Geeking Out With…James Marsters!
Geeks Speak: Caprica, Buffy, Smallville, Witches of East End, have shown you are a versatile actor with numerous talents. Is there a role that you really enjoyed doing or truly regretted ?
James Marsters: I have truly enjoyed acting in anything since the fourth grade. I love the feeling that I’m hoodwinking the audience, like I’m a con man and they’re my mark. The difference between me and a true grifter is that I’m not conning people out of anything. I’m conning them into accepting a gift. The gift may be; a new perspective, a celebration of their better selves, simple escape, or subversion. Subversion is my favorite gift. We all get taught lies when we are children. Some of these are; violence works, old people are boring, and you can buy your self identify. There are many more.
JM continues: ‘Buffy’, and ‘Torchwood’ we’re both subersive TV shows, so those are my favorites. ‘Buffy’ subverted the lie that woman can’t defend themselves. ‘Torchwood’ attacked the lie that LGTB people can’t be heros. ‘Smallville’ was an awesome show. Al Gough, the shows creator, fixed the problem that is Superman. Namely, how do you get your hero into an adventure if he can’t be hurt? How exciting is a story when you know the lead will always be just fine in the end? Al explained to me that he would make his Superman so young that he was not yet a man, so inexperienced that he didn’t yet know he was super. He would make him a teenager, vulnerable to everything that a teen is challenged by; his parents, his girlfriend, his self image, his teachers, everything. Problem solved. Genius.
JM continues: ‘Caprica’ was a brave show that gave us a safe way to watch a planet slowly ruin itself. Horrifying on the news, fascinating on television. ‘Witches of East End’ was a heartfelt rumination on the challenge of holding your family together in a chaotic world.All of these had a central message, a core that I could get behind and believe in. That has made it easy for me to find the passion that fuels me. ‘Dragon Ball Z’ is an examination of healthy manhood. A good man is peaceful, loves kids, is egoless, and is goofy sometimes. However, if you attack his family he will put you down as quickly, and as ruthlessly as necessary. A good man does not create chaos in order to prove himself against. That’s done by overgrown boys, and villains. I’m a big fan of Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball the movie wasn’t that. My son showed me the ‘Honest Trailer’ for Dragon Ball. The opening line was, “Dragon Ball…the biggest offense against Japanese culture since Hiroshima.” Word.
GS: Your talents don’t end at acting. I understand you’re quite the musician as well, with several albums already. Did any of this come from Joss Whedon’s “musical” episode of Buffy called “Once More with Feeling”?
JM: I learned guitar from my Father, who learned from his Father, as has my Son. I started playing in bars when I was 13. I played with a good band called The Vandals in high school. We were enamored with The Clash, and played a lot of their songs, and also wrote a lot of originals.
JM: Yes! Ghost of the Robot just dropped a new album on iTunes called ‘Bourgeois Faux Pas’. It’s a return to the hard driving rock that drove our first album. We’ve learned a lot about making music in the recording studio since our first album, so this one screams, but it also glistens and shines. It’s theme is Love. Love in all its myriad, beautiful, terrifying, and powerful forms.
JM: As we saw in Angel, Spike did leave Buffy and Sunnydale behind. He didn’t leave because of Buffy’s rejection of him. He left because, having gotten a soul, he realized that he was not good enough for her. He’d hurt too many people, and had a lot of growing to do.
JM: I am totally geeking on the new Star Wars! I big hope is that J.J. Abrams will retain the subversion of the first 6 films. Did you know that ‘Apocolyse Now’ was Gearge Lucas’ idea? He gave it to Francis Ford Coppola because he was too busy to develop it. Star Wars and Apocolyse Now have a similar theme of the Vietnam War, but not many people realize it. How many people know that Darth Vader and his dark empire, who rains down destruction with surperior technology and overwhelming firepower, represent America in that war? And that the forrest dwelling underdogs, the Jedi, Wookies, and Ewoks, are avatars for the Viet Cong? I read an interview with Lucas back in the early 80’s in which he talked about this.