James Marsters is probably best known as Spike, the super sexy villain turned good guy…ish on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series; but he has also racked up a long list of other geeky shows and movies on his resume such as Dragonball: Evolution, Torchwood, Caprica, and Smallville to name a few. His presence at the Wizard World Convention in Philly sent many hearts a-fluttering as he signed autographs, took pictures, and did a couple of panels.
James is an extremely thoughtful individual who took time to really think about every question before he answered. He also surprised the hell out of the audience by giving an in-depth, intelligent breakdown of the Dragonball series as a whole. What does he think the theme of the Dragonball series is? “What is it to be a man?” He says that the series shows viewers that a man is peaceful and humble, as exemplified by hero Goku and his approach to raising his kids, whereas Vegeta, Goku’s rival, is not a man but an overgrown boy always looking for a fight to prove his masculinity. Huh? Never really thought of it that way!
He also shined some light on what it was like doing “Once More, With Feeling,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer ‘s musical episode. That was his favorite from the series “for the reason that we were terrified.” He explained how, at first, everyone though Joss Whedon had gone insane: “We spent half a week trying to talk Joss out of this. ‘You are flushing our careers down the toilet with this.’ Someone said, ‘I’d rather juggle a chainsaw because I can heal from that.’ Joss was like, ‘Nope, you gotta do it.’ At some point, we all figured out we weren’t going to get out of it, and we buckled down and worked hard on it.”
All the hard work paid off too. That was such an amazing episode and many fans’ favorite. James said he was never more proud of them as a company at that point “when we were completely faithless and yet trying our best.”
Other interesting tidbits:
- Some of his favorite musicians include Johnny Cash, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and Weezer.
- When asked about the most embarrassing thing that happened to him, he replied with, “I’m not really aware of when I’m being embarrassed!” Then he managed to get the questioner to tell her most embarrassing moment that she had never told anyone ever before.
- Favorite comic is Frank Miller’s Batman treatment.
- He was never approached by Joss Whedon to play Wash in Firefly.
- Revealed secret about Buffy and Angel: “I was a fan of the shows myself, so I did not read the scripts. I wanted to watch the shows as a fan. And I played a character that did not know or care what happened beyond his own story line, so I decided why read the scripts and have to pretend I don’t know all that stuff. I never told Joss.”
- Is Spike evil? Joss wanted to kill Spike from the very beginning. Joss backed James up against a wall and said, “I don’t care how popular you are, you are dead, you are dead, dead, dead!” James explained to the audience his thoughts on Spike: “As long as he doesn’t kill me, I’m just going to play this like a person. By the end of it, he [Joss] started to come over to my side and saw Spike not as just a metaphor for problems, but as a character that could be explored. I didn’t see him as evil at all actually.”
- James’ thoughts on Spike and Buffy’s first kiss: “When Sarah and I first kissed, she was playing Faith. It was the body switch episode. And I’d never done a film kiss before. We had to have like 14 takes because I kept acting it, and she kept saying, ‘No, James. I mean it’s nice, but in film it’s all about the look of it.’ It became a very technical thing. By the 14th take I just stopped caring, I just wanted to go to the bathroom, and that’s when they were like ‘that’s it!’”
- James’ thoughts on his kiss with John Barrowman: “Kissing John was a great experience. I don’t enjoy sex scenes. I don’t like to be ordered by contract to have sex with someone…but John is a great guy and I trust him. I would kiss John again any day of the week. In fact, I bit him on the first take. He was afraid I’d be holding back but I went in [makes biting noise] and bit him. I haven’t seen you for 300 years, dude, come on! My fiancé directed the kiss. She was on a bar stool five feet away. She kept going, ‘Oh, that was goooood. We need another take.’ She got five takes out of it. We usually only get two takes. But she still talks about it being one of the hottest moments of her life. Kissing John was one of the most fun experiences.”
- Teasing by Sarah Michelle Gellar: “Sarah was a great person but she was merciless in season six when I was naked a lot. We jumped networks, and when we went to UPN they were a new network and didn’t have a standards and practices office yet…so we realized, at least for one season, we could do anything we want! Sarah said she’d do the love scenes, but she wasn’t going to show anything. So I’d have a sock as my wardrobe, and she’d say, ‘James, you like my gloves, and I got a jacket today. Have a nice day.’ She’s a wonderful person but she likes to mess around.”
- Would you rather play a villain or a hero? “Artistically the hero, because it’s much more complicated. But on shooting day – the villain! It’s much more fun. Plus when you play a hero you’re always feeling guilty you didn’t do better and beat yourself up; but when you’re a villain, you wait in the corner, pop out and fight and then go home. You just have to be willing to lose the last fight. As an artist, I’m more proud of playing the hero.”
I’m sure I’ll be seeing more of James Marsters at Q&As. What else would you like to ask him?
This is the Action Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!
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