JAMES MARSTERS: Vampire, time traveler, rockerFeature Story, Latest Issue, Top Highlights Thursday, March 10th, 2011
Music is not one of the first things you might associate with James Marsters. His music, however, is what is bringing him to San Diego this weekend.
The multi-talented artist is probably better known for his re-occurring role as the platinum blonde, blood sucking, and dare we say sexy vampire, Spike, on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its sequel, Angel. He also had a guest role in the short-lived British sci-fi hit Torchwood, as a highly sexual time traveler.
When he’s not in front of the camera, Marsters is behind a microphone, usually with a guitar in hand. He has played in clubs for many years and enjoyed several successful sell-out solo gigs and a successful career as the lead singer of Ghost of the Robot.
We caught up with Marsters, and he spoke to San Diego LGBT Weekly about his start as a vampire, why he is proud of playing gay characters and a preview of his performance at the San Diego IndieFest.
LGBT Weekly: Most people know you as the sexy and mysterious Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Did you ever think Spike would become so popular when you were first presented with the part?
Marsters: No, I was supposed to die in five episodes. Joss (Whedon, executive producer) explained very clearly that he couldn’t wait to kill me. I spent the first year reading the scripts backward looking for my ignoble demise.
How much of an influence were you able to contribute to the character development of Spike?
On the writing, zero. On the costume, zero. On the plots, zero. But an actor can say the words, “I love you,” and make them mean, “I hate you,” or even,” I don’t care about you.” So the truth was that I had a lot of influence. In TV, directors don’t give a lot of direction. It gets actors thinking too much, up in their heads and not in their guts. So unless it sucks, they move on.
What is the best memory of playing Spike?
The best was lighting myself on fire. I was so proud that the stunt coordinator trusted me not to blow a gag like that.
What would be the worst?
The worst was the same day, because I blew the gag. I let the burn go on twice as long as I was told, and burned the crap out of my hand. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t tell anyone on the set.
Another role our readers would know you from is Captain John Hart on Torchwood. What drew you to this character?
Are you kidding me? John Barryman of course! (A gay actor, Barryman plays Captain Jack Harkness, the show’s lead character.) Getting to kiss him, and then beat the hell out of him was just too good. Plus, the writing. We’ve made all the right people uncomfortable with that show. The theme, “Gay people are kick ass heroes,” is something that I am very proud to have a part in saying.
There have been rumors about you being uncomfortable with Hart’s more gay sexuality. What was it like for you to embrace that part of his character?
First of all, John isn’t gay. He will f**k anything that moves – men, women, a poodle. He’s omnisexual. Getting in touch with that part of the character was horrifyingly easy. God no, I had no discomfort. I’ve played gay people before, darling.
Aside from your roles in Buffy and Torchwood, you have a long list of other great credits. What are some of your favorites? What are you working on now? What roles are coming up for you?
You actually want me to plug myself? OK, here goes, but I warn you. I’m shameless. Favs: Buzz Aldrin in Moonshot, Piccolo in Dragonball and recording the books of The Dresden Files (available on iTunes). Now: Victor Hess in Hawaii Five-O. Coming up: Lex Luther in D.C. Universe, a sprawling new online game that was described as “the greatest Superman movie that they will never make” at this year’s Comic-Con, hopefully a new TV series (can’t talk about it … very hush, hush) and more Dresden.
Let’s talk about your music. What is your style? What is your influence?
My stuff is rooted in folk and blues with a good dab of pop. I like Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Woody Guthrie, Furry Lewis.
How many albums have you released?
Six, I guess. Ghost of the Robot is about to be available on iTunes.
What draws you to performance venues like IndieFest?
Good weather, happy people and a good sound system.
What can San Diegans expect from your live performance?
The reunion of Ghost of the Robot, the band that I played with all over the western world. We’ve added a new Robot, my son, who kicks ass on the guitar.
Is there anything I missed that would have been an ideal question for James Marsters?
Just thanks to everyone for keeping up with me. Hope I’m not boring anyone. See you at the show!