Nathan Fillion is no stranger to franchises. The veteran actor has lent his voice to Destiny, Halo 5, and even voices Hal Jordan in the ongoing DC animated saga being released by Warner Brothers. So the decision to join Pixar and become a part of Cars 3 was a no-brainer for Fillion. Fillion joins the cast as Mr.Sterling, a businessman and branding expert who becomes Lightning McQueen’s new sponsor early on in Cars 3.
“Anytime you can jump on a ship that’s doing amazing things, that’s the ship I’ll jump on. What’s the metaphor? You jump on a train that’s doing good things, a moving train. You abandon a sinking ship but you get on the coattails of a train.”
In addition to being a long-time fan of Pixar, Nathan Fillion said the themes of change inherent in Cars 3 attracted him to the project.
“The world is moving at an incredible pace and yes it’s very important to have your heart in a good place but you need to be mindful of the future and where things are going and what changes are happening. If you’re not on top of it right now, you will be left behind. Twitter is almost on its way out and there are people who are still not on it. You’re so far behind that you missed it. That is our world right now and it’s something that is effecting Lightning McQueen right now. Yes, he gets his heart from the past, tapped into the core of racing, but here he is faced with a future of younger, faster models coming up. That is the reality, things change.”
Cars 3 benefits from a more narrow focus compared to the world-wide, spy themes inherent in Cars 2.
“Last movie was a villain bent on world domination, this time it’s far more crisis of the heart. [Mr. Sterling] wants to protect Lightning McQueen’s brand but at the same time that means pulling him out while he’s still on top. It’s not clear cut as to his motivations. They’re not evil, he’s not evil. He’s a businessman.”
Throughout the movie-making process of Cars 3, Nathan Fillion says the Pixar team is constantly adjusting the story and characters to make everything fit together more smoothly.
“They tell a story one pixel at a time. We do the V.O.s in succession. You do one, you wait a month or two, you do another you wait a month or two. You come back and you do a series of them, and in between they say ‘here’s what we found that is working, it stays. Here’s what we found that isn’t working. If this changes, this will make this other thing better, this will make this smoother and give this other thing a reason to happen.’ So it evolves. Now your character is a little more like this even though he wasn’t like that in the beginning. So as the story evolves, so does your job and so does your role. And by the end of it, when they wrap the movie, they’ve crafted their movie. They’re not wondering if this will work, they know it works before they put it out there. They’ve made sure.”
Nathan Fillion, whose name is constantly around in rumors and fan-casts for certain movies, says he doesn’t let the pressure to join a cinematic universe get to him.
“I’m still just thrilled people remember my name so let’s start with that. That they’re talking about it? Fantastic. I feel more so badly for anyone who has a project that they want to do and they want to cast an actor who maybe isn’t me. I’d feel bad for them to receive any pressure to hire me rather than their dream actor or whatever. There are a lot more things at play, it’s not just a choice. It’s a business first and we have to remember that. There are a lot more angles at play than any of us really understand.”
Of course, a conversation with Nathan Fillion isn’t complete until he talks about Firefly for just a little bit.
“Firefly was the best job I’ve ever had. The time of my life that it happened, what it meant for me, what it represented, the kind of work I was able to do, the kind of stories we were telling, the people I was working with, the people I was working for, just the entire experience was crafted so perfectly for what I needed at that point in my life and my career. I can never shake a stick at Firefly. Yes, it was cancelled but we got a movie out of it. It gave me so much more than a cancelled show gives a lot of people. The fact that people are still into it, that they’re still watching it and dressing up as those characters, collecting the swag that comes out, they even name their children after characters in the show- begging an explanation of where that name came from and then someone else will watch the show. I hope that is my legacy. I hope I continue to be identified as a super cool space captain. I mean, there’s worse things.”
Right now, Nathan Fillion is working on a few secret projects as well as preparing to join the second season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
“I’m working with Neal Patrick Harris again which is a lot of fun. He gave me a call a few months ago and said ‘I want you to check out this show.’ So I planned on watching an episode and watched the whole season. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It’s beautiful. I’ve always wanted to be involved in something kind of Tim Burton-esque in its stylized form. This is a very stylized period piece. It’s a lot of fun.”
Cars 3 is now playing in theaters. Be sure to stay tuned at Heroic Hollywood for all of our Cars 3 coverage!