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December 02 2005

Marsters talks Buffy, Angel and acting. There's some interesting behind the scenes stuff about the two shows.

ouch. seems a bit harsh for a character to nearly get axed because the actor expresses some concerns...
That was a good interview. I loved this bit:

Later in the series, after Spike and Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), began their unlikely screen romance, Marsters recalls one bizarre instance where the script called for him to lick Gellar. “I couldn’t do it,” he says to laughter. “Sarah was so funny. She said “you could rape me last year, but you can’t lick me?”


:D
its not becuz james expressed concern that spike was getting axed. but becuz james brought his perspective on where he thought spike was headed. The writer's may sometimes get caught up in something they love and sacrifice something and since james lived by his character with every script he felt like he had some sort of basic knowledge about where spike had come from and where he could and couldn't head to. Remember everyone loved james to much to even ax him. That's why he was brought back as a regular
ChosenOne5376 please use capital letters at the start of your sentences and for people's names as well. It makes easier for fellow posters to read your comments. Please also employ regular spelling.
So he was gonna lick Buffy in s7 then?
Sounds very weird to me. Like, when he was crazy? (But then again, I'm no Buffy writer, so it might have made perfect sense if they actually did it.)
The Spuffy licking sounds more like season six to me.
Annosuperstar:

"So he was gonna lick Buffy in s7 then?
Sounds very weird to me. Like, when he was crazy? (But then again, I'm no Buffy writer, so it might have made perfect sense if they actually did it.)


Licking Sarah Michelle Gellar would always make perfect sense to me!

Oh, sorry. Am i thinking out loud again? :)
Maybe the scene in Sleeper where he tastes her blood after cutting her? Wow, talking about this show makes you type some strange sentences.
It was the scene in SLEEPER. (when he has to lick her arm)
Sleeper! Yes, of course! *facepalm*
JM has said that he didn't like the funky shirt he had to wear in Doomed S4. He made three jokes, only one of which he can remember, about it in the make-up trailer thinking what's said in the make-up trailer stays in the make-up trailer. But it got back to JW and he nearly got sacked over it.

Yup, I'd call that harsh.
*sigh*...If James doesn't realize why Spike stayed in Sunnydale, he never will....

And I know it's the ongoing debate of age, but he says at 5 years out(from Angel's end) he'd be 43. Isn't he 43 now? And I know it hasn't been 5 years since Angel ended. Thought he was born in 62...


As for the nearly getting fired bit...who knows. Things in the workplace can get so overblown. "You better hope Joss never hears you say that." can turn into "Joss heard what you said, and I think you're going to get fired." It's all still high school and a game of telephone. I mean, at my job, if you see your boss go into a conference room with someone for any reason, everyone starts talking about how there must be a new rash of firings, and how soon can you get your resume up...stuff gets blown way out of proportion sometimes, and I imagine a tv set is no different.
stuff gets blown way out of proportion sometimes, and I imagine a tv set is no different.

Huh. The only thing that gets blown up on my TV set is my penguin.
I quite liked this article, it was well written and it had quite accurate details of James' roles, mentioning both Buffy and Angel, not excluding either of them.

I have to agree about the "almost getting fired" comment. It isn't a quote from James in the article anyway, which suggests it is based on rumour. I doubt Joss would flippantly fire someone and axe a very popular character just because of some jokes about a costume. I can understand where James is coming from, but I thought that Spike had an important role in season four, which was to provide humour and a voice of dissent among the gang. And in the subsequent three seasons he had a wide variety of interesting, funny, dramatic and even shocking storylines, so I don't think there was anything to worry about.

I have to disagree with him about Smallville's creators though. With Buffy and Angel, you can clearly see that each season has its own main themes and the episodes are structured cleverly around that. Character arcs are often long and well developed. With Smallville, I just feel that it's very shallow in terms of overall character development. I have only seen up to season three thus far and I've heard it improves, but based on that I wasn't impressed with the show at all. The reset button is almost always pressed near the end of the episode and I felt a strong lack of direction each season.

I mean if you take any season of Buffy or Angel, there is usually at least one demonic plot to kill people and take over the world, while each of the characters has their own issues to deal with. In Smallville, the events of the finale are usually just more elaborate action scenes that you would expect in filler episodes, and the villain usually comes out of nowhere. Take Angel season four, where Jasmine doesn't appear until the last few episodes, but her arrival is set up throughout the season.
Have to agree with Rogue Slayer here. Let's not turn this into another of the endless rumours of fueds between two people behind the scenes of a television show. We already have endless ones devoted to poor old Sarah and the Charisma/Joss thing, not to mention at least one from every other show that has lasted longer than a year. Apparently Jennifer Garner was responsible for getting Michael Vartan fired from Alias, you know! Blah, blah, blah!

I'm not doubting James' word for one second here, assuming he actually said anything at all, but as Rogue Slayer said, things get blown out of proportion in the workplace and chinese whispers have a habit of making everything seem a lot worse than it actually was, especially when those whispers continue onto the internet. Best thing is to just let it go because without being able to sit down in a room with all those involve you will never know all the facts of a given situation.
I have to disagree with him about Smallville's creators though. With Buffy and Angel, you can clearly see that each season has its own main themes and the episodes are structured cleverly around that. Character arcs are often long and well developed. With Smallville, I just feel that it's very shallow in terms of overall character development.

I couldn't agree more. James always talks about how great it is for his character to have a clear objective. Ya know, a lot of crappy characters have a clear objective. It doesn't make them any better for it.

And how often in 'the real world' do people have clear objectives in their life? People mostly just float along, living their life, interacting with others, some goals to meet, but nothing as clear cut as 'Turn Kal-El against earthlings and take over the Earth'. That's the thing I liked about Buffy and Angel. It felt a little bit real. Like these people could actually exist. Very rarely in life do you meet someone with such 'arch' intentions as Fine or any other standard villain. And no, I'm not saying James in anyway didn't do well in the role, because he did everything he could with it. And it was fun to watch. But Fine didn't have 1/100 of the depth that Spike had, and to me that's more fun to watch than a 'clear objective', with all due respect to James and his preferences.
Yeah, the age thing. I'm guessing the reporter misunderstood what James was saying. James no longer makes a secret about his age. He was 43 on August 20 --about the time he was in Canada at the expo to which the writer refers. And, I'm officially scary fan girl at the age of nearly 38. Yikes.
Even without the fact that "blown out of proportion" could be a very accurate discription concerning the "almost fired" thing, in my recollection of the story from back when, JM was not slamming Joss at all. It was a story about JM's need to adjust to the environment, JM's insecurity about where the character was going etc. As I recall, he said he got called to Joss's office and talked to. Considering that that is how Joss said he usually tries to handle problems before they get too big, it follows that that is what happened and everybody lived happily ever after.

As far as Brainiac having a clear direction, he is talking as an actor. IMO he is not comparing the shows or the quality, he is simply saying it is nice to know what the writers and producers have planned. He has said that not being told what the writers had in store for Spike was tough for him but that he got used to it and treated it as a good learning experience. That does not mean he wouldn't like to work differently if given the chance.

The argument can always be made that none of us knows what is going to happen to us tomorrow so actors do not have to know what will happen to their characters next week, but it is fundementally different. We are truly who we are and what we do today and next week will be consistent with who we actually are and what has happened to us in the past. The actor is creating a character. How the character reacts to things and what has happened to him, give the actor the clues to who the character is. If I do something tomorrow, the capacity to do that thing is in me today. If a character does something the actor has not set up the character to have the capacity for becuase they simply had no idea that was where the character was going, it can fail to ring true.

That said, I think the performances on BTVS and ATS were pretty incredible. I truly think though, if the writers had trusted JM enough to tell him what they were thinking at the end of S6, there would not be such controversy about whether Spike went to the demon to get his soul back. So much is written on JM's face. IMO everything until the last moment screams that he is not looking for a soul. My guess is that even if they told him they were not sure which way they were going to go, they would have gotten a performance which at first viewing seemed to be about looking for vengence but at second you realize that it was not as clear as you thought. In other words a much more complex performance for a more complex motivation.

Bottom line is that (IMO) he is just talking about the difference in the way the shows are handling him as an actor, not about the quality of the shows or characters.
I agree, newcj, as an actor it's probably nice to have a clear goal, as in any job. But as a viewer...it's more fun to see people stumbling through life trying to find their way.

And I still wonder if James would prefer playing a rather shallow, Brainiac type character with a clear objective versus a very deep, possibly aimless Spike type character. Kinda sounds that way, sadly.

Then again, there's the point that I disagree with James that Spike didn't have a focus or a goal or an objective. But maybe I can say that having seen all 7 seasons, and it's probably harder if you're in the middle of it all. If I were an actor though, I would probably just pick a motivation for the character and go with it until the director told me I was doing it wrong! :~P
DeniseDM
Yeah, the age thing. I'm guessing the reporter misunderstood what James was saying. James no longer makes a secret about his age. He was 43 on August 20 --about the time he was in Canada at the expo to which the writer refers.


Re age - this is the exact quote (source James Marsters questions and answers database )

8-05 Friday Q&A Toronto SFX) All that's happened for me, is Joss has talked to me twice. One when Angel was still on the air. And one, about two months ago. Just checking - if he was interested, if he found a story, if I would be interested. He underlined fifty times that this does not mean we're going ahead. I just want to know if you're interested, in case I want to do it. Would you want to go through the process of dying your hair again? Of course, yeah. All I said to Joss was that I love the role, I will do it for you… anyday, but you have five years. Because… this character was established as a 27-year-old-kind-of-looking guy. And I'm now 43. So let's just get off the dime. Because if you take away the best thing about the character, which is that he doesn't die, he doesn't age, that's so cool about a vampire… If you take that away, it's pathetic. So, I feel like that's about my time-frame to kinda match that look. I would love it. But I really don't know. He checked with me twice, and I keep hearing rumors, but I don't know.
"I'm not doubting James' word for one second here, assuming he actually said anything at all"

He did indeed, and it's in several transcripts of QandA's over the passed few years, one of which I attended.



When he talks of objectives I believe he is talking about the specificity of each scene. He's said that he longer for any direction in the scripts for Spike, the motivation for him to be in any one scene. So much so in fact that he'd have to make stuff up.

Also, he as said many times that each year JW would come to him and tell him they didn't have a clue what they would be doing with Spike during the season. Now either JW was yanking his chain, in which case after like the third year running that joke is done, or he was serious.
Rogue, just because the actor knows what is going on, that does not mean the character does. A character that is clearly stumbling through his life can be played by an actor who knows exactly what is going to happen to the character next... and almost always better than one who does not have a clue. It is like playing a character who is drunk, or obsessed, or anything else really. You don't have to be it yourself to play a character who is.

I don't see that JM is in anyway saying that he prefers any character over Spike specifically. He has repeatedly said how much he loves Spike. I am also sure simply by watching his performance as Spike, that he enjoys complex characters. This is evidenced by the fact that the writers could have meant Spike to be as complex a character as ever invented, but if the actor played him one dimensionally, that is how he would have come across...before he was turned to dust in the middle of season 2. ;-)

I would think the question of how complex Brainiac is going to end up is still up in there air, though I can't imagine it will be too complex certainly in comparison to Spike. But how many characters are as complex as Spike?

"If I were an actor though, I would probably just pick a motivation for the character and go with it until the director told me I was doing it wrong! :~P '

Bingo. You are right, and that is just what JM did...which I suspect is one of the reasons the character seemed to have so much focus. I love watching individuals in a crowd scene where all kinds of stuff is happening and being able to see Spike's total focus on Buffy no matter what else is going on. JM is such a damn good actor sometimes I just watch a nothing scene over and over in awe.
I would think the question of how complex Brainiac is going to end up is still up in there air

Which brings up another question. Is James done with Smallville? The impression I got was no, but I've heard other folks who say what we've seen is all he's doing. I hope he's not done, because while I don't fancy the show, I love seeing James being diabolical...

And I don't think James would prefer a Brainiac over a Spike in character, but as an actor I wonder if he prefers playing a someone with a clearer objective. Just strictly work-wise. And I'm not dissing him if he does, we all have our preferences for work, but I'd be curious to hear his answer on that. Or maybe I already have! Then again, maybe the objective thing is just the one point about the character he can be positive about, and it keeps popping up. God, I'd love to have a sit-down with the man and really delve into his thoughts and feelings about what he does!
Now either JW was yanking his chain, in which case after like the third year running that joke is done, or he was serious


My (third) option: JW told the same joke each year, but in a new and amusing way. And JM thought it was funny.

Let's not drum up bad blood where apparently none exists - it's pretty clear that James would work with Joss again in a second, and vice versa. It would be more interesting to focus on the substance of what JM said rather than anything that might be insinuated from it.
SNT I never said there was bad blood between them and I didn't imply it either. I fail to see how my comment could be taken for drumming up bad blood. "Yanking his chain", ie kidding around. I personally wouldn't find the same joke hysterical after numerous tellings, I didn't say JM would have felt the same way. "Or he was serious" ie he was telling JM the truth. Where was I insinuating anything?

The rest of my post:-

"Also, he has said many times that each year JW would come to him and tell him they didn't have a clue what they would be doing with Spike during the season."

Purely repeating what JM has said. I was focusing on that and speculating as to why JW would say the same thing each year. Not trying to stir anything up and I'm hurt that you would suggest such a thing.
lynnie, you might want to note that I separated the paragraphs of my comment for a reason. The first was addressed to your comment. The second was addressed more generally to various comments in this thread. Still, I did find an insinuation in your comment - suggesting that "after like the third year running that joke is done" implies that Joss's statements were (a) boorish, and/or (b) hurtful.

Additionally, when I post that kind of comment as a moderator, it should be apparent that I'm seeking to affect the flow of the discussion, not to hurt your or anyone else's feelings. If you want to talk about this further, feel free to e-mail me.
Just because the creators of Smallville have a clear objective in mind for the characters, does not mean they have a good idea of how to get the character there...

I think that's my main problem with the character development on Smallville. Clearly there are stronger than usual objectives for the characters - Clark has to become Superman at some point, Lex has to go evil - but I'm not convinced the writing is doing a particularly job of getting them there in a particularly well-developed, deep, or complex manner.

I understand why JM would appreciate as an actor having an objective in mind when playing the character, but I hardly think the creators knowing what the character wants/is heading towards means that the journey there will necessarily be good...

And maybe it's hindsight, but I never felt that Spike was completely objective-less when he was on the show. S2 he was all about Dru, S4 he wanted to get the Slayer, and then he wanted to get the chip out of his head, and he was all about survival..and he was supposed to be a character at a loss, just like Giles and Xander were. S5 and S6 he was all about Buffy - getting her attention, getting her love, keeping her with him. And S7, he was lost and searching for himself with that soul. I'd say S5 AtS Spike had less objective than he did on BtVS, but JM seems to have enjoyed that season more. So clearly, we just have different perspectives on the character. Though, I guess his S5 objective could have been "annoy Angel", which certainly would have given JM focus to his scenes.

And yeah, the thing about "almost getting fired" for his comments about his Doomed costume has come up several times in JM's Q&As. Something about him saying he didn't sign on this show to be Urkel. But he always presented it as his own goof with Joss setting him straight...
I always got the impression on Smallville that the creators have a really good idea for the Premiere, and the finale (and this year maybe the 100th episode,) and absolutely no plan on how to get from A to B. This results in a lot of aimless character stuff, which tends not to be noticed episode to episode, and wildly varying single shows.

It's also imo one of the reasons why watching a iffy Smallville isn't as fun as watching a really bad Buffy episode, because things don't track as well and characters rarely evolve or do much of major interest a bad Smallville episode feels... well... just useless.
As someone pointed out, characters shouldn't necessarily have clear-cut objectives, because real human beings don't know exactly what they want at a certain time. But I do think their were some periods that Spike had less motivations for his actions than others. In season 4, when Spike had the chip in his head, he didn't really have a permanant reason to stay in Sunnydale and help out the gang. There were different reasons for what he did in different episodes, but no overall motivation for what he did. I also found it unrealistic that he would hang around LA after he became corporealized. He said that he didn't want to go to Buffy because he didn't know what he would say to her, but that seemed pretty out of character for him.
As my hubby just succinctly said, Spike's Angel season 5 objective was to find his own objective!

He really had to find a reason to a life that had been all about Buffy for the last few years. I think by the end, he found a place and a mission, and that's usually enough for Spike. Even if it is short term. But his long term objective that he realized was that he can do good and fight evil, on a team or by himself, and that he enjoys it, it gives his life meaning again.
JM likes Method acting, which is derived from Stanislavski and is all about "the through line of action" and "aims and objectives" - so I can see he felt he needed a more complete handle on what Spike was about. IMO he was about change and growth - but it took till well into S4 for that to become apparent. Or maybe S5...
Is James done with Smallville? The impression I got was no, but I've heard other folks who say what we've seen is all he's doing.

James is signed on for 10 episodes - he's done 4 of them. He himself has said that he would be returning to Smallville to shoot his remaining episodes after he's done with Shadow Puppets. I'd believe James over whatever chatter you've heard to the contrary.

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