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February 26 2013

Joss Whedon on a plane! Whedon fan Jason Scott happens to find himself booked into the seat next to Joss on a flight back to Scotland from the Dublin premiere of Much Ado. A charming tale, with a lot more detail here.

Helen Mirren? Blimey, that would have been cool.
wow. just wow.
Beaten to the "Helen Mirren?!" punch.
I honestly can't get over this.

For years, I've had this recurring fantasy where I get on a plane and discover I'm sitting next to Jason Scott. That Joss guy gets all the breaks.

[ edited by AlanD on 2013-02-26 10:33 ]
What a fantastic hour+ he had - one I'm sure he'll never forget. And I would have loved to have seen Helen Mirren in that role.
Helen Mirren? In Avengers? O_O.....
Also what a freaking amazing story.
What a lucky guy man! I think if it had been me it would've been the most terrifying hour of my life hahaha
Damn, I would've probably lost my consciousness or something. And if I wouldn't, then there is always a possibility of becoming speechless all of a sudden
That's amazing! It's literally the best fan dream turned real ever.

I want the Helen Mirren scene. I feel the tears already.
I would not have held it together. Don't know what I would do or say, but I would be a mess.
Agreed Captain B. It's funny how I spend many hours fantasising about meeting Joss, but really it would probably be like in Community when Troy meets Levar Burton ("you can't disappoint a picture!")
Wow! Thank you very much for posting this article. I'd made an attempt at it last night, but I've mostly been a reader of this site for the last few years, (It was only a few months ago that I got to register..) and so I really didn't have any idea how to go about it.

Alas, I can't go into much more detail on it just now, as I have a rather important job interview tomorrow that I should really be preparing for, though after that I hopefully should be able to pop by more to share some details. (Although I did put a lot of it on to my facebook page over the last couple of days..)

But the cliff notes of it is that Yes, it was every bit as amazing as you could imagine! Joss was very gracious indeed.
As like I said earlier, I imagine that he was very, very tired, and there I was doing the whole John Candy bit to his Steve Martin. (Ancient 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles' reference there.) I especially feel guilty about it because at one point he was pulling out some hand written notes to look over, but when I started talking to him, he put them aside to actual chat away to me on any subject that I cared to raise. (And no I didn't try to read said notes, as that felt too much like an invasion of privacy. Even if heck, for all I know they could have been plot points to Avengers 2! LOL!)

And he was even very patient with me when I may have inadvertently almost insulted him by admitting that I mostly liked Ang Lee's Hulk, for daring to get into the idea of Banner's trauma. As I always liked the idea that the gamma infused nanobots were trying to repair emotional damage, which could be infinite, as a way to explain the almost cancerous rampant growth of cells to create the Hulk. Of course they were a lot of things I didn't like about that film like the climax, and how Nick Nolte and Sam Elliot don't really get to act alongside each other. Not to mention that I don't think Ang Lee should have used himself for recording the Hulk's movements. As there's a disconnect there that I think Joss solved in Avengers by having Mark Ruffalo play all the Hulks scenes as well. But I probably should have explained to Joss that that didn't mean I wanted to see Banner doing the 'woe is me' bit throughout another film. As having fond memories of the Bill Bixby performances, I was very glad to see Banner acting like a hero again. But yeah, Joss did say that the Hulk was such a difficult character to nail down, in both character interactions and the effects which he thought the effects guys did a marvelous job on. So ironic that they should lose out to an Ang Lee film in the Oscars then I guess. Though when I asked Joss about their Oscar chances he did accurately predict that Life of Pi was what was going to win.

And yes, I did ask him what he thought about going to the Oscars. To which he laughed and said that he didn't really think that was his type of crowd. Though he did seem to like the irony that I pointed out to him that maybe his Dublin award was not entirely dissimilar in form to the shape and design of an Oscar! :)

Kind of wish that I'd pointed out to him that a lot of folks would never have predicted that James Cameron would have won the Oscars back around the time of T2 and True Lies. So maybe fingers crossed he'll get more of that that side of attention from Hollywood in the future. As obviously he certainly deserves it!
We did however have a great at length discussion on James Cameron films and the sequels that have come about from them. It was so gratifying that he agreed with me on the original Terminator being being the superior film, and we got to agree a bit on our appreciation of how great a film The Abyss truly is. (Especially the special edition. Which many years ago myself and a friend were able to see on the Cinema screen in Glasgow when they were promoting either the video or laserdisc edition of it. Astonishingly good movie..)

But yeah, it was so great to be able to talk to Joss on just about every film/tv/literature subject I cared to raise. We talked a lot about Angel, even broaching difficult subjects like it's cancellation and also what happened to Joss on Alien Resurrection. He's definitely had some VERY bad studio experiences. So it is so immensely satisfying to see him have such long overdue success, in creating the biggest box office film of 2012! So I hope that continues, and really do wish him all the best of luck in the future!
Phew!..Guess I went off on a couple of tangents there! So much for keeping this message brief! ;)
And yeah thanks AlanD! (Though are you sure you're not confusing me with Jason Scott Lee? ;) As he did have a little bit of fame when Dragon: The Bruce Lee story and Map of the Human Heart came out. -And boy did that make for a lot of playground teasing at the time! LOL!)
I'm stuck at Helen Mirren. I just can't process all this good rich stuff right now.

Thanks @Jas for sharing your experience.
Amazing story Jas.

Keep your cool at the interview, and you'll be allright.

@Jas I think you just won at life. I would have not been able to keep that kind of calm. Pretty sure I would have frozen solid and just sat there and then maybe eventurally mumbled; "thank you for saving me." (or something as equally sappy.)
Thanks for that story, jas; and more importantly, the best of lucks on that interview. :)
I think it would have been something like when Summer Glau was on Big Bang Theory. The best I could do would be to just mumble inchoherently. Maybe Joss would have looked at me and marveled at the courage of someone with such limited mental skills traveling alone.
The hypothetical Helen Mirren scene reminds me of a similar storyline in Joss' "Runaways".
@Jas Thank you so much for sharing this story! I would love to hear more about your conversations around Angel, when you have the time. Best of luck on your job interview!
Wow. Lucky guy.
Very lucky man! I once, whilst in the middle of a terrible, terrible day, ran into to Joss, Kai, Alexis and Alyson at Bath train station. I just had time to say hello and thanks before my (very delayed...which ultimately worked out!) train arrived. I thought that was pretty great, but it pales in comparison to Mr Scott's story!
@Jas : The crazy thing is that you actually joked about being in the same plane as him a few weeks ago. I'm very jealous, but I also don't think I could've handled it (not like you did anyway).
And yeah, please tell us more about your "Angel" conversation when you have time.
Sounds like a most excellent conversation, thanks for sharing!
Joss on a Plane - that sounds like just one Samuel L. Jackson away from being a major motion picture.
I've been in situations where I've met famous people I admire, and I tend to blurt. For the record, blurting is far, far worse than becoming merely tongue-tied. I would have blurted all over the poor man. The ground crew would still be trying to scrub the blurt out of the seats.

So, right man for the job and all that, Jas. Nicely done.
Jas, thanks for generously sharing your photos and story. I'm afraid I would have ended up talking Joss' ear off until he switched seats (or I would have been too tongue tied to speak at all, there are no happy mediums with me).
Oh man, I would have cried, and then talked to him the entire trip, and then felt guilty, because I would think "what about all of the great things he could have written while I blathered on" and I probably would have been in cuffs by then anyways for growling like a mad dog if anyone else tried to approach him. So good on you Jas, to walk away from that without a restraining order likely beats many of us.
Incredible story Jas. It is always great to hear that the people you admire are actually genuinely nice people (although I certainly don't think famous people need to be chatty with their fans and wouldn't blame him if he had of politely said he was tired and just wanted to rest up!)

Sounds as if you had a really great chat with him and would be amazing if you could give us more details... After your interview of course! Good luck.
Thanks for all the well wishes folks. It was appreciated.
Alex_Jamieson. You are very lucky indeed. I've never met Alexis. Doubt I ever will either. But he was, by far, my favourite actor on Angel.

Speaking of which, one of the things I asked Joss, (ironically enough it had been in my mind to ask him this at the Q & A, but I kept thinking we needed to keep the questions at least partially linked to Much Ado,) anyway what I did ask him was if he had known that there would be follow up comic stories set after Angel's final episode, would he still have killed off Wesley? I was actually surprised to find out that Yes he reckoned he still would have. Because as he correctly pointed out, no matter how much an artist does to capture resemblances, he thought that a lot of what made Wesley great in the series was down to Alexis's actual performances, and that the comic books might struggle to capture that. And I certainly can't argue with that point.

A lot of the do the Angel chat we had was on what episodes we liked. And we found a bit of common ground in admiring Tim Minear's 'Are You Now or Have You Ever Been' episode in the second season, as we both thought it captured the 50es period atmosphere remarkably well.

As for behind the scenes stuff. We'd had quite a long conversation on superheroes and indeed the casting thereof, which I'll maybe go into a bit more on here at some other date. (As I've had an exhausting day, and need to head off soon..) but what came out of that conversation when we'd been talking about Captain America and the things he had in common with both Superman and Batman. (I'd always felt like he was the perfect mixture of both. Y'know with Superman's inspirational values, and Batman's fighting intensity..) And after agreeing with me Joss segue-wayed this into an account of something that had happened during Angel's fourth season. Where there had been a meeting with the studio representatives, where ideas were being suggested about Batman being on the WB. (Whether this was to spin out of Smallville or exist alongside it I don't know.) But as you probably do know the film owners of the Batman franchise didn't allow this development. But that hadn't quite been accepted at this juncture, and apparently according to Joss there was one moment where someone there piped up, and I quote..."There's only room for one Batman on the WB...and that's Alexis Denisof!" LOL!

And as Joss explained, this was because they were right in the middle of Wesley's Hard-ass phase of teaming up with Faith. And people had been noticing this. :)

On a not so nice note though, we started talking about how horrible it was to have Angel be cancelled right after the celebrations for Angel's 100th episode. And Joss related exactly how this came about. As apparently the drunken studio head had invited him out to lunch at a fancy restaurant. And they'd been there for quite a while, with things seemingly going quite well, when towards the end of it, said studio head turned round and said something like, "By the way we're pulling the plug on Angel" :0
My exasperated reaction to Joss telling me this, (And to be honest he told it much better..) was that "That's just like the scene in Jerry McGuire!" To which Joss said, "Yeah, That is EXACTLY what it was like.."
I'm really never going to be able to watch that film in quite the same way now, as I'll always be thinking of how that happened to Joss, (And in a lot of ways it would have been a lot worse for him. As he would then have to take that disappointing news to his cast and crew, and indeed the fans too further down the line..)
He said it was so much worse than Buffy ending. As that had come from a mutual discussion between him and Sarah where they agreed that the time was right to wrap up the series. But that Angel was in no way nearing it's conclusion at that point.

We then sort of talked about the potential spin-off that was mooted for Faith, and how Tru Calling got in the way of that. (A not so convenient calling I guess..;) ) Though I suppose I kind of cut Joss off at this point from whatever he was going to discuss by saying, "Well at least you got to do Dollhouse with her, and that at least got an ending to it. Even if the pace had to be accelerated somewhat"

But this got Joss talking about how much of the original ideas behind Dollhouse they never got to explore. And he related how, as some of you probably know, the idea originally synched with how Eliza had been feeling one day at a lunch with Joss, where she'd been expressing her dissatisfaction with some elements of the business, and the culture around it. (Though he didn't say it outright, I'm guessing that Eliza was feeling a bit used and probably sick of the whole sex symbol status thing when it came to the roles she was seen to be suitable for.) As he said that one of the main concepts behind Dollhouse, (heck it's pretty much in the name,) was to explore the darker elements of how people use sensuality. But that the network went back on all it's original promises to explore the uncomfortable elements of that. With them only paying lip service to it, with jokes like Eliza in the dominatrix outfit and so forth.

At this point I did point out that the episode with Priya's background being explored "Belonging" was pretty dark. Though at the time I had a little bit of a brain freeze, and couldn't for the life of me remember the name of it. I think I actually described it as the one with the actor from 'The Invisible Man' in it. Doh! Doesn't even narrow it down either, since Vincent Ventresca appeared in a couple of episodes. But Joss very quickly figured out which one I was talking about. And yeah he agreed, but said something about how that was one of the very few episodes that was able to get into the darker aspects of human nature. He then went on to say that it never ceases to annoy him how actresses as amazing as Dichen Lachman and Amy Acker are constantly sold short by Hollywood and don't often get the opportunities to demonstrate just how talented they really are..

Okay, I do actually have to call it quits at that right now. If I get time later this week, I'll make another posting about some more of the stuff he talked about. As we did cover quite a lot of subjects. It's amazing what you can cram into an hour when you're talking to someone who's as good a conversationalist as Joss is!

[ edited by Jas on 2013-03-04 13:52 ]

[ edited by Jas on 2013-03-04 13:53 ]
Oh and Nico-Angel, you're right! I'd forgotten I'd made that joke! (Had to go back into the comments there to refresh my memory of it.) Soooo ironic. Still I never would have in a million years have though I'd be sitting right next to him, let alone getting to talk to him for the entire journey! LOL!
Jas, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to write down so much about your meet with Joss. I'm going to bookmark this thread and watch it for developments. Best of luck on your interview, and get some rest!
Jas, this is amazing. I'm very jealous. Then again, I would be so terrified if this happened to me, so maybe it's for the best. Thank you for sharing everything!
Oh, another thing about Angel was in talking about how I used to enjoy the opening credits, I mentioned how ironic it was that they always used to end with the shot of Angel walking out of an alley. And then of course the final scene of the last episode ended in an alley, almost as if it was saying that this is the one time that he doesn't get to walk out of said alley! ;) This seemed to get a knowing laugh out of Joss, which then went on into a discussion of how he dislikes the growing trend to miss out opening titles. I then maybe inadvertently insulted him again by saying "But Avengers did that.." To which he quite rightly pointed out that its still announces it's presence as the movie proper starting with "Avengers" coming up on screen. (Or Avengers Assemble if you're in the UK I suppose..)

Do wish at this juncture that I had told him how much I liked the end credits which did give the headlining style credits over the characters weapons/outfits, before showing the coda/epilogue with the villains, and then going into the final full credits. But that's another one of these things that end up wishing you'd been clearer on at the time.

Joss then went on to relate about a movie he saw where there was no opening credits or title, and so he kept watching the movie distracted by this, waiting for it to come up. (But I can't for the life of me remember which movie it was that he named, as it wasn't something I had seen.)

We also talked a lot about Thanos. As Joss had mentioned how he wanted more than just Loki as the threat, and I'd correctly guessed that he'd been keen to bring him into the movie. And we had a real kind of comic geek moment I guess where we were talking about how we were both introduced to the character through the original Jim Starlin story where he first killed off the character. This was a crossover between an Avengers annual and a Marvel Two In One Annual, that starred the Thing and Spiderman. (Which possibly has the best meeting between those two characters ever as Spiderman sneaks up on Ben Grimm reading Salem's Lot in the dark. He doesn't take that well!)
Though if I remember right I read those annuals backward getting the second part before the first.

But yeah getting back to our conversation, I started asking Joss about things that were in the script originally. I was delighted to discover that one of Joss favourite characters was Janet Van Dyne, (The Wasp) as I've always loved that character and thought she made the best Avengers leader outside of Cap.
And apparently Joss had fought like hell to try and get her in the first movie, (and at one point when it seemed like they might not get scarlett johansson, it had seemed possible that he might actually get to do so..) But everyone had been continually saying to him 'why do you keep wanting Wasp in there as well?" And he pointed out to me that it's one thing to want to put your favourite comic characters into it, but when you have to make that jump into another level of effects movie with the shrinking powers and all the technical considerations that would bring, in terms of not only how you shoot that, but how you portray it believably for an audience too. When it's probably difficult enough to balance the likes of Hulk, Iron Man and Thor believably, And have that level of reality.

Oh, I also did thank him as well for giving us what I called the 'Jack Kirby' Thor. i.e Thor without that stupid armour that JMS introduced to the comics. It never did make too much sense to me, and it looks awful. So getting him without it for much of the film really made that movie for me and my brother. (Who also didn't like it.)
And Joss laughingly agreed and said "Plus, why would you cast someone like Chris Hemsworth, and then cover up those arms!"
We also had a discussion about Hank Pym. (Ant Man/Giant Man) as I suggested that although a lot of folks keep wanting Nathan Fillion to be cast as him, I suggested Simon Baker. (Patrick Jane in the Mentalist)
As I think he could pull off an almost smarmy degree of intellectualism that I think Pym sometimes has. And Joss said he could maybe see him as Ant Man but not as Giant Man.
I also pointed out at this point that I always wanted Nathan as as Captain America. Which incidentally is why I'd have a hard time seeing him as Hank. As Pym, when he's not changing his size should probably be a bit smaller or slighter of build than Cap.

Speaking of Cap we talked a bit about the rewrite Joss did of that film ,as apparently he enjoyed that job tremendously as he really liked writing the 1940es style dialogue. Was also delighted to discover that the line Bucky has upon seeing Hugo Weaving take off his mask to reveal the red skull, ("You don't have one of those too do you?") was one of Joss's lines, as I'd always thought it was witty enough to be just that.

We also talked a bit about Shakespeare and how good actors like Alexis Denisof and Reed Diamond were in that movie. With Joss telling me of days when he was amazed that they'd nail all the dialogue perfectly in the first take.
And in talking about Shakespeare we compared opinions on what we thought of The Kenneth Branagh version of Much Ado. As Joss agreed with me in my comment that although I normally like Michael Keaton his guardsman role wasn't very likable. We did agree though that Denzel Washington was excellent throughout. And in response to my comment that I thought the ending was a bit twee in the branagh version with all the frolicking dancing at the end, he related this funny story, about how Jillian Morgese (Hero) had come up to him after watching that version worriedly asking if she really was going to have to do all the twirling that they do in that film..

We also had a long discussion about Alien resurrection and the different versions of the story, and all the difficulties there. Although I did suggest to him that it seemed like the ending to the first Alien vrs Predator movie with them fighting the Queen Alien in a remote area sounded not dissimilar to one of the original (4!) endings Joss had wrote that never got used. And Joss admitted that he didn't completely dislike the first one, but that it was the second one that he thought was lousy, with the typical teens in small town America plotline..
(And speaking of the Alien films you can add Joss to the long line of folks who were appalled at the killing off of Newt.)

Towards the end we also talked a bit about the Star Wars films and how disappointing it is to rewatch Return of the Jedi now, as it's not a very good film at all. Though I still think Empire is a magnificent piece of film making. Although Joss pointed out that Empire is a film without an ending, whilst of course Star Wars I guess has that perfect fairytale like structure to it. Joss said that he loves to see kids reactions to seeing it for the first time, as it is a way to almost kind of re-experience it again when you're seeing it through their eyes.

Phew! I think I'll leave it at that. Again it was an amazing experience, which I enjoyed tremendously. He really was a down to earth, very gracious guy with his time. Indulging me in all my never ending questions, and heck even offering me a mint! LOL!
So yeah, needless to say it's a memory that I'll cherish for a very long time! :)
Just occurred to me that something I forgot to share was that I asked him if there had ever been any more of Howard Stark in the Avengers script, as I always wished that Cap had said something to Tony about knowing his Father.
Turns out there was exactly that. As there had been a whole through line about it in their character arcs originally, with it first being brought up in their conversation on the Avengers Quinjet after capturing Loki.

Also when discussing Shakespeare, it turns out that not only had Alexis played Hamlet in the readings at Joss's house, but also Amy Acker had played Ophelia in the same readings. Jeez, what I would have given to see those two doing that! LOL! :)
Thank you Jas, lots of great stuff there.
Thanks Jas! Really appreciate you taking the time to share all of this. Sounds like an incredible conversation
Thanks for the kind comments. Yeah it was a great conversation. -Though inevitability there's always a part of you that cringes when you think back to it, and are like 'Why did I say that? When I should have asked him this?' LOL! As that hour and 10 mins just flew by.

But yeah it was an amazing experience, for which I'm very grateful indeed. And my hat's off to Joss for being generous enough to indulge me in all my rabbiting on! The patience of a saint, that man has! :)

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