AB: I'm under the impression that getting the job [on Firefly] was an outlet from having done some guest work on X-Files. I was in kind of a funky stage in my life. My kids were young, I was hanging out with them, playing a little golf. Being a slacker. My manager called up and said I had to meet the guys from X-Files. I'd auditioned for the Robert Patrick role, but I guess I was wrong for it. Wrong age, wrong type, or just too tall for Gillian Anderson. They liked the audition, though. They brought me back for something else, so Joss [Whedon] had seen my work on the network. So I was on their list, too. I read for him, it went by pretty quick. You read two scenes; if they like you, they test you within a week, and bang, you're off and running. I remember that Joss knew we were under the gun [with Firefly] from the get-go, because they weren't too thrilled with the pilot. So they gave us Fridays at 8 p.m., they didn't want to use the two-hour pilot, because it wasn't finished. That's a reminder that you don't want to give your boss an unfinished product. There was a battle sequence that was supposed to open the show that wasn't in the pilot, so I guess it felt kind of plodding. We were thrown into a perfect storm of baseball playoffs and American Idol's first season. The ad campaign was a little misleading. When you get below a 3 or a 2.5, you're on the block. It's just numbers.
AVC: What was your inspiration for Jayne Cobb?
AB: I had just been trying to do Warren Oates from The Wild Bunch meets Eli Wallach from The Good The Bad And The Ugly. Guys like that. Those are guys I was trying to impersonate, mixed in with some Strother Martin. Those are great Western guys. I just always approached it as a Western, with that sensibility. You can shoot someone in the back and rationalize it, because you're out on the frontier, and survival of the fittest. No honor among thieves. It was up to Joss to infuse him with a little bit of a heart of gold and honor for [Nathan Fillion's character] Mal. The rest of them, he could take or leave them. And later I saw Alien again, and it turns out I was just doing Yaphet Kotto.
AVC: What was it like reprising the role for Serenity?
AB: It fit like a glove. I still had the boots from the series. I slipped right back into those, and a couple of the T-shirts. We upgraded them a little bit, and put on some cooler beltwork and weaponry. The gun sling that the prop guy made for the movie used a quick-release parachute capo. That was pretty cool. It was great to have that group back again, because at that point, we all appreciated what it was. It was probably the most fun job I've ever worked on. It was so sweet. Such redemption. I'm sorry the movie didn't make more money at the theaters. If we'd had three more million viewers for the show, we'd still be on the air, and if we'd had three million more butts in the seats, we'd probably have made a sequel or two.