Morena Baccarin plays Inara, Serenity's ambassador and the ship's most respectable resident: a bona fide Companion (read: hooker).
How did you come to be cast as Inara?
I've been acting professionally for five years and before that I was at school, acting, for nine. You know, it's funny how people say everything happens for a reason or about the right time and place because that's exactly what it was. I had just come to LA. I had already received an outline and I hadn't auditioned for it because I was in New York - and I didn't get it. I thought, "I don't have a script, I don't understand this, I'm not going to get to meet Joss. If I'm in LA and it comes around then I'll audition." But I was in New York and it got cast so I missed that opportunity – and I moved on. Then I went to LA and my agent said, "So remember that show we sent you? Well someone's not going to be doing that part anymore so we need you to go in and audition this afternoon." And the thing happened like boom, boom, boom - everything just sort of lined up. And when I went to audition and Joss walked in and we started talking, I just thought, "Wow! This is amazing. This experience is going to be incredible." And that's just how it worked, everything seemed to easy and it just flowed. Believe me when I tell you it's not easy. It's not easy auditioning day after day after day, but when something falls into place like that it's just incredible.
Inara's an odd character, in that she's a prostitute and yet the most respectable member of the crew.
Isn't it funny? I love that that's the character! I love that her and the Shepherd are the two people that are the righteous people and it's really kind of amazing. I love that she's the ambassador, that what Mal does is illegal and what she does is legal. It's just a great dichotomy in their relationship, a dynamic for them to get over, such a huge hurdle.
You also have a costume advantage over most of the cast.
I'm very lucky – I don't get the jumpsuits. I don't know how they wore those jumpsuits! I get to walk around like a princess. It does get tiring though, I have to say, twelve hours sitting around in a corset and all that stuff.
But it's not all sitting around in the film, Inara does get kicked about some.
It was difficult to watch the boys shoot that part of the scene because you did think 'someone must be getting hurt doing this.' It was great for Inara to be part of that, though, the dirty nitty-gritty of it, and she of course rescues Mal, yet again!
How did you take to the Chinese lines in the dialogue?
Well, we always knew what we were saying in terms of the English translation, but if you asked me what the letters meant or anything I know nothing. We were literally just trying to do our best copying the sounds, but every now and then you'd get this little Chinese woman on set running up to you going "No, no, no, this is not how you say it." I still remember a line from Shindig, the third episode: [rattles off a long Chinese sentence] which is "You look wonderful old friend." I'm sure I'm butchering the sounds. Luckily Inara only says classy things so I think the worse expletive I had was "Merciful Buddha."
Do you have a favourite line of dialogue for your character?
I really loved it in the episode Heart of Gold when she says something like "I have found a family in this ship and I can't stay because of that" and I think that that sentence wraps up who Inara is in that part of her life, why she's come to Serenity and why she can't stay anymore. Because if she falls in love, which she has, then she's sort of ruined.
Do you think television is losing out now that Joss has moved to movies?
I think he loves television and I don't think he'll ever stop. Joss is somebody who has a lot on his plate and who loves it that way and I don't think we're losing anything, I think we're gaining.