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James Marsters: Return of the Bad Guy (interview) | @filmink

James Marsters: Return of the Bad Guy

November 29, 2017

The Buffy veteran tells us about his new villainous role on Marvel's Runaways.

A slew of Marvel’s mutants have been hitting our small screen, most recently Marvel’s Runaways. The show follows a group of teenagers who discover their parents are super villains and that they may have powers of their own.

While most of the teen characters seem to be pulled straight from The Breakfast Club (with a few extra tag along members), it does seem as though they have the potential to grow into more as the series progresses.

“The teenagers are whack. They’re real teenagers. So it’s kind of edgy and really cool,” says Runaways actor James Marsters, who plays one of the parents.

Gert (Ariela Barer) and Molly (Allegra Acosta) are the two standouts so far, providing more in-depth personalities and backstories. Gert represents a lot of teens today. She distances herself purposefully from the crowd, but even in the first three episodes, audiences can see she’s more than just a mindless protester. She’s smart, caring and protective. Hopefully the other characters will progress in a similar, layered direction.

Molly is the first to introduce the audience to the possibility of “powers.” She draws you in, keeping you interested in the teens despite the parents bringing more intrigue. She glows, but at this stage it’s hard to tell how being a human lightbulb is going to have superhero advantages. We’re given hints to other potential abilities, like controlling the weird dinosaur thing in the basement, but nothing is clear as of yet. Of course, if you’ve read the comics, you will be aware of what’s to come, but Marvel never tires of an origin plot.

The parents are a mixed basket of interesting characters and one-dimensional “bad guys.” Geoffrey’s (Ryan Sands) guilt and empathy towards the parents’ first victim, his ‘rags to riches’ backstory and curious business ventures gets the audience excited to learn more. His wife (Angel Parker), however, is far less engaging. She’s not remorseful or particularly wicked. We’ve just got to hope her character progresses past snarky remarks about cheese.

It is no surprise that James Marsters plays the worst of the worst. James thrives in evil roles, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Smallville, and here he will continue to be a fan favourite. The first three episodes have the audience lined up in the ‘love to hate’ vibe for his character, Victor Stein. At the recent Brisbane Supanova, Marsters himself admitted Victor got to be far more evil than the others.

“I’m the biggest douche on the show. They let me do things that they don’t let any of the other characters do,” he said.

It will be interesting to see how they progress his character past merely ‘unlikeable.’  Previous experience tells us Marsters can make you love the villain, whether it’s through redemption or total villainous overload. At this stage, it seems to be the latter; redemption arcs don’t often begin with an admission that he is an abusive father. However, the Buffy actor has pulled it off before, but this time, his character doesn’t have the excuse of not having a soul.

One thing is certain… we won’t be seeing BTVS style ‘bathroom scene’ violence on this PG13 program. James confirmed he refuses to act in roles with sexual abuse, after hating the contractually obligated scene, playing the vampire Spike in the cult classic supernatural series.

“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever shot in my life. That is subject matter that I don’t like to watch in films. If I know a movie has it, I don’t go see the movie. If it comes up on television, I’ve got to turn the TV off. It ruins my day. If I get an audition that has that kind of stuff going on, I don’t audition for it… I don’t regret it, I think it set up Spike to go get a soul. You’ll notice that I’ve never done that again nor will I do anything like that again,” he said.


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