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November 05 2007

(SPOILER) Leaving Spike behind - an interview with James Marsters. An interesting interview which covers his roles on Buffy, Without A Trace, Smallville and Torchwood and much more.

A Marsters pandemic I can get behind! Sweet interview.
This American loves Torchwood (dare I say *gasp* just a tad more than I love Dr. Who) and can't wait to see JM suck face with Captain Jack!
Man...If James Marsters is pandemic...please let me catch that disease!!!!!!!
Thanks! Great interview. I am so in love with Torchwood, I hope we here in the U.S. don't have to wait too long for season two. I'm not sure if the BBC usually breaks up it's season's with re-runs, but since this is the highest rated show ever on BBC America, I hope they'll just keep up the momentum & move straight through both seasons.
James and John Barrowman *thud* and I'm not even into slash. At least not until now. ;)
JM: Ralph Waldo Emerson said something I've always found really helpful as an actor; "within all men are all men"

strong and mysterious and sort of compact, but well muscled.... and well-read to boot!
I'm not sure if the BBC usually breaks up it's season's with re-runs, but since this is the highest rated show ever on BBC America, I hope they'll just keep up the momentum & move straight through both seasons.

Well, they sometimes show repeats between series if that's what you mean Shey (the new 'Doctor Who' sometimes seems to be on an almost constant loop ;) but they don't interrupt a current "season" for a break during which they only show repeats, BBC shows don't go on hiatus in the same way some US shows do (but there is normally a year between "seasons" - little longer in 'Torchwood's case, since S1 started showing in Autumn last year but S2 won't start airing until January 2008).

(there's no real reason for a hiatus when most shows are much shorter than a US season and are usually completely finished filming [often several months] before they start airing - UK scripted shows don't work "week to week")

Good interview that, in-depth, perceptive answers as usual from JM.
It's difficult to say what I'm about to say here without sounding like this is a complaint against Joss. It really isn't supposed to be. However, one thing that has always surprised me is the idea, rightly or wrongly, that Joss didn't have a lot of time for Spike as a character. You read various accounts on this topic that may or may not be accurate so it's hard to say where the truth really lies but I think that it would be a great shame if Spike's role (not to mention James himself) in making the Buffyverse as popular as it was didn't get the gratitude it deserved.

There is no doubt for me that Spike was my main reason I became such a massive Buffy fan. I loved the show right from the start but it was the arrival of Spike that made it essential to my viewing schedule. Buffy and Angel were both incredibly good characters but Spike was the guy I really understood. The one I could identify with. The same is true for most of the people I know who like the show. Maybe it's because my social group is pretty much made of rockers and punks but ask the majority of them to name their favourite character on the show and you'll usually hear Spike's name, closely followed by Faith. The broken heroes just seem to attract the most loyalty.

No doubt, Spike was never meant to become anything more than a temporary Big Bad, but for whatever reason he did and for many he grew into a character that stole the show on both BtVS and Angel. I always believed that he deserved a chance to shine in his own spotlight but the reality is that this probably won't happen. I just hope that, even if Spike never gets a series or project of his own, James never doubts the impact he made on the Buffyverse fans and the role he played in making the show as big as it was, because that would be a real shame. I really hope Joss can eventually find a way to make a Spike DVD or telemovie of some sort happen as a way to give the Spike fanbase one last dose of JM in the role he truly made his own.
Amen, RokkRage.
Many of the people I've introduced to the Buffyverse have told me that Spike is there favorite character. We just re-watched "In the Dark" and were startled to be reminded how unspeakably vile, yet appealing he was early on! What an amazing creation he turned out to be...and, yes, James really did make the role his own.

Regarding expository writing, I think Buffy (and Angel, and Firefly, as well) have some of the best I've ever seen on TV. Esepcially relative to other shows we've tried watching. Joss and his stable of writers really show a character, rather than tell it. Clumsy, leaden expository dialogue drives me crazy. Clever expository dialogue delights me--like when Buffy meets Willow:

Willow: But aren't you hanging out with Cordelia?

Buffy: I can't do both?

Willow: Not legally.

Just a couple of words, and so much about all three characters is exposed. Beautiful.
As I was reading the interview, I suddenly realized that there is a brand new hope for future Spikeyness.
I've been reading reviews of some the early screenings of Beowolf and everyone so far is knocked out by this technology. And it is so real that when Angelina Jolie watched it she got rather embarrassed by the nude scenes she was depicted in even though she was never actually nude during the making of the film.
Everything Joss is doing with the boundless possibilities of the comic books, could be perfectly realized now. Any location, monster, acrobatic duel is there to be created.
So now, as long as Joss and James are breathing, there is hope for a super fantastic Spike project!!! Joss could even go back and do Ripper's lost, misguided youth with Anthony Head!
It sets my mind a-reelin' with what could be!
I think anything Joss did with this technological toy would probably blow all our minds and leave us in whimpering puddles. I so hope he goes there...
but since this is the highest rated show ever on BBC America

Do you have a link to any stats or statements on this? I'm curious to see this.
"Amen, RokkRage."

Haunt....I just had to second your AMEN.
There is NO DOUBT that Spike made BTVS and then ATS 'must see TV' for me.

Maybe Joss will find a way to bring Blondie Bear back to us in the least I can dream he will. For now though I guess Brian Lynch and After the Fall can do the honors.
Have to add my 'Amen' to RokkRage as well. Great interview, just makes me sad to think that James possibly doesn't realize how much his portrayal of Spike totally made both BTVS & Angel what they were. I can't even imagine BTVS or Angel without Spike. My love for Spike grew into a love for James. I will watch anything and everything he is on. I really am enjoying Torchwood, course the only reason I started watching it is because James is going to be on it and I can't wait till he is, but in the mean while, it's a good show, but when he's on it, it's going to be a great show, like everything else he is on.
but since this is the highest rated show ever on BBC America

Do you have a link to any stats or statements on this? I'm curious to see this.

Title Torchwood sets ratings record for BBC America
Cool, what have the ratings been like since the premiere?
When is his next appearance on Without a Trace? After reading that interview I went on IMDB and realized I have missed his first two “WaT” episodes.

I discovered the ‘verse quite late. Half way through Angel season 5……yes, that is quite late. Spike was definitely THE character that originally drew me in.
I don't know when he will be on WaT again, all I can say is the last 2 episodes that he was in, he wasn't in it long enough. Maybe it's just that I want to see him so bad, but it seems he is on screen for about 15 seconds, and then *poof*, he's gone. When are we going to get a good big long juicy bit of him to look at? That's all I ask for, come on.
Air Date: Thursday, December 06, 2007
Time Slot: 10:00 PM-11:00 PM EST on CBS
Episode Title: (#609) "One Wrong Move"


James Marsters ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel") Returns as Grant Mars, a Detective Helping Vivian with the Human Trafficking Case

Also They are repeating the first ep of the season - which introduced Det Mars - on November 29th.
Thanks for the info, debw! Now I can mark the date.

Another great interview with James, thanks for the link. I just love how he reveals a part of him - not only in his roles - but also in his interviews. He is such an open intelligent person it is always nice to hear from him. Although I am happy and exited for all the exposure he's going to get, I can't be but a little miffed about Smallville. My "No More Smallville post-S4" was never fulfilled because my dream of Marsters/Rosenbaum came true in S5. But now I have to watch S7! This time, I won't watch the whole series, but catch only the episodes he's in. As for Torchwood "I'm introduced and kiss the hell out of the male lead and then kick his ass. Or maybe he kicks my ass. We kick each other's ass." As a longtime slasher, I can not wait! Hee.

I also add my vote to more Spike, if not for him, I wouldn't have enrolled in the Whedon Fellows. Or bought a new cabinet for my Boxsets... or have two ANGEL S5 DVDs...

Oh, this is my first post *waves* hi.
Cool, what have the ratings been like since the premiere?

I've Googled and I couldn't find any information about the rathings of subsequent Torchwood episodes (or any other BBC America programs, for that matter), but here's another article about the premiere's ratings.

SyFy Portal

Love the interview from James, by the way. :-D
As much as I love James Marsters and Spike, I've always thought that Spike was over-hyped. He was certainly a great character and one of the best on Buffy/Angel, but I connected more with other characters. Lately it seems it wasn't called Buffy The Vampire Slayer but Spike The Vampire. Spike has overshadowed every other character on both shows. Don't get me wrong, I love Spike. But what about poor Angel? He gets no lovin'.
On the other hand, I would LOVE a Spike movie or any Buffyverse movie. That would be amazing and I could die happy if that ever happened.
"But what about poor Angel? He gets no lovin'."

He should go seek out a legend in Africa and get that soul fixed in place, then he could get all the lovin' he wants :)

Angel and Spike are both Icons . Love them both but it was Spike who got me hooked in the first place . I was made to sit down and watch Fool For Love.. instant fixation and the next day I went straight out and borrowed season one from the library

The rest is history :)
What's weird is that all the Buffy writers - I talk to them every once in a while - they're all in hugely popular shows. They're working on CSI, on Grey's Anatomy, 24, you name it, they're all on the big shows, and they all have the same complaints. They say, "God, I'm bored. I want to have a big demon jump out and rip his throat out. I want something big to happen, something special. We're just sitting here talking about nuclear weapons and it's boring." There is something free and liberating about sci-fi and fantasy.

This paragraph is GREAT. It's so true! I bet you're so spoiled after you work BtVS; imagine, on Grey's Anatomy, Marti Noxon wishing she could write in a demon who would come out of the ground and eat the main character (whose name I can't remember, but after seeing 30 min. of one ep annoyed me so much I never could even channel-surf by again) or David Fury on 24 wanting to send Jack Bauer out against an Ubervamp. I would put my money on Jack to win.
I've never been into slash either, but this upcoming appearance on Torchwood.....I seriously can't wait. Currently enjoying the first season, but with JM on the same screen as JB.....that's gonna be fantastic. :D

dottikin well put. JM makes a great point. It must be frustrating for these writers to move on to these others projects, that, while some are entertaining in their own right, I just can't picture them providing even close to the same amount of creative satisfaction that Buffy did.
<--- holds breath about to utter heresy --->

I loved Spike and James.
But the whole Buffy-almost-gets-raped line was always a little problematic for me.
Granted, he ended up having to prove himself by sacrificing himself. the minds of many a young woman (and men)... you can change a "guy", you can change their bad behavior...their abusiveness...and in some light his character had some of that problem.
Of course, she didn't hang on to him.....which was a good thing.
But it's problematic nonetheless...BECAUSE he had become such a likeable character.

I have to agree with you - Spike somehow became the main focus of the series. I liked him when he was, to paraphrase Buffy in "Pangs" - "straight up, black-hat evil." When he was hanging out with insane Drusilla plotting how to knock the Slayer down a peg or three, not how he could get inside her pants.

When he started getting all moony-eyed over Buffy, and then became a painful love interest, I began to really despise the character.

While I was trying to put together my own convention, James was mentioned as a possible guest. His astronomical fee aside, the main reason we decided not to consider him was because of the fan-base: we wanted it to be a friendly, comfortable convention where the guests felt "safe" enough to freely mingle with the fans, not have to worry that when they went to use the restroom they'd be grabbed, or having parts of their clothing ripped from their bodies.

But, yes, a Buffy'verse movie would be nice. Just something to wrap everything up.
Gotta agre with everyone saying that it was Spike that really pulled them into BtVS and Angel. I still remember when I saw the first episode with Spike in it, although I think Drucilla also deserves a honorable mention when bringing that up(not quite crazy enough to connect with her though). I'm glad Joss pulled Spike back in and allowed us to see the development the character went through.
I don't know how I take the comment that just because I am a huge JM fan I would rip clothes off people when they want to use the restroom. ?Huh? And as far as Spike being a straight up evil villian as opposed to a love intrest, how boring would it have been to have him turn into a Wiley Coyote type and always be trying to kill the slayer. His biggest appeal, aside from being extremly hot, was his story arc and journey that he made from being evil to trying to better himself and Buffy learning to trust him. Spike was such a complex character and James played him perfectly and anyone who can only see Spike as a one dimensional evil doer, wasn't watching very closely.
Great interview!

It wasn't Spike who attracted me to the show - I watched it before his introduction - but it was Spike who made me obsessed with BtVS.
"But the whole Buffy-almost-gets-raped line was always a little problematic for me."

Seeing as how I was the one to start the whole "Yay! Spike!" theme to the thread I thought i'd better try and stop this debate before it begins. I'm a newbie poster but longterm lurker here and I seem to remember that the topic of the supposed rape is something that the mods prefer not to have flare up, obviously because it provokes such heated opinions between those that believe it was attempted rape and those that see it differently. Opinions so heated they are second only to the shipper wars between the Spuffys and the Bangels, hehe.

Just don't want to be responsible for a thread going massively off-topic and into a bad place... :)

Really cool to see all the general Spike love though. I have to agree that had Spike stayed as just another two dimensional Big Bad, we would have missed the chance to see a truly unique character develop.
Not really understanding how loving Spike as a character translates into rape in the restroom. Huh?

Beating a dead horse here, but I didn't see it as attempted rape, either. Saw it as a hideously inappropriate way of reigniting their perverse relationship, an attempt fueled by Dawn letting Spike know that bringing the skank to the almost wedding, he did in fact hurt Buffy.

Boys and girls act crazy when they're in love sometimes. Stupidly crazy. Destructively crazy.

But as horrible as that scene is, I don't see it as attempted rape. Their physical relationship was tremendously, intensely physical, and it really didn't show a lot of tenderness (think Buffy and Angel in "I Will Remember You"...passionate, to be sure, but loving and tender and wonderfully sweet, making the end of it all the more poignant.)
ShadowQuest please don't knock other fandoms, do remember that a fair number of your fellow posters are JM fans.

And in general we seem to be going off on a tangent here so if we could all get back to the discussion of the interview that would be lovely.
Just want to agree that Grey's Anatomy and 24 would be much more fun with a demon jumping out of a corner once in a while.
Tonight on Grey's Anatomy: George turns into a vampire, but Meredith and Izzy are too busy dealing with the Knarl demon's latest victims to realise! Tune in!
Loved the interview, but remain perplexed by this:

"because what had frustrated me about Buffy, and television in general, is that when characters reveal themselves they just talk about themselves, usually near a kitchen sink."

I think the expository writing on all the Whedon shows is excellent, largely cliche-free, and delightful.

Not to name one, but a cable series that friends recommended, had hideously clumsy expository dialogue, to the point that I told my wife, "Do we even want to watch any more of this?"

We tried, but it just wasn't compelling enough.
Lovely interview, and Rokkrage, you said it perfectly.
And I'm with Moscow Watcher, I was a Buffy fan right from the beginning, down to the end, but it was Spike who made me an obsessed fan.
But I still never go into bathrooms and rip people's clothes off. Well maybe that one time... ;) But that was consensual!
If there were no Spike, I would likely not have looked at BtVS more than twice and most likely would not be part of the Weldonverse lo these many years later. If there were no James playing Spike, I wouldn't be alone in this opinion.
I noticed James said there was a punk-rock song on his new album, and he's mentioned in the past that he was into the scene when he was younger. That being said, I wonder how much actors' personal lives affect the way their character's are written? Spike was a Sex Pistols fan, and Angel liked hockey (DB is a huge hockey fan). Do the actors and writers sit down and add this stuff to the character? Or is it just kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing?

[ edited by deepgirl187 on 2007-11-06 04:20 ]
Holy cow. Guess I made a major mistake in replying to this thread.

I don't hate Spike. (Aren't you supposed to hate to love him? Or was that the other way around?) I just really didn't like the whole Spuffy relationship. And I have nothing against James as an actor, or a person. I've never met the chap.

I also have nothing against his fans, be they Spike fans or James fans. My comment about my convention was not "Crazed fans stalk James in the bathroom & try to rape him." It was "we wanted it to be a friendly, comfortable convention where the guests felt 'safe' enough to freely mingle with the fans, not have to worry that when they went to use the restroom they'd be grabbed, or having parts of their clothing ripped from their bodies." Two totally different things. I had heard reports (And granted I don't know how accurate they were) that some fans at a convention had literally stalked James, to the point where they tried to follow him into the bathroom. I've never heard of any of "our" stars being stripped in public - that was a bit of hyperbole on my part to try illustrating what I didn't want to happen.

So, luvspike, Simon, Chris inVirgina or any other Spike/James fan - if I insulted you, I'm sorry. That was not my intent. Spike was indeed a complex character, but I would have preferred him coming around to the Scooby Side because he was trying to atone for being evil, rather than him & Buffy getting into an abusive relationship...I'm shutting up now.

deepgirl187 Well, ASH said that they were able to approach Joss with ideas for where their characters would go, what they'd like, etc, and he was very open to it. (Hence Giles going back to England for a while, because ASH wanted to be with his family.) So...yes. *g*
I think I started this whole love/hate Spike thing. Oops. I just want to say that I do love Spike. But I watched mainly for the Buffy/Xander/Willow/Giles characters, besides which I don't know if you could even say that I watched it for anyone in particular. It was just a great show. But I get the Spike loving. He was quite the conundrum. I always liked the silly aspects of Spike. Like when he'd make one of his dramatic "I'm going to kill Buffy!" speeches and then fall into an open grave. That was awesome. I think the fact that he had so many facets to his personality and character is the reason so many people love him and so they should.

Anywho, great interview with JM. I felt like he was knocking Buffy a bit with the exposition comment though.
I suspect, regarding the "kitchen sink" comment, that Marsters is, understandably, more interested at the moment in talking about 'Without A Trace', and building that role up, rather than going back over old ground. Whatever the actors think about their time in 'Buffy', it is in the past. I imagine it's what they are doing now and what they aspire to be doing in the future that will be of most interest to them.
I didn't see the exposition comment as knocking Buffy, it's just a fact of series TV , you can't afford to shoot everything you need to move the plot along so you have characters talking about it .. often in the kitchen ( or in the case of BTVS, The library)

Look at the opening episode of AtS ... HUGE chunk of exposition from Doyle to clue new viewers into the backstory.

I liked the fact that the Buffy writers were well aware of the fact that they had to use this technique a lot and that they played with it to make it more entertaining, Buffy continually getting the names of demons wrong, Angel appearing to impart useful information then vanishing into the night and, best of all Wood, Buffy and Giles at the High School trying to sort out the various ramifications of Spike's soul, chip and trigger :)

But if you really want to see a show take the proverbial out of the exposition technique track down a UK comedy series called Brass in which various far fetched bits of background information are introduced by the characters at the most inappropriate points in totally unrelated scenes and are interspersed with frequent repetitions of the phrase " as you know" . To hilarious effect :)

[ edited by debw on 2007-11-06 10:13 ]
You are totally correct debw, about the Doyle expository dialogue in the first episode of Angel...some of the most awkward writing in any of the Whedon shows, and, for me, at least, it stands out so sore-thumbishly because it's such an exception.
Recent example: last week's 'Heroes' with Sylar's "I know you can't understand me but ..." speech at Alejandro. Very organic, I was like "Ahhhh, so Sylar's evil then ?" thanks for that creator type dudes, never woulda guessed.

(about as obvious as debw's example from 'Brass', the almost textbook how not to do it i.e. "as you know ..." or "I don't need to tell you that ..." but at least they did it for laughs and over 20 years ago)
I kind of see the exposition comment as an actor looking (hard) for something artistically challenging about a fairly standard police procedural. Developing character via action rather than exposition sounds good- kind of like, you know, writing prose without too many adjectives, all spare and lean and presumably very elegant.

But you don't always see a lot of really interesting character development/growth in these kinds of shows. A gifted actor can do a lot...if the writing's there, or sometimes even make something out of nothing. Will be watching with interest.
I agree that JM is reaching. Procedurals are generally not about the character element; they're about plot. The characters of the victim and criminal of the week have to be established and the clues have to be followed. It doesn't leave much time for anything else. And it's more profitable for the studios to make sure that the characters don't develop much, so reruns can be shown out of order, etc.

That said, Anthony La Paglia is a gifted actor and yes, he does a lot with what he's given, but he's the main character. It doesn't sound like JM is being given much at all though, at least not yet, being a newbie recurring character and all. I'm sure that he'll bring as much to the party as the scripts allow, and more, but without great writing, there's only so far you can go. I've seen JM on several other shows and he's simply not as compelling. That's due to the writing of course.

As far as Spike on Buffy, I loved him, but I loved them all. Good as he was in Lover's Walk, I didn't miss him in the rest of S3, which managed to be a great season without him. In fact, when he came back in S4, I was slightly disappointed. Not in him, but in the show.

Up to that point, it had effortlessly been producing great, original new characters, from villains to good guys. It gave the impression, at least slightly, that ME's creative well was running dry, that they felt they had to bring back a character, rather than create something new. I'm not picking on JM here. I felt similarly disappointed when they brought Angel back in S3. There were contractual realities in that case though, that didn't apply to JM. On the other hand, both actors did wonderful work that I would have hated to have missed, so, on balance, it worked out fine.
I agree with toast. JM is well known by his fans for putting the best possible spin on whatever his current project happens to be. He even tried it with Smallville, and if that wasn't a reach, I don't know what was.
I really like WoT, but I agree that procedurals don't give the actors much of a chance to stretch, with the exception of the lead. but James will give it his all, he never gives less.
edited double post

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