Bits and Pieces from Joss Whedon and Tahmoh Penikett

From the floor at Comic-Con – I just got out of the Dollhouse panel, where they showed the first act of the first episode, airing next Friday on Fox, then had a discussion and took some questions from the audience.  The Dollhouse clip was fine; I’ll be watching the show whenever it appears on the internet, but it’s not a desperately-find-a-TV sort of thing.  The discussion and questions, however, were amusing, and I present to you some slightly paraphrased highlights:

Q: Tahmoh, is it true you got to keep your flight suit from Battlestar?
TP: Is it true I got to…?  Got to.  Mm.  Well, I took it.

Q: Joss, any chance of a Dollhouse musical episode?  And Tahmoh, can you sing?
TP: No.  I mean, I try, like in the shower and when I’m alone in my house, but it mostly sounds like a cat dying.
JW: Eliza sings in the third episode of Dollhouse—she’s a backup singer in a band—and she has a beautiful voice.  She’s probably out there somewhere right now, rocking “Suddenly Seymour” on karaoke.  And I was thinking we could use Tahmoh’s martial arts experience and give him a sort of Footloose angry dance.

Q: Joss, I’m working on a movie myself, and I was wondering, why is your writing so brilliant?  And what advice would you have for someone who wants to write?
JW: Well.  Everyone matters.  Even if it’s Second Thug from the Left.  No one is speaking just to set the next person up.  And if you have a story you want to tell, tell it.  I didn’t feel until I did Buffy that I had ever told an audience a story, so I came to it quite late in my career.  With the technology that’s available today, anyone can make a movie and potentially have it seen by millions of people.

Q: Tahmoh, you play two characters, Helo and Paul, that have very strong moral compasses.  Do you ever find yourself asking, what would Helo do?  Like, “Oh man, I didn’t save anyone from genocide today!”
TP: Not really….  I think of them as very different people.  Paul [his FBI agent on Dollhouse] prefers to work alone, always.  I just wonder what happened to him that he became so mistrusting.
JW: You let Baltar on the shuttle, that’s what!
TP: One day Paul is going to wake up from a nightmare going, “Oh my god, I was on a spaceship, sleeping with a robot.”
JW: What would Helo do?  Hm, Grace Park!

Q: Joss, if you could adapt any Sondheim musical, what would it be?  And who would be in it?  Or do you have any other musical plants, like Buffy or Dr. Horrible?
JW: I’ve actually thought way too much about this, and I think it would still be Sweeney Todd.
Random Guy From Audience: James Marsters as Sweeney Todd!
JW: But yeah, I have thought of it all – Buffy, Horrible – and I don’t know.  But I do want to be on Broadway.

Q: You’ve worked in so many genres – supernatural, sci-fi – is there a genre you’ve never gotten to work in that you want to?  Or themes you’d want to explore?
JW: I used to want to do a Western, and then we did one day of shooting in the desert, and that just died.  Everyone was melting, “what a world, what a world!”  I…would like to explore the theme of air conditioning.  Other than that, I’d like to do a frilly costume drama.  Elizabethan.  Or end of the nineteenth century.  Costume drama is the closest you can get to sci-fi, because you’re interpreting the world.  You don’t know what the world was like.  And the dresses are smokin’.

Q: At the Wonder Women screening, they showed a short clip of Nathan Fillion saying that we can look for him in Serenity II, and then he paused for like ten seconds before he said it wasn’t true.  What I was wondering is, can you write him into the second season of Dollhouse and then kill him in revenge?
JW: Why wait for TV?  No, seriously, I think I speak for everyone here when I say Nathan’s a cock.

Q: I know there were plans for a Buffy animated show, so I was wondering if you’d ever be interested in getting into animation?
JW: I’m dying to do animation.  It’s great.  Mostly what I’ve been watching these days is Final Fantasy cut-downs set to Evanescence on YouTube.

Q: Why are you so awesome?
    (I freely admit that I didn’t write down, and don’t remember, the actual question; it was was essentially this, just ten times longer.

JW: It’s trust.  Trust that we’re here to collaborate, and that I’m going get the best we have out of everyone.  If you write a great piece of dialogue, it’s going to air, and it’s going to be done in the way that best serves the episode.  You have to remember that two things are important: the art, and the life you live while you’re making it.  And while you can’t be an actual family so much, you can have that kind of feeling, and it’s the joy of doing what you’re doing together that shows up on screen.


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