Interview with Nobility creator E.J. de La Pena and series star Cas Anvar.
If you’re one of the lucky people going to San Diego Comic Con this week, you’re going to be treated to a lot of great new science fiction. Not only will you get to see a panel for Space Command there, but Star Trek: Axanar will be putting in an appearance, along with Nobility.
Nobility is being billed as a “dramedy” science fiction series and stars some names familiar to sci-fi fans: Walter Koenig (Star Trek), Doug Jones (Space Command, Pan’s Labyrinth), Cas Anvar (Assassins Creed: Revelations), Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena, Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Darren Jacobs (Starship: Rising) and James Kyson (Heroes).
The series, created by E.J. De la Pena, has been described as a cross between Firefly and The Office – if that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will. I interviewed both de La Pena and Anvar about the series and their upcoming appearance at Comic Con.
FGC: How would you best describe Nobility?
EJDLP: The best way to describe Nobility is Firefly meets The Office. It’s a drama rich comedy (or a comedy rich drama… dramedy?) about a rag tag bunch of misfits that have to deal with real problems, in a real world, with consequences for their actions.
CA: Dark Sci Fi comedy
FGC: Nobility has a few notable high-profile science fiction actors, such as Walter Koenig and Doug Jones, etc., as well as as part of its cast. What was it like working with them?
EJDLP: It’s no secret that I’m pretty young to be doing what I’m doing. I literally grew up dreaming that I’d be working with the people I’m currently working with and always hoped I would but figured that it was decades away. It’s not only a dream come true but a distinct honor and a privilege.
CA: Doug Jones is a dream to work with one of the nicest and most talented actors I have worked with in my career – never negative, always creative, and has got a hug for everyone. And his mastery over his craft is inspiring and rewarding to watch. Walter was a real gift for me to work with – He had a completely unexpected sense of humor that kept me laughing the whole shoot. His wealth of experiences and stories from all the work that he did were truly inspiring and thrilling to a big sci fi geek like me…and i loved watching him crack open the role of Commander Mooney such a departure form anything i have ever seen him do before. Walter has a real sense and love of comedy and it was a thrill to get to work with him on this project and watch him create a completely new role for his fans (including me) to enjoy.
FGC: What is or has been the biggest challenge on making Nobility a reality?
EJDLP: Maintaining patience and courage. I’ve been working on the project for nearly two years now. There’s been many times when things are going so well that I could burst, and others when it’s felt like everything’s falling apart. It’s been an amazing whirlwind that’s it’s just beginning, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything – it all just adds to the richness of the journey.
CA: It is a new concept blending the comedy into the drama and finding the right balance without it becoming too slap stick and kitsch was always on our minds. Often, we would do a scene several times and adjust our comedic approach until we felt it was just right.
FGC: What can fans expect at Comic Con from the panel?
EJDLP: Not only the bulk of our AMAZING cast, but LOTS of footage from the show itself. Everything from trailers to sneak peaks – hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen – it’s gonna be a wild ride!
CA: A table full of incredibly talented sci fi heroes in love with a project they poured their hearts and soul into – passionate artists who believe in Nobility and how huge it can become. We are fans and we are making something fans like us will love and devour voraciously.
FGC: It seems that there is a current trend of crowdfunded and fan-founded science fiction seeing success. Why do you think this is happening now and do you see that continuing for many more future science fiction projects?
EJDLP: Because the studios and networks aren’t giving us fans what we want. While there’s a lot of great sci-fi out there it’s all earth based and post-apocalyptic. Fans want shows like the ones they grew up with like Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and more. I created Nobility because its what I wanted, what I needed, to see on the air, and the incredible fans that have been joining us is just proving that it’s not just me.
Now that the technology exists for people to be able to create their own material and self distribute on the web – fans can truly take ownership of the genre we love. I just hope the networks are listening and choose to aid this trend in order to give fans what we deserve.
CA: It’s happening because networks and studios are scared: scared of taking risks, scared to fail, scared to put something out there that breaks the mold. Execs are sometimes scared to lose their jobs, so they want to do what has already worked. So then, the channels are flooded with shows that are carbon copies of each other.
When a new idea comes up, no one wants to touch as it is too risky since it hasn’t been tried before…what if it fails? Gasp! Because of this, we need to go to a new model of funding to make it happen, namely our audience and investors who contribute small amounts but from many many people. So the risk is low but the outcome is very positive. The result is high quality artistic products unhampered by the fearful Network interference Obviously we can also fail huge: but hey, go big or go home is my motto.
Catch the Nobility Panel at SDCC on Friday, July 25th at 7:30 p.m. in Room 5AB.
(Btw, I totally screwed up when I sent the interview questions and named George Takei instead of Walter Koenig in one of my questions. This is why I should multi-task. However, De la Pena was a good sport and said he would love to work with Takei. “Psssst, George” he said, “if you’re reading this, contact me on FB – we got the perfect role for you!” So yeah, let’s make that happen, people.)