He’s played a novelist who helps solve weird crimes. A musically inclined superhero trying to stop Dr. Horrible. A constable in a retelling of a Shakespearean classic. But for the legions of adoring fans who crammed into a Salt Palace ballroom early Saturday, Nathan Fillion will always be the big-talking but soft-hearted Captain Malcolm Reynolds from the cult classic "Firefly."
If you are really familiar with him, you can call him Mal.
Fillion delighted a jam-packed audience at Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX with colorful anecdotes from that fan-favorite, which aired on TV for only one season in 2002 and returned to the big screen in the movie "Serenity" in 2005. He currently stars in the hit crime show "Castle."
Fillion received a standing ovation when he hit the stage and a standing ovation when he left. Wearing a blue button-down shirt and jeans, he answered questions for about 45 minutes, often drawing eager laughs.
He told the legions of über-fans that they should never try to find out where an actor lives. No matter what nice sentiment you want to send, it always comes off as "I’m crazy and I know where you live," Fillion said.
One questioner asked what scenes he wanted to perform on TV and Fillion had clearly thought about this before. He wants to land a plane, light a pool of gasoline by dropping a match and use a cigarette or maybe a cigar to set off a bundle of TNT.
Fillion is an undeniable heartthrob, but some of the women in the audience were a little critical.
"It looked like he had bags under his eyes. My thought was how late did you stay up and how much did you have to drink?" said Melinda Owen, of Magna. "He was still really personable, but he’s showing his age more than I expected.
Fillion, who told the crowd he had dinner with much of the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on Friday night, also referenced the tell-tale signs of age, touching his eyes when he said that when he looks in the mirror, he sees the "daily betrayal." In contrast, he said the women who starred in "Firefly" are more beautiful every time he sees them.
After shooting a scene for that show where the crew pretended to eat steaks around their spaceship dining room table, everyone but Nathan Fillion and cast member Adam Baldwin left for lunch. Fillion and Baldwin stayed, not letting fresh, hot steaks go cold. And for a moment, sitting around that crummy table with mismatched plates and forks in a fake spaceship, Fillion remembered that "it felt like home."
Fondly reminiscing about the show, in front of thousands of adoring fans, Fillion looked like he was, for a moment, home again.
Tribune reporter Matt Canham contributed to this article.
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