Adam Baldwin, fandom's big damn hero
January 6th, 2012
06:05 PM ET

Adam Baldwin, fandom's big damn hero

One beloved fan franchise is usually the most any actor can hope for. Within just a few years, Adam Baldwin got two.

Even though the cult classic series "Firefly" was canceled in 2002, the show and Baldwin's character, Jayne Cobb (who has his own theme song and a trademark hat that is everywhere at fan conventions), lived on. Fans bought the DVDs in large numbers, enough to justify a big-screen incarnation, "Serenity," in 2005.

Then in 2007, Baldwin took on the role of no-nonsense NSA Agent John Casey on "Chuck," and another cult hero was born – and this time fans successfully rallied to give the show five seasons.

"Fans of 'Firefly' followed me immediately to 'Chuck' and were able to enjoy the show from there," Baldwin told CNN's Geek Out. "Even though it's not really sci-fi, it's high-tech nerd, geekalicious spy comedy stuff. Zachary Levi, being a nerd and having created Nerd HQ, was welcomed into the community, as were the rest of us."

Baldwin also pointed out what has changed in the years between "Firefly" and "Chuck."

" 'Chuck' fans were particularly active. They went out and bought Subway sandwiches and supporting the sponsors, and that was another big key element. With the rise of social networking, it got back to the powers that be a lot more quickly than strictly e-mails to executives."

Even so, the short-lived status of "Firefly" stings to this day, and Baldwin feels the same way the fans do: " 'Chuck' has had a good long run of five years, so we're celebrating that, whereas 'Firefly' was killed in its infancy, before Joss Whedon had a chance to tell those stories. There's a lot of sadness there, so I think that's why you're finding so many people who know about the show want it back. Anyone who's seen it likes it, and they want it to return in any form possible."

Before "Firefly," Baldwin was not as familiar to sci-fi/fantasy genre fans, though he had done a few episodes of "The X-Files." But once the buzz built around Whedon's sci-fi Western and he hit the convention scene, Baldwin was an instant hit.

"At first it was very surprising. People said, 'oh, geeks, they're so weird,' and this and that. All these preconceived notions and judging people by their exteriors as opposed to the content of their character. I like to focus on that, and always give people time to say their piece," he said.

"I love hearing people's stories. I ran into a guy who, for all outward appearances, was just a nerd at a convention, but it turns out he works on geothermal imaging on offshore drilling platforms, and he told me all about a fire he was in and how dangerous the rigs are and the risk/reward factors. I love meeting people like that. Once they get past that initial 'oh, my God, I'm meeting Jayne Cobb,' I say, 'it's OK. Who are you? Where are you from? Tell me a story.' It's been a very loving and welcoming community for all of us. And I was very glad to be there from 'Firefly' all the way through 'Chuck.' It's been a great experience for me."

According to Baldwin, the two years he spent making and promoting "Serenity" were "some of the most beautiful years of my life."

"Shooting the movie (included) some of the best scenes I ever did. It was just heaven. We shot the funeral scene first out in the middle of nowhere. Everyone just had big smiles. 110 degrees. It was hot as hell. But it was great."

When asked which of the two fan favorite characters Baldwin identifies with most, he thought about it and replied, "I guess Casey does because he's more of a law-abiding citizen, whereas Jayne is more of a rogue and a mercenary. Although the opportunities for Jayne to chew the furniture in scenes were greater. I didn't have to shave. I could be dirty. I wore bells and whistles, guns, knives, goofy t-shirts. It'd be fun to get to play that guy again, but we'll see! I swore to Joss I would not be a 60-year-old Jayne, so he's got 10 years!"

With "Chuck" ending this month, Baldwin has a positive take on the whole experience (especially with it being on the verge of cancellation throughout its run): "My heart was completely broken when 'Firefly' ended. There was no way that 'Chuck' was going to be as devastating to me or my family as that was."

Whether "Firefly" or "Chuck" ever return, Baldwin says his attitude today can be summed up in something a great director, well-known to fans, once told him.

"I worked for Stanley Kubrick (in 'Full Metal Jacket') in '85. I was 23. It took a lot longer to produce that movie than we ever thought it would. At one point, Stanley said to me, 'Adam, you're just not patient.' And I think it's probably normal for a 23-year-old man not to be patient. If there's one thing I could say to him now, I would say, 'Hey, Stanley, I learned how to be patient.' "

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soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Giz

    Does no one remember him in D.C. Cab?

    January 10, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  2. Jesse

    Please please please filmland, cast Adam Baldwin as "Reacher" for the next film. Please.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  3. Gwen

    LOVED him in Angel. I missed Firefly the first time around (apparently I spent some time living in a hole). Fell in love with Baldwin again on Chuck so I did a marathon Firefly/Serenity session a few years back. Now that Chuck is leaving us I can't wait to see what the "best of the Baldwin's" (LOL) will get up to.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  4. Gary S

    This is the only Baldwin that I can tolerate, because he actually has his ego in check. Kudos for that!!! I agree with all of Adams comments, its so sad Firefly wasn't really given a chance.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Howard

      He's not related to the other Baldwins. That, in fact, explains why people can tolerate him.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • jON

      Adam Baldwin is not one of the "Baldwin Brothers" ... FYI

      January 10, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  5. Firefyfan

    Dittos on (most) of the comments. Adam is the greatest. Worked at a con he and several other Firefly cast members were at and they were all terrific people, very nice and very patient with everyone.

    I loved the recent Chuck episodes with Carrie Moss. All I could think when I saw the two of them together was – Firefly meets Matrix!

    Wonder what he's going to do next? For that matter, where the heck has Alan Tudyk and the rest been. (Alan is a doll!)

    January 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Jim

      Tudyk played a character named Alpha on another short-lived Whedon series called "Dollhouse."

      January 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • Arif

        Excepting that at least on the GOP side, the nomination went soenthimg like that ol' sitcom episide where the goofy feller ran in the beauty contest – and won. (ah, the lessons from bad 80's sitcoms! :) )Anyhow – the lefty-GOP vote had one place to go – McCain. The more conservative GOP vote was split half a dozen different ways. Add to that the folks voting who just were thinking war hero + good ads = good guy, and he STILL was pulling pretty mediocre percentage ratings all things considered. The "anybody but McCain" block is significantly bigger than the "I like McCain" block – it's just divided as to who that 'anybody' should be. Should all those 'anybodys' manage to work soenthimg reasonable out amongst themselves ahead of the convention, I could still see him getting shoved back into the bleachers. If not, well.. worst case we get our generational reminder of what socialism really does to an economy, delivered right when the bill for the last 40 years of irresponsibility starts to come due. Long term, could work out to be perfect timing for an education. If the "New Deal" came out of (not to mention contributed to) the first Depression, maybe the next will provide the opening to build anew on burned foundation left after the next one. enh. What will be, will be. :)

        August 5, 2012 at 2:18 am |
  6. R. K. MacPherson

    Adam Baldwin's a class act. Always fun to watch his performances.

    January 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  7. Jesse

    My first knowledge of him was Poison Ivy, when I was a wee lad. Liked him then, love him know. Good to know he is a classy guy with character.

    January 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  8. DonnaJEM

    I've been a fan of his since the movie My Bodyguard. He was so terrific in that.

    January 9, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Mark

      I was indeed!

      January 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
      • Mark

        I meant "it" was indeed.

        January 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Hien

      Chuck,Your eye condition sdouns like what I have Iritis and Uveites plus ultra sensitivity tolight and extreme dry eye I thought12+ hourdays online caused it but the doctor says no He said it isn't anything I did it's not hereditary it's not contagious or spreadable He said I had it since birth and it's just nowrearing it's head he said 1 in 100k have it and it's not curable I had to have a tube surgically put in my eye and he said when it plugs up (and it will) I'll have to have it replaced averages 1 per year SIGH I started out like you sensitivity to light and dry eyes that was a year ago and it advanced go to an eye specialist so they can check the pressure in your eyes it's supposed to be around20 or less mine was at 55 the day I went temp. blind in one eye Wishing you all the best . ~Patricia DomainBELL.com

      March 5, 2012 at 10:52 am |
      • Azyan

        I don't think I buy it – too many folks are complaining about the cernurt round of GOP nominees. It's not just the internet and talk radio, the grumbling's on the ground to. Further.. you know my Dad, the one with the McGovern for President sticker still hanging proudly in his office? HE is complaining the candidates on his side are "too liberal." The disconnect between the media's anoited and the bulk of the population is at least as large as that between us and 'The Regular Guy.'Thing's cycle back around – just a question of whether it'll comparatively gentle, or an outright shock. Even though all the signs are there now, I can't help but think once a post-boomer population is living in a country where the national treasury has literally been emptied for our parents' retirement (among other problems) – I don't see this lasting. Which ain't to say there might not be a great deal of hell to walk through between now and then. If'n it makes one fell better though, mother Europe's walk will likely be harder.

        September 15, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  9. Mr. Myxlptlkx

    Loved him in Independence Day, liked him in Firefly, thought "Chuck" was the stupidest, most insipid piece of trash that our loving, moronic public ever ballyhooed to 5 seasons in tv history. Really good shows like "Life", "Moonlight" (a really inspired private detective/vampire series) get the axe because they don't make the 16 to 25 year olds cream their jeans in the first 2 weeks and go 'viral' elsewhere. The viewing public of today would be better served watching childrens shows...

    January 9, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Annie

      Oh dear God, really? You're comparing Moonlight to Chuck? I'm sorry – that's hysterically funny.

      January 9, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  10. Matt

    He was awesome in Full Metal Jacket

    January 9, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  11. JainaJade

    For the "official" Jayne hat check out: www (dot) etsy (dot) com/shop/fadingendlessly for Ma Cobb's Hot Shoppe :-)

    January 9, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Jinmi

      This suddenly riednms me of one of my favorite Facebook decorations I've ever seen: "If Edward Cullen and Chuck Norris fought, Facebook would explode."

      March 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  12. Catherine

    I had the pleasure of meeting Adam this past October in Austin. He took the time to talk to everyone who passed his line- not just sign the picture and send them on their way as some celebs do. People love the characters Adam plays but they love the man even more.

    January 7, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  13. Local Man

    I love this guy (as an actor). He's an old-style manly guy who can subtly show that he's got a heart. He's got those amazing straight-man comedy skills, and yet handles action like a bad-ass. I hate to see Chuck ending, and I hope to see more of Adam Baldwin in the future. In the mean time, it is great to see that he likes and respecs the fans.

    Plus he posts a lot of interesting stuff on Twitter. It is easy to see that he is not one of "those other Baldwins."

    January 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm |