CCI | ABC's Castle Panel

The cast of the ABC comedy-drama Castle cast took the stage at Comic-Con International at San Diego to a packed and buzzing room on Sunday to answer questions about the Season 3 finale and tease what’s to come this fall. Featuring Nathan Fillion (Richard Castle), Jon Huertas (Det. Javier Esposito), Seamus Dever (Det. Kevin Ryan), Tamala Jones (Lanie Parish) and Molly Quinn (Alexis Castle), and moderated by Will Keck of TV Guide, the panel featured the show’s trademark humor with some drama for slow reveals.

The presentation began with a short clip summarizing the first three seasons, ending with the incredible cliffhanger of Kate Becket knocked to the ground by a gunshot and Castle whispering, “I love you.” The tone for the panel was set as the cast was introduced, and the audience swelled to a cheer for Dever, Jones and Huertas, but exploded when Keck introduced a duster-clad, gun-toting Molly Quinn as “Captain Malcom Reynolds.” The room broke the decibel scale when Fillion was introduced as he rose, as if from the ether, from the underneath the table.

To kick off the panel, Keck made a fan’s convention experience by asking her to come onstage to reenact the show’s opening sequence with Fillion. The fan wore a bright pink shirt bearing the phrase “Nathan Fillion, One in a Million,” and was visibly excited to meet the star, saying, “I love you” to him as he sat down next to her at the table. After reenacting the opening with humor, and to much applause, the panel kicked off with a fresh reveal: the first scene of the upcoming season, debuting in September.

The scene (see below) began in black, with the familiar beep of a heart monitor as the audience saw Stana Katic’s character Kate on a gurney surrounded by paramedics moving quickly down a hospital hall. By her side was coroner Lanie Parish, who pleaded,“Stay with me, stay with me! Do not die, Kate Beckett. Do not die.” The paramedics told Lanie to wait outside of the operating room, as she stood in tears.

“She’s my friend, you understand me?” she said, “She’s my friend.”

“Then let us save her life,” one of the paramedics replied.

Finally, Castle, with bloodstained hands, caught up behind the emotionally taxed coroner and the scene ended.

“I’m very overwhelmed by looking at that,” Jones said after the scene ended. “I cannot tell you what happens next. I’m so sorry. I wish I knew what happened next!”

“It was very emotional the whole day because my friend’s dying,” she continued. “I’m trying to help save her and I had to stay in the mind frame of death all day long, and everything was really nice, but the whole outcome is really going to be more epic than the season finale, I think.”

As emotionally draining as the scenes were, the fake blood posed a more practical problem for cast members.

“As you know, a television show takes a long time to film, you always have to be ready. So everyone had blood on their hands. When we weren’t filming, we would all have to sit there,” Fillion said as he raised his arms up in front of him. “You couldn’t touch anything, you couldn’t scratch your nose. I couldn’t … fix my hair!” After the audience laughter died down, Fillion continued, saying, “So we were all standing around like we were ready for surgery and actually just got through with one. Just chillin’. Couldn’t read my book Game of Thrones.”

One of the major issues of the finale that Keck touched upon was the death of Capt. Roy Montgomery, played by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and the actor’s departure from the cast. “For me, to work with Ruben was a dream come true,” Huertas said. “I really looked up to him, so I was really excited to be cast in Castle, knowing that he was already cast before I came on board. So I was really excited to work with him. To lose this person who was kind of like a mentor, it was pretty hard. It was a very sad day when we found out he was getting shot.”

“I now have nobody to talk about theater with,” Dever said. “I know that bums Nathan out extremely. He would often be engaged in our discussions of theater. Actually, that’s not true -- the new captain, she’s a theater person, too.”

“Theater nerd,” Fillion interjected.

“Ruben was fantastic, and we miss him tremendously,” Dever continued. “When we found out, it was very shocking. So then we had about two months to think about the prospect of him leaving. A lot of the stuff you saw on the season finale, at least from my perspective, it wasn’t really acting saying goodbye to the captain, it was saying goodbye to Ruben. It happens like that in life where reality and fantasy sort of meld together. I think in that aspect, the season finale was really hard to get through.”

In the season finale, Montgomery mailed an envelope full of evidence that would save Beckett’s career. “I have it here!” Fillon proclaimed as he rummaged under the table. “Ah … forgot it, sorry.” The audience seemed to think that the envelope was sent to Castle, to which Fillion said, “You’d be wrong.” After a quick bout of laughter, he quickly broke in with, “Oh, spoiler alert!” as the audience erupted again.

At this point, there was no stopping the laughter as Fillion looked over to Quinn and said, “Oh, my God. I just realized what Molly’s wearing!” Quinn’s Malcom Reynolds costume was spot-on, from duster to holster to gun, a fact that Fillion was quick to pick up on, once he noticed. “I have a gun just like that that I can’t find,” he said.

“Well, you know what? I was hanging out with your mom,” Quinn said. “You know, we had some dinner and she kind of gave me something of yours that I always wanted. I know where your cat is, too.”

Keck gave the audience a few more treats to chew on as he revealed there would be a special Halloween episode with a Ghostbusters theme. “I love Halloween, and I can dress up,” Quinn said. “I think it’d be really fun. I like watching ghost shows, we’ll see what happens. The only thing I can imagine for the show is that it’s going to be an elusive killer. It’s going to be something that vanishes and reappears. I think the lines of…” Quinn trailed off and looked pointedly over at Fillion. “What was that? Are you talking while I’m talking?”

After some verbal sparring between Quinn and Fillion, Fillion revealed that one of the upcoming episodes will have a superhero theme. The plot involves a masked vigilante and a comic book store. Afterward, Quinn gave out a special prize of a print signed by Stan Lee and J. Scott Campbell.

Dever spoke briefly about what was in store for Detective Kevin Ryan and how he and his real life-wife, who plays his on-screen fiancée, got engaged. “For those of you who don’t know, my lovely wife Juliana, plays my now- fiancée Jenny,” Dever said. “Our proposal scene was very spontaneous in the middle of the precinct. … It was interesting because the real-life proposal was on a beach in Ireland, in my ancestral home. I proposed to my wife, and it was a lot more pastoral. My favorite thing that will happen this year is that hopefully there will be some wedding-bells matrimony for Ryan and Jenny. I’m allowed to tease that there’s some wedding planning involved for Kevin Ryan and some possible fighting over who’s going to be the best man between Esposito and Castle.”

Next up was Jones, whose character Lanie Parish recently hooked up with Detective Esposito. “Jon was such a gentleman when we shot those scenes,” Jones said. “He was! I was more of an exhibitionist than he was. He tried to keep me covered up. I saw his bum. He was a little shy about that.”

Huertas talked about how accident-prone his character had been during the season, saying, “Well, Nathan and I talked about this. It’s always fun to be kicked in the balls. You want your character to have some kind of flaw, and I think that it was really fun and challenging because the neck brace is supposed to make your neck feel better, but it hurt.”

Quinn was up next, giving the audience a taste of Alexis moving forward and how Castle’s daughter will continue to evolve this season. “She has a serious boyfriend, she’s applying for Stanford, and then my dad throws himself in front of a woman who’s about to get shot, endangering his life, which in turn endangers her life and her grandmother’s. How would you feel?”

“She’s gonna be voicing a lot of her opinions this year and how she feels about her dad. At first it was okay when he was just playing around and doing research for his book, but now he’s actually enjoying chasing down killers, he’s getting involved on more than a superficial level with this woman. Alexis, I don’t know if she’s too happy about that to be honest.”

“You know, they talk about the terrible teens,” Fillion quipped.

“I’m the adult on this set,” Quinn responded, to audience applause.

After Fillion gave a brief shout-out to Quinn’s father, who was in attendance, the panel continued with the cast recalling a few of the humorous moments on set, including Castle’s list of underwear that Beckett could wear, and his odd morning breakfast treat. But the newest reveal came from Dever, who said that Season 4 would herald the continuation of the “3XK” storyline in which Detective Ryan was knocked out and had his badge and gun stolen. “It’s sort of a big deal that that seed was planted, and David Aaman and I were talking, he’s the writer of ‘3XK,’ he’s going to be writing another one coming up,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a crime being committed and Ryan’s gun being used in that crime and it leads to this whole big thing for Kevin Ryan to try to get some redemption. I think of tremendous guilt because I think it’s an innocent person that gets killed as a result of that. I think I was allowed to say that.”

As the cast continued reminiscing about the rest of the season, from breaking up fights and Lyle Lovett’s guest appearance -- “He’s so nice to everybody,” Fillion said -- to the crew’s X-Files references on set and who might play Castle’s dad (predictions included Christopher Walken, Dwight Howard, Victor Webster, Ken Howard and William Katt), the floor opened up for Q&A with a few prizes for attendees.

While each member of the cast had a few signed copies of the Castle TV Guide cover, Fillion came especially prepared, with Green Lantern power rings (Fillion voiced Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern: Emerald Knights animated film), DVDs of Serenity and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the Vigilante disguise he wore as he walked around Comic-Con (Fillion voiced the Vigilante in Justice League Unlimited), and the coffee mug he used while attending the University of Alberta.

Questions from the audience ranged from the possibility of Firefly references and possible cast cameos on Castle to the amount of collaboration the actors have with the writers to how the personal lives of the stars meld with that of their characters. The most interesting question, however, had to do with pranks pulled on the set. While Fillion referred to a prank he attempted by placing shock pens in every pen cup on set, the funniest story dealt with Dever and his new car.

“I got a new car for the first time in 10 years, and someone tied two zip ties on the front axel, and I know it was at work and I have two suspects as to who it was,” Dever said. “I think I’m narrowing it down using my detective abilities that it was one of them, and I know it’s one of these guys [indicating Fillion and Huertas] because they asked questions about ‘What happened to your car?’ and they were the only ones who expressed interest in it. So I sort of psychologically got revenge. I made up this story that it cost like a thousand dollars to repair and it was really expensive.” Huertas looked at Dever in mock disbelief.

“There’s only two guys on this cast who have access to zip-tie technology!” Dever said, to audience laughter. “And they’re both very malicious.”

“So, your car didn’t really -- it didn’t get repaired?” Huertas asked.

“Oh, it got repaired, but they laughed at me when they put it up on top of the jack! They said, ‘Who do you work with?’ I said, ‘Do you watch a television show called Castle?’ One of them did it.”

“Nathan, that was mean,” Huertas said, smiling.

“Never touch a man’s car. Never touch a man’s car,” Fillion replied. “Or spaceship.”

Castle returns Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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