Joss Whedon is the middle of five brothers - his younger brothers are Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. Both his father, Tom Whedon and his grandfather, John Whedon were successful television writers. Joss' mother, Lee Stearns, was a history teacher and she also wrote novels as Lee Whedon. Whedon was raised in New York and was educated at Riverdale Country School, where his mother also taught. He also attended Winchester College in England for two years, before graduating with a film degree from Wesleyan University.
After relocating to Los Angeles, Whedon landed his first TV writing job on "Roseanne", and moved on to script a season of "Parenthood". He then developed a film script which went on to become Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). Whedon was very unhappy with the final film - his original script was extensively re-written and made lighter in tone. After this he earned screenwriting credits on such high profile productions as Alien: Resurrection (1997) and Toy Story (1995), for which he was Oscar nominated. He also worked as a 'script doctor' on various features, notably Speed (1994).
In 1997, Whedon had the opportunity to resurrect his character Buffy in a television series on The WB Network. This time, as showrunner and executive producer, he retained full artistic control. The series, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was a popular and critical hit, which ran for several seasons, the last two on UPN. Whedon also produced a spin-off series, "Angel", which was also successful. A foray in to sci-fi television followed with "Firefly", which developed a cult following, but did not stay on air long. It did find an audience on DVD and through re-runs, and a spin-off feature film Serenity (2005) was released in 2005.
Other projects have included comic book writing, the sci-fi drama "Dollhouse" and the screenplay for Marvel blockbuster The Avengers (2012).
|Kai Cole||(? - present) 2 children|
Plans storylines far in advance for all his television series, allowing for remarkable long-term continuity.
Frequent use of nouns as adjectives, by adding the suffix "-y"
Features tough, strong female characters
Kills off characters who are among his most popular, to keep his audiences surprised.
Supernatural and science fiction themes
Often gives his characters names that are later revealed to be their last names and/or based on an unusual abbreviation for their full name. For example: only after the character Oz had already left "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) did the show reveal that "Oz" was an abbreviation of his full name, Daniel Osbourne; on "Angel," they did not clarify that Doyle was actually the character's last name for many episodes; "Xander," the name of a main Buffy character, is a much less usual nickname for "Alexander" than the much more common "Alex;" and likewise for the name "Topher," the name of a main "Dollhouse" (2009) character, which is a much less usual nickname for "Christopher" than the much more common "Chris.".
Frequently casts Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk
References to classic stories and films, through storytelling methods and direct reference in dialogue
Tongue-in-cheek, witty writing style
Attended and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1987.
Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) episode "Hush" was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2000 for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. "Hush" featured 28 minutes without dialogue, as a group of fairy-tale demons called the Gentlemen arrived in Sunnydale to steal voices, and then hearts (literally).
Son of Tom Whedon.
Grandson of John Whedon.
Whedon is married and resides in Los Angeles.
Writing is clearly in his blood, since he could arguably be the world's first third-generation television writer. His grandfather was a successful sitcom writer in the 1950s and '60s on "The Donna Reed Show" (1958) and "Leave It to Beaver" (1957), and his father wrote for the likes of "The Dick Cavett Show" (1968), "Alice" (1976) and "Benson" (1979).
After receiving a degree in film studies from Wesleyan University, Whedon moved to Los Angeles and landed his first writing job on the staff of "Roseanne" (1988), working as a story editor and writing several episodes of the top-rated series. He later pulled double duty on the NBC series "Parenthood" (1990), co-producing and writing a number of episodes.
Appeared on-screen in the Jossverse for the first-time in the "Angel" (1999) episode "Through the Looking Glass" as "Numfar" of the Deathwok Clan. A relative of the Host, he is routinely ordered by Lorne's mother to dance.
Has said that he created Buffy (of the vampire slaying fame) to be an "alternative feminist icon".
Was asked to revise the script for X-Men (2000) and reportedly decided the whole script needed to be totally rewritten. When he handed the studio this draft, they apparently threw it out; they only really wanted him to add a couple jokes here and there.
Lived in the UK for 3 years, from 1980-2, attending Winchester College in Hampshire, where he took his A levels. The character of Rupert Giles is mistakenly thought to be based on a history teacher there, Dr. Peter Cramer. Dr. Cramer's arrival at the College post-dates Whedon's departure. The character was named in tribute to his House Matron: Barbara Giles.
Whedon and Cole can be heard doing a demo track for the wildly popular episode "Once More With Feeling" on the episode soundtrack. It was recorded in the front hall of their home.
His wife, Kai Cole, gave birth to their son Arden on December 18, 2002.
Has cited the X-Men character Kitty Pryde (AKA Shadowcat) as a major influence for the character of Buffy.
Took him two years to finish writing Buffy comic book spin-off mini-series "Fray" with artist Karl Moline, due to his schedule with his three shows (Buffy/Angel/ Firefly) and the artist's new job at CrossGen Comics.
Wrote an introduction for Jim Krugeer and Alex Ross's Marvel Comics's award- winning graphic novel "Earth X."
His favorite movie is The Matrix (1999).
Considers Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) to be a perfect movie.
Has claimed that his script for Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" is his personal favorite thing he has ever written.
Wrote the plot to the comic book Serenity, which bridged the gap between the Firefly T.V. series and the film. Fellow Firefly writer Brett Matthews scripted it.
Daughter, Squire, born late 2004/early 2005.
In 2007, started writing the comic-book Runaways after Brian K. Vaughan left it.
Rewrote the script for Speed (1994) uncredited.
Related to Jed Whedon, video game music composer.
An active supporter of gay rights.
In X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), the idea of a cure developed by Dr. Kavita Rao, Beast's interest in it, and the prominent roles played by Kitty Pryde and Colossus, were inspired by Joss Whedon's story "Gifted" which took place in the first six issues of "Astonishing X-Men".
Was educated at Winchester College, England.
Whedon, who has made his support of feminist causes well known and who has built much of his career writing films and TV shows about empowered teenage girls or young women, was a subscriber to Sassy, an American feminist magazine for teenage girls. Sassy was published between 1988-1994, which means that Whedon (who was born in 1964) would have been far into his late 20s or early 30s while receiving the publication.
Whedon's children have his wife's last name, not his.
He is a huge X-Men fan and based his most famous character, Buffy Summers, partly on Kitty Pryde.
Is a very big fan of ''Battlestar Galactica'' and cast Tahmoh Pennikett as one of the leads in ''Dollhouse'' based on his work in it. He also cast Jamie Bamber, Michael Hogan and Mark Sheppard in guest parts.
Is a huge fan of the Terminator series.
[when asked how he designed each unstoppable season villain to be unique and threatening:] We got into a problem with that. We kept saying, "This monster can't be killed. It's like, "Well, have you used violence? It was never about the unstoppableness. It was never about the monster. It was about the emotion. The monster came from that. We didn't always make them unique. We tried as much as possible, but what was important was how they related to the characters and that's what made them unique. [April 2003]
But nowadays I'm really cranky about comics. Because most of them are just really, really poorly written soft-core. And I miss good old storytelling. And you know what else I miss? Super powers. Why is it now that everybody's like "I can reverse the polarity of your ions!" Like in one big flash everybody's Doctor Strange. I like the guys that can stick to walls and change into sand and stuff. I don't understand anything anymore. And all the girls are wearing nothing, and they all look like they have implants. Well, I sound like a very old man, and a cranky one, but it's true.
It's fascinating to me, the shows that I've always loved the best, "Hill Street Blues" (1981), "Wiseguy," "Twin Peaks" (1990) have always been shows that did have accumulative knowledge. One of the reasons why "The X-Files" (1993) started to leave me cold was that after five years, I just started yelling at Scully, 'You're an idiot. It's a monster,' and I couldn't take it anymore. I need people to grow, I need them to change, I need them to learn and explore, you know, and die and do all of the things that people do in real life. And so [on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997)] we're very, very strict about making sure that things track, that they're presented in the right way. Because, ultimately -- and this is one of the things that I did find out after we had aired, the soap opera, the characters, the interaction between them is really what people respond to more than anything else. And although we came out of it as a sort of monster-of-the-week format, it was clear that the interaction was the thing that people were latching onto. So we were happy to sort of go with that and really play it up and really see where these characters were going to go. [NPR Fresh Air, 8 November 2002]
[about tearful emotions while filming the last episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997)]: "The last scene that I filmed [involved] a one-day player with no lines, which is great. I actually said, 'I want the last scene to be a one-day player with no lines, so I don't lose it.'" [The New York Post, May 20, 2003]
Joss likes those old movie serials. -- Marti Noxon, about Whedon's cliffhanger endings to episodes [January 26, 2003]
The times are chaotic. For me, I would hope that people look at ["Angel" (1999)] and gain strength by it. With everything that I do, I hope that they see people struggling to live decent, moral lives in a completely chaotic world. They see how hard it is, how often they fail, and how they get up and keep trying. That, to me, is the most important message I'm ever going to tell. [The Vancouver Sun, February 3, 2004]
[after The WB channel canceled the series, causing hurt feelings among the cast and crew -- hurt which was dramatized in the finale] "We put a lot of that heartbreak into the script, into the show, so it would hurt as much to watch as it did to have it taken away from us. I would not have been as brutal about the ending -- had we had another season." (May 10, 2004)
[about his "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) and "Angel" (1999) TV shows] "Redemption is something you have to fight for in a very personal, down-dirty way. Some of our characters lose that, some stray from that, and some regain it." (May 13, 2004)
Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.
[Talking about Serenity and making a movie] When you're making a movie, you gotta Amp it up, you gotta go to a greater scale and everything is gonna be a little grander, you hero is gonna be more 'heroicaler'.... yes that's a word..... now....
I'd rather make a show 100 people need to see, than a show that 1000 people want to see.
Regarding why his Wonder Woman script wasn't accepted: It was in an outline, and not in a draft, and they didn't like it. So I never got to write a draft where I got to work out exactly what I wanted to do. In terms of the meaning, the feeling, the look, the emotion, the character, the relationship with Steve Trevor, all of that stuff, I never wavered for a second... The lack of enthusiasm was overwhelming. It was almost staggering, and that was kind of from the beginning. I just don't think my take on Wonder Woman was ever to their liking.
If somebody comes up to me, it's because they're moved by something I'm moved by. I've never taken a job I didn't love ... So when somebody's coming up to me, or they're writing, they're in the same space I am in. I write for fanboy moments. I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. I write to do all the things the viewers want too. So the intensity of the fan response is enormously gratifying. It means I hit a nerve.
... I believe the best way to examine anything is to go to a dark place. You can't be a storyteller and a speechwriter at the same time.
Writers are completely out of touch with reality. Writers are a crazy person. We create conflict - for a living. We do this all the time, sometimes on a weekly basis, we create horrible, incredible circumstances and then figure a way out of them. That's what we do.
There are two things that interest me -- and they're both power, ultimately. One is not having it and one is abusing it.
It's a consideration, but it's not the first one. The first one is 'What's cool?' If I think something is cool, then other people will too, because I'm a fan. Something that makes me go 'Ohh, tingly,' that's something that other people will share. I am the audience. When you're thinking about the fans, you're more thinking about 'What do we not have enough of?' and 'Where do we need to be next, emotionally?' But beyond that, you're thinking 'What makes me excited, what's wrong with me, and how cool is that?' It's a playground. You also think about the actors. What will challenge them? What will jazz them? What haven't I seen from them? It's just all part of the same equation. The audience includes the people making it. Actually, I think the people making it and me might make up about half of the audience. -- on if he considers (potential) fan reactions while writing
The people that I come back to are people who are either extremely versatile or just right for the part, but they all share the same work ethic and they all throw themselves into a part or a task with enormous professionalism and gusto. Nobody coasts. Nobody isn't bringing their "A" game. -- on if there are any specific characteristics he looks for in actors
I'm not afraid to say panic. I'm not too much of a man to use the words "completely panic. The first thing I did, even before it was totally official, was go out to a restaurant, which is where I do most of my writing, and write down everything I thought about what Season 2 would be, and sent it to the writers. I wrote down everything that I thought would be useful -- what we hadn't had enough of, what I thought had clicked, what we could improve -- and also things that excited me about the second season. Once I had that memo out to the writers I felt like I was ready for anything. I wasn't but it was cute that I thought so. ... I'd had a few drinks by the end of that memo and I'm not allowed to tell you anything. What happens in Vancouver is nobody's business. -- on what was the first thing he did when he found out "Dollhouse" was renewed for a second season
I've always approached every season that way. Firefly was the one time I really got the rug pulled out from under me. But every season of Buffy, except that time I got a two-year pickup from UPN, we ended the show as though we were not coming back. Or with the thought that if we did not come back, we would be satisfied - that's why I never ended with a cliffhanger. Then we got a bigger pick up on Buffy and I ended with a cliffhanger and went, "No wonder our first episodes are always so crappy, cliff hangers are awesome! -- on how he approaches season finales of his TV shows
... Nothing embarrasses Eliza. That's kind of why I love working with her. Apart from finally conquering her fear of wearing her hair in an up-do. Literally, I've had her doing Kung-Fu, speaking Spanish, swing dancing, comedy, drama, horror, naked, anything - no problem - but put her hair up and she freaks. For some reason the back of her neck should not be exposed, but she's OK with it now, and she's really proud of that. She's really grown as an actress with the back of her neck. -- on any embarrassing Eliza Dushku moments
Basically that you can do anything. If you pool your resources, and in my case all of your connections after 20 years in the business - actually, God help me, 21 - and just give up the idea that you're going to act like a normal person or sleep, if you want it hard enough and do it well enough, it happens. I think a lot of really talented people either sort of get crushed under the wheel of the movie studio system or desperately try and get their next gig in TV. I understand why, because we've all got to put food on the table and the brass ring is out there, we'd all like to be making the Emmy-winning shows and the blockbusters and all that, but at the same time you could be doing stuff yourself. I wish more people would take the extraordinary talent they have and just let their id go because that's what we discovered. We discovered that the sillier we got, the more people believed that we were speaking from our hearts. -- on what he's learned from making "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" that may help when making another
... It has to do with being under the radar. The fan base kept us ["Dollhouse"] from being not canceled, which was very thoughtful of them. But at the same time, I do know that they demand a certain amount of surprise, they demand the unexpected, and they demand to be challenged when they watch the show. Hopefully not confused, just challenged. They never want any of my shows to fall into a comfortable formula, which is just the greatest thing in the world for both the writers and the actors. To know that they're not every week going to go, "I'm the one who explains things," "And I'm the one who makes a wacky aside! For them to know that their characters are going to change and go through hell and in some cases change very literally, and then they're more excited to be a part of it. The whole energy comes from this little band of rebels-I don't mean the people in the Dollhouse...but I sort of do. -- on if he feels he can take bigger chances because of his loyal fanbase
As I've often said, subtlety is for little men. (DVD commentary on Angel episode "Waiting in the Wings")
[on the infamous line spoken by the character Storm in "X-Men" (2000)] That's the interesting thing. Everybody remembers that as the worst line ever written, but the thing about that is, it was supposed to be delivered as completely offhand. [Adopts casual, bored tone.] "You know what happens when a toad gets hit by lightning?" Then, after he gets electrocuted, "Ahhh, pretty much the same thing that happens to anything else." But Halle Berry said it like she was Desdemona. [Strident, ringing voice.] "The same thing that happens to everything eeelse!" That's the thing that makes you go crazy. At least "You're a dick" got delivered right. The worst thing about these things is that, when the actors say it wrong, it makes the writer look stupid. People assume that the line... I listened to half the dialogue in Alien 4, and I'm like, "That's idiotic," because of the way it was said. And nobody knows that. Nobody ever gets that. They say, "That was a stupid script," which is the worst pain in the world. I have a great long boring story about that, but I can tell you the very short version. In Alien 4, the director changed something so that it didn't make any sense. He wanted someone to go and get a gun and get killed by the alien, so I wrote that in and tried to make it work, but he directed it in a way that it made no sense whatsoever. And I was sitting there in the editing room, trying to come up with looplines to explain what's going on, to make the scene make sense, and I asked the director, "Can you just explain to me why he's doing this? Why is he going for this gun?" And the editor, who was French, turned to me and said, with a little leer on his face, [adopts gravelly, smarmy, French-accented voice] "Because eet's een the screept." And I actually went and dented the bathroom stall with my puddly little fist. I have never been angrier. But it's the classic, "When something goes wrong, you assume the writer's a dork." And that's painful.
I don't tend to write straight dramas where real life just impinges. But because I don't, when I do it is very interesting to slap people in the face with just an absolute of life.
[about why he was unhappy with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)] The thing is, people always make fun of Rutger Hauer. Even though he was big and silly and looked sort of goofy in the movie, I have to give him credit, because he was there. He was into it. Whereas Donald was just... He would rewrite all his dialogue, and the director would let him. He can't write - he's not a writer - so the dialogue would not make sense. And he had a very bad attitude. He was incredibly rude to the director, he was rude to everyone around him, he was just a real pain. And to see him destroying my stuff... Some people didn't notice. Some people liked him in the movie. Because he's Donald Sutherland. He's a great actor. He can read the phone book, and I'm interested. But the thing is, he acts well enough that you didn't notice, with his little rewrites, and his little ideas about what his character should do, that he was actually destroying the movie more than Rutger was. So I got out of there. I had to run away. (The Onion A.V. Club Interview with Joss Whedon, 2001)
[on the philosophy of story-writing] We plot it out leaving room for disasters or fortuitous occasions. Anything could change. Basically, we plot it ahead always, because if you don't know where you're going, you're not going anywhere.
[on why he thought Alien: Resurrection (1997) was not faithful to his vision] ...It wasn't a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines...mostly...but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They did everything wrong that they could possibly do. There's actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking, because everything that they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from the script, and people assume that, if I hated it, then they'd changed the script...but it wasn't so much that they'd changed the script; it's that they just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable.
[When asked whether he threatened his actors never to give spoilers, he replied jokingly] I'm a very gentle man, not unlike Gandhi. I don't ever threaten them. There is, sort of hanging over the head, the thing that I could kill them [i.e., their characters] at any moment. But that's really just if they annoy me. They know that I'm very secretive about plot twists and whatnot, because I think it's better for the show. (The Onion A.V. Club Interview with Joss Whedon, 2001)
[on being told that Warner Bros. announced plans for a rebooted version of a "Buffy" film without involvement by the original creative team] This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths, just because they can't think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers (The Avengers (2012)) idea that I made up myself. Obviously I have strong, mixed emotions about something like this. My first reaction upon hearing who was writing it was, "Whit Stillman *and* Wes Anderson? This is gonna be the most sardonically adorable movie *ever*." Apparently I was misinformed. Then I thought, "I'll make a mint! This is worth more than all my Toy Story (1995) residuals combined!" Apparently I am seldom informed of anything. And possibly a little slow. But seriously, are vampires even popular any more? I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, *after*. I don't love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I'm also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can't wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I'm making a Batman movie. Because there's a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you. [exclusive interview by Kristin Dos Santos, Nov. 22, 2010]
[on what he looks for in an actor when casting] I look for future stars; I go to the future, see who's famous and then I go back and cast them. [laughs] You know, every role is different, but you're looking for someone who understands it, will make it pop, will take it beyond where I've taken it; who will bring more to it than I imagined. Hopefully they're easy on the eyes, that'll help too, and are sane. I stand very firmly, and "Cabin in the Woods" is a good example, of casting for sanity. People that you want to be in the trenches with, because there are trenches and you are fighting. It's hard to make a film, it's hard to make a TV show and you want somebody who's got the kind of energy and enthusiasm like Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford have where they're just like, 'Let's do this!' and I'm like [in smaller/softer voice], 'You guys are super-famous-Oscar people; why are you so excited?'
[on what genre(s) "The Cabin the Woods" belongs to] There's a little twitch of sci-fi in pretty much everything that comes out of us, but that's not the experience that you're having. I think you define the genre by the experience, and this is a horror movie. There's a lot of laughs in it as well; Drew and I are not gonna not make jokes, but it's not a comedy. The experience is classic horror and anything else that feeds into it is just sort of icing.
[on the horror clichés that "The Cabin in the Woods" explores and if it is a reaction to them or embrace of them/having fun with them] It's both. You do go, 'We have to question this. We have to question is this still valid? Is this still valid storytelling, or has it fallen into cliché?,' but at the same time we seek out these movies where these young people do these stupid things. So, we love it but we can't not question it, too. So we really wanted to make a movie that contained our ambivalence, where we have a great time with this horror at the same time as we're sort of going, 'We really love these people and we want to protect them from this horror.' That ambivalence just exists as a viewer and as a writer. Specifically I'm thinking of one passage where you're rooting for different things at the same time very clearly, and that's sort of part of the excitement and part of what I've never understood about horror, and what I've always loved.
[on what makes the horror genre unique or what can it do that other genres can't] I'm gonna go with bloody killing. [laughs] Horror is... on the edge of something. It's populist entertainment but it's also allowed to take certain risks and that's where you get some of the ugliest things in society, and also some of the most interesting comments on society. When you're on the fringe like that, when you're working in a genre that's just a little bit edgier, that's the place where you find the most interesting dialogue about what we all expect in society from each other and from movies and stuff. So you get to take risks in horror, and then there's bloody killing.
[on why "Alien" is his favorite horror film] My favorite's really "Alien," just because I got to stay spoiler-free for one thing. There are many that have perhaps filled me with more dread, but "Alien" worked for me on a level that was dazzling; it's science fiction and horror which I love; the creature's unparalleled and constantly in the first one shifting your expectations of what it is and can do; and it was also a movie that terrified me because it was the first horror movie I'd seen where I didn't think the people in it would look out for each other. The way they related to each other frightened me as much as the alien because usually there's a safe haven of, 'Well, we've got each other's backs,' and they didn't seem like they did.
[on what his favorite horror film is] I'll rock out "Alien," partially because I got to see that completely unspoiled which was hard to do even then. That's all anyone was talking about and I was just like [covers ears, makes mumbling noise]; I would not talk to my friends for a couple of weeks until I could see it. Front row, Times Square, 14 years old. [Sly smirk] Oh, yeah.
There's a very unlovely thing about the horror genre that is still something that I don't understand and don't respond to. There is also something that I absolutely respond to; I love horror, I love terrible scary situations and people getting into terrible trouble and all the good stuff. Those two things co-exist. We can talk about the movie ["The Cabin in the Woods"] as a criticism, but it's the most loving one there is.
[on "The Cabin in the Woods"] It's an attempt to be aware, without being too self-referential. It's our way of saying, 'We love horror movies, and so do you. But don't you wonder why?'
I've had so much success. I had something to say, I got to say it, people heard it, and they agreed. That's every artist's dream. That's the brass ring.
I did walk out, but I found it fascinating that the movie ["Friday the 13th" (2009)] opens with a group of expendable teens, which Jason kills - not, by the way, very inventively - and then the movie starts, and an even more expendable group of teens shows up. It was as hateful as anything I've seen. There's an element of this 'torture porn' promulgation that's made me as angry as I can remember being. ... The disconnect between movie behavior and normal human behavior starts to strain. It starts with, 'I'll drop the knife now, because it's a really good time to be unarmed while I have my back to the thing,' and goes further into, 'I'm an unbelievable asshole and also I'm doing drugs and crime and sex all at the same time, so not only might I die but I deserve to.' Punishment for youth-y behavior is bizarre to me, and unsettling.
[on ironic detachment in "The Cabin in the Woods" and throughout his work] Well, you can only go so far with ironic detachment, and then ultimately, you stop being invested in something. What "Scream" was great at was presenting ironic detachment and then making you actually care about the people that were having it, and juxtaposing it with their situation, all in the service of making a great horror movie. It was fresh. We wanted to make sure we never went so far with our awareness of popular culture and horror movies and the kids' awareness that things were not as they should be-we never wanted to go so far that you would step outside... Like the end of "Blazing Saddles," where they walk out of the Western onto the lot, which to me screams 'Copout!' I'm a "Blazing Saddles" fan, but you never want to go that far. You want the integrity of the world. We live in the world. Unless you're writing about ["Cabin" villains] the Buckners, about people who aren't aware of how things work in popular culture. But you don't want that to be your benchmark. You don't want that to be what the dialogue's really about.
[on horror and "The Cabin in the Woods"] Drew [Goddard] was saying the other day, "Scream" was clearly made by people who love horror movies and everyone is like 'Oh, they deconstructed the horror movie. You can't make one anymore.' I'm like 'That was a terrifying horror movie, where you are really worried about the people in it. End of story.' That's the goods. There have been a bunch of successful and some awesome horror movies since then. You can't stop it. That train is going to run, because people need it. That's part of what we were writing about. It's not just like 'Horror is fun.' It's like 'Horror fulfills a basic human need. We are not exactly sure we understand it. We think it might not be good, but we have it and we love it.' ... It's sort of an inoculation. It's 'Oh, things are so horrible' and then you get out and you're like "Oh, actually no, things are not as horrible as it was for those people and so I can go about my day.' But there's also a joy in it. It's a release, but it's not just something you get through. It's not just therapy. There's a genuine joy in being frightened that is giddy.
Part of this movie ["The Cabin in the Woods"] was definitely about the idea that people are not expendable and that as a culture, for our own entertainment, we tend to assume that they are. Although I absolutely love horror movies and always have, I love them most when I really, really care about the people who are in dire trouble.
[on if he misses "Angel" at all] I'm sad they pulled the plug before the sixth season; because we really had it all tapped out and thought we were firing on all cylinders. It was a stupid business move on their part and the network died soon after. Had I not been so exhausted by the year of "Firefly" and "Angel" that had come before, maybe I could've fought - though fighting with the head of a network is much like not fighting, cause they just do what they do. They pay no attention to what you say, ever.
[on if he can protect "Buffy" fans from it getting rebooted or remade] Protect her from being rebooted? Yes, if they [fans] all chip in, send the money to me; it'll be fine, that should work out. Paypal. We seem to be rebooting things that haven't been debooted yet. It's part of the culture but it's not my favorite part, I don't concern myself with it. I think about the things that I can control and the things I'd like to do and say and I don't think about somebody coming along and having a go at it. Look, either they do it poorly, and people will say they've done it poorly. Or they're do it well and good for them. Either way, I don't think it's going to make the work we did disappear.
I always watch what I say. I am what I say. And I say I'm Emperor of Always, so... Respect, buddy.
[on actually caring about the characters in "The Cabin in the Woods"] This movie was definitely a reaction to that, because Drew and I both felt like 'Well there's a bit of a devolution going on here' and it happens in all genres. This is something that I've only realized talking about this movie lately, but you look at action movies and eventually it's just a series of explosions. If you look at romantic comedies and eventually it's "Love Actually," it's just, like, hit you over the head and horror movies become a series of inventive killings of people you don't care about. I am unable to write about people that I don't care about and that goes for everybody. That goes for Mordecai... I love that guy! I don't necessarily want to have dinner with him, I'm just saying I love him. The point of this movie to a larger extent is these are textured interesting humans who love each other and they are being force to devolve into horror movie clichés and it's the one cliché that I'm not interested in, which is: 'Oh look it's okay, they are expendable.' They smoke pot, they have sex, so it's okay to kill them. I'm like 'When did that come into the equation?' ... It was always that everybody in this movie is doing what they think is right, including the terrifying Buckners, because they have a belief system, which writing that diary... Drew was like 'Hey, do you want to write a 14 year old girl's turn of the century diary about worshiping pain?' I'm like 'Yeah, I can do that.' 'Okay.' You know, that was one of the great things about this. He's like 'Okay, I'm going to write a girl making out with a wolf's head! I'll catch up with you.' Absolutely, you have to have sympathy for all of the characters. You have to understand both sides of the conflict, otherwise it's not a conflict, it's just a fight. Sometimes it's fine to just say 'Okay, bad guys are bad and we've got to get out of this situation,' but it's much more interesting, especially in a situation like this where you are going to spend a lot of time with both sides of this weird filmic equation to understand that everybody is doing what they think is best. ... You can absolutely go 'Wow, some very bad decision making went on' and we're not just talking about the pot and the sex. [laughs] At the same time, that sort of dehumanizing of people is what we were reacting to and the movie has a very sort of humanistic message in the sense of 'I will stand by my friend.' That's how humanity is supposed to work and if it doesn't work that way, then what else have we got?
[on if it's possible to be original in the horror genre anymore] - You know, the next way to be original will present itself, and we'll all go, 'Oh! I didn't think of that.' We definitely put our own stamp on it-and it's a big red stamp-but you don't kill horror. One of the things this movie is very clear about is that there's a basic human need going on here. We pay to see these kids, and in the way that this is sort of about us writing these situations, the viewer is absolutely complicit in that. Horror movies don't exist unless you go and see them, and people always will. Every time you think, 'Well, you know what, we all know the tropes, it's all been done,' someone's going to make "The Descent" and knock you off your ass, and you'll be like, 'Oh, that's great.' You take people you care about and you make it awful for them.
I love fantasy. I love horror. I love musicals. Whatever doesn't really happen in life is what I'm interested in, as a way of commenting on everything that does happen in life, because ultimately the only thing I'm really interested in is people.
[on if killing a character has ever had a profound emotional affect on him] I actually find it refreshing... delightful... vaguely arousing... Actually, I'm, no offense, very tired of being labeled as 'the guy who kills people.' Shakespeare (he's this hot new writer) does it way more than me, and everyone's all excited about how he, as it were, holds a mirror up to nature, while I'm like the Jason Voorhees of the writing community. Unfair. Also, probably Buffy's Mom.
[on what his favorite work of science fiction is and what inspires him to continue to create] "Dune" (the book). And what inspires me is "Dune" (the miniseries). Actually, I don't think of myself as being inspired to create. I can't imagine doing anything else. It's like breathing.
[on if he could pick one piece of his work -- an episode of television or a film -- that would be used to represent his entire body of work to far off future generations, what would it be] - "Objects in Space."
[on what would have happened had "Angel" not been canceled after season five] - Season six of "Angel" would have kicked all manner of ass. And Illyria would have manifested as Fred often enough to become very confused about her identity. And now I'm sad again.
[on what he'd do if money were no object] - I have many dream projects. But all the money in the world means just one thing: spaceships. Spaceships in trouble.
I'm absolutely devoted to working outside the mainstream, or at least in smaller venues and on my own terms. (My terms : unconditional surrender. Plus back-end.)
[on what his favorite characters to write have been] - Favorite characters? Jeez. Spike, Andrew, Illyria, River, Captain Hammer, Loki, the Cheese Man... hell, I love them all, or I wouldn't write them. But I tend to the left of center. The hardest was always Angel. How to make a decent, handsome, stalwart hero interesting -- tough. Angelus, on the other hand...
All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet -- it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.
[on what made him want to tackle Shakespeare with "Much Ado About Nothing"] - I wanted to drag Shakespeare from obscurity. I've been a fan my whole life, and it's time other people started noticing him!
[on the possibility of making a full scale musical] Full scale musical? The biggest non-spaceship-involving dream of my life. But it's a huge life commitment...
[on why he writes strong female characters] Because you're still asking me that question.
... If you're not building a textured human and putting them through some kind of pain, I'm not sure what the purpose of the narrative is going to be. That applies to comedy, too.
I will never put something out that I don't believe in. Everything I've ever worked on, I love on some level. And, yes, I'm including 'Waterworld'.
[on how he planned for his career] All I knew was that I was going to do something other than make an honest living.
I don't think of myself as a quality guy, like, 'I'm going to make highbrow art!' At the same time I don't think of myself as a schlockmeister. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough but, apart from the Internet, I don't know where I belong.
I love genre. I love fantasy. I love it more than anything else. I love it because of the scope and the chance to talk about humanity in a way that is very,very close to the heart but not wearing the same skin.
I'm never going to stop telling stores that have to do with helplessness, that have to do with empowerment. There's always going to be some element of government conspiracy, because people are manipulated every day and they never even notice it. I'm never going to stop wanting to talk about leadership. These are themes I'm going to come back to time and time again. And, generally speaking, those themes are going to be sung or they're going to be flying through space, because I'm also a ten-year-old. And I've got no problem with that.
To infinity, and prosper!
I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of.
I'm very much of the "make it dark, make it grim, make it tough" but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.
I still believe that even though Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is better in innumerable ways than Star Wars (1977), Star Wars (1977) wins because you can't end a movie with Han frozen in carbonite. That's not a movie, it's an episode.
[on Sarah Michelle Gellar] It would be difficult to overemphasize Sarah's value to the show. There've been times that we didn't get along. There have been times when we've palled around. But no matter what, she was the other half of 'Buffy.' In seven years, she never let me down.
(June 2004) Currently in the middle of a 12 issue stint on Marvel Astonishing X- Men.
(March 2005) Has just been signed to write the new "Wonder Woman" movie
(September 2005) Will be writing a second set of 12 issues of Marvel Comics' "Astonishing X-Men", the first issue of which is tentatively scheduled to ship in December of 2005.
(May 2005) Finished shooting and production on Serenity (2005).
(April 2006) Completing his first draft script for "Wonder Woman" (2007).
(March 2007) Writing and supervising a Dark Horse comic book series that's the official and canonical sequel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
(April 2007) Writer on the Marvel comics, Runaways (with Astonishing X-men and Buffy the Vampire Slayer he's currently putting out three different comics simultaneously).
(July 2007) Announced that BBC had optioned 'Ripper,' a television film centered on 'Anthony Stewart Head' and his character Giles from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)'.
(December 2007) He is scripting an Angel graphic novel; After the Fall. A sixth season and continuation of the television series.
(March 2008) He is scripting a 3 issues Serenity comics, Better Days, for Dark Horse Comics, a prequel to the movie.
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