James Marsters: Still buff(y) after all these years
Luckily, its something he’s quite comfortable accepting.
‘‘He still comes out, but only late at night and I’m hoping that nobody else is around because I usually lose friends,’’ Marsters joked of the blonde-haired goth vampire.
Marsters played the role for 96 episodes of Buffy and returned in the series spin-off Angel, in which he appeared in a further 24 episodes.
‘‘A lot of people I meet are freshly discovering it all,’’ he said. ‘‘They come into line and they’re looking at me like I just got off the set. It’s awesome.
‘‘The magic of DVDs and also reruns. The thing is Buffy holds up to repeated viewing. Even when you know the end of the story it’s still fun to watch it play out. I tend to prefer to watch something really good more than once than something that’s not so good that’s fresh. I can watch the original Alien like forever. I could watch something like that once every six months for the rest of my life.’’
Marsters will be in Sydney next week as one of the guests of the Supanova Pop Culture Expo to be held at The Dome, Sydney Olympic Park [June 18 and 19].
He is no stranger to the convention scene - both as special guest and fan.
‘‘I’m a sci-fi fan,’’ he said. ‘‘I was at the very first Star Trek convention in the world back in 1978 in Oakland California. I was in on the writing campaign to get the first movie made. I’m a sci-fi fan from way back.
‘‘When I was growing up all we had was Planet of the Apes and Star Trek and old Twilight Zone - and that’s not too bad - but its not the kind of cornucopia that’s available now. You look at the big movies that are coming out this summer they’re all sci-fi/fantasy. I went to go and see the new X-Men movie - that rocked. It’s like we sci-fi guys - we won.’’
Marsters cites the ability of science fiction to offer veiled social commentary as a big part of its attraction.
‘‘I think when its at its best - and often in these projects it is, certainly with X-Men it was - it functions like the court jester used to function in the medieval court, in that the court jester was the only one able to call the king an idiot, as long as it was funny,’’ he said.
‘‘The X-Men can say, ‘hey man, we’re just talking about mutants, it’s not about gays at all, or black people, it’s not about the poor and oppressed and minority in any population, its not about the Hutus and the Tutsis [Rwandan people] at all - it’s just about mutants’.
‘‘In a way sci-fi and fantasy can state their point artistically much more bravely, much more forwardly than any other artform. You can both escape your normal life but also get fed ideas that will help you with your normal life at the same time.’’
Marsters cites the writing as the main reason for the longevity of the Buffy series, which officially ended its seven-season run in 2003.
‘‘The writers were really hanging it off the bridge so to speak,’’ he said. ‘‘They were being asked to come up with the most embarrassing, humiliating or painful day of their lives and then slap fangs over it and then show everybody in the world.
‘‘The writers were able to strike a tone that incorporated melodrama, comedy, tragedy, horror, all of it kind of in one pot. A lot of projects will combine say two elements - comedy and drama, that’s the most common. Sometimes its horror and sex, but to put them all in the hopper and then be able to balance it that was pretty incredible.
‘‘It was also the first time that you saw a young woman kick butt. We tend to look at that as normal now, but it really wasn’t when we started.’’
Marsters other television credits include roles in other cult series including Torchwood and Smallville and he has appeared in Without A Trace and the the reimagined Hawaii 5-0.
On the big screen he has appeared opposite Hillary Swank in P.S. I Love You and his stage credits exceed more than 100 plays.
When he’s not acting, Marsters also performs original music, both with a band and solo.
But of his core craft, Marsters says its the stage that has always offered the most intense adrenalin rush.
‘‘When you’re on stage it’s like your the chef - your given a script, your given a costume, your given special effects pieces, your given a set and you have to chop it all up like a Benihana [American restaurant chain where the chef prepares the meal in front of the guests] chef in front of the audience and deliver something edible and delicious, whereas when your doing film you’re just a little piece of celery and the editor is going to be chopping it up and making something delicious,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a great job being a little piece of celery - you try and be the freshest crispiest little piece of celery you can, and you’re often part of something bigger - really beautiful on a level that maybe some of the stage shows weren’t accomplish - but as a single artist, as myself, I like to be the chef.’’
Marsters said he felt a similar sensation when playing his music.
‘‘Music is more scary, because I’m not as good at it,’’ he joked. ‘‘Actually I’ve got pretty darn good at it, but I’ve done like 100 plays, so when I’m doing a play I’m kind of hoping something goes wrong to make it interesting - let’s break some glass on stage just so we can deal with it. Let’s make the sets fall down.
‘‘I want to keep at it until I can get to hope it goes wrong and I can break a guitar string and see how we can deal with it.’’
Marsters said he had no problem baring his soul lyrically via his music.
‘‘It’s almost like a crime,’’ he said. ‘‘I write songs about stuff that I don’t even tell my best friend ... if I sat down one-on-one and told you, you might be like ‘oh man, too much information’.
‘‘It’s really kind of delicious actually. I’ve been protected by the artform. I don’t really feel afraid about it I kind of feel like I’m stealing the baby.’’