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February 13 2004

Michelle Trachtenberg interview. ""I love "Buffy " but I felt like every year, my character got younger as I got older. The scripts even had me speaking grammatically incorrect." (interview on page 11, pdf reader required)

The scripts even had me speaking grammatically incorrect

Oh the irony :)
"Suck it up"?! Is she from the William Shatner school of disrespecting fans?! Talk about biting the hand that feeds her. If her film career doesn't take off don't look to her being 'Guest of Honour' at Buffy cons in the future...
Wow... um. If she was such a fan of the show, she... knew how the people on the show talked, right? Did anyone see her leaving Buffy so she could "do something else" before they ended the show? How is wearing low cut shirts, short skirts and making out with boys by the end of the show aging backwards?

Way to love the fans, Michelle. You know, the people that were gonna support you, and follow your career? Nah, now we have to go suck it up and buy Buffy DVDs, sorry.

I am just baffled at the "speaking gramatically incorrect" thing. Absolutely mystified. Apparently Dawn should have been the only one on the show that rejects the entire slang and manner of speaking... in order to show... her age...?
I am really hoping the editors cut it up to make it sound like she's an ididot kid before it went to press, which has been known to happen. Because if not, whoa...

So she wants to produce eh? Even budding producers would have gotten the whole grammatical thing.
"But I didn't see myself continuing as Dawn..."

Best news I've heard all week.

Insulting the writers and the fans isn't going to help her producing "career".
I hope she grows up into someone smart.
I'm shocked that Michelle could be so rude, considering she was such a fan of the show. I've no examples now but all I can remember from the rumours flying round as to whether season 7 would be the last was Michelle saying she'd love to carry on and even discussing a Dawn spin-off. In every interview I've ever seen or read about her she seems to love the show and her character. And slagging off the writing? What?!

If Michelle feels she's grown up so much, perhaps she might realise that being a grown up involves being considerate to those who support you.
Way to come off as a horribly immature little snot. Has any other major character in the show ever said negative stuff like this in an interview? I can't recall any. One can only hope that Joss is keeping tabs and that this girl will never, ever, EVER be offered a role in a Buffy spin-off.

The one fun thing is that I have no doubt that the journalist/editor knew the irony of the "had me speaking grammatically incorrect." Someone was chortling as this thing went to press.
Makes you wonder where her publicist was.
Man, you're all reading a lot more into a quick interview than I am. I think she's just saying that the writers tended to keep Dawn as the bratty younger sister, maybe intentionally making her dialogue sound less mature than she or the character actually were -- not necessarily that she expected to speak differently than all the other characters or not use Whedonverse slang. On the Season 5 DVDs, which I've yet to see, David Fury and David Grossman apparently reveal that they originally expected Dawn to be a much younger character, and I think that definitely shows in some episodes. Mid-way through Season 7, with "Potential", they essentially forgot about Dawn. (They essentially forgot about a lot of things, including Xander, but that's another point.)

I don't see the "suck it up" as an insult to the fans. I'm certainly not insulted. I think the commercials for "Euro Trip" looks absolutely awful and unfunny, but I don't think Trachtenbeg was dissing anybody. She's out there promoting a teen sex comedy. She can hardly be faulted for trying to distance herself a little from the bratty younger sister role, at least for the sake of publicity. She's being honest, not badmouthing the show or the fans.

[ edited by unreality on 2004-02-13 17:05 ]
I'm shocked over how rude she was! Telling the fans to suck it up and buy the DVD's if we miss Buffy....When Eurotrip bombs in the box office I wonder how high on herself she'll be then. Little girl has a lot to learn...
Because this is a written interview where you can't actually see her being interviewed I'll wait and see if this type of attitude ends up in other interviews with her. This could just be the magazine trying to make it juicy by having her come across this way. The whole thing struck me as a little girl trying to sound more mature but ending up showing just how young she really is.

I can understand the comments a bit about her character seeming younger because my daughter who is the same age in real life as Dawn used to get quite annoyed by how bratty and immature they sometimes had Dawn act. But in the seventh season my daughter was really pleased with how they were presenting Dawn so I don't get where she, MT, could really feel that they made her character less mature. I thought the character of Dawn showed a lot of maturity in the last season.

Again, this is one interview that came across very badly so let's wait and see if this becomes a trend with her. I'm just keeping in mind that she's still very young and just might be trying to sound more grown up.

It also must've been hard to come on to such a great show with such highly respected actresses such as SMG and Alyson Hannigan who both get so much attention without seeking it out. You don't see either of them out there trying sell themselves. They just don't have too. She might just be trying to get some attention for herself, to distance herself and just everything she said trying to sound more mature came out sounding really juvenille. She's been getting a lot of attention lately for her upcoming movie and she just might not have the skills to really handle it. I agree with Simon that her Publicist should stick close so she doesn't open her mouth and insert her foot again.
I completely agree with unreality -- I read this interview as a validation of what I felt about the misuse of Dawn's character, especially during the final season. Buffy started with this sixteen-year-old with the weight of the world on her shoulders and did a remarkable job of allowing her to balance being a teenager with saving people, with growing up, having relationships, etc.

With Dawn, however, she was stuck in a perpetual childhood, even though she was at the same age Buffy was when she starting slaying. I could accept it in season 5, even for season 6, but for the entire season 7 to have her still be petulant and in the background was silly. Trachtenburg is pointing out that the writers made her speak like a child, instead of the adult or at least teen that she was becoming.
I think you have a point but at the minimum the comments do come off like she has little concept of a supporting role. I mean, it's not like the show was Dawn the Vampire Slayer's Little Sister. I can't say I'm insulted but it does seem a little childish for a seasoned actor to say.
Well her tone certainly could have been a little nicer towards Buffy fans, but I don't think she meant much by it. I disagree that Dawn got 'younger' though. If you look at early S5 and than at S7, Dawn has clearly grown older in every way.

Has anyone ever seen the Q&A that Joss, Marti, Alyson, James, Nick, Michelle, etc did? It's on one of the DVD boxes. It's at the end of S6 and Joss lets everyone know in S7 the school will be rebuilt and Dawn will go to that very High School over the hellmouth. And Michelle, throughout the session keeps half joking about how imature Dawn is and how she doesn't want anymore 'Kill Dawn!"- emails (poor girl, I can see how getting those mails is less than pleasant) and how she should stop whining.
Joss jokes "You're right. I think this year she'll do some moping..."
But the funniest part to me was how again and again she said to Joss "So, can I wear high heels next season? Dawn should wear high heels." "So Joss, I can wear boots with high heels right?" "I hope I get to wear heels next season" etc.

The same kind of funny I see in this interview. In her zest to be more adult in her roles she actually sounds like such a little girl that wants to be a big girl, hehe. I mean come on. More maturity in roles, and she starrs in this 'Eurotrip' movie?? How is this more mature than Buffy in any possible way??

But like I said I really doubt she meant to sound insulting or anything.
I'm really glad all the Dawn and Michelle haters are on this morning.
You folks are really the minority.
Michelle has a point -- she wanted her character to grow up and she was held back.
Everyone else on the show got to mature -- she didn't.
The witers wanted her to be little cute Dawnie.
I'm guessing she wanted no part of this, and for her trouble her lines and scenes were cut and you all act like your offended and are in denial of this.
Michelle has grown up beautifully right before our eyes.
Dawn was ragged on by her critics for three years and some of you are still ragging.
It looks like some of you need to grow up.
I'm with unreality & blwessels. You can't tell the actual tone of voice from the printed word. I saw her on Sharon Osbourne and was quite struck by how nice she seemed - not snotty at all. Plus she did the best Sharon impression!

[ edited by melsta on 2004-02-13 18:43 ]
Ohnjaye, tone it down a little. We try not to attack eachother here. Talk about the article, not about other posters, please. Plus, I think it's people who LIKED Dawn who are disappointed by her quote.
I guess she didn't take SMG's "strong professional work ethic" to heart.........
Actually melsta...she made one comment on her Sharon Osbourne appearance that I was kinda taken aback by. I don't remember the exact phrasing, but it was something about Buffy not being a very mature show. It was an offhand comment, but I thought it was pretty telling.

She seems like a very nice girl, that didn't quite have the experience she wanted to have on Buffy, and is now rebelling against her childhood success a bit.
Reading it again, if she said this with a smile and in a joking way, it's not too bad. It looks a little blunt on screen, but it kind of depends on how she said it. I think her publicist needs to remind her how seriously fans take the show as opposed to actors for whom it can be just another job. And maybe because she was 'a little girl' nobody (Joss, writers) bothered to explain to her the depth of the show she was on.

... I can't take anyone whose only thought is 'I wanna wear heels' too seriously though. (Though I make an exception for Bono.)
I didn't single any out here by name, and it's not just the posters on here. Michelle and Dawn catch it from other message boards.
Michelle and Dawn have a lot of critics and as you can tell I'm not one of them.
Michelle has been a shining star ever since Harriett the Spy and Pete and Pete, and even then showed the maturity that older actors lack to this day.
When Michelle joined BTVS, she gave it a much-needed kick after we spent Season 4 with the Initiative.
So forgive her if she has an attitude now.
I wish folks would get off her back.
I'm sorry you felt like I was attacking some folks, but I feel it is one of my missions to defend Michelle here and stand up for Dawn.
I guess we will never know about what is going to happen with the Key -- it looks like that loose end will never get tied up.
ohnjaye...I don't wanna say you sound crazy, but it's your "mission"? I think that maybe you're overreacting just a bit.
I'm not anti-Dawn or Michelle, in fact I think she's a great actress and I've always thought she seemed pretty mature for her age.

It's because of this that I was shocked by what she said, or seemed to have said. Maybe others are right and the tone wasn't how I first thought.

I do think, though, that Michelle's telling a bit of a porky about not wanting to continue as Dawn, or in the Buffyverse, as she so clearly did during interviews in season 7.
She mentions that she's going to college in a year........anyone happen to know where?
Hmm, I didn't catch that, ringworm. Can't comment.
Her complaints are pretty funny, considering that the phrase "speaking grammatically incorrect" is itself grammatically incorrect.

[ edited by Rhaegar on 2004-02-13 19:39 ]

it's great that Michelle has such an avid supporter in you. We should all be so lucky! And as you're one of her most avid supporters, I can understand why you'd be upset reading less-than-positive responses to Michelle's interview. However, responding as you did doesn't advance your case. "It looks like some of you need to grow up." Hmmm. That kind of statement turns people off -- it doesn't change minds or hearts.

When I read Michelle's interview it annoyed me. It seemed rude. After reading what blwessels and various other folks wrote in their level-headed, diplomatic assessments, I'm no longer bothered. They made some convincing points which changed my mind in terms of the interview and especially how it might have been presented. I do think Michelle needs to learn to perhaps be a bit more diplomatic in her interviews, because with artful editing and the opaqueness of the printed page, original meanings can get altered, to negative effect.

But as someone who has always liked Michelle and the character of Dawn, I am certainly willing to back off. Anyway, the calm, well-reasoned support of Michelle shown by some of the posters above might be the best way to support Michelle. Just my opinion, anyway. I do, however, applaud your sticking by her.
She did come off as a bit immature. My favorite was the "I'm young, so I'm going to show off my hot body" comment. However, she is only 19 and I'm sure I was equally immature at that age.
Huh. I always resented Oliver, I mean scrappy doo, i mean Dawn. Get out GET OUT GET OUT!!!

Why? Why Joss? What did I ever do to you?
I'll be the first to say it....where, oh where is Zachsmind? ;-)
Defensive much? For the record I am not now nor have I ever been a "Dawn and Michelle hater". Though I must say Allyson's post cracked me up. Is Oliver a Brady Bunch reference or is there another?
What happens on other forums has no relevance to our site - so please don't take accumulated aggro out on the people here. Read what phlebotinin wrote, ohhjohn. That would be a good mission! :)

By the way, you don't have to hit *enter* after every sentence. Only after a paragraph. Just a tip.
If she keeps this up, Joss is going to start referring to her as "the actress" too.
Personally, it doesn't seem to me that there were any sour intentions in what she said. I took it as merely joking around. Then again, I'm the type of person that overuses sarcasm so I'm able to see it everywhere. Also, I agree with everyone that mentioned the fact that this is print, so without actually hearing what was said we have no idea how it sounded, therefore implied. It's hard to get the true meaning out of so few words.

I'm a grammatical idiot so the irony of her saying 'The scripts even had me speaking grammatically incorrect' is lost on me. Granted, something about the sentence seems wrong, but where's the mistake? How should it have been said? (I obviously have no problem admitting I don't know something, then taking the time to learn about it.)

She should have said ".....even had me speaking grammatically incorrectly." (In the sentence she used, "incorrectly" is an adverb which is used to modify another adverb, "grammatically." To say "incorrect," as she did, is wrong, because it is not in adverbial form.)

I think I'm right! But you never know with me. Hopefully someone else will chime in, too.
It would have been better if she had just said "speaking incorrect grammar".

Actually, it would have been better if she had said nothing at all.
ohnjaye - I hope you're not feeling attacked. I understand why you were upset and I just wanted to point out to you that the way you feel about MT is how most of the "negative" posters feel about BtVS. They felt, in my opinion, that she was disrespecting the show that we all love. I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt but the tone did bother me. But not being there it is hard to determine if she was joking or whether or not she really said it.

A lot of fans do complain about the character of Dawn but I've always thought her character added a lot to Buffy. I thought it was a brilliant idea the way they brought her on. I loved the relationship between her and Buffy and you really felt like they had been sisters always. I loved that Buffy had someone to love after her mother died and someone to live for when she came back. I think the writers did a disservice to Dawn with over doing the shrieking teenager bit but MT played did an excellent job in the role.

And yes, I too would've loved to have had more done with "the Key" storyline and I do feel that was something they just didn't follow through on. But maybe someday this will be resolved on Angel, a spin-off, or a movie.

I think this must be a tough time for all the cast of BtVS where they are off trying to succeed doing new things and maybe in their desire to build their careers they may unintentionally say the wrong thing here and there trying to distance themselves from BtVS. I just wish them all well and I'm just thrilled to have had the opportunity to watch their fine performances on BtVS.

Allyson - LOL - loved your comment! I didn't resent Dawn but I definitely never liked Oliver or Scrappy Doo!
Okay, one boring grammar addition: it is pretty awkward to say "even had me speaking grammatically incorrectly." Technically I think you're supposed to put "incorrectly" before "grammatically." But better to not have said it at all. Better to have just said, "they had me using incorrect grammar."

I personally don't give much of a hang about grammar. Language is fluid, it changes, things morph, whatever. I am no fan of language nazism. It's only when people put down other peoples' grammar and, while doing so, make an error of their own, that I'm tempted to point it out.
Just because it's in print, that doesn't mean she wrote her answers. I suspect even the most strict grammarians slip from time to time in everyday conversation.

I hasten to add that I genuinely liked Dawn as a character -- much like Connor on Angel, I think she was a character we were supposed to dislike at times, which can't always be easy or fun to pull off for an actor. However, she wasn't by any stretch my favorite character, and I'm not defending Trachtenbeg for that reason. I'm doing so because I honestly don't see how this interview is any big deal or a snub against the fans.
Very true about everyday conversation, Unreality. Good point.
Firstly, to "ohnjaye", it's great that you are such an avid supporter of MT, but you are preaching to the choir here. We are in a fandom that is not entirely respected or taken seriously by others, not to mention the lovers of JM, SMG, etc., have had to come to their defense many a time. However, here is not a place to take your issues with that. No one was attacking MT, just disagreeing with how she presented herself in this interview.

And now onto the interview: The excuse that she's just 19 doesn't fly with me. I'm 19, and she is the type that gives 19-year old's bad names. It's sad to see that since Buffy ended, MT has been all about shock value and not at all about substance. Interviews and photographs for her have become a way to show some sort of rebellious nature, wearing low cut mini-dresses, too much makeup and constantly mugging for the camera. This isn't rebellion, sweetie, of a 19-year old, and certainly not shocking. Just...disappointing. I do hope she gets out of this phase sometime soon before burning all her bridges. And you know, she'll figure out that she may actually have talent behind that young body she's so proud of. Cause if i have to see that "Eurotrip" commericial one more time...

Overall, though, i don't think this article came off terribly. She sounds young, younger than she thinks she is, and a bit more dismissive of Buffy fans than I think we're used to. Usually the other actors, writers, etc., are at least more grateful to the audience and such, but I honestly don't think she's used to this attention and she's still learning how to handle it all, especially these interviews and how not to insult your fanbase.
Wow. I read the article before reading any of the comments here and then wondered if I had read the same interview! I can see peoples points, and their intrepretation of what she said, but that was so not the vibe I got from the article.She's got a sense of humor and I took her comments as funny, never thought she was dissing the show or fans such as myself.

And I have seen her in interviews speaking quickly and almost tripping over her words, and as everyone does in real life we think of what to say while we're saying it, and our choice of words can change in the middle of the sentence. If someone followed me around with a tape recorder and noted every grammatical error....

Usually print journalists take account of this and correct such errors as a favor to the reader more than the subject, an article full of poor grammar that would be unremarkable in person would be difficult to read in print. I have seen many people who can barely string three words together in real life who appear to be Ivy league schollars in magazines and newspapers!

And her point about the portrayal of Dawn I can agree with as far as S6 goes. In S7 she had matured, if more in the background.

And I think the choice of movies she is making is spot on. She is seen as "little Dawnie" and for the good of her long term career has to change that image. Appearing as a bikini clad babe in a road trip movie will distance herself from the 'little girl' image, while she is also doing a couple of serious roles, in film and on TV, to avoid typecasting. As I have commented before she appears to be the Buffy castmember who's career is taking off the most!

The reason we were nitpicking her grammar is that she was complaining about the writers giving her bad grammar to read, while using bad grammar herself to complain about it. That's a delicious irony that some people (like me) find amusing.

Telling fans to "suck it up and just buy the DVDs" strikes me as dismissive and rude. I realize she probably doesn't like a lot of Buffy fans because of all the "Kill Dawn" people, but she should know as a professional that talking back to fans this way always leads to a backlash, whether said in jest or not.
I take the irony of her comment, though it's a tad unfair. And saying "suck it up" is harsh, but without the context and the inflection it's difficult to say. If her tone were anti fan or anti Buffy I would have thought the journalist would have focused on it. It would have made a strong hook for the article. The fact that it wasn't reported in that way would suggest that wasn't what she meant in the journalists opinion.
This is probably one of the best Whedonesque threads ever but no one noticed I spelt her name wrong? (fixed it now) Talk about being "grammatically incorrect" ;).
What I find interesting about this article is the fact that so many people have read it and have taken it so differently. To me that is a very good argument as to why you shouldn't always rely on the written word because there is just no way, unless you are the interviewer, to truly get what the person meant. You can't see their face or hear their tone so how could you know when they are being serious or sarcastic?
The interviewer got her age wrong, she turned eighteen a few months ago, you'd think she would have corrected him...

Or did he paraphrase what he said to her? Just goes to show you can't take everything at face value.
I love Dawn. Now I have close to no respect for Michelle Trachtenberg. I still love Dawn. But . . . ugh.
You know, I've thought about it, and she could say "I love you guys, but suck it up" in the sweetest molassas tone of voice, and I would still take offense to it. I'm sure she didnt say it like an evil possessed demon or anything, and saying it sweeter I think is more offensive, because it's condescending.

I loved Dawn. I wouldnt have changed a single thing about her. I liked the way she was written, and I liked the way she was played. I'm also a fan of Michelle Tractenburg, and will probably follow her career for a while.

I'm just really baffled at her behavior to distance herself from the show, because I really viewed her as one of us... a fan of the show. Now she's acting like it was just an unsatisfying job to her, that didnt let her be sexy enough.
I am willing to cut her slack, there was so much anti-Dawn hatred out there among fans during her 3 year run on Buffy it probably did take a toll on her, not easy seeing fans constantly berate your character and more than a few times say she was a horrible actress online, her lines on the show was ME's fault not hers and I think she was unfairly treated, she was a fan of the show and I am sure the hatred of her character by a majority of Buffy fans probably causes some animosity.

I think Whedon did originally have plans for Dawn, but with all the negative reaction from fans scrapped the idea, and she joined Xander,Giles and Anya in the characters we don't care about anymore file at ME.

And someone mentioned other actors from the show speaking out, I believe here recentaly Nicholas Brendon commented he wasn't happy about how Xander was pushed into the background, Emma Caulfield made comments about her character not getting any arc on Stern if I remember right, and I also think Amber Benson made some comments about her not liking how Tara was killed as well,so she isn't the first to make some negative comments on her character treatment on Buffy.

[ edited by Nuke on 2004-02-14 02:38 ]
I really hope this article was snipped here and there to make it sound that way, the article is pretty awful. as to dawn, i didn't dislike her, but i didn't care too much what happened to the character either way. i have seen the trailer for euro trip and it just looks dreadful.
One thing to keep in mind about this article is that it is from "Metro", a chain of "controlled circulation" free ad rags given out in cities in North America and Europe. So take the editorial process with a huge grain of salt. It's a tabloid which is dumped for free at bus stops and subway stations.

While it is edited to look like a transcript, it is unlikely to be anything close (in fact, I'd bet the "interview" was written by taking quotes from the press kit for "Eurotrip" or whatever it's called).
Wow a lot of comments since I last looked. And a very vivid Dawn defender I see. I hope my post didn't come across as me being a Dawn hater. I certainly am not nor have I ever been. She's not been my most favorite character but I still liked her. And I thought I was defending her in my post. Ah well.

I still say she's young and not very well interview trained yet. Apart from her own grammatical error in her complaint about the grammatical errors in the text: she's a bit silly no matter how she says it. Most of the 'grammatically incorrect' writing on Buffy was deliberate play with langauge.

And as I said, she complains a bit that Buffy wasn't mature enough and then goes on to do 'Eurotrip'......oookay.

I also still say Dawn did mature. The little imp with ice cream on her face in S5 and the confident young woman that goes to battle besides Buffy in S6 are not the same in terms of maturity. But it was a side role. It's as simple as that.

Ah she's young. We'll see how she goes. I hope she does well, but she should try to do other stuff than this if she wants a long career.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who was put off by her comments. Her choice of movie roles such as Eurotrip leaves little to be desired and the attitude she conveyed in the interview when talking about Buffy was to me, deplorable.
Yes, I guess I'm a little defensive when it comes to Michelle and Dawn. I'm not going to apologize for it. No one else is asked to apologize for their remarks, why should I?
It's funny that when Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield, Nicholas Brendon and even Sarah Michelle Gellar have expressed some similar negative feelings about the show, those remarks are dismissed rather quickly,
But people cannot seem to cut Michelle any slack.
There seems to be a double standard here.
Well, the reason that I cut the other actors some slack, especially Nick Brendon and SMG, is that they are original cast members who the show was built around. It's one thing for SMG, the title character, to say that she didn't like the dark turn her character took in S6 and then decide that she has given seven years of her life to the show. It's one thing for NB, who used to have a purpose on the show, to say that his character has been pushed to the background. It's another thing for MT, who was brought in as a plot device and as Buffy's little sister, to complain that as the younger sister she was kept in the little sister role. I think the other issue here is the way that she expressed herself. Yes, she is young, but so was the rest of the cast when the show began and they were able to give professional interviews. And as young as she is, she has been in this business long enough to know better than to shoot herself in the foot by complaining about her former employer or insulting her fans. I am not an MT hater. Just because people say they didn't like what she said in this interview doesn't mean that they automatically despise her. I can disagree with someone's attitude without hating them. And the reason that no one else is apologizing for their remarks is that no one besides you (1) accused us of being Michelle haters (2) equated our opinions to "ragging on Michelle" (I'm pretty sure that we are allowed to express our opinions here) or (3) told us to grow up.

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