Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Overlooked Awards - Part 2

In my second installment of the Overlooked Awards, I present an actor who is enjoyable every single time I've seen him. The man is a fellow Canadian, which automatically qualifies him as underrated, but he's also beloved by critics, the fanboys, and Mrs. Nerdlinger, who thinks he's dishy.

I'm talking about Nathan Fillion.

Fillion, for those of you out there who don't know him, is most famous for his protrayal of Captain Mal Reynolds on Joss Whedon's defunct TV series Firefly and its big screen sequel, Serenity.

He got his initial break playing the other Pvt. Ryan in a great scene in Saving Private Ryan, and parlayed that into a regular role on Two Guys and a Girl, a sitcom co-starring fellow Canuck Ryan Reynolds.

Then came Firefly, with its devoted fan following and shabby treatment by Fox (they aired episodes out of order, with little fanfare or faith before finally canceling it after 11 episodes). I'm not going to recap the show, but it was decidedly original, and Fillion's portrayal of Reynolds, a cocky roguish smuggler with a haunted past and guarded toughness, was certainly iconic. The show was so successful upon its DVD release, that it got the feaure film greenlit.

From there, Fillion gave another assured performance as the "big bad" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's final season. He made some more guest appearances on some TV shows, notably Lost. An intriguing TV series called Drive premiered as essentially a vehicle for him, but was cancelled by Fox after six episodes. While Drive wasn't perfect, it was interesting, and there was a campaign to save it, however futile. Its quick cancellation threw light on viewers' growing dissatisfaction with networks that debuted series and then cancelled them without giving them a chance or resolving any storytelling points.

Then he appeared in two films that made the critics sit up and take notice. The first was Slither, a small, tongue-in-cheek horror film with heart in which Fillion played a heroic, if a little goofy, small town sherriff. In Waitress, he showed his quality as a romatic lead as Keri Russell's love interest. Both were well-received by critics, with Fillion himself being singled out for his ease at handling leading man roles with charm.

Most recently, he has completed a multi-episode turn on Desperate Housewives, which was almost enough to get me to watch that show. He is also part of the mega-successful internet series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, created by Joss Whedon. But the big news comes with the announcement of Castle, a new mystery series airing this fall about a mystery novelist who consults with the NYPD.

Hey, it's not Fox, so maybe this show will have a chance! And Fillion may get to be as big a star as he deserves.

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