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15 October, 2007 / Erik

Tough Guy Contender #2

Contender: Nathan Fillion. Who would’ve ever thought someone from Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place would be on this list?

Evidence: In such films as Serenity and Slither, Fillion has shown he is capable of playing the sort of tough guy who constantly finds himself in over his head. Though the situation is always a little more than he thinks he can handle, he finds a way to tough it out and beat the odds. This was sort of character Harrison Ford made a career of playing. Fillion is, oddly, a sort of successor to that without the dour, Bogart feel Ford would bring to Deckard in Blade Runner or any of his later films. Fillion also has great timing.

Problems: So far, Fillion’s work has subverted the tough guy mold. Both the his Firefly and Slither characters always go for the comedy beat before an action beat. This isn’t a fault of the actor per se, but it informs the screen persona and his relationship with an audience. Is it beyond repair? No. Ford subverted his persona several times and has always recovered with the help of a fedora. Fillion is also part of the Whedon touring company. Though many of those actors do good work for him, their connection to genre shows leaves them in a ghetto that is hard to escape. He’s also starred on several failed programs.

Why Isn’t He a Tough Guy Already: He has not appeared in a really big film. Though the movies he’s appeared in have rabid fan bases, they’re fairly niche affairs. While his screen persona could find a big movie much easier than, say, an actor in the mold of Lee Marvin, the script hasn’t appeared. In the meantime, he’s found work on Desperate Housewives. If that show goes down, he’ll be a new Ted McGinley.


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  1. Aimee / Oct 23 2007 2:46 pm

    Did you ever see the short lived Fox series “Drive”? It was actually pretty good, but no viewers. Fillion was in that (the creator was a former Firefly writer, so I’m sure there was some connection there) and he played your “I’m just a regular guy thrown into a situation,” but there was no comedy to it – all tough guy intensity. He was badass in that. But as mentioned, the show didn’t last, so he’s still stuck in obscurity….

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