Joss Whedon is one of the most beloved writers and directors of the era. Whedon is well known as the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, as well as his role as the director for The Avengers film. Written by Amy Pascale, Joss Whedon: The Biography, focuses on the life and works of one of the hardest working men in Hollywood. From his earliest days as the son of a screenwriter to his recent successes, the book takes a look at the life changes and challenges that helped build Whedon.
Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly will eat this book with a spoon and come back for more. The majority of the book covers the early days of filming, the challenges of ensemble casts and reworking the scripts. Pascale lovingly shows the anger Whedon felt at the sudden cancellation of Firefly as well as his frustrations towards Fox when they just didn’t understand his vision for Dollhouse. The book also shows the freedom of filming his own funded projects, such as Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and Much Ado About Nothing. Nathan Fillion, the beloved actor who portrayed Mal Reynolds in Firefly, even writes the forward to the book.
The book is filled with anecdotes about Whedon’s wife Kai, as well as personal interactions with the actors and writers that have helped Whedon along the way. Kai is portrayed as clearly an area of support and sound reason in the life of a very busy writer. One particularly telling story is the thank you letter actor Tom Hiddleston sent to Whedon thanking him for such a strong Avengers script. This letter even includes a small “uncharacteristic fist bump” from a British actor to an American director. It was also interesting to hear that the now infamous Toy Story line “you are a sad strange little man” was actually thanks to Whedon’s rewrite of the now classic Disney film.
Amy Pascale has the unenviable task of writing the biography of someone who is not only still alive, but is beloved enough to cause a public outcry should he be criticized too harshly. It is clear in Joss Whedon: The Biography, that Pascale does have deep love for the man and often her opinions of certain events seem to have a rosier glow than what may have actually occurred. This includes an incident between a former employee from Buffy the Vampire Slayer days and Joss after the man left employment. Despite a loving bias, it is clear that Pascale has deeply researched her subject and includes her sources in the back of the book.
For lovers of Joss Whedon or those who are curious about what actually occurs during a rewrite, filming, or the post production of the beloved Agents of SHIELD or Firefly, Joss Whedon: The Biography is a great place to spend some time. (After all, Tahiti is a Magical Place)
Joss Whedon: The Biography is available August 1, 2014 from Chicago Review Press.