Nathan Fillion
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Nathan Fillion’s roles paint the picture of a fearless actor, but appearing in a film of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” had him thinking twice.

He was finishing up the fourth season of the hit ABC show “Castle” and about to film the relatively small role of Dogberry for director Joss Whedon. Mr. Fillion had ridden the Whedon juggernaut since 2003, when he played a demonic priest in TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He went on to play Mal Reynolds in the sci-fi series “Firefly,” a one-season wonder that inspired a movie and an avid fan base, and Captain Hammer, the not-so-good guy in the viral hit musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”

As this was to be Mr. Fillion’s first attempt at Shakespeare, you’d assume Mr. Whedon, a Bard superfan when he’s not rewriting American pop culture, had a lot of words of wisdom to impart.

“Not a ton,” Mr. Fillion said by phone recently. “The talk we did have is, at one point I tried to chicken out of this project. I was working full-time on ‘Castle’ and the date was approaching, and I realized how difficult it was to memorize Shakespeare. Joss calmed me down and talked me off the ledge, so to speak.”

Acting on the sage advice of a friend to know the meaning of everything he had to say, Mr. Fillion approached the text like a foreign language. With a dictionary in hand, he studied the text until he felt he understood every turn of phrase.

“I saw a little bit of a scene being filmed before I filmed my first scene and everybody was on their A game, and I didn’t want to be the one guy who was not,” he said. “The material is such a huge deal when you’re doing Shakespeare. The disadvantage being, if you are one word off, you’re off. You’re not doing Shakespeare if you are a word away.” [Read the rest here]

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