton, which you’ll see in the trailer, he’s actually not Wil Wheaton in it, he’s Air Marshall Cahoots who has a much larger role in the next one, so there’s another, if we get to do them, have him in another episode. Milo Ventimiglia‘s character is much larger as well. I have some great ideas about who he is. Bruce Campbell only gets referred to a few times, you only see his picture, because he’s missing at sea. He’s presumed dead. There’s a lot of people I want to work with.
At this point the publicist stepped in to let me my interview time had ended. However, both Alan and Nathan were kind enough to sign a couple things for me.
I then asked Nathan, “If it’s ok if I get a picture?”, to which he replied, “I thought you would never ask.” He then proceeded to take my iPad from me and using the burst function, took about seven pictures of the three of us. I am including four of those photos here, as people on Twitter really seemed to enjoy the one I posted.
After this Nathan told me he had the Dr. Horrible print up in his house, and that he had only seen the Serenity print (actually titled Shiny) once before and he really likes it. I shared with him that Dave Perillo was the artist and he does amazing work. Since I have at least five of Perillo’s pieces, I must truly believe that. Interesting enough, I interviewed Scott Aukerman later in the Con, and he also told me that he had the Dr. Horrible print up in his house, which came up as I was wearing the t-shirt version of the print on that day.
So that’s the whole interview. Coming soon will be SDCC ’15: Con Man Part 2 – The Panel.
For further musings from Joshua Stone you can follow him @1Nerdyone