By Rick Bentley
LOS ANGELES — You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce Nathan Fillion is happy to be off Wisteria Lane. Don’t get the actor wrong. He thoroughly enjoyed the season he spent on the ABC drama “Desperate Housewives.” As he puts it, they were a “lovely group, really nice people.’
There was just one itsy-bitsy problem.
“I spent a lot of time sitting around in a living room saying ‘Uh-huh. Yes. That’s right. Well, I’ll back you up on that’,” an almost giddy Fillion says during an interview in January to talk about his new starring role in the ABC series “Castle,” which premieres at 10 p.m. tonight.
The new mystery series has made Fillion as happy as Nero Wolfe at an all-you-can eat buffet. It gives him a lot more to do.
That extra work comes from playing Richard Castle, a mystery writer who has become bored with his own great success. A chance meeting with Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), a detective with the skills of Columbo and the looks of Heidi Klum, rekindles his literary juices. He decides she will be the model for his new book. Castle weasels his way into being allowed to be with his new gun-toting muse while she solves crimes.
Since there isn’t a single living room where Fillion can offer mindless retorts, the role in “Castle” seems perfect to him.
“I’m an actor. I have that wonderful job where every day can be an adventure for me. That’s what Castle is. Every day of his life is a field trip. He’s a child inside,” Fillion says. “I wanted to have fun. I wanted to have fun every day, and that’s something that ‘Castle’ has in spades.”
Could he mean Sam Spade? Not if he is describing Castle. The TV mystery writer Fillion is playing is nowhere near as hard-boiled as the Dashiell Hammett gumshoe. Castle, and these are Fillion’s own words, is a spoiled brat.
The more Fillion talks about the series, the more clues he drops about how happy he is. He uses phrases such as “we’re going to have a lot of fun on this show.”
As Hercule Poirot might say, “nous comprenons” (we understand).
Even a comparison to TV snoop Jessica Fletcher, the mystery writer character played by Angela Lansbury on “Murder, She Wrote,” doesn’t faze Fillion.
That’s how he has been describing his character. Castle is Jessica Fletcher if — and again these are Fillion’s words — “Angela Lansbury was more manly, but just a little.”
The joy can’t simply be that Fillion has a job. The Canadian actor has been steadily working since 1993 with roles in television shows from “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” to “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.” His film credits include “Waitress,” “Serenity” and “Slither.”
He’s just excited about the character and the series.
Fillion even happily admits that despite how underused he was on “Desperate Housewives,” he would not hesitate to reprise his role if asked.
“I’m always willing to go back. Heaven forbid I have the time,” a smiling Fillion says.