Canadian actor Nathan Fillion first gained attention while playing Joey Buchanan (a.k.a. Joe Riley, Jr.; 1994-1997), son of Erika Slezak's Victoria "Viki" Lord on ABC soap opera “One Life to Live,” and as Johnny Donnelly (1998-2001), a jukebox repairman who dated and later married title girl Sharon Carter (played by Traylor Howard) on ABC sitcom “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” (later re-titled into “Two Guys and a Girl”). He subsequently gained critical acclaim and won the loyalty of thousands of fans as Capt. Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds (2002-2003), the captain of the Firefly-class spaceship "Serenity" on Fox's excellent sci-fi series “Firefly.” He later reprised his role in the series’ film version, Serenity (2005).
The versatile actor with dashing good looks also appeared in the films Blast from the Past (1999), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Dracula 2000 (2000) and Slither (2006). He will co-star with Keri Russell in Waitress, a romantic comedy film written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly. The Sundance-premiered film will begin its limited theatrical release in France and the United States on April 27, 2007. Additionally, TV viewers will soon catch him on Fox's upcoming action-fueled drama series “Drive,” in which he will play the lead role of Alex Tully.
More personally, the 6' 1½" tall, brown-haired, blue-eyed soap opera hunk dated Vanessa Marcil (together until 1996) when he was on “One Life to Live.” He was also romantically linked to Bonnie Somerville, who appeared in an episode of “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” with him.
Civil War General’s Relative
Childhood and Family:
In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Nathan Fillion was born on March 27, 1971, to English teacher parents Bob and Cookie. His older brother, Jeff, is a school principal. Nathan is a distant relative of the Civil War general Jubal Early. Only one semester short of getting his degree, Nathan left his study at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to play the role of Joey Buchanan on the daytime drama “One Life to Live.”
Nathan is an X-Box and Halo fan. His hobbies include playing beach volleyball, drawing, roller-blading and riding his unicycle.
One Life to Live
“I've always fantasized about being on TV. And I was. Then I fantasized about being in the movies. What could be better than captain of a space ship? I get to ride horses, shoot guns, have adventures...” Nathan Fillion.
Initially planning to be a high school English teacher just like his parents, Nathan Fillion eventually turned his interest in acting and began to craft his acting skills at improvisational acting workshop Theatresports Workshops Rapidfire Theatre in Edmonton. While performing at the Fringe Theatre Festival, he was spotted by an agent and subsequently landed numerous stage and television appearances in his home country Canada.
The aspiring actor made his first U.S. debut in the Edmonton-filmed TV-movie Ordeal in the Arctic (1993; ABC). He decided to leave the university only one semester away from graduation when he was offered to replace Chris McKenna playing Joey Buchanan (a.k.a. Joe Riley, Jr.; 1994-1997), son of Erika Slezak's Victoria "Viki" Lord on ABC soap opera “One Life to Live.” His performance later earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series and a Soap Opera Digest nomination for Outstanding Younger Leading Actor.
After her contract with “One Life to Live” ended, Fillion made his feature film with a cameo role as a soldier with the same name as the sought after James Ryan in Steven Spielberg's Academy Awards-winning film, Saving Private Ryan (1998), starring Tom Hanks. He then returned to the small screen to guest star in an episode of CBS sitcom “Maggie Winters” and play a recurring role as Johnny Donnelly, a jukebox repairman who dated and later married title girl Sharon Carter (played by Traylor Howard) on ABC sitcom “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.” In fall of 1999, he became the series’ regular when it was retooled and re-titled into “Two Guys and a Girl.” He stayed on the show until the show ended in its fourth season (2001).
During his “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” stint, Fillion guest starred as a futuristic freedom fighter in an episode of Showtime’s sci-fi series “The Outer Limits” and was featured as the jealous former lover of Alicia Silverstone’s character in Hugh Wilson's romantic comedy film Blast From the Past (1999; also starring Brendan Fraser). He was also cast as Father David in Patrick Lussier's updated version of the vampire classic, Dracula 2000 (with Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller and Jennifer Esposito), which was produced by Wes Craven.
In 2002, Fillion landed a lead role in the Fox pilot “Firefly,” which was conceived by creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” writer and director Joss Whedon. In the sci-fi series, he starred as Capt. Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds, the captain of the Firefly-class spaceship "Serenity." He stayed in the Emmy-winning show until 2003 and his character was named #18 in TV Guide's "Greatest Sci-fi legends" list in 2004. Fillion also won Face of the Future Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for his performance. And when “Firefly” was cancelled, Fillion revealed: “I broke the cardinal rule of don't fall in love with what you're doing, because the rug can get yanked out from underneath you, and when it did, I was heartbroken.”
Meanwhile, Fillion had recurring roles on NBC dramedy “Miss Match” and Fox drama series “Pasadena.” He also received wide attention while playing the recurring role of Caleb (2003), an arrogant, misogynistic, defrocked priest who is allied with the First Evil and serves as one of the "Big Bads" on The WB/UPN’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
“My first chance to play a villain. No one would hire me to play a villain in town. Joss (Whedon) was the first to hire me to play the villain. And I really enjoyed the kind of villain that Caleb was, being that he was pleasant and sweet, but at the same time he was not all right in his head. His sensibilities were all out of whack, and then he was inhumanly powerful, so he couldn't be stopped. And that's got to play on his ego a little bit... I really enjoyed that.” Nathan Fillion (on playing Caleb in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”).
Fillion went to star in Serenity (2005), the science fiction space western/epic film adaptation of his TV series “Firefly.” His performance later received an Empire Award nomination for Best Newcomer and an Online Film Critics Society Award nomination for Best Breakthrough Performance. About the film, he commented: “There is nothing like a major motion picture to make you feel a little bit better about having your TV show cancelled.”
Fillion then had a starring role as Bill Pardy, the town sheriff in James Gunn's directorial debut, the horror-comedy Slither (2006; also featuring Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Tania Saulnier, Lloyd Kaufman and Jenna Fischer). That same year in November, he was spotted as guest in an episode of ABC's Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning survivor drama series “Lost.”
Recently, in January 2007, Fillion’s latest film, Patrick Lussier's horror/thriller White Noise 2: The Light was released. In the sequel to the 2005 film White Noise, Fillion starred as Abe Dale, a family man who witnessed the death of his family and is brought back from the verge of death only to find out he has the ability to identify people who are about to die but discovers there’s a price to be paid. That same month on 21, his other film, Waitress, was also opened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival to glowing critical reviews. In the romantic comedy film, written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, he will co-star as Dr. Pomatter, a local new gynecologist who has a passionate affair with Keri Russell's character. The film will begin its limited theatrical release in France and the United States on April 27, 2007.
Fillion’s fans will soon see him on Fox's upcoming drama series “Drive,” in which he will play the lead role of Alex Tully. The action-fueled drama that follows a diverse group of Americans driving for their lives by competing in an illegal cross-country road race will premiere on Sunday April 15, 2007.
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Face of the Future Award - Male, "Firefly," 2003