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On Monday, director Allan Unger released a short fan film based on the popular action-adventure video game series Uncharted. It quickly went viral, due in large part to its wish fulfillment of an enduring casting wish for the lead role of wise-cracking adventurer Nathan Drake: Nathan Fillion.
Fans have long proposed Fillion for the role, as his resume as rogue space captains and daring risk-takers in projects like Firefly and Drive was a perfect match for Drake’s swaggering charisma and devil-may-care attitude.
Fillion’s effortless charm comes across immediately when asked if he knew about the fan campaign for him to star in the role. “What?!” he exclaims sarcastically when asked by Heat Vision, before answering truthfully, “Yes, absolutely. I mean, the similarities are not lost on me.”
He continues: “A long time ago when I was still new to Twitter, I didn’t quite understand the power of social media yet and I made an offhand comment about playing Nathan Drake and all of a sudden it’s ‘Nathan Fillion is campaigning for Uncharted role.’ I learned you can’t be willy-nilly with those types of comments.”
One other fan who was excited by the prospect of Fillion stepping into Drake’s shoes was Ungar. “This popped into my head years ago,” the director tells Heat Vision. “I’m an avid gamer. I, like everybody else, felt there was one guy who could do this. I thought, why has nobody tried to do this yet with Nathan?”
The long wait paid off, as fans were quick to voice their enthusiasm for the short. Barely more than 24 hours after being posted on YouTube, the video already has passed 1.5 million views, but the short’s shoot — which took place over five days in May throughout Beverly Hills, Santa Clarita, Malibu and Palmdale — was shrouded in mystery from the get-go.
“People didn’t know what we were shooting until Nathan showed up in costume,” Ungar says.
The shoot began under the working title “Breaking and Entering,” a chapter from 2009’s Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
“There’s always an excitement when you start shooting,” Fillion says. “But when people started realizing what we were doing, their eyes got wide and their lips got tight and they were like, ‘Oh, my God!’ It got more exciting than first-day shooting excitement, which is very rare.”
The short follows Fillion’s Drake as he is captured by a nefarious group of treasure collectors and ultimately sees him discovering clues to a long-lost historical artifact, much like the plots from the game series. Featuring action shots that feel as if they were pulled right from the game (“You really captured it, everyone recognizes that moment,” Fillion tells Ungar), the short ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, leaving fans eager for more.
When asked if there are plans for a follow-up to the short, which ends with a setup for future adventures, Ungar says, “People keep sending me tweets and comments saying, ‘Hey, am I the only one whose video is stopping at the 14:48 mark?’”
“Look,” he continues, “we accomplished what we set out to do. Of course, there is a bit of a nod there at the end that says this could be more. If someone wants to have that conversation with us, we’d be more than happy to have it.”
Of course, there is already an official Uncharted film in the works, with Spider-Man star Tom Holland cast in the role of a young Nathan Drake. The timing of Ungar and Fillion’s short sparked rumors of a possible further casting announcement at this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con.
“We’ll be there chatting with people about it, but there’s no further reveal or anything like that,” Ungar says in response to the rumors.
Fillion — who is no stranger to the gaming world, having voiced roles in such games as the Destiny and Halo series — says that video game film adaptations are a natural idea for Hollywood. “We are a story-literate society. When you’re playing a video game and you have to get from point A to point B, the story gives us our motivation and good story and characters makes us invested and want to play. For films, its easy pickings from games and comic books because it’s all there. Honor the fans, honor the canon of the story and you’ll make something that everyone can enjoy.”
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Roe V. Wade