Sept. 17, 7 p.m.
Tickets $25 advance/$30 at the door
Box office: saskexpo.com
Long before James Marsters was a featured guest at comic conventions — thanks to his role as Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel — he was a 13-year-old Star Trek fan decked out in his Vulcan finest.
“I have been attending conventions since 1973, dressed as a Vulcan with a Spock tunic, pointed ears, a phaser and a big, blonde afro. And I was, for the first time in my life, beautiful and interesting to the girls because my phaser was cool,” he said.
At that time, you could only be a fan of two things, Star Trek or Space: 1999. Star Wars wouldn’t come out for several more years. The two fandoms did not get along.
“We hated each other. We would say stuff like ‘You’re phaser is stupid, it’s not based on authentic science’ or ‘Your unitard looks dumb,” Marsters said with a laugh. “It was just ridiculous. It’s really great now because you can be a fan of whatever you want.”
Sci-fi rivalries aside, Marsters said conventions have always been a special place for him and millions over other fans who attend them around the world. It’s one of the last places he’s found where people engage face-to-face, without hiding behind the protection of a cellphone.
“I really love conventions because everyone’s beautiful, everyone’s safe. You can be whatever you want to be,” he said. “If you’re an 80-year-old woman and you want to be bikini Princess Leia, baby you go for it. You’re beautiful. We love you.”
The fact that he now gets to sit on panels and meet with fans of his role on the two Joss Whedon series makes the actor pinch himself. The experience has helped him reconcile his discom
fort with fame. Marsters got his acting start in theatre. He felt like TV and commercials made people feel worse about themselves and he didn’t want to embody that. Conventions had the opposite effect.
Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo
Sept. 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sept. 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets $5-$70 (photo ops extra)
Box office: saskexpo.com
With Carrie Fisher, James Marsters, Tom Felton, Bob Morley, Garrett Wang and more
“If I can meet someone and really listen to them and really meet them on a human level, they end up feeling a bit better about themselves and that’s really cool. And now it’s kind of fun to be famous,” he said.
Though he’s gone on to do lots of different things since Angel ended in 2004 — including roles in Hawaii 5-0 and Caprica, playing with band Ghost of the Robot and doing voiceover work — he’s happy to revisit his time as the bad boy vampire Spike.
He’s proud of his work on the shows, even though he wasn’t looking for a critical hit when he moved to Los Angeles. As a new father, he moved there to make money.
“I told my agent ‘I’m not here to prove myself as an actor, I did that on stage a long time ago. I’m here for diaper money. I’ll be the new Urkel. I don’t care about impressing people, I’ll be Alf’s sidekick if I have to.’ And lo and behold, I got on a show that was better written than most of the original plays I was doing. It just tickles me. I really can’t believe that I sold out, but then did something that I’m actually proud of.”
Marsters is a featured guest at the Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo Sept. 17 and 18 at Prairieland Park. His panel takes place on the 18th at 1:30 p.m. He’ll do photo ops and autograph signings on both days (see saskexpo.com for tickets). Marsters will also showcase his musical skills at a solo concert at Louis’ on the 17th. He’s played in Ghost of the Robot, a band he founded with Charlie de Mars, since 2001, but since one of the members is in college they only tour during the summer.
“I’ll do what I did when I was 13 years old. I’ll bring my guitar on stage and perform a different set of songs that are a little more folky, more bluesy than the band,” he said.