Interview: Nathan Fillion on Playing Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Nathan Fillion
"When you shape the light of your ring, you walk in the footsteps of the first Lantern."

I’m not really a comic-book girl. I bought a ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ comic book last year and just didn’t see the attraction. Then they came out with a motion-comic DVD of ‘Buffy Season 8,’ and my daughter and I still didn’t see the attraction. It just made us want to watch the real show with the real Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles.

But if anything could get me interested in a comic-book DVD, it would be Nathan Fillion, who voices the role of Hal Jordan in ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights,’ the 11th film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies. It’s available today from Warner Home Video on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download.

Nathan Fillion, Capt. Mal Reynolds on Firefly
Oh, Captain Mal! With your rugged browncoat!

People unfamiliar with Fillion’s work before playing the roguish mystery writer on ABC’s ‘[amazon_link id=”B003L77FYS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Castle[/amazon_link]’ might not know he has a huge fan base dating back to Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ (Capt. Mal Reynolds! I’m a fan girl!) and yes, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’

One of his first big roles was on ‘Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.’ I vaguely remember that show, which ran four seasons from 1998 to 2001; I’ll have to find some episodes and check it out.

He first came into my consciousness playing Joey Buchanan on ‘One Life to Live,’ and of course, we can’t forget Whedon’s ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,’ in which Fillion plays Captain Hammer opposite Felicia Day and Neil Patrick Harris. That project helped to shape the videos and Internet shows we see today.

‘[amazon_link id=”B004QOB8Q6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Green Lantern: Emerald Knights[/amazon_link]’ weaves together six stories of the Green Lantern Corps’ preparations for an attack by an ancient enemy. As the battle approaches, Hal Jordan mentors new recruit Arisia in the history of the Green Lantern Corps, telling tales of Avra, Kilowog, Abin Sur, Laira and Mogo. In the end, Arisia must rise to the occasion to help Hal, Sinestro and the entire Green Lantern Corps save the universe from the destructive forces of Krona.

Read on for Fillion’s thoughts on playing Hal Jordan, staying humble, and the origins of that Green Lantern t-shirt…

Did you ever pretend you were the Green Lantern when you were a kid?

As a child, when you’re pretending you’re different superheroes, Green Lantern was the easiest because all you needed to light the fire in the imagination was the ring.  Superman, you need a cape; Spiderman, you need a full face mask.  That wasn’t tough to come by in a winter town like where I’m from, but they’re just too hot to wear in the summer. So to be Green Lantern, all you needed to do is suck a lifesaver down to the right size — make sure it’s a lime one – slip it on your finger, and you were good.

What is it about Green Lantern that most appeals to you?

As a kid, what I liked about Green Lantern was that he could do anything – anything you could think of.  It’s like “Wow, all I need is a giant mallet, or a catapult circa 1200s,” and suddenly he had it. I just thought that would be pretty cool to have anything you could kind of imagine.  Imagination was always a big thing for me.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan

You’ve done a few of these animated superhero roles. Why do you think you keep getting chosen to play these comic book legends?

I will say that I’ve been very fortunate.  I can’t tell you why people are willing to offer me the opportunity, but I can say how it pleases me, because as a kid collecting comic books, I had a great time with the way it kind of lights the fire in the imagination.

I always thought I had an overdeveloped sense of justice. Now looking back on my comic book days, my world kind of was formed around comic book justice. Maybe that has something to do with how you take on a role. I mean, I’m steeped in the history of these characters.  I know it, and I love it.

Between ‘Firefly, ‘Serenity’ and ‘Green Lantern,’ you’re spending a lot of time in space. Ever think about becoming an astronaut?

I fear space the same way I fear drowning.  I would think it’d be a little bit claustrophobic. Sure, you have the vastness of space, but yet you’re probably going to be in some kind of little miniature capsule and, you know, anything could go wrong.  I mean, if you’re scuba diving, let’s say you’re ten feet underwater – if something goes terribly, terribly wrong, you’ve got 10 feet to swim to the surface, and you’re good.  If you’re in space, you’re boned.  That’s like being in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean.  Uh-oh … Oops. Things you don’t want to hear in space or in submarines: “Oops.”

Castle, Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion
Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion on the set of 'Castle'

‘Castle’ is a runaway hit, and you’re getting some great play across the Inter-Webs and magazine covers. Any thoughts on staying humble?

There’s nothing like being an actor and having something to do every day. Get up 5:00 a.m. – I’ve got someplace to go, and I’ve got a place I need to be.  I’ve got stuff I gotta do.  I’ve got stories I need to tell.  This career that I’ve chosen, I’m employed gainfully in it, so I’m living the dream every day. That’s a good feeling.  It does good things for how you feel about your choices.

There was a period of time around 1998 where I didn’t work for nearly a year.  I was really questioning my judgment.  What have I done?  I’ve made a colossal error in judgment. I’m paying my rent on credit.  What am I gonna do? It’s a much, much nicer feeling to know that you’re doing something, playing music that people want to hear. So I’m gonna play these notes – you tell me if you like them and we’ll keep playing if you keep liking them.  That’s a good feeling.

And it’s nice to walk down the street and have someone stop and politely say “I love your show.”  That’s always great. As opposed to doing plays, where there’s immediate feedback, you don’t get that so much in television. So it’s really nice to hear. It doesn’t get old.

Nathan FillionYou’re on the ‘Castle’ set at least five days a week, 14 hours a day. What makes you take time on a Sunday of a holiday weekend to record the voice of Hal Jordan?

I take the time to voice characters in DCU films because it’s fun. I get a call saying “Hey, how would you like to come on down to record Green Lantern?” And I’m asking back, “Can we squeeze it in on a Sunday because that’s pretty much my only day off?” I want to make it work because I love doing it.

More than that, I love being part of this lore. These are great characters – you’ve got Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, the Flash, all these wonderful  pieces of American pop culture. And now I’ve got a little piece.  I can say, “Oh yeah, I was Green Lantern for a DVD movie.” Not a lot of people can say that. “Oh, Steve Trevor? Funny you should mention him.” It may sound silly, but it means something to me.

That Green Lantern t-shirt … we’ve seen you wearing it on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, walking around Comic-Con on a Saturday, at your initial Green Lantern recording session… Did you own that shirt before being cast as Hal Jordan?

Debbie Zoller is the head of my makeup department on ‘Castle.’ She saw that fan-made ‘Green Lantern’ trailer and thought the t-shirt would be an appropriate Christmas present, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. I’ve been known to wear a few superhero shirts, and where better than a ‘Green Lantern’ recording session to wear it today? So, thank you, Debbie. I told you it would come in handy someday!

Fillion talks about ‘Green Lantern,’ getting into his characters, playing a villain, and where that t-shirt came from…


8 responses to “Interview: Nathan Fillion on Playing Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights”

  1. Kate Megill Avatar

    I LOVE Nathan Fillion…great article!

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      Thanks, Kate! He’s really down to earth, too. The ultimate grown-up who’s still a kid at heart.

  2. Melanie Avatar

    What can I say? Nathan rocks. THAT’S what I can say!

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      I know, right? He caught my attention as Joey Buchanan on One Life to Live, but I fell in love with him as Capt. Mal Reynolds on Firefly. Love him on Castle, but we have to catch up with this past season. Good summer viewing.

  3. Portugal Avatar

    With the telling of GL’s story done so many times it’s nice to see a slightly different spin. It was also nice to see Hal get his training. Now with the live action movie coming out soon this would be a good movie to watch to introduce the GL to those who may not know him. This way when they see the live action they will be better prepared to appreciate the special effects. But as for this movie, great story, excellent voice talent, and of course solid hero!

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      I don’t really know much about Green Lantern, but you’re right – this would be a great movie to watch before seeing the live action version this weekend. And of course, hear the awesome Nathan Fillion’s voice.

  4. Ronald Avatar

    So he is behind the voice Hal Jordan. First noticed Nathan Fillion in Firefly. Loved his cool and down to earth image. His part in Castle is perfect for his young kid at heart character.

  5. […] star Nathan Fillion and creator Joss Whedon. Ok, we’ll take what we can get!INTERVIEW: Nathan Fillion Talks Green Lantern: Emerald KnightsPlus, the cast is shooting an in-depth behind-the-scenes roundtable interview that will delve into […]

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