I had a chance to see James Marsters aka Brainiac from Smallville aka Spike from Buffy/Angel back in May for the ComicCon and passed on it — he’s not on my A list to see, and I wasn’t that interested the first time. However, he was here again, I was free, why not? I’m really glad I did because he was highly enjoyable. Most of what he talked about was Buffy or Angel, but he responded mostly to whatever questions were asked, fairly relaxed and laid back, the sort of guy you see and think, “Hey let’s grab a beer and chat”. Here was his chat:
- Makeup: He said that it was somewhat rigorous for the six years he played Spike, but actually not as bad as it would have been 20 years ago. Instead, with the right chemicals for the adhesive and removal, he was down to 20 minutes to do the vampire F/X. He also remembers his first day when he went for make up and showed them a scar he nonchalantly referred to as having received from a brass knuckle incident years earlier, assuming that they would cover it up — but the makeup guy thought it added character to Spike, and opted to keep it instead;
- Shooting Supernatural with Charisma Carpenter: He noted that it was fun because he never really worked with her much before. On Buffy, she left when he started being active (and in fact, he was sort of the same character, same type of function). He said it was also great fun because they were given this ancient spell to memorize 20 minutes before the scene, so they had to have them write it on cue cards for them;
- Asked about doing accents: He said that he tried for a New Orleans style accent, but some people thought it was more Texan, and either way, it sounded like he was “black”;
- Asked why he did Angel: Short answer was because Joss Whedon asked. Slightly longer answer is that it was the same writers, same people, same show, so easy to say yes. Early on, it was just 2 writers (Joss + 1), and they were killing themselves but Joss was too cheap to pay established writers to work on the show. So he accepted open submission scripts, hired 8-10 writers from it to work on episodes, paid them little and let them be hungry, all of them in the same writer room. Kind of related to the end of Buffy, he said Sarah Michelle Gellar was “toast”, just completely burned out, and later on, some of them felt the same way at times;
- Asked why everyone else on the show could do bad things and were forgiven, but Spike never was: Further nuanced, the woman suggested that Buffy didn’t deserve Spike. Marsters noted that Spike’s evolution over the show caused challenges for the writers and for Joss in particular — he never wanted the show to show “evil” as cool. Instead, Spike was portrayed as the uber outsider, kind of the same attempt for the storyline for Dawn;
- Asked about his and other’s reaction to Spike’s “death”: He said it wasn’t that big a deal because Angel had already been announced before the “death”, although he was disappointed because he wasn’t really a “hero”, just the wearer of the jewellery;
- Asked about Angel ending: Marsters said that he was physically sick and tired, and even the last scene was difficult. Normally they do rain scenes where the truck sits in the sun all day and thus the water is warm; this time the truck was in the shade so the water was cold for the final scene. He did note that the relationship with the network was a bit strained, as they were delaying announcing renewal until they decided if the Dracula pilot was going to go forward or not. Joss pushed them for an answer, and they said, “okay, if you want an answer today, you’re cancelled”. Marsters thinks it caught Joss by surprise. However, for the actual ending (not including comic books), while all of Angel was about regret, they got to go out as heroes;
- Asked about the infamous bathroom scene: I confess I didn’t get the initial reference until he started talking about it — basically it’s a rape scene with Buffy. He said that it was the worst day of his professional career. He went in, was really tense, and popped his shoulder/back out from an old whiplash injury. The genesis of the storyline was that the writers were told to take the worst day of their life, slap fangs on it, and show the world, with the actors having to live it. One of the female writers had a story about how she was breaking up with her boyfriend, felt like if they could just have sex one more time, most of the “issues” would go away and they would get past it, so she went to his house, and tried to essentially force herself on him. She turned that into the bathroom scene. Ultimately though, he realized that he had committed to the show, and that whatever they wrote for his character to do, he was committed to doing it.
Overall, Marsters offered a highly “accessible” panel, and was great. Next up? John Barrowman.