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September 26 2013

'The Crazy Ones' raises an important question: what happened to Sarah Michelle Gellar's career? Pop culture critic Alyssa Rosenberg asks, "Why can’t television find something great for Sarah Michelle Gellar to do?" and explores our Slayer's post-"Chosen" projects while musing about what kind of role might best suit her talents.

I think she felt like she would have a big career on film after Buffy ended. She probably got a lot of offers to do great movies when the show was still on and she figured those would keep coming her way. Then she made the horrible choice to do Ringer. And to go with her carefully crafted good-wife-and-caring-mom image, she wants something light. I can't see her accepting edgier roles. There's also the known fact that she was physically spent from Buffy, which limits her options if she doesn't accept jobs that require a similar kind of commitment. Every time I see Homeland I think that's the kind of show I wish I could see her doing. Even though I think Claire Danes is great in it, I think Sarah would do an amazing job playing that character. I just don't think that's the kind of thing she reaches out for.
This article makes some good points. I asked myself more than once if SMG has lost it (which I prefer to doubt) or if she simply wasn't given the opportunity to play her talents out. In a way I loved Ringer for its ridiculous cheezyness but I had hoped for a way better performance of Sarah. Especially since I loved the premise of the show: her playing two different roles which she has done so fabulous before. Whether she was playing the Buffy robot or playing Buffy playing the robot or playing Faith or playing Faith playing Buffy: those performances were outstanding. I have come to belief that SMG and Joss Whedon were a congenial work-marriage. So what Sarah would need now is another Joss Whedon. This makes me sad because we all know there can only be one and it doesn't look like this one and Sarah would work together anytime soon. Btw I'm writing this as I finish the fifth season of Buffy ... again. There is nothing I have watched as often as Buffy (OK not true, there is this show called Firefly - which is a drama in itself. But at least there is no end in sight for the collaberation of Joss and Nathan).
Well I really love Sarah to death, besides James Marsters she is probably my most fav Whedonverse actor of all time but it was almost inevitable that after Buffy her career would take a blow. She wasnt in big movies that would have helped her to cement her status as a pop culture icon in movies as well. She did those small films or movies that were not very successful and in that business that means youŽre almost a goner.

Also I think she has the same problem that Mark Hamill, Daniel Radcliffe or any other actor who was defined by one particular role in the public awareness like that - sheŽll always be that role and itŽll be extremely hard for her to ever be successful and recognized for something else but Buffy. Those kind of roles are as much a blessing as they can be a curse.

Of course there are those like Harrison Ford who are able to break out of that and become famous and iconic for more than the one role but its rare - even more so with women (for whatever reason). I am afraid though that Sarah will ever recapture the success and fame of her Buffy days again and spend the rest of her career with these small and rather not so successful gigs and always be known to most people as the girl who used to be Buffy. Which is of course something to be proud of but sheŽll be stuck with that label forever I am afraid. She should have tried to land a big role in 2005 or something to have an equally successful movie career.

Of course she could always return to the genre of horror and vampires, which I think would be pretty huge. After being gone from horror for 10 years, Halloween-star Danielle Harris became moder days most popular and iconic scream queen. Because she embraced the genre that loved her and loved it back. Maybe thats what Sarah should do
I guess you could ask why there are so few really good parts for women compared to how many really good actresses there are looking for them. She also had a few babies, and that takes a bit of time.

Ringer was a risk, but for an actress playing two different parts on one series is pretty tempting.
I think it's tougher for women to break away from signature roles than it is for men because, well, everything in Hollywood is tougher for women than for men. She hasn't had another huge high point, true, but she's also worked consistently and that's something that far too many actresses have a tough time doing over the course of 15 years. I liked this piece and especially appreciate it mentioning the underrated train wreck of genius that is Southland Tales. I agree with the above that it would be nice to see her catch on with a high end cable drama, that's where most of the good stuff on the small screen is to be found these days anyway.
I dont know network television still has awesome stuff to offer as well such as Arrow, Vampire Diaries or of course Agents of SHIELD now ;) But well I guess that is all a matter of personal taste anyway.

Though my currently most favorite TV series is indeed a cable show.
she’s one of the few people really elevated by working with Joss Whedon, who has a decidedly odd track record


I'm sorry, just... what?!?!?
I think the networks are increasingly realizing that they simply can't operate the way they used to and expect to keep up; part of their problem is they're still limited by some FCC regulations or whatnot that the cable networks aren't, so they find themselves limited when it comes to edgy content. That doesn't mean they can't put out great stuff, though. I think of LOST, Twin Peaks, X-Files, that's two ABC shows and one Fox show right there...and there's still plenty of great comedy to be found on the majors. NBC's Hannibal was pretty outstanding earlier this year, and definitely looking more like something you'd see on FX. And of course the network that airs a couple of the shows you mention, Ultron, was once the place where Veronica Mars, Buffy and Angel all hung out.
I went through her IMDB page and there just aren't any movies she's done that I enjoyed, or felt were good projects.

While she was on Buffy, she did Cruel Intentions and Scream 2, and I think Cruel Intentions is what most people remember as being that "it" movie that could help her break out. But that was in 1997. She also did Simply Irresistible, which was the kind of movie you only do when you need to pay rent. It was a very bad movie.

After Buffy and Angel, she did Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2, which would have raised her profile with a high box office gross, but isn't really a movie franchise you do when you want to convey you're a "serious actor." Christoph Waltz won an Oscar, then did a silly summer movie like Green Hornet.

Then she did The Grudge, which did extremely well in the box office, but unwisely did The Grudge 2, which was very unsuccessful.

Then she did a few projects that very people had heard of, let alone saw, then she reemerged into the spotlight with Ringer. Sadly, Ringer was on the CW and just couldn't muster enough of a fanbase to save it.

If you're not being offered good projects, you can't choose good projects. Hopefully, The Crazy Ones changes that.

ETA: From the timeline on IMDB, it's not clear whether Waltz actually won the Oscar before he started production on Green Hornet; however, my overriding point is that if you want to be considered a serious actor, you need to build cache.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2013-09-26 22:10 ]
She was so wonderful as Buffy and had such an amazing range--action, humor, heartbreak, coldness, insecurity... ("all-temperature Buffy!), but I haven't been interested enough in any of her other projects to watch them. Sadly, I'm even less interested in this one.
My own wishes were for Spielberg or Lucas to cast her in a third version of SHE!, or the thing I tried to write and failed badly, a veteran cop/rookie detective with both commitment and anger issues, teamed with an older detective sergeant (visualize Will Smith) with career burnout issues chasing a serial killer who outsmarted him when *he* was a rookie. Sergeant would be nominal lead screentime wise, rookie would have more complex storyline. Or playing an AIDs patient.
I"m not sure she has a career or a life that has much in it to regret, to be honest. One of the true class acts in the business, love seeing her and Robin Williams be all Mutual Admiration Society.
And then there was a tiny glimpse of hope last year when Ryan Murphy said he would love to have Sarah in American Horror Story. Why did that not happen?
"Also I think she has the same problem that Mark Hamill, Daniel Radcliffe or any other actor"

I think Kill Your Darlings will change that for Radcliffe, Ultron. He's brilliant as Allen Ginsberg.

Arrow and SHIELD have a male lead and Vampire Diaries has two male and one female leads with ensemble supporting casts. Maybe Ryan was too slow, hmw, and she'd already signed her new show?
And of course the network that airs a couple of the shows you mention, Ultron, was once the place where Veronica Mars, Buffy and Angel all hung out.

Yeah people keep looking down on the CW but 90 % of all my favorite TV shows aired either on WB, CW or both: Buffy, Smallville, Angel, Vampire Diaries, Arrow

So its actually kind of my fav network ;)
American Horror Story is probably the kind of show that shoots 14-hour days, the sort of thing she is definetly not interested in. It'd be amazing if she got to work with Kurt Sutter on TV. He's not Joss but has some Joss-like quality to his work.

[ edited by danielgm86 on 2013-09-26 22:45 ]

I'm sorry, just... what?!?!?

I would take that to mean that Joss has worked with some very talented people but not many of them have gone onto superstar status as a result of this. Boreanaz was once tipped for Hollywood success, Fillion as well. Acting is a very tough profession.
If anybody thinks acting is this glam thing... It really isn't. You finish a big show, and then nobody in the industry cares.
It's like being given an evaluation on your work every week ot every month, and if you're found wanting you might not get better work and that affects everything else in your life. Most actors sort of live paycheck to paycheck and most never get so famous they can do whatever they want without concern for their image or the money.

A good documentary to watch is "That Guy Who Was in That Thing." It follows a bunch of character actors who are very recognizable but aren't "famous" in the way Hollywood celebrities are famous. It gives a good glimpse into the struggles of acting and how difficult getting recognition is.

Here's the IMDB page for it. It's streaming on Netflix.
Is it true that Boreanaz turned down the lead in Batman Begins?
I think he read for it like every other actor his age in Hollywood.
the ninja report, I didn't know about "That Guy Who Was In That Thing". I'll check it out. Thanks.
This is a subject I've often wondered about too, because she's such a brilliant comic and dramatic actress but only people who've watched Buffy will believe it. For a while I watched the other projects she was in but they weren't that good, especially after Buffy. It seemed like she tried to choose serious, challenging roles but simply didn't have her pick of the best the way she deserved.

I agree with what the article suggests, about how casting her as a powerful leading character like Buffy played against what Hollywood was and still is. There wasn't exactly a character-type niche she could slot into. Not many films take small, pretty women seriously and there must be ridiculous competition for the ones that do.

That said, at the time she seemed desperate to get known for something other than Buffy so that must have impacted her choices when/if she had them and she probably did make mistakes. The one example of a choice I really question is the rumour that she turned down Claire Danes's role in Stardust. If that's true, who knows what could have happened had she accepted.
Loved her in "Cruel Intentions " - though I know that was shot *during* Buffy's run - and while I was overall meh about "Suburban Girl" (and still can't get over them buying a bestseller and then changing its title for the film #WTF), she was quite good in it.

I dunno... I enjoy *her* whatever she's in - though "Ringer" was sadly a hot mess... and though I'm not fond of being This Gal, "The Crazy Ones" looks cringe-worthy.

But I'll give it a watch, at least initially, because: Sarah. #TheThingsWeDoForLove
What do we know of her goals as an actress?

What kind of workday does she want?

I can see the allure of a half hour comedy, from a scheduling perspective I'm guessing they're easier to live and work with. I'm not a fan of what I've seen of her new show, but I wish them every success.

Definitely beats nighttime shooting schedules on a show full of rampage-y vampires.

How well is she managed? Didn't she change agents at one point because the agent she had was dumb and indiscreet enough to express what seemed like disdain for her achievements in print?
Between her years as Kendall on All My Children and 7 seasons of Buffy, she's probably had her fill of insane hours and/or shooting schedules - Nathan Fillion has commiserated about the same thing, though he's in the middle of his "in nearly every shot" show with S6 of Castle - and wants to be able to spend quality time with Freddie and her kids. Which is admirable IMO.

However, as it's been noted in the article and in preceding comments, her biggest role was when she was the lead of a show on a specialty network and she was allowed to do so much as Buffy Summers, but between perceptions of what kind of roles to give her and her own goals/desires, her work has been steady but not quite stellar like we want for her. And as much as Robin Williams is a comic genius and a decent guy, his manic humour style is extremely overpowering unless you're a powerhouse and are ready to wrangle a whirlwind...which Sarah needs to be sell the idea that Sydney Roberts is more than just a long-suffering straightwoman who gets a ton of zany humour bounced off her.

I don't like look at the negatives of things, but the major recognition she's received as an actress has come when she's been in the trenches of highly gruelling TV - Daytime Emmy for her time as Kendall Hart on All My Children and big praise during her Buffy years - when she had to be at the top of her game a lot so I have occasionally wondered if she's like some people I know (including myself) who have a lot of innate talent but need to put under high pressure to function at their best. That her deserved time to shine to all and sundry has to come from being pushed harder than she might prefer these days.
I think she's raising her kids in New York City (I could be totally wrong about that) and this cuts down on her options, movies and TV being fairly LA-centric. Plus the hours thing. I think she's wise to spend time with her kids, it's just a pity that she's had to make the kids-or-career choice.

Escaping typecasting is hard. Just ask Mark Hammill or Jake Lloyd. Hammill did go on to a great second acting career... but voice acting, so his face wasn't in the way. Sometimes it's best to go with the flow.

I had a sudden thought, however. I now envision Sarah as a somewhat older actress in a genre film playing a mentor role to one of the spunky young up-and-coming action heroines. Embracing her past, marking the changing of the guard, and setting her seal of approval on some project, much as (Spoilers for Cabin, and yes it came out a year ago, but it's still best to go in knowing nothing...)
To me it looks like she did exactly what she wanted to after Buffy. The one thing all of her 20-something projects after Buffy have in common is that they have reasonable working hours. You don't have this with big cult TV shows or movies. She and Freddie have more than enough money for them and their children. I don't think Sarah really ever felt a huge urge to make something "big" again like most of her fans expect her to.
Which was probably exactly what broke her career a bit. Because she basically made the choice between big movie career which would have been enormously time and energy consuming and family life. She chose the family (which is very admirable in itself) but her career paid the price. But it was a price she gladly paid and is comfortable with. Its not really that bad for her as much as it is for her fans who now only get to see her in those small things.

But then again, maybe she suddenly will appear to everyones suprise in Age of Ultron in a role similar to Alexis in the first Avengers haha. That would be awesome
(comment moved to another post)

[ edited by JMaloney on 2013-09-27 16:35 ]
SMG has also been unlucky. Picking projects is a bit of a crap shoot. Both "Southland Tales" and "The Air I Breathe" had potential to be big hits. I don't blame her for picking either one of those.
She needs to be in something like "Mad Men." That would provide her with a challenging, non-action role that would elevate her post-Buffy profile.
Nebula1400 - In theory, I think that's what the current effort is supposed to be.

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