Castle had one of the biggest panels on the Sunday of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. Although the official Comic-Con program listed only star Nathan Fillion in attendance, most of the Castle cast joined Fillion on the stage. After the panel, the stars and producers of the show spoke with reporters about Castle, Comic-Con and what’s coming next for the show.

Laurie Zaks, the executive producer of Castle, was among those attending Comic-Con.

Whose idea was the comic book?
Laurie Zaks: Probably Andrew’s. The answer to every answer like that is Andrew [Marlowe]. If you know Andrew you’d know that not only is he a brilliant writer, but he’s a brilliant marketing person. Literally, when he was coming up with, pitching the idea of the show, in the development stage, he was thinking what Castle would look like on the coffee cup. So, for a writer, he has unbelievable business sense. I say the answer to every creative question is Andrew.

So obviously, with the finale, there were so many beats that you guys are now playing out this season. How are they going to be handling the Castle/Beckett dynamic? Because I love you, it’s a pretty huge step.
Laurie Zaks: It’s absolutely true. Here’s what I would say to that: that would be the biggest challenge, because once you say that, it’s out of the… you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. There was a lot of discussion about that, with the network and the studio and with ABC. Should he say it, should he not say it, should he think it, should he not?

When we saw it, and I believe it was shot both ways, when everybody saw it, it was, he has to say it. It was the natural thing to say.

So all I can say to answer your question is twofold. One is yes, it will be an enormous challenge and I believe — I mean, I can’t speak for the writers and again, that’s something you might want to ask Andrew if you see him in the press party. In the premiere episode, there will be many reveals that will help you to understand and also, I think, will dictate how the relationship will unfold, but I don’t want to say what they are. Just personally for me, watching it and reading it, it will be an interesting year.

And I also think the other interesting dynamic, you know being a woman, I think we’ve all experienced the difference between working for a man and working for a woman, right? So all of a sudden Beckett, a very strong female, is working for a woman who really is not quite so enamored with her. I thought Roy was a bit of a pushover sometimes, but that’s another interesting dynamic that I think will be fun to watch. And the actress is really lovely, Penny Johnson Jerald, and the cast embraced her, which is very nice.

How much input does the ABC have in general storylines? Do they change a lot?
Laurie Zaks: They have a lot to say. Some they like. In the big storylines, like the mythology, that’s always discussed ahead of time. At this point, in fourth year, they’ve been loving everything this year. Every once in a while… Like the writers have been up really late or, you know, every once in a while, they’ll just say “Uhh, no.”

But generally they really love the creative direction of the show and they’ve been wonderful. They’re wonderful collaborators and part of our family. Every once in a while there’s a clunker and Andrew would just try and sell it and they’re like “No, no.” I think there’s a Columbine story last year. No, it’s not gonna happen. But I’ve worked on many other shows and a script goes through many stages before they’re shown on the air so I’ve been on shows where they’re throwing them out left and right. But that happens on more often in the first year than anything else. As the years go on, you get less and less network involvement. But we like our network, we like them to be around.

Can you tell us anything about the superhero episode, other than that it exists?
Laurie Zaks: Yeah, it’s fun! You’ll like it. There’s a lot of — it’s funny just thinking about it. It’s a bit of a tie-in with Marvel. So they have been instrumental and David Amann is writing the episode and he’s been on the phone with them. And Stan Lee is staying two doors down from me, and my son and my nephew were like “Oh my god!” They were like trying to get into the room last night, and Stan Lee walks out with all of his handlers and they’re like “Oh my god, it’s Stan Lee!” I was never into comic books, honestly, but, man, I think everyone will enjoy it.

It’s not gonna be just like a geek-love kind of thing. It’s good, it’s good.

So are the characters dressing up, are we gonna see them in tights?
Laurie Zaks: Our characters? No, no. I don’t think so. I think that’s in their contract. They will never dress up in tights ever.

The Halloween episode’s not gonna be fun anymore…
Laurie Zaks: The Halloween episode, I don’t know. That’s gonna be fun too. We actually have a show that is airing on Halloween night, so that will be a lot of fun.

Fans are aching for a Christmas episode, is that ever likely to happen?
Laurie Zaks: I believe so, I think this year, yes. I know the network really wants one. I think our last episode before we break for Christmas is early December, so yeah, I’m hoping. I do believe that there will be a Christmas episode. I want a Christmas episode and I love it to… being a New Yorker and just spending so many Christmases in New York, and I’d love to see a little bit more of New York lit up and we have to walk across the street to New York street. We have no backlot on our… so yeah, I do take issues sometimes with the New York streets, I have to say. Real New Yorkers always do.

Do you think that Castle would ever go to New York to film an episode?
Laurie Zaks: Again, that’s a bit of a budgetary concern so you could ask the studio about that. I would love it. I would love it. There used to be a time, before the recession, where normally, like NYPD Blue and all those New York shows, they would take their cast, or some of their cast and their crew, and go one week a month to New York and shoot all their exteriors and storylines and stuff. I would love it. You know we did shoot to pilot in New York, so, and that was great. And I thought it was going to kill everyone. I was the only one having a good time, and Rob and Andrew were not. And Rob should be. Rob should be a New Yorker and he’s not. He’s so… he just did not like it, and it’s so hard to move things there.

And actually what happened was we came back, and we had to finish the pilot, because it was only the presentation, so there were scenes that started in New York and ended in LA. If you look at the first episode, there were two different precincts.

If you listen to the commentary, that’s what they talk about. New York, LA, New York, LA. It’s pretty funny, but it’s so amazing how well it was cut together.
Laurie Zaks: There were some scenes where we’d sit in editing and count how many hairstyles. There was longer, there was shorter, it was longer… her hair looks really nice now. It’s very long, it looks really good.

With Montgomery’s secret, that’s now out there. His involvement. Is that going to be playing out? Because the four of them kind of vowed to keep his involvement a secret. Is that gonna actually stay?
Laurie Zaks: You know I don’t want to answer 100 percent our creative decision, but that mythology, that storyline is continuing. Because remember the man — or woman — who hired? And also, we don’t know who he sent the papers to. So, I’m very curious, I’m really excited.

Will that be brought up again this year? Among the first episodes?
Laurie Zaks: There might be, there’ll be little glimpses. It’s interesting because sometimes you have to get actors to come in and do a little tiny part. And then you say, “We promise they’ll be back.” So yeah, there’s so many fun, so many interesting things that come out in the first episode. Andrew, of course, wrote it, Rob’s directing it. It’s really brilliant. It’s great.

So are there any particularly gruesome or weird murders that we can look forward to coming up?
Laurie Zaks: Yeah, the superhero… I’m not going to say what it is. But in the superhero episode, to me, was the most gruesome murder we had. The most gruesome. And I’m surprised it wasn’t spotted from — I don’t wanna say this, because then somebody from broadcast standards is gonna — it is pretty gross. Because we were sitting in the production and there were some stuff that — yeah, that’s the most gruesome, episode 2.

Are there new writers on the table too?
Laurie Zaks: Yeah, two new writers. One of them was in the panel here today, Christine Boylan, who is a wonderful young writer who comes from Leverage and was on Off the Map last year. Everybody wanted her, and I used a personal relationship. I worked with her husband, who just wrote Final Destination that was here, and also The Thing. And also Rob Hanning, who’s also a wonderful writer who comes from the comedy world. Rob was on Frasier for ten years so he’s really terrific. It’s a good staff. Rob is doing the Ghostbusters episode, Christine is percolating on hers.

Castle will return to ABC on Monday, September 19 at 10pm.

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Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.