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Canadian actor Nathan Fillion had already made a name for himself in the daytime television world with a three-year stint on ABC's "One Life to Live" (1968-2013) when "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (Fox, 1997-2003) creator Joss Whedon introduced him to primetime audiences in the cult sci-fi Western, "Firefly" (Fox, 2002-03). Fillion reprised his role in the big-screen spin-off, "Serenity" (2005). Mild-mannered with a subtle sense of humor and a guy-next-door realism about him, Fillion earned notice for co-starring in independent features, including the horror comedy "Slither" (2006) and the indie romantic comedy "Waitress" (2007), opposite Keri Russell. Fillion was courted to star in a number of TV projects, including the action series "Drive" (Fox, 2007) and the romantic comedy/drama "Castle" (ABC, 2009-16), and while the former vehicle proved short-lived, his glowing reviews and appeal with female audiences on the latter show revealed that if paired with the right project, he exuded an undeniable star quality.
Born March 27, 1971, Fillion grew up the son of English teachers in Alberta, Canada. He attended Concordia University College of Alberta and the University of Alberta where he became active in local theater, especially improv comedy, and performed with the Rapid Fire Theater Company. He made his screen debut in the 1993 ABC TV movie "Ordeal in the Arctic," a disaster drama filmed in Edmonton. Ironically, Fillion was performing regularly with the improvised soap-opera show, "Die Nasty," when he landed a cast role on a real-life soap opera, "One Life to Live." Fillion relocated to New York and for three years played the role of Joey Buchanan, son of the show's heroine Victoria, who endured uniquely precarious situations including a forbidden romance with the decades-older Dorian, his mother's arch-nemesis. The program showcased not only the husky-voiced actor's leading-man potential, but his humor and affability as he more than capably handled both the requisite melodramatic scenes and lighthearted comic ones. For his efforts, he garnered a 1996 Daytime Emmy nomination as Outstanding Younger Leading Man.
Fillion made the move to features after he left the soap, heading to Hollywood where he snared a memorable cameo in Steven Spielberg's hard-hitting World War II drama "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), playing the other Private James Ryan - not the one who is the focus of the search. The following year, he appeared in the comedy "Blast from the Past" in a contemptible turn as Alicia Silverstone's shallow ex-boyfriend. The comic actor then put his skills to use in the recurring role of Johnny Donnelly, the likable jukebox repairman boyfriend of Traylor Howard's Sharon on the ABC sitcom "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" (ABC, 1998-2000). In the fall of 1999, "Two Guys and a Girl" (ABC, 1999-2001) left the pizza place behind and Fillion joined the cast as a regular, moving in with Sharon and planning their upcoming wedding while attempting to bond with the difficult "Two Guys," scattered Berg (Ryan Reynolds) and jealous Pete (Richard Ruccolo).
In 2002, Fillion was recruited by Joss Whedon to star in Fox's "Firefly" as Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, the cynical, seemingly mercenary captain of the spaceship Serenity in the futuristic space opera that drew more inspiration from classic Westerns than typical sci-fi. The show managed to garner a devoted following, but not enough to keep it on the air. Whedon held on to Fillion, giving him a recurring role as Caleb, the final villain faced by the Slayer on the last season of "Buffy." The following year, he was tapped by NBC to re-team with Alicia Silverstone on the series "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003). The hour-long comedy met with a swift demise, after which Fillion reprised Mal in a big-budget feature spin-off of "Firefly" entitled "Serenity" (2005), where his performance proved to be the core of the film's human story. Meanwhile, his voice-over career ramped up with roles in animated offerings such as "Justice League" (Cartoon Network, 2001-06).
Fillion became a big-screen leading man in 2006 with his starring role in James Gunn's horror-comedy hybrid, "Slither" (2006), in which he gave a critically lauded performance as the would-be hero and chief-of-police of a small town invaded by alien parasites that transform the citizenry into zombies. He earned less attention for a starring role in the low-budget thriller "White Noise: The Light" (2006), but the following year enjoyed glowing reviews for "Waitress" (2007), in which he co-starred as a doctor who falls in love with a pregnant patient who is enduring an abusive marriage. The film showcased Fillion's light comedic touch and appeal as a sincere, romantic leading man. That fall he was cast in a brief role as Katherine Mayfair's ex-husband, Dr. Adam Mayfair, on the campy Sunday night mainstay "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). The actor's luck as a primetime lead continued to elude him however, when the action series "Drive," about a high-stakes, cross-country road race, lasted only half a dozen episodes.
Re-teaming with Whedon, Fillion starred as an unscrupulous superhero in "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" (2008), a 45-minute web-only musical movie that earned a great deal of Internet buzz and a People's Choice Award for Best Web Sensation. He also joined Keri Russell a second time - in voice only - to co-star in the 2009 animated direct-to-video release "Wonder Woman," and his voice work continued in his role as Green Lantern in various straight-to-video cartoon productions, including "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" (2011). In the spring of 2009, Fillion returned to the network that gave him his start for the title role as a novelist who joins forces with a lovely detective (Stana Katic) to solve mysteries in the romantically tinged series "Castle," and the show proved to be remarkably successful. Outside of this and his various superhero adventures, Fillion reunited with his old buddy Whedon once again for a fittingly light adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy "Much Ado About Nothing" (2012), and the following year he was featured in two major Hollywood films, first as a smug frat-boy in the Pixar hit sequel "Monsters University" and then as the messenger god Hermes in the underwhelming fantasy movie "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters."
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