James Marsters – Training
Did he do much training?
Yeah, I’d uh trained before, uh, coming into the show. Um, the main thing is stretching out. Because you’re often hit with really cold weather, or you’re wet or you’re sweating and then you’re out in the nighttime. Um, but there are, there’s down time. You know, you go in and you block the scene and then you might have an hour to hang out with the stunt crew and just go through it, and I just, I would never go to my trailer on fight day. I would always just go back to the stunt crew and we would keep working, and you’d just take the little bits of time that you’d have between shots.
James Marsters – Too sexy for prime time?
Too sexy for primetime?
I don’t think that vampires were supposed to be particularly sexual on Buffy. I think that’s why when they become their vampiric self, they become so ugly, because Joss wanted to make sure that you didn’t like them very much. Uh, and then there were just a few exceptions to that. Uh, there was Angel, there was Drusilla, there was me. Um, Darla to a lesser extent, I think, too. Um, but he really tried to remind the audience constantly that we were evil. He really didn’t back off of that at all. And when I, when he told me, he told me one time that I… Cause I asked him one time “Look, man, if you wanna take my shirt off, just give me two months to get ready. Cause I look good with a shirt on, but if you really want good tone, I’ll give it to ya, but give me some time.” And he goes, “Next season, you’re gonna hook up with Buffy, so get ready.” And I said, “Oh, that’s a great idea! But she never reciprocates, right? And I can always try to be good, but I can always fail, that’s really funny. Great idea!” (does thumbs up) And he said, “No, actually, you’re gonna have sex with her.” And I just thought, “What?! That’s completely antithetical to what we’re doing.” But they played it as the bad boyfriend. Like this is the guy that you do not want to get together with. He’s very exciting but he’ll burn you. And a lot of the fans didn’t want that to happen; they wanted me to end up being good for her, but I was happy that we stayed with that metaphor.
James Marsters – The hottest Star
Who was the hottest star on Buffy?
When you get to a… There’s a point of hottest when they’re, you really can’t choose. Like, I’m sorry, in Miss America, there are differences. But, on Buffy, there was just a lot of mega, mega hot females walking around. And I cannot choose one. I really can’t, they’re all very, very hot. And I got to kiss almost all of them, I have to say. Um, I can’t pick one.
James Marsters – Resurrect Spike
Would he ever resurrect the role of Spike?
I’d be happy to play him, I just… I wanna find a way that I would look the same. I don’t, I’m not interested… Like, there would have to be a lotta camera tests; Put me back in the makeup. Because I don’t wanna have to do some line where, “Oh, he’s aging slowly because he’s drinking pigs blood, instead of human blood, blah, blah blah.” That’s just ridiculous. I think that the cool thing about a vampire is he doesn’t age. If we could hold to that, um… I got very dramatic lighting, and so if you hit me with a little light here (gestures to forehead), maybe we could get away with it. But, as long as we could get away with that cheat, then it would be cool.
James Marsters – Permanent cast member
How did Spike manage to become a permanent cast member?
Uh, I was supposed to die in five episodes. And, Joss was really specific that he wanted that to happen. And, then he decided not to kill me until 10 episodes, but that I was definitely dead. He came up to me and said, “Look. This is going very well, but make no mistake, you are dead! I’m gonna kill you off. The only reason I’m keeping you on, is so that we don’t go Scooby Doo and have a villain every week and have to kill him; and ‘Oh, those kids! If it were only for that dog,’ you know.” Uh, so I was surprised with every new episode that I got. Every new one.
James Marsters – Favourite episode
What was his favourite episode ever?
Oh, for me, I think the favourite, my favourite episode is the musical. Usually they give a script to you once a week, and you, very exciting day, when you find out what you’re gonna be doing for the next two weeks; and, uh, this time it was a cassette. Very weird. So I went and put it into the cassette player and started playing, and there’s Joss and his lovely wife, Kai, playing piano and singing. But they’re not professional singers and Joss doesn’t play the piano very well, at all, at this point. And it sounds terrible! And I’m thinking, “What the hell is going on?” And I came out of my trailer and the rest of the cast just are doing the same thing and they’re coming out with the same expression, like, ‘What is going on?’ And we thought that Joss went crazy. We thought that he was gonna flush everyone’s career. And, he was just gonna leap off a cliff and destroy us all. And everyone tried to get out of it. Except for Tony Head and I, uh, we were already singing professionally, but for the rest of the cast, it was like they were being asked to juggle chainsaws. Uh, they were professional dramatic actors that were being asked to do musical comedy. And there’s so much egg flying around, at that point, to be put on your face. Uh, a lot of people could have ruined their careers. But, uh, they all, when they figured out they couldn’t get out of it, they all really boned up, and studied up, and got a lot of vocal coaches and dance coaches, and everybody really, uh, stopped being so afraid, and we just did it. And I was never more proud of us as a company.
James Marsters – Debut performance
His debut performance?
My first scene was in the meat packing plant, when I go, “You were there? If every vampire who said he was at Woodstock was there, they would…” or whatever. I had come from stage, and on stage, when you make an entrance, you go to the framing device that you’re entering through, it’s usually a doorway, and you pause in the doorway, and everyone looks up, and then you just make a slight pause, and then you start speaking, and then you cross down stage. It’s a very powerful entrance. I didn’t realize I was on film, and they cut to you, you don’t have to pull focus; you don’t have to pause so all the eyes come to you; you don’t have to speak louder to pull focus; you don’t have to do any of that. So, it ended up being a very stagey, kind of, highly acted first scene and the accent really wasn’t there, and still when I watch “School Hard,” I get a little like, “oh.” (cringes) It got better, ‘cause right after that scene, Tony Head came to me and he goes, “You’ve got to get it right. I’ve gotta go back home, you prat,” right. He was a nice guy, but he was very specific. And he started helping me with the accent, so as the episode went on, I got better at it. But especially that first scene was, is, just embarrassing.
James Marsters – He’s not actually English?
Are people surprised to find he’s not actually English?
Constantly. Yeah. Which is both a wonderful thing and a frustrating thing. Even casting director’s here in Los Angeles are still are, still call me in for English roles and are very depressed to hear that I’m not English. And I think, well, I am English if you pay me.
James Marsters – How long to make one episode?
How long would it take to make one episode?
Uh, we would start at 4:30 in the morning on Monday, and we would go 12 to 20 hours. So that be, uh, you have to give people time to rest, 12 hours in between, so we would back up; we couldn’t start at 4:30 on Tuesday, we’d start about 7, and then about 10 on Wednesday and it would back up until we were coming to work on 4:30 in the afternoon on Friday, and we would get out at about 6:00 in the morning on Saturday morning. It was known as Buffy the weekend slayer. There’s a lot of people in the crew wouldn’t work that show. Uh, we just have too many elements. We had special effects, makeup effects, stunts, fights, uh, romance makeup’s; all the different elements were shoved into that show. So, it took a long, long time.
James Marsters – How important was the romance?
How important was romance to the success of the show?
In Joss’s world, vampires are a metaphor for the problems that a human being goes through, through childhood and adulthood. Those difficult years of adolescence. And vampires are just s’posed to be ugly and die, as someone triumphs over that, week to week. And he got talked into one romantic vampire character, by his writing partner, David Greenwalt, and it was Angel. And Angel just took off like a rocket, and Joss kept saying, “I’m not into Anne Rice. I don’t want these vampires to be romantic.” And I was supposed to be the Sid Vicious of the vampire set. So, he didn’t expect me to take off. I was just supposed to be the boy toy for Drusilla and then quickly killed by Angel. ‘Cause Angel sleeps with Buffy, goes evil, like so many jerk boyfriends do, and then kills me and takes up with my girlfriend. So, I was imperiling the theme of the show, and the more fans were hot for the character, the worse Joss got about being nervous about my character, and, in fact, more and more wanted to sideline him a bit, so that he didn’t take over the theme of the show. And I absolutely agree with him, that that was a problem.
James Marsters – Good Spike Vs Bad Spike
Who did he prefer playing, good Spike or bad Spike?
Playing bad Spike was a lot of fun. Playing bad Spike, uh, you get to be the evil person that you feel inside but cover up all day, trying to be nice to people so people will like you. Uh, and it’s great to play a character that doesn’t really care if everyone likes him, and everyone likes him anyway. Um, uh, playing good Spike, artistically, was scarier, terrifying, really, uh, but I wouldn’t say it was fun.
James Marsters – Did he watch the show?
Did he watch the show, before he got a part on it?
Only once. Uh, I had come down to Los Angeles from doing theatre in Seattle and I told my agent that I was willing to play anything; that I had no pride about that, I was willing to be Alf’s sidekick, if necessary. The US government was hunting me down, I was cheating on my IRS and my unemployment checks, so they were literally sending the lawyers after me. So, I really didn’t care. And then they called me to audition for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I said, “Oh come on now, there is a line.” (laughs) But they said, “No, no, no, it’s not the movie, check it out, it’s Tuesday nights, check it out; call us at 9:00.” And I watched the show and called them at 8:30 and said, “Get me on this show! Oh my God, this is the best writing I’ve seen in a long time.”
James Marsters – Complicated character
Did he plan to become such a complicated character?
You know, it’s funny, because we were really making it up as we go along. We really didn’t know what we were doing all the time, we were finding out what we were doing all the time. And, I feel like Spike got plugged in as needed. He was the villain, then he was the cuckold, then he was the wacky neighbor, then he was the… evil person trying to repent, then he was the lover, then he was the bad boyfriend, then he was, finally, the hero. And that really; I don’t really know that there was a plan, overall, for the character, it was just that they needed a different character every season. I came in, in Season Four, they told me I was the new Cordelia, because we need someone to tell Buffy that she’s stupid and everyone’s about to die. Um, but that didn’t work out because I light on fire in sunlight, so they had me coming in a smoking blanket all the time to tell Buffy that she was an idiot and it just, you can’t do that very often, so. At that point, I thought I would be fired. But when you stack up all of those different, um, different facets, you come up with a fully realized character. Because, really, we all play those roles in our lives.
James Marsters – Best kisser
Who was the best kisser on the show?
I think I got to kiss everybody, including Angel. Jeez. I would think Sarah. She’s got very soft lips, and she was very patient. My first time, I kissed her, I think we had about 18 takes, because I kept feeling it, and trying to act it, and she kept saying, “No, we’re mushing faces, do it’s like a perfume commercial, you’ve just gotta barely touch and that’s it.”
James Marsters – Best & worst moments
What was his favourite Spike moment on the show?
My favourite Spike moment on the show is when they let me light my hand on fire. Let me do my own stunt on that. I was never more proud.
And his least favourite moment?
My least favourite moment was the same day, because I blew the gag. They trusted me with the gag, and I blew it. I let it go on twice as long, ‘cause I thought it would be funnier that way. I was so ashamed that I didn’t let anyone know. It was my final shot for the season, so I hid my hand and got off the set, and no one ever knew.