INTERVIEW: Sean Maher

Thanks to Oz Comic Con we got to chat to everyone’s favourite big brother Dr. Simon Tam aka Sean Maher. We talk the Firefly Reunion possibly meaning more of the show, working with Joss Whedon and the inside scoop on Much Ado About Nothing.

Blake Howard: It has been announced that your good self and the rest of the cast of FireFly are getting back together Comic Con 2012 with Joss Whedon, is there something you guys are going to announce at Comic Con?

Sean Maher: I have nothing to tell you but I would be lying if I wasn’t thinking that myself.  Everyone always asks are you making another one?  And I’m like “I don’t know” because I really don’t know, but I don’t underestimate the power of Joss and now he has 10,000 times more power than he has ever had and it just seems like opportunities would be at his fingertips.  I just saw him last week for ADR (addition dialogue recording) for Much Ado About Nothing and he didn’t mention anything but when Serenity was being made, I wasn’t privy to all the early development discussions.  I was having dinner at his house, Summer [Glau] and I came over and Joss was cooking us dinner and I remember he was makin’ a Chilean seabass and he said “oh by the way I’m heading to cape cod to write the movie (Serenity)” and I was like “I’m sorry what?!?”   And I still kind of didn’t believe him until the table read and we sat down and read the Serenity script and here we were with all of these people that I loved so much and these characters that I love so much and to just hear the words spoken again, that was when it really sunk in, so if there is something going on and I’m not being kept in the loop about it, I wouldn’t be surprised. He never ceases to surprise me.

BH: Does it still baffle you the global impact Firefly had with so few episodes?

SM: It’s a fine line where I’m absolutely baffled and awestruck but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me.  We were so proud of what we did, that it resonated so strongly is sort of a reinforcement that people loved it as much as we did, but at the same time I believe its been 10 years since the show has been cancelled.  It’s remarkable, I mean I feel humbled and grateful and I feel so blessed to have been a part of this phenomenon for lack of a better word.

BH: What is the strangest request that a brown coat has asked you at a convention?

SM: I’ve had people come up to me with their newborns that they’ve named Simon.  Some people would think that’s strange but I was moved by it.  You know, people dress up like us at conventions and people say “does that freak you out?” And I’m like, no, I’m honoured, I think that’s wonderful.

BH: I was hoping people were coming up to you for legitimate medical advice.

SM: Oh no, God no.  They should not come up for legitimate medical advice from me I would steer them wrong.  I would say have a glass of wine and worry about it in the morning.

BH: You mentioned Much Ado About Nothing, we’ve been hearing lots of things about it and it kind of popped out of nowhere, can you explain a little bit about it?

SM: It literally popped up out of nowhere.  I was shooting a series in Chicago (The Playboy Club) and I came home and it was two o’clock in the morning or something and there was an email from Joss saying, this is what I’m doing [Much Ado], and I want to get this movie made and I need a sexy villain, what say of you?  And I was like, oh my gosh, I was speechless so I emailed him back instantly and said I’m doing the series but let me talk to some people and see what can happen.  The next morning I flew back to Los Angeles because I had to do an event for the show for NBC and I was with my manager that night and I told him that Joss had emailed me about Much Ado and my manager told me to take out my Blackberry and email Joss to say I was doing the film.  I asked my manager about the series I was shooting and he said not to worry about it, I need to tell Joss I was doing it, it was an opportunity you won’t pass up.  I was actually terrified because I had never done Shakespeare.  I think part of me was thinking my manager wouldn’t let me do it because of the series and contractual obligations but he said I had to do it, so I was literally in the middle of this huge event and I ripped out my phone and told Joss I was in and that was it.  Soon we started rehearsals and everyone was like “holy shit, this is what we’re doing!”  And to shoot a feature film in twelve days is just unheard of, unless you’re Joss Whedon.  He called and everyone came – hair, makeup, wardrobe, crews, DPs, not just the actors but everybody wanted to be there 200 per cent, nobody was making any money on it, we had very little time to do it so everyone was expected to do a lot of homework.  Joss was telling us the actors that he was setting up three shots, he was going to let the scene play and there was very little room for error so know your words and we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed…which was great but it was terrifying and then was like the most exhilarating job I’ve had in a while because he was basically shooting live theatre.  We only had a few chances to do it and we didn’t know what was going to happen and Joss would cut and I would have goosebumps, it was amazing, and I got to play a villain too which is something that I’ve never done.  We would finish a scene and the crew would change the set up and I’d be standing next to Joss and he’s like “you’re such a dick” and I was like “Thanks, I’ve never been a dick” and he’s like “You’ve never been a dick?  You should be a dick more often you’re so good at it” and I’m like “Thanks buddy”.  Every time I talk to him he’s like “ohhhhh you’re so villainous in this movie” and I cannot wait to see it.  He’s also composing the music for the movie and he was telling me he’s composing the most villainous music for my character, he’s so excited about it.  He’s such an amazing soul to be around and he was just SO excited, even his wife was saying she’d never seen him so excited in such a long time.  Everyone was thrilled to be there, it was just wonderful.

BH: Have you seen the look?  Is the film shot entirely in black and white?

SM: It’s all shot in black and white.  It was all shot in his home in Santa Monica.  It has got a very contemporary feel to it, a little bit of a noir feel to it, ever our direction as actors, he did not want us to be “Shakespearian”, he wanted us to pull-it-in and be as intimate as possible and I think Much Ado is one of Shakespeare’s most universal plays, there’s no iambic pentameter, it’s easy to set it in a contemporary time period.  From what I’ve seen, I’ve only seen bits and pieces of it but it looks great.

BH: Sean Maher – Thank you so much for chatting with Graffiti with Punctuation.

Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman 

Follow Sean on Twitter here: @Sean_M_Maher