It’s sometimes hard to believe that Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air in 2003, especially when you get around a bunch of super-fans, as I did this Saturday at Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon. The mini-mecca for all things nerdy played host to Buffy alums Nicholas Brendon (Xander), James Marsters (Spike) and Claire Kramer (Glory, season 5), as well as Felicia Day (Vi), and, eight years after it went off the air, the Buffy panel still packed the largest room in the convention center.
“How long do you think Buffy will be a staple at events like this?” my friend, a fellow Buffy lover, mused as we sat in the hall and waited for Brendon, Marsters and Kramer to take the stage at their anticipated panel session. “As long as events like this exist,” I said, looking around at the tittering crowd, which included lots of costumes, ranging from Avatar to Dr. Who to Star Trek to X-Files characters, but looked mostly made up of run-of-the-mill folks in everyday attire. Buffy is a classic, beloved by nerds and non-nerds alike, and that love–like the vamps of its lore–shows no signs of dying anytime soon.
Brendon, Marsters and Kramer, who are making the regional comicon rounds over the next few months, clearly share in that sentiment, and were at turns thoughtful, funny and nostalgic as they took questions from the audience about their time on the series. So, enough from me. Here are the best bits from their Buffy Comicon chat, in their own words:
Did you get to keep your trademark red dress?
Clare Kramer: “No, I didn’t. I think they sold it on eBay.”
What was your favorite thing about being on Buffy?
Nicholas Brendon: “My favorite thing was doing it. Being there from the conception of it and watching it grow into this pop culture crazy whirligig thing.”
How about least favorite?
NB: “Shooting “Beer Bad.” [Ed. note: The audience cracked up, recalling the drunken Neaderthal-centric plot of “Beer Bad,” also considered by some fans as the worst Buffy episode ever.] That it’s a Xander-ific episode hurts my soul.”
What about you, James Marsters? Least favorite thing about being on Buffy?
James Marsters: “Bleaching my hair. In a lot of closeups there would be bloody puss dripping down my face. I had to bleach his hair every episode because vampire hair isn’t supposed to grow.”
And how about you, Clare?
CK: “I loved kicking ass. I also liked working with the writing. It was a lot of monologue, free play, lyrical almost.”
How much of the plots did you know in advance?
JM: “We were lucky if we got a full script.”
NB: “I found out Xander was losing his eye by reading the script. I thought Willow would heal it, but then all of a sudden I was in the hospital.”
CK: “I found out I was a god by reading the script.”
NB: “Often times I’d find things out after we shot it, which was … interesting.”
What do they think of the Buffy comics?
NB: “I think Xander having sex with Dawn is kind of … I guess art imitates life, so whatever. [Ed note: He was clearly joking.] I still see Michelle [Trachtenberg] as a 14 year old.”
JM: “I saw Michelle on the cover of Maxim and I was like, “Michelle, that’s very racy!'”
NB: “… But I’ll buy two, please.”
What have you been up to lately? New projects?
CK: She said she’s been directing, and will appear in the movies Endure and The Dead Ones, which is a “Sixth Sense type movie.”
NB: “I’ve been taking a lot of baths. I fell out of my shower a couple weeks ago and took the curtain down with me. I’ve been taking about three or four baths a day.”
JM: He was recently on Smallville, and is lending his voice to the Dragonball Evolution movie. He’s been doing a lot of voiceover work. He also spoke about his role on the UK series Torchwood: “It’s a subversive show that’s taking down the lie that gay people can’t be heroes.”
Why do we learn on Buffy that vampires have no breath, but then we see that Spike smokes?
JM: “We really didn’t know what we were doing. We were making it up as we went along. We didn’t have a rule book.” James went on say that at first he was told that he “couldn’t sweat on camera,” because vampires don’t sweat. But then they were spending so much time powdering his face between action sequences (“I sweat like a monkey!”) that “finally, Joss [Whedon] just goes, “Screw it, vampires sweat when they fight!”
Favorite season of Buffy?
CK: Season 5, of course!
NB: “I always get them messed up. I think season one because it was so magical. Not for the content, but just for what Sarah [Michelle Gellar], Alyson [Hannigan] and myself were going through. It was a magical time in my life that I’ll never forget until God takes me from this green earth.”
JM: Season 5. “I got to get beat up a lot by Claire, which is a lot more fun than it sounds.”
On playing a character who goes “insane”:
JM: “The truth is, I learned during that period that being a method actor is dangerous on TV. On movies and in plays there’s an end point, but on TV it just keeps rolling, year after year.” He went on to describe what it was like to play Spike when he grew a soul and was haunted by his former victims: “I had to think of everything I felt guilty about all through my life and beat myself up about it. I fell into a heavy depression.”
CK: “I didn’t view Glory as crazy. She was who she was. I approached her as I would any other character. I had a lot of fun playing her. I viewed her from the egotistical side.”
Why did all the guys “turn into p*****s” when they fell in love with Buffy? [Ed note: This question got BIG laughs from the crowd, as did James’ response.]
JM: “Because that’s what happens to a man when he falls in love.”
What was it like for Brendon to play Xander, a male “damsel in distress”?
NB: “I finally kinda grew a pair by the end. I lost an eye and grew a pair.”
JM: “Xander IS Joss. That’s how he sees himself.”
What do they think of the fan fiction?
NB: “Like the gay stuff between Xander and Spike?”
JM [seems genuinely surprised]: “That exists?”
NB: “Listen there’s no such thing as bad press. As long as were not terrorists. No, even if we are terrorists. As long as you keep caring.”
Finally, where can fans find them online?
Nicholas Brendon: You can follow him on Twitter, and find him at NickBrendon.com (where you can find a list of his upcoming appearances!) and VeryBadKoalas.com.
Clare Kramer: You can follow her on Twitter here and at her website, ClareKramerOnline.com.
James Marsters: He’s on Twitter too, his official website is here, and he’s also active on Facebook, where he recently posted an essay about Egypt which he told the crowd he’s “quite proud of.” His music will soon be available on iTunes.