38/50 creative people challenge
Brilliant writer, director and feminist - I admire him so much and I adore his creations, especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly
Date of Birth
23 June 1964, New York City, New York, USA
Joseph Hill Whedon
5' 10" (1.78 m)
Kai Cole (? - present) 2 children
Plans storylines far in advance for all his television series, allowing for remarkable long-term continuity.
Frequent use of nouns as adjectives, by adding the suffix "-y"
Features tough, strong female characters
Kills off characters who are among his most popular, to keep his audiences surprised.
Supernatural and science fiction themes
Often gives his characters names that are later revealed to be their last names and/or based on an unusual abbreviation for their full name. For example: only after the character Oz had already left "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) did the show reveal that "Oz" was an abbreviation of his full name, Daniel Osbourne; on "Angel," they did not clarify that Doyle was actually the character's last name for many episodes; "Xander," the name of a main Buffy character, is a much less usual nickname for "Alexander" than the much more common "Alex;" and likewise for the name "Topher," the name of a main "Dollhouse" (2009) character, which is a much less usual nickname for "Christopher" than the much more common "Chris.".
Frequently casts Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk.
Attended and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1987.
Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) episode "Hush" was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2000 for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. "Hush" featured 28 minutes without dialogue, as a group of fairy-tale demons called the Gentlemen arrived in Sunnydale to steal voices, and then hearts (literally).
Son of Tom Whedon.
Grandson of John Whedon.
Whedon is married and resides in Los Angeles.
Writing is clearly in his blood, since he could arguably be the world's first third-generation television writer. His grandfather was a successful sitcom writer in the 1950s and '60s on "The Donna Reed Show" (1958) and "Leave It to Beaver" (1957), and his father wrote for the likes of "The Dick Cavett Show" (1968), "Alice" (1976) and "Benson" (1979).
After receiving a degree in film studies from Wesleyan University, Whedon moved to Los Angeles and landed his first writing job on the staff of "Roseanne" (1988), working as a story editor and writing several episodes of the top-rated series. He later pulled double duty on the NBC series "Parenthood" (1990), co-producing and writing a number of episodes.
Appeared on-screen in the Jossverse for the first-time in the "Angel" (1999) episode "Through the Looking Glass" as "Numfar" of the Deathwok Clan. A relative of the Host, he is routinely ordered by Lorne's mother to dance.
Has said that he created Buffy (of the vampire slaying fame) to be an "alternative feminist icon".
Was asked to revise the script for X-Men (2000) and reportedly decided the whole script needed to be totally rewritten. When he handed the studio this draft, they apparently threw it out; they only really wanted him to add a couple jokes here and there.
Lived in the UK for 3 years, from 1980-2, attending Winchester College in Hampshire, where he took his A levels. The character of Rupert Giles is mistakenly thought to be based on a history teacher there, Dr. Peter Cramer. Dr. Cramer's arrival at the College post-dates Whedon's departure. The character was named in tribute to his House Matron: Barbara Giles.
Whedon and Cole can be heard doing a demo track for the wildly popular episode "Once More With Feeling" on the episode soundtrack. It was recorded in the front hall of their home.
His wife, Kai Cole, gave birth to their son Arden on December 18, 2002.
Has cited the X-Men character Kitty Pryde (AKA Shadowcat) as a major influence for the character of Buffy.
Brother of Zack Whedon (assistant to Mr. David Milch) and Jed Whedon.
Took him two years to finish writing Buffy comic book spin-off mini-series "Fray" with artist Karl Moline, due to his schedule with his three shows (Buffy/Angel/ Firefly) and the artist's new job at CrossGen Comics.
Wrote an introduction for Jim Krugeer and Alex Ross's Marvel Comics's award- winning graphic novel "Earth X."
His last television project was a show called "Firefly," which offered his unique view of the future.
He recently finished production for "Serenity," a movie continuation of the discontinued show, "Firefly."
His favorite movie is The Matrix (1999).
Considers Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) to be a perfect movie.
The August 21, 1995, draft of the screenplay for Twister (1996) credits Joss Whedon and Jeff Nathanson as writers. Neither writer are credited in the final film.
Has claimed that his script for Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" is his personal favorite thing he has ever written.
Wrote the plot to the comic book Serenity, which bridged the gap between the Firefly T.V. series and the film. Fellow Firefly writer Brett Matthews scripted it.
Daughter, Squire, born late 2004/early 2005.
In 2007, started writing the comic-book Runaways after Brian K. Vaughan left it.
Rewrote the script for Speed (1994/I) uncredited.
Related to Jed Whedon, video game music composer.
Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof are the godparents of his son Arden.
An active supporter of gay rights.
In X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), the idea of a cure developed by Dr. Kavita Rao, Beast's interest in it, and the prominent roles played by Kitty Pryde and Colossus, were inspired by Joss Whedon's story "Gifted" which took place in the first six issues of "Astonishing X-Men".
Was educated at Winchester College, England.
[when asked how he designed each unstoppable season villain to be unique and threatening:] "We got into a problem with that. We kept saying, "This monster can't be killed." It's like, "Well, have you used violence?" It was never about the unstoppableness. It was never about the monster. It was about the emotion. The monster came from that. We didn't always make them unique. We tried as much as possible, but what was important was how they related to the characters and that's what made them unique." [April 2003]
But nowadays I'm really cranky about comics. Because most of them are just really, really poorly written soft-core. And I miss good old storytelling. And you know what else I miss? Super powers. Why is it now that everybody's like "I can reverse the polarity of your ions!" Like in one big flash everybody's Doctor Strange. I like the guys that can stick to walls and change into sand and stuff. I don't understand anything anymore. And all the girls are wearing nothing, and they all look like they have implants. Well, I sound like a very old man, and a cranky one, but it's true.
"It's fascinating to me, the shows that I've always loved the best, "Hill Street Blues" (1981), "Wiseguy," "Twin Peaks" (1990) have always been shows that did have accumulative knowledge. One of the reasons why "The X-Files" (1993) started to leave me cold was that after five years, I just started yelling at Scully, 'You're an idiot. It's a monster,' and I couldn't take it anymore. I need people to grow, I need them to change, I need them to learn and explore, you know, and die and do all of the things that people do in real life. And so [on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997)] we're very, very strict about making sure that things track, that they're presented in the right way. Because, ultimately -- and this is one of the things that I did find out after we had aired, the soap opera, the characters, the interaction between them is really what people respond to more than anything else. And although we came out of it as a sort of monster-of-the-week format, it was clear that the interaction was the thing that people were latching onto. So we were happy to sort of go with that and really play it up and really see where these characters were going to go." [NPR Fresh Air, 8 November 2002]
[about tearful emotions while filming the last episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997)]: "The last scene that I filmed [involved] a one-day player with no lines, which is great. I actually said, 'I want the last scene to be a one-day player with no lines, so I don't lose it.'" [The New York Post, May 20, 2003]
"Joss likes those old movie serials." -- Marti Noxon, about Whedon's cliffhanger endings to episodes [January 26, 2003]
"The times are chaotic. For me, I would hope that people look at ["Angel" (1999)] and gain strength by it. With everything that I do, I hope that they see people struggling to live decent, moral lives in a completely chaotic world. They see how hard it is, how often they fail, and how they get up and keep trying. That, to me, is the most important message I'm ever going to tell." [The Vancouver Sun, February 3, 2004]
[after The WB channel canceled the series, causing hurt feelings among the cast and crew -- hurt which was dramatized in the finale] "We put a lot of that heartbreak into the script, into the show, so it would hurt as much to watch as it did to have it taken away from us. I would not have been as brutal about the ending -- had we had another season." (May 10, 2004)
[about his "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) and "Angel" (1999) TV shows] "Redemption is something you have to fight for in a very personal, down-dirty way. Some of our characters lose that, some stray from that, and some regain it." (May 13, 2004)
Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.
[Talking about Serenity and making a movie] When you're making a movie, you gotta Amp it up, you gotta go to a greater scale and everything is gonna be a little grander, you hero is gonna be more 'heroicaler'.... yes that's a word..... now....
I'd rather make a show 100 people need to see, than a show that 1000 people want to see.
Regarding why his Wonder Woman script wasn't accepted: It was in an outline, and not in a draft, and they didn't like it. So I never got to write a draft where I got to work out exactly what I wanted to do. In terms of the meaning, the feeling, the look, the emotion, the character, the relationship with Steve Trevor, all of that stuff, I never wavered for a second... The lack of enthusiasm was overwhelming. It was almost staggering, and that was kind of from the beginning. I just don't think my take on Wonder Woman was ever to their liking.
If somebody comes up to me, it's because they're moved by something I'm moved by. I've never taken a job I didn't love ... So when somebody's coming up to me, or they're writing, they're in the same space I am in. I write for fanboy moments. I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. I write to do all the things the viewers want too. So the intensity of the fan response is enormously gratifying. It means I hit a nerve.
... I believe the best way to examine anything is to go to a dark place. You can't be a storyteller and a speechwriter at the same time.
Writers are completely out of touch with reality. Writers are a crazy person. We create conflict - for a living. We do this all the time, sometimes on a weekly basis, we create horrible, incredible circumstances and then figure a way out of them. That's what we do.
There are two things that interest me -- and they're both power, ultimately. One is not having it and one is abusing it.
It's a consideration, but it's not the first one. The first one is 'What's cool?' If I think something is cool, then other people will too, because I'm a fan. Something that makes me go 'Ohh, tingly,' that's something that other people will share. I am the audience. When you're thinking about the fans, you're more thinking about 'What do we not have enough of?' and 'Where do we need to be next, emotionally?' But beyond that, you're thinking 'What makes me excited, what's wrong with me, and how cool is that?' It's a playground. You also think about the actors. What will challenge them? What will jazz them? What haven't I seen from them? It's just all part of the same equation. The audience includes the people making it. Actually, I think the people making it and me might make up about half of the audience. -- on if he considers (potential) fan reactions while writing
The people that I come back to are people who are either extremely versatile or just right for the part, but they all share the same work ethic and they all throw themselves into a part or a task with enormous professionalism and gusto. Nobody coasts. Nobody isn't bringing their "A" game. -- on if there are any specific characteristics he looks for in actors
I'm not afraid to say panic. I'm not too much of a man to use the words "completely panic." The first thing I did, even before it was totally official, was go out to a restaurant, which is where I do most of my writing, and write down everything I thought about what Season 2 would be, and sent it to the writers. I wrote down everything that I thought would be useful -- what we hadn't had enough of, what I thought had clicked, what we could improve -- and also things that excited me about the second season. Once I had that memo out to the writers I felt like I was ready for anything. I wasn't but it was cute that I thought so. ... I'd had a few drinks by the end of that memo and I'm not allowed to tell you anything. What happens in Vancouver is nobody's business. -- on what was the first thing he did when he found out "Dollhouse" was renewed for a second season
I've always approached every season that way. Firefly was the one time I really got the rug pulled out from under me. But every season of Buffy, except that time I got a two-year pickup from UPN, we ended the show as though we were not coming back. Or with the thought that if we did not come back, we would be satisfied - that's why I never ended with a cliffhanger. Then we got a bigger pick up on Buffy and I ended with a cliffhanger and went, "No wonder our first episodes are always so crappy, cliff hangers are awesome!" -- on how he approaches season finales of his TV shows
... Nothing embarrasses Eliza. That's kind of why I love working with her. Apart from finally conquering her fear of wearing her hair in an up-do. Literally, I've had her doing Kung-Fu, speaking Spanish, swing dancing, comedy, drama, horror, naked, anything - no problem - but put her hair up and she freaks. For some reason the back of her neck should not be exposed, but she's OK with it now, and she's really proud of that. She's really grown as an actress with the back of her neck. -- on any embarrassing Eliza Dushku moments
Basically that you can do anything. If you pool your resources, and in my case all of your connections after 20 years in the business - actually, God help me, 21 - and just give up the idea that you're going to act like a normal person or sleep, if you want it hard enough and do it well enough, it happens. I think a lot of really talented people either sort of get crushed under the wheel of the movie studio system or desperately try and get their next gig in TV. I understand why, because we've all got to put food on the table and the brass ring is out there, we'd all like to be making the Emmy-winning shows and the blockbusters and all that, but at the same time you could be doing stuff yourself. I wish more people would take the extraordinary talent they have and just let their id go because that's what we discovered. We discovered that the sillier we got, the more people believed that we were speaking from our hearts. -- on what he's learned from making "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" that may help when making another
... It has to do with being under the radar. The fan base kept us ["Dollhouse"] from being not canceled, which was very thoughtful of them. But at the same time, I do know that they demand a certain amount of surprise, they demand the unexpected, and they demand to be challenged when they watch the show. Hopefully not confused, just challenged. They never want any of my shows to fall into a comfortable formula, which is just the greatest thing in the world for both the writers and the actors. To know that they're not every week going to go, "I'm the one who explains things," "And I'm the one who makes a wacky aside!" For them to know that their characters are going to change and go through hell and in some cases change very literally, and then they're more excited to be a part of it. The whole energy comes from this little band of rebels-I don't mean the people in the Dollhouse...but I sort of do. -- on if he feels he can take bigger chances because of his loyal fanbase