An employee of a major movie studio (I am going by his email address here) clues me in:
“Derb—OK, now I can tell you. Alan Tudyk refused to sign on for a potential sequel, so Wash’s spectacular and thorough death was written in. [Joss] Whedon tried to talk him out of it, but he was adamant. But the day they shot that scene he thought maybe he had made a mistake.
“The coolest on-set story, though, is about Summer Glau. That big battle she wages against the Reevers at the end was choreographed as one piece, and she did the whole thing herself in one long take, which was then edited as you see in the movie.”
[Derb] I must say, River was the one character I didn’t really take to. Given her problems, I suppose I wasn’t really supposed to, but I thought she did chew the scenery a bit now and then. Anyway, if I had to vote one of them off the island, it would’ve been River, not Wash. Though the Firefly crew are such a great team, and obviously had so much fun working together, I’d really rather have seen none of them written out. And I’ll say this for River: I now have a new fantasy kung fu match-off: Summer Glau v. Zhang Ziyi.
To the 95 percent of Corner readers who haven’t a clue what this is all about, buy or rent the Firefly disks … but skip the Serenity movie. Give them time, the thing takes a while to really capture your attention. A second viewing (based on last night) may be more rewarding than a first.
Watching that first episode of Firefly again last night, I was impressed by how consistent the inter-character dynamics were across the whole series. The whole thing must have been carefully plotted out in advance–not usual for a TV series above the sitcom level, I think.