It makes sense for Nathan Fillion to play a writer on ABC's Castle (Mondays, 10 pm/ET&PT). The son of retired English teachers, he's co-founded a charity, Kids Need to Read, to provide books for underfunded libraries. And while he's unpretentious about his own reading habits — he lists Robert Parker's Spenser novels among recent favorites — he revels in mystery novelist Rick Castle's occasional arrogance on the show. Best known for playing Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the TV show Firefly and the movie Serenity, and for his role as Joey Buchanan in One Life to Live, Fillion got his start performing improvisational comedy in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Castle, which pairs him with alluring detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), lets him handle drama and comedy alike. But as he explained to us, he plays them both the same.
TVGuide.com: So much of the show is about Castle's relationship with Beckett. Will they or won't they?
Fillion: I teasingly say we're gonna risk it and put them together right away and see what happens. But the reality is when two people actually meet and are attracted but are perhaps not a perfect match, they've got to get to know each other. They've got to spend time with one another. You've got to spend time with someone. You've got to see what their decisions are like on a daily basis. I think that's why long-distance relationships don't work. Because you have them on the telephone.
TVGuide.com: You've said before that this character is vain, and noted that his name, when pronounced quickly, sounds like Rick A--hole. Do you worry about making him likeable?
Fillion: You know what? I don't. I think that that's a trap. It's a trap I've fallen into earlier in my career — trying to be liked. Don't do it. When I watch TV and I see someone trying to make me like them, acting cute or quirky or goofy, I'm not impressed. Don't act like America's watching you. Just latch onto your character. Characters are flawed. Be unlikeable. Be flawed. Be a person.
TVGuide.com: So you don't get any pressure from directors to kind of wink at the camera?
Fillion: That's my job, to make it realistic. ... I think I've found a truth in both drama and comedy in just a very basic honesty. I think when people deal with comedy like it's a different animal than drama I think that's a trap. You have a dramatic portion of your television program and you treat it dramatically, and then you have a comedic portion of your program, and you treat it differently. Why do you change who are between the two pieces? You're the same person. Just go. You don't know that you're in a comedy TV show. You're just a person in a life.
TVGuide.com: You worked with Joss Whedon on Firefly and Serenity. Would you do it again? And what do you think of his new show, Dollhouse?
Fillion: I would work with Joss Whedon at the drop of a hat. ... I'm enjoying [Dollhouse]. You know, what I like most about Joss Whedon's work is that it's a many layered story. He tells stories in metaphors. It's not all up in the surface. You have to become involved, you have to invest.
TVGuide.com: You've said before you would do a Serenity sequel — is that still on the table?
Fillion: There's nothing on the table as far as Serenity. I made a joke one time at a convention using a goofy voice and then some reporter, and I use the term loosely, runs over to Joss Whedon and says, "Guess what Nathan said?" Really, that's reporting? You're gonna get people all riled up? If there were to be another Serenity, I know nine people who would sign on immediately — and that's the cast of Serenity. It's not my decision to make, however. We don't have the 20 million bucks it would take to put that out.
TVGuide.com: You started off as an improviser. How does that affect your acting now?
Fillion: I find that improvising is amazing training. I got amazing training both with Theatre Sports... back in Edmonton, Alberta — I can't give those people enough credit — and the daytime drama I did. Incredible training, both of them. Improv as an actor makes you present in the moment. You listen, you're attentive. You're not acting so much as reacting, which is what you're doing in life all the time.