Video Interview - James Marsters
Music, mayhem and John Barrowman
James Marsters hooked us when he took on the role of Spike in Joss Whedon’s hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but he is one of those people that gets better with age. Over a decade later, he’s still an easy man to love.
Getting a chance to speak to him was difficult – he was very in demand by his fans when he stopped at the Edmonton Expo this year – but he was able to spare a few minutes for us to talk about what was currently happening, specifically in regards to his music. James fronts the band Ghost of the Robot, and has been releasing music with them since 2003. Their newest album Bourgeois Faux Pas is debuting this year.
"This album is a return to our hard-driving pop sound of our first album," he said. "Our first album was just really ferocious pop rock music, but it was also very raw, because we were new. And we have learned a lot about music production, so we’ve applied that to that sound. So there’s a glimmer and a gloss to that now." The album is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s website, http://www.GhostoftheRobot.com. If you want to hear the music, that is your best bet because, at the moment, touring is somewhat crippled.
"One of our band members is in college, and our bassist is touring with Lana Del Rey, and she’s paying him so much money that it’s hard to get him back for a tour right now."
The band member currently in college is Sullivan, James’ son. They try to work touring around so that it doesn’t interfere with his schooling. "We try to do a big tour in the summer when he’s off, and we try to hit a couple places close to his college for Christmas. He is up near Seattle, so, we could hit Vancouver." Fingers crossed.
If the tour doesn’t happen though, there are quite a few video recordings up on YouTube to slake your thirst (search ‘JamesMarstersandSon’ and ‘GOTRMusic’).
When we asked him how he felt about coming to the Expo with his former costars Eliza Dushku and Amber Benson mere metres away, he could not have been happier. "Amber and Eliza are two of my favourite people in the world," he said. "Amber actually directed me in a film called Chance years ago, that she wrote and produced. And I think it’s one of my favourite performances."
Not surprisingly, he also had quite a lot to say about one of his costars from his stint on Torchwood, John Barrowman. "He is crazy – in a good way!" James said. "He will not allow you to be tired. I remember, it was 4 o’clock in the morning, we were starting the day, and they were painting my eyeballs onto my eyelids. I was so tired. And I was just laying in the chair, and he comes into the makeup trailer like HEYYYYYYY MUTHERF*CKAAASSSS AHHHH! – like that. And just woke everybody up."
Like many iconic actors, James comes from a strong theatre background. So does John, and that created a special sort of cooperation and work ethic on set for the both of them. "[John] and I, I think we both understand that you have to have fun. There is a saying in theatre – and we both come from theatre – It’s called a play for a reason. No one pays to watch you work. So, a lot of times in television and film, you are freezing to death, or you’re really hot, or people are throwing small rocks at your face, and it’s hard to have fun."
An example of this... fun? "On this particular morning we were out on a cow patch, and it was cold and it was raining, and there was cow stuff all over the place. The crew was miserable and everyone was tired, and John and I were like, okay, we are gonna have to have fun. So we’re running around, just like lunatics, because we’re trying to pump ourselves up to have fun in the scene. And the guy playing John’s younger brother was fresh out of drama school and was very serious. And I go up to him and I say, you know, I bet when this is over you’re gonna go back to theatre and you are never coming back to television. And he was like How did you know? And so John and I had to explain to him about the whole theory on how to have fun."
One of the notable scenes in Torchwood was the on-screen kiss shared between the two of them, which is, well, quite popular – and understandably so. When we asked whether John was a good kisser, James had a surprisingly touching response. "Stage kissing is not romantic kissing. It is really about trust, and I would probably rather do a stage kiss with John than anyone else that I have kissed. I trust him with my life and, you know, what really built that trust was a fight scene afterwards. The kiss was awesome. But John and I, we had a fight scene after that, and we’re both from stage where you don’t get a stunt man. And I think the stunt people got in for one shot? And that builds trust. So I’ll kiss John anytime."
James also learned something that day about the ladies. "My fiancé was on a bar stool five feet away and I learned something that I never knew before, which was that you ladies like the guy on guy stuff. I had no idea! Now this is fabulous! I’m married now and thinking, maybe we should have John over again; I should get a kiss, we could get this thing going again."
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