From Castle to Slither, Serenity to Firefly, few actors are held in such high regard as Nathan Fillion. For the legions of Browncoats out there, Fillion will forever be known as Malcolm Reynolds, the swashbuckling pilot who captured our imagination throughout Joss Whedon’s aforementioned sci-fi series before it was unceremoniously pulled off the airwaves more than a decade ago.
The actor has remained a fixture on screens big and small ever since though, and fans of all things Pixar will soon be able to see – or rather hear – Fillion in Brian Fee’s animated threequel, Cars 3. Per Entertainment Weekly, we now know his character to be Sterling, a “suave chief executive coupe who becomes the new sponsor of once-glorious racer Lightning McQueen.” EW’s reveal was accompanied by our first look at Sterling in action, who can be seen imparting wisdom and advice to Owen Wilson’s down-on-his-luck stock car.
Blindsided by a new generation of up-and-coming racers, Lightning is no longer the hottest ticket in the world of stock car racing, and after the surprisingly bleak first teaser for Cars 3 showed our iconic hero careering through the air, Brian Fee’s upcoming sequel is all about his Rocky-styled comeback. Turns out Sterling is one of the few automobiles fighting out of Lightning’s corner, and here, Nathan Fillion sheds some light on the character arc that awaits Owen Wilson’s protagonist.
“While Lightning has been racing, the world has been changing, and Sterling has been at the forefront of that change and sees where it’s going and how to get that first. Anytime you say something about a quality of a character that’s ‘charming,’ I think a lot of people make the mistake and think of skeevy, but charming is someone who admires you, can disarm you, and gain your trust. He’s not being interesting, he’s being interested. He’s not, ‘Hey there, I’m great,’ which is not charming. He’s ‘Hey there, you’re great.’”
Director Brian Fee echoed that sentiment, too, before offering up some details on Sterling himself. Not only that, but there’s also signs of a compelling dynamic between the two vehicles, given that Lightning is slowly coming to terms with the fact that his best days on the circuit may be behind him. Sterling, meanwhile, is on top of his game.
“I think of Sterling as a ten-thousand dollar suit. He’s not a giant man that comes into a room and holds court and demands everybody kiss his ring. He’s not that kind of leader. He’s down to earth and charming and the exactly person you figure should be running this company. He’s the kind of guy that makes you think, ‘hey, I could have a beer with this guy. Or a quart of oil.’”
Cars 3 will be with us on June 16th. Like every Pixar movie before it, an animated short film will precede Brian Fee’s actioner in two months’ time, and it’ll be called Lou.