“Buffy” star James Marsters proud to be Spike at Motor City Comic Con
If you go
• Motor City Comic Con
• 12:30-7 p.m. Friday, May 13.
• 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, May 14.
• 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 15.
• Suburban Collection Showcase, 46100 Grand River Ave., Novi.
• Tickets range $10-$35 for one day to $75 weekend; children 5 and younger free; 12 and younger free on Sunday with paid adult. Celebrity combo packs extra.
• This year’s parking options expanded; parking fees $5-$10.
• Shuttle $2 round trip from Novi High School.
• For more information, visit motorcitycomiccon.com.
When James Marsters moved to Hollywood, he told his agent he didn’t care if he became the “new Urkel.”
A classically trained Shakespearean actor, Marsters, 53, was happy with being a poor theater actor. But his priorities changed when his son, Sullivan, was born in 1996.
“I came to Hollywood to whore myself out,” Marsters says, of Los Angeles, who’s appearing at the Motor City Comic Con, Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15, in Novi.
In 1997, he landed his breakout role as Spike on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Creator Joss Whedon envisioned Spike and the undead paramour to Drusilla (Juliet Landau) as the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen of the vampire set.
“I said to Joss, ‘You don’t want Sid and Nancy. This is ridiculous. Sid Vicious was an idiot; he was also a horrible bassist. The reason why the Sex Pistols were the Sex Pistols was because of Johnny Rotten. … I’m gonna give you Johnny.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’” Marsters recalls.
Originally, Spike was supposed to be killed off.
“I was just designed to be Drusilla’s boy-toy. The idea would be Angel (David Boreanaz) would sleep with Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and go evil so he could break her heart. (Angel was) to kill Spike. I was just the expendable boyfriend for Drusilla, who was gonna be Angel’s new girlfriend,” Marsters explains. “They were just basically matching actors to Juliet. ... We worked very well together right away. That’s why I got cast.”
Spike proved popular with the audience, however, he became a regular on “Buffy” and its spin-off, “Angel.”
“Joss — instead of doing the thing I would’ve done, which would’ve been to kill me off immediately — decided to keep me around and explore (Spike) and somehow make it work and not ruin the show,” he says. “That takes a lot of talent and a lot of (expletive), frankly. I owe my career to the fact that Joss had the courage do that. Having to find a way to fit a square peg into a round hole unleashed Joss and the writing staff’s creativity. It meant that there was a really interesting journey for Spike. Also, I think the hair was cool.”
Another role is he’s known for is Capt. John Hart on “Torchwood,” a “Doctor Who” spin-off.
“When I met with (creator) Russell T. Davies, he said ‘Torchwood’ was his ‘Buffy’ ... ‘Buffy’ was a subversive show for its time. It was subverting the lie that women can’t defend themselves. Russell wanted to subvert the lie that gay people can’t be heroes. I like to think of myself as a subversive artist, so I was very proud to be on that show.”
Other roles include “Smallville,” “Caprica,” “Hawaii Five-0,” and “Warehouse 13.” He’s also done voiceover work.
Yet, it all comes back to Spike — which he doesn’t mind being remembered for at all.
“I ended up on a show that was, frankly, better-written than a lot of the original plays I was doing in theater,” Marsters says. “I have no problem with genre (shows). I think genre is able to say things more clearly than other forms. Sometimes science-fiction and fantasy can address social issues much more directly. ... I might go on to other hit projects, but I don’t know if I can touch the nerve of the world like I did with ‘Buffy’ — or be part of something that touches the nerve of the world.”
He’s looking forward to attending Motor City Comic Con for the first time.
“I think (conventions are) one of the last places in this society to come together and actually talk,” Marsters says. “I find that being part of a convention is (building) a community on a level that I was never able to do before. I also find that people at conventions tend to be pretty smart. Genre attracts people smarter than the average bear. I tend to meet at least one scientist every time I go to a convention — or a doctor
“I’ve met people from NASA, the CIA, the FBI, people who cannot tell me what they do for a living but really enjoy the projects I’ve been in for over years… This happens every time. I always meet someone with an interesting job, and — frankly — I like to talk to people. That’s the best part of it for me.”