‘My Face Is on Your Leg!’ and Other Shiny Moments with Jewel Staite

Photo by Dave Nelson
Photo by Dave Nelson

While we are all still patiently waiting on—and by patiently we mean having a Gorram fit in our bunks—the Firefly cast to reunite for more seasons (that we were cheated out of), we were able to ask everyone’s favorite engineer Jewel Staite about her surreal Firefly experiences, iconic scenes, favorite Kaylee moments, and how Nathan Fillion is not only fantastic at being a star, he’s also a real-life smuggler. All this and more were covered at the “Operation Firefly: Everything’s Shiny” panel on Friday at 2:30PM in the Sheraton Grand Ballroom A–F.

The show, and its sudden demise, is a surreal experience for the fans, but to Staite, the surreal experiences all came after the show. One of those first moments was when she was asked to attend a Buffy the Vampire Slayer convention and speak at a panel. This was after the cast was told that no one was even watching the show. When she arrived at the panel, there was a huge line waiting. Even today, after the show has been canceled for more than 10 years, the surreal moments continue with packed rooms at Dragon Con and a photo line made up of 80% of fans cosplaying or in fan t-shirts. Staite also went on to say that the cast never thought that the show would turn into what it has.

One of the most surreal moments, at least for those in attendance, was when an audience member calmly stated that he lifted his kilt for Nathan Fillion at his panel. Then, he coolly walked over and lifted his kilt for Staite, to which she excitedly exclaimed “It’s my face! My face is on your leg!” and took a selfie with the lifted kilt.

As for which scenes were her favorite to film, Staite explained that the she always enjoyed the dining room scenes because most of the cast were present whenever they filmed there. While Kaylee was involved in several emotionally charged scenes, the one that really hit home and was difficult for her was Wash’s funeral scene in Serenity. Not only because of the content, but that it was one of the last scenes the cast ever filmed.

When a character is portrayed as well as Kaylee was, it’s hard for the audience to separate the character from the actor, but Staite’s list of similarities with Kaylee is very short. They look alike. She also said that, as an actor, it’s very difficult not to take a piece of your character home every night. “Playing Kaylee was so joyful because she was such an open, warm soul. It was a pleasure to take that home at the end of the day.”

As for her favorite line, “Kaylee had all the best lines,” including “You fixed the ship. It works,” “Hell with this. I want to live,” and “Wash, tell me I’m pretty.” That last line was a surprise to her future husband, who hadn’t yet watched Firefly, when he saw her sign that on an autograph.

Staite was asked which character she liked working with best, and while she grew close to Sean Maher, it was Nathan Fillion she told on. “He’s very good at being a star,” she stated, but it isn’t what you’re thinking. Fillion is number one on the call sheets, and to her, that person’s energy trickles down to the cast. Fillion always brought a great energy to the set. He’d play the name game, pointing to a crew member and seeing if the cast knew that person’s name, and Fillion always knew their names. He also introduced new actors to everyone on set and showed them to important locations, such as the bathroom and lunchroom.

Ever wondered what happened to the set, props, and costumes from Firefly? The ones that weren’t donated to charity auctions are likely illegally stored in Fillion’s cargo hold, aka shelves in his house, according to Staite. Who else procured a ware from the ’Verse? Adam Baldwin took the statue’s head from the Jaynestown episode. Can’t say we blame him, and neither did the audience. There were numerous nodding Jayne hats.

With each Firefly panel, there’s the inevitable question (exclamation) of when the series will be rebooted or when there will be a spin-off on one of the many terraformed earths. With each passing year, the answer is that, while there are so many stories to tell with the original characters, there are still no credible reboot rumors in existence. But, as Staite said, “Stranger things have happened in this business for sure, like Gilmore Girls getting a reboot.”

Author of the article

Not everyone can say they watch television for homework, read novels for inspiration, and are paid to follow what’s trending. For Alicia Pack, it is all part of life as a writer and media enthusiast.  When she isn't lost in the world she is trying to create, you can find her with her nose in a book or catching up on her favorite supernatural shows.  She has a Master’s degree in Mass Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television, and Film.  Her nine years of diverse media experience include news writing, copywriting, website content management, social media, promotions, television production, and teaching.

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