James Marsters went into his role as Spike on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" thinking he'd only appear on five episodes before being killed off. By the end of the show's run, he ended up appearing on 97 episodes, before jumping over to "Angel" for an additional 24.
In celebration of the show's 20th anniversary this year, the actor spoke with TooFab about how his character was originally supposed to bite the bullet, what it was like reuniting with his fellow co-stars earlier this year, and what it would take for him to bring back the vamp's bleach blonde 'do. (Hint: $$$.)
You've said your character was originally supposed to be killed off and Angel was supposed to do it. Do you know the specifics of how he was supposed to die?
I know that the original plan was to break Buffy's heart, which is always the plan. Angel and Buffy sleep together, Angel turns evil and he was gonna kill me off and take up with Drusilla so Buffy could get shattered.
They only built me up to be really cool so that Angel would be really cool when he killed me and then they didn't kill me off. It's the weirdest thing, because evil is not cool to Joss, which I really respected. I think evil is cool, I think evil is pathetic and laughable most of the time. So when he decided not to kill me off, he built me up so cool, it's like what do you do with that character?
It was really great, Joss allowed me to do things that you normally wouldn't let, you wouldn't risk that much on a character that was going to be around a long time, you'd play it a little safer. But because he was going to kill me anyway, he let me do some horrible stuff. That's my bread and butter, playing characters that could be reviled, but will figure out a way to keep the audience in my corner anyway.
We spoke to Juliet Landau recently and she told us she met a fan who changed her name to Drusilla, do you have a fan moment that stands out?
I don't get anybody naming themselves Spike. I meet a lot of people who name their kids Xander or Willow or Buffy, but never Spike. I get the cats, the dogs. I tend to meet a lot of interesting people who are fans. I met someone who helped design the Mars Rover and a woman who spoke 16 languages. I met a young woman who was working on the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Belgium and France. They're dressed as Wookies, Vulcans, but if you talk to them and you find out they're very fascinating. Most fans are smart and funny and don't take themselves seriously and it's a great combination. I'm a fanboy, I was dressed as a Vulcan going to conventions when I was 13. I'm with my people.
You all had the big reunion photoshoot with EW for the 20th anniversary, what was it like just getting together again?
It was so good. We were all well rested, for once. When we worked on Buffy were known around town as Buffy the Weekend Slayer, because we worked up to 20 hours a day on that show. Most TV shows go 12 hours and 12 was a minimum day on Buffy. So we were tired on a level I never knew existed and I've never been that tired again. But when we got together for the reunion, we were all well rested. We weren't worried anymore about making the show. There's something weird that happens, when the scripts are that good, the responsibility to live up to it is huge and everyone's really trying their best to do it but also worried they'll fail all the time. It was like, we got to the top of the mountain, now we can just have the reunion. It was just fabulous.
If anyone wanted you to bleach your hair again, would you do it?
For a movie or a long running TV show. [Movie?] Yes. [TV?] No. It would be an excuse to hold out for big money. It hurts man. We had to do it every 8 days, because a vampire's dead, so the hair doesn't grow so you can't have any roots at all. So at the top of every episode we re-bleached it. Right on the bottle it says only do this every 6 weeks, it is really unhealthy to do it more often. And we were doing it every 8 days. Your skin bubbles up, there's blistering, there's wounding, it's a mess in there. They would pour the bleach on the wounds of the last week all the time and it gnarly.
Marsters can currently be seen on "Marvel's Runaways" on Hulu.