Way back on March 29, a book came out that chronicled the making of one of the biggest sensations to hit the Internet since the Evolution of Dance: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: The Book. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator and “Avengers” director Joss Whedon describes the Emmy-winning online superhero tragicomedy musical as “Gone With the Wonderful Life of Citizen Goonies. And it’s shorter.” The wizardry of one Whedon could not be accomplished without the witty words and musical talents of other Whedons, though. Joss’ co-writers/brothers Jed and Zack, along with talented sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen, helped script, acted in and sang in the production. Our Jevon Phillips caught up with Jed Whedon and ask him a few questions about way back when and about the story’s possible future.
JP: So, “Dr. Horrible” was produced during the writers’ strike. What were you doing when the strike started — before production began?
JW: Starving. No, we were eating a lot of donuts on line. And making silly Internet videos about the fact that the corporations we were striking against were so gigantic and could easily crush us and how all we could do was make Internet videos. It was in this spirit that we made Dr. H.
JP: You are a very musical bunch — what are the roots of that musicality? (And I’ve seen Maurissa’s Pretty in Pink group. Awesome!)
JW: The Whedon family all grew up listening to musicals. Our dad is known to put a record on the old turntable from time to time, though more recently they are CDs, which don’t work very well at all on the turntable… Sondheim is an honorary member of our family. Maurissa grew up as a singer/dancer and was in a Motown pop group called Pretty in Pink when she was 13. They toured the country and performed on “Arsenio Hall.” So again to recap: Whedons listening to show tunes with our daddy, Mo on tour with Boyz 2 Men.
JP: What/who are you listening to (musically) right now?
JW: We have a friend named Harris Danow who makes us these fantastic mix CDs filled with songs by various artists, some that are so hip that even we don’t know who they are. The point being that we are hip. Right? And lazy. Our favorite tune off a mix right now is “I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me” by Annie.
JP: Who’s your favorite character (both to write and/or act as) in “Dr. Horrible,” and give me a quick line or two of his back story?
JW: Captain Hammer is obviously the most fun to write because he is not so bright. And “not so bright” is comedy gold. Not to mention “kind of a …” Captain Hammer’s high school was named after him. While he was still attending.
JP: The new book spotlights behind-the-scenes activity. What was the most memorable obstacle that you had to overcome in getting the project finished?
JW: There were no huge obstacles because we made it ourselves. Early on we did talk to a lady who said it was impossible to have a horse inside of a building. Everyone would die. Also, when trying to decide how exactly to post the thing online, we had lunch with a friend who offered to help us build the website — for $90,000. So we said no thank you and I built it with my good friend, Jascha. I think we paid him a six-pack of beer.
JP: Was there a moment that you thought, “This will be a hit!”? And when was it?
JW: We knew fairly early on that it would at least be loved by someone, if only us. We had so much fun making it that anything else would be icing on the cake and were fairly confident that some goof would laugh along with us. When I woke up the morning after the launch to hear that the website had crashed, I called our hosting company in a panic to fix it. They told me that we had crashed every site on our server when we received 1,000 requests in a single second. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what they told me. And I choose to believe it. At that point, we knew that people were excited.
JP: If you could cast a current singing star in a “Dr. Horrible” episode, who would it be and what would they be like?
JW: Justin Timberlake as Captain Hammer’s sidekick, Nails.
JP: There’s been talk of a sequel. How far along is the planning for it, if at all?
JW: We have some songs, a rough outline, and no time. Though I have a feeling that when Joss is finished making his massive, expensive superhero movie, he will want nothing more than to make a tiny, cheap superhero movie. With songs.
JP: We’ve seen some of the other villains in the “Dr. Horrible” universe — well, a quick scene — would it be possible to see other heroes in a sequel?
JW: At the risk of spoiling — yes. There will be other heroes in the sequel. Perhaps even a council of them. A Council of Champions, if you will.
— Jevon Phillips
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