Nathan Fillion, 'Castle' crew hold court

Cast, producers of drama gathered Tuesday at Paley Center

Mal who?

It was all about the novelist-turned-"detective" Richard Castle at Tuesday night's Paley Center for Media event in Beverly Hills honoring ABC's sophomore series "Castle," where actors Nathan Fillion (Castle), Stana Katic (Beckett), Molly Quinn (Alexis), Jon Huertas (Esposito), Seamus Dever (Ryan), Tamala Jones (Lanie), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Roy) and Susan Sullivan (Martha) with executive producer/creator Andrew Marlowe and executive producer Rob Bowman gathered to talk chemistry, Twitter and the "Heat Wave" sequel with the sold-out crowd.

With "Dancing with the Star's" Tom Bergeron holding down the fort -- and guest starring in an upcoming episode -- there was no stone left unturned. After a special screening of the first of Monday's two-parter, which features Dana Delany ("Desperate Housewives") as an FBI agent infiltrating one of Beckett's cases, the panelists got candid.

When Bergeron asked the panel to reveal who was most like their character, the responses were close to unanimous: Fillion. "He's a lot like Castle in real life, except he's less mature," Quinn joked.

Dever agreed. "I think Castle is more like Nathan [than his previous roles]. He's not a hardass," the former "Army Wives" actor added, to which Fillion deadpanned to the delight of the audience, "He's not a hardass ... with a hard ass."

Casting Fillion in his role as "a guy who is incredibly charming" wasn't the difficult part. It was the role of Beckett, the straight-laced, hard-nosed detective, which proved trying for the producers. Bowman shared that he and Marlowe saw at least 140 actresses for the Beckett, but once Katic came into the room and gave Fillion all he could handle, the search was over.

Quinn, who plays a level-headed teenager, likened Fillion to a second father. "I don't have to look for anything, it's just there," she said about working with Captain Hammer's alter ego, sharing a heartfelt moment with her onscreen dad.

For viewers, the sexual tension between Castle and Beckett is the center of the show, but any talk of a long-term romantic tryst was quickly dismissed. Love interests for both Beckett and Castle in coming episodes will put a damper on any relationship's progression.

"The engine is the tension," Marlowe said, commenting on the duo's dysfunctional partnership. Katic felt the same way, "I think there's nothing sexier than swordplay."

But a Castle and Beckett pairing isn't the only one fans want to see.

An audience member asked if the prospect of Lanie and Esposito getting romantically involved was high. Huertas had no qualms about it. "I think it's a great idea," Huertas simply stated to crowd laughter. "He's been petitioning for this ... on Twitter!," Jones added.

Asked about the profound effect the Internet, in particular Twitter, has had with capturing fans, members of the cast got a little competitive. (Some attendees flew in from as far as Australia to take part in the night's festivities and lined up hours before the event was slated to begin.)

"Nathan got me started on Twitter," Huertas said of the social media-savvy star, after Jones confessed that she was now a Twitter addict. Quinn revealed that she sent out her first tweet in the green room before the panel.

Jones mentioned later that she even asked Fillion, who has more than 500,000 people tracking his tweets, to help her grab more followers. Katic felt the brunt of it when Bergeron joked she would gain more if she tweeted on a regular basis.

While the evening was spent discussing the show, Fillion mentioned references the writers have made to several of the actors’ previous projects, the most obvious being his donning of the beloved Browncoat from the cult sci-fi show "Firefly" in the Halloween episode. Dever, who appeared on the "General Hospital" soap, wore a doctor's lab coat in the same hour.

With Castle's "Heat Wave" novel out since September -- the paperback version will be released July 27 -- the follow-up, appropriately titled "Naked Heat," is due in stores this fall.

When Katic heard of the sequel's name, she was shocked, as the book's protagonist Nikki Heat is based on Beckett. "I didn't know that was the title," she said, slightly embarrassed. Meanwhile Fillion, in true Castle fashion, held a knowing expression on his face.

As Season 2 winds down production and still no official word on a third season pickup from the network, the producers aren't waiting by the phone for the decisive call. With a healthy group of guest stars coming through in the last half of the season, including Kelly Carlson ("Nip/Tuck") and Fred Willard, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Marlowe gave the audience a taste of what's to come, teasing that there will be an Esposito-heavy turn and that viewers may see a glimpse into Beckett's life before her mother was murdered, which has been a series-long murder mystery.

And if Castle's father were to ever make an appearance, who would Fillion want to fill the coveted role?

"I'm voting for Christopher Walken ... playing himself," Fillion quipped.
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