Saturday at WonderCon in Anaheim, Nathan Fillion filled in for the entire cast of Netflix’s “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” at the press round tables and on 30 March 2018, Fillion will begin his turn as Jacques Snicket, brother of Lemony Snicket.
For some, this is an opportune moment–a re-match of the quirky chemistry between Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris. Harris stars as Count Olaf, an actor who was originally the guardian of the three orphaned Baudelaire children–Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and Sunny (Presley Smith)–but having lost that pathway to the Baudelaire fortune, now plots on other means.
Harris was the titular character in Joss Whedon’s musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” As an aspiring supervillain, Dr. Horrible vied against the handsome and heroic Captain Hammer (Fillion) for the lovely Penny (Felicia Day).
When asked about this rematch, Fillion said, “I imagine Neil Patrick Harris sitting with his morning coffee, saying, ‘I need someone that I could really hate. Who would be the perfect nemesis; the perfect enemy: Nathan.'” Regarding the program, Fillion continued, “Neil does such great work. Gosh, such great work. I watched the first season of ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ and then I got a text from Neil saying, ‘Hey, keep your eyes open. We’re going to send you a little something. Maybe you can come join us for a minute.'”
And that “minute” became a featured role on Season 2. Fillion described the program, “It’s such a beautiful program. My God! It’s like a spooky painting, like a really a gross place that you wouldn’t want to live–o gorgeous in its ugliness. It’s captivating.” He added, “The words. It’s written so eloquently. The rhythms are so attractive. There’s so much going on that can entertain you.” And for him, “the chance to work with Neil again. Of course, I’m going to do that.”
Once on the set, Fillion joked, “We slip into roles we are comfortable with: playing enemies. It’s a win-win, guys. It’s four aces in your hand.”
Fillion confessed he hadn’t read the books–neither before or since, being so busy. “I remember the first movie, way back when. It was super cool.”
Not everything is perfect because remember what W.C. Fields famously said about working with children. Fillion said, “Here’s something that drove me crazy. It’s such an amazing world and there is so much beauty in it. That the kids are the smartest guys in the room always, gets a little frustrating for me. I could see how it would be entirely satisfying for a younger audience watching it. Wanting credit some credits. Kids being treated like kids; kids can get exhausted by that.”
Of course, if you’ve seen the show, the youngest Baudelaire is the smartest and Fillion said, “Talk about capable actors. That baby is on it.” But added, “You look at a baby and you think what are my expectations?”
Fillion was quick to give props to the production team, saying, “Making TV is not rocket science, but it takes a group effort. It’s a team. You need the money to back it. You need to hire the right people for the right jobs. It’s time intensive. It’s a lot of work that goes into it. When I come to work, I know I’m going to work the full day through. You’re part of a machine.” Yet Fillion’s role is pretty easy, he relates, “When I come to work and Neil Patrick Harris has already been there for two and a half hour in a chair getting stuff glued to his face and he’s going to be there for an hour after I leave getting stuff taken off his face and then he’s going to be there the very next day to start the whole thing all over again. That’s a lot of work. He’s signed on to what I would consider torture but I think work is his life’s blood.”
Since “Castle” this “a job like that, a project like this Jacques Snicket is the perfect role for me. In two weeks I’m done. I’m in and I’m done. I’ve put some time in but nothing like the colossal effort of Neil. I come in and a dip my toe in.”
As one reporter at the round table noted, in that respect, this role is just like his recent appearance in Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet” where Fillion admits he was “doing the same thing.” Fillion has also made an appearance in “Modern Family.”
Fillion admitted, “I think my career is basically a long line of riding on other people’s coat tails, but my gift is knowing which coat tails to ride on.”
Having worked on two network series, “Firefly” for one season (14 episodes on Fox during the fall of 2003 and one movie in 2005 and “Castle” on ABC for eight seasons from 2009 to 2016 for 173 episodes) versus Netflix, Fillion explained, “The day to day is the same; the kinds of projects are, I say, different. I think Netflix takes a lot more risks: ‘Let’s see if this sticks.’ Networks have a whole lot of concern: ‘If we put this on in a very important time slot if it doesn’t survive that’s our investment.’ Netflix is a different animal so they take more risks. Once your projects out there, it’s accessible at any time. If you didn’t tune in on Wednesday; that’s totally good. You can binge watch on Thursday.”
On his character Jacques, Fillion said, “The best thing about my character is that I think he has an immutable goodness about him. Lemony Snicket is a depressed guy because he’s been through a great deal.” Yet Jacques still has “a lot of hope, a lot of drive to do what’s right.”
Lemony Snicket is both the pen name of American writer Daniel Handler and the narrator of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and a character in it. The Victorian Gothic tones and dark, sometimes sarcastic humor gives kids an opportunity to feel wiser than the adults while also learning the meaning of words as they follow the adventures of the Baudelaires in this absurdist world. The first season consisted of eight episodes and began streaming on January 13, 2017. The ten episodes of Season 2 begin streaming on March 30, 2018 and cover the books “The Ersatz Elevator,” “The Vile Village,” “The Hostile Hospital” and “The Carnivorous Carnival.”