SFX Issue 70

November 2000

SFX historical notes: Probe was a less imaginatively-titled predecessor to the current “Fannish Inquisition” feature where readers provide the questions.

Probe:

James Marsters

Since the night he drove – or should that be gatecrashed? – into the town of Sunnydale with loopy vamp girlfriend Drusilla in tow, Spike has proved himself to be the coolest, blondest, biggest bad-ass vampire since… well, forever. Once only a guest star, he became a regular in season four and has now grown into one of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s most popular characters. Seeing that Spike is an evil, murderous bastard, that’s actually a bit worrying. However, judging by the deluge of rather fruity questions we were inundated with this month for the guy who plays him, James Marsters, bad guys have all the fun. For the sake of simple decency we held back any questions that mentioned skin-tight trousers (shame on you – you know who are you are). Instead James Marsters enthuses over the merits of siring Angelina Jolie, snogging Sarah Michelle Gellar and setting his hand on fire…

Does every interview with you begin with the words “I didn’t know you weren’t English?” Lee Bradley, Cardiff

“Oh, yeah. I’m a big faker, man. People in England actually think I’m English, which I think is very cool. I thought I would be able to fool Americans but I didn’t dream I could fool the English.”

How long did it take you to master the English accent? It had a lot of people I know fooled for a very long time. Vikki Devine, Glasgow

“It’s still not right. I get to practice my lines over and over for the show. Tony Head corrects me. He’s saved me so many times – otherwise I’d be making a fool out of myself! He constantly gives me tips. There’s always words I don’t know. For instance, in the script the other day there was the word ‘arse’, and he was like ‘James, we don’t say arse, we say ass like the rest of the world.’ He’s very nice about it, but he probably doesn’t want to be embarrassed by his cohorts back in England. In the beginning I came to him quite often, actually. There was a lot to learn in the beginning, but it’s usually just nips and tucks.”

Are there any Brit words or phrases that you really enjoy? Joanne Marvin, cyberspace

“Sodding git.”

Was it hard to do a fake English accent doing a fake mid-western accent when you were pretending to be Xander’s friend in “Goodbye, Iowa”? Jason Taylor, Norwich

“Do you know who I went to? Tony Head has a great American accent. I said ‘What would one of your friends sound like if he had a bad American accent?’. He said, ‘I don’t know. I suppose you would go crazy with the letter r.’”

What’s the most dangerous stunt you’ve been allowed to do? Owen Peake, Kayleigh

“I volunteered to have my hand set on fire! I left it burning for four times longer than they told me to, as I thought it would be cool. My hand was fried. They edited it out, anyway. As far as stunts go, if my feet are on the floor, it’s me – punching, fighting, etc. However, if I’m flying through the air – it’s not!”

What is your off-screen relationship with David Boreanaz, and did you enjoy the crossover you did with Angel? Joanne Cooke, Middlesex

“I have a lot of respect for David. He’s such a professional. It makes the show really easy to work on. It’d be great to go back to Angel – I’d love to slug him, just once!”

What do you think of all the website and clubs out on the net about you? Meghan Jones, Leconfield

“I don’t know much about the internet, I’m afraid.”

Of all the Buffy episodes you’ve been in and all the great scenes you’ve had, do you have a favourite line/scene? Rachel Dixon, Newcastle

“We work so hard on so many episodes. The whole show is like a blur of ‘tired’ and ‘happy’. Throwing Sophia Crawford through a glass table in ‘Harsh Light Of Day’ – now, normally they’d get a stunt guy to do that, but they trusted me. It looked great. In fact, the whole Gem Of Amarra storyline was excellent – I got to hit Sarah and David in that one!”

Will Spike be getting back with Dru? Oliver Waterman, Huddersfield

“What, after she left me for a mucus demon? No way! She said I wasn’t demon enough for her, anyway. I love working with Juliet Landau, but she’s been so busy making films they couldn’t get her back into the show.”

Buffy and Spike – it’s love really, isn’t it? Angela Day, Rotherham

“I used to think that the best episodes were the ones where I got to hit Buffy… but then I got to kiss her! Believe me, as hot as Sarah is on the screen, she’s even better in real life!”

How would you feel if Spike got a soul, like Angelus? Jonathan Hayman, Devizes

“Terrible! That would be awful. The best thing about Spike is that he can do all the stuff you want to do, but would never dream of doing. If he had a soul he’d talk about his feelings and stuff…No!”

As an actor, is it a joy to be in such a brilliantly written show? Nigel & Terry Emmerton, Surrey

“It’s heaven. Acting, for me, is much simpler and less important than I thought. Every time I learn anything about acting, it’s to just simplify, stop acting and let the words work for you. What it comes down to is that an actor needs to know enough about structure and quality writing to be able to choose good words. Once you’ve chosen the words and signed your contract, get out of the way. Don’t bring attention to yourself, bring attention to the words and let them make your money for you. At which point it becomes brutally simple, brutally easy, to look cool.”

Who are your heroes in cinema, literature and music? Claire Conway, County Tyrone

“Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s the dirtiest playwright ever – people think he’s polite, that he’s classy. No way! Nobody kills more people, or has more sex on stage! As far as cinema goes – Apocalypse Now. I love that movie. Plus Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Kurosawa.”

What is your biggest ambition? Richard Wilks, Edinburgh

“To play Macbeth. I’d love to do Macbeth. Macbeth rocks!”

If you really were a vampire, who would you sire to keep you company throughout eternity? Lorraine Brumpton, Torquay

“Angelina Jolie.”

If you could be beaten up by any woman in sci-fi, (except Sarah Michelle Gellar) who would it be? Jodie Portugal, Middlesex

“The pink Power Ranger.”

How are you getting along with giving up smoking? Emma Hinchcliffe, cyberspace

“Three months!”

If Spike could have one new romantic relationship with anyone from the show, who would it be? Amy V, cyberspace

“Faith.”

How would you say Spike has changed over the past couple of seasons? Jane Wellings, Horsham

“He used to be a badass and now he’s a wimp. In a nutshell. Basically he was designed to be a villain that was going to be killed, so he was very broadly drawn, he was very dangerous, hopefully interesting but not sustainable. What has happened now, since they’ve decided to keep me around, is they needed a way to make Spike a little more recognisable; to put him through experiences that people can identify with, and take him off of that pedestal of supervillain. So there’s more to work with. There are only so many things you could have done with him before. Of course, it’s really important to get him to stop trying to kill Buffy, because if he keeps doing that he’s either going to have to be killed himself or he’s going to become pathetic because he’s failed so many times.”

What do you want for Spike in the new season? Gwen Kartsen, Norway

“More tail. I would like to get it, I would like to kick it. Those are the two things that make Spike who he is; having fun with tail. I’m telling you, you ask any actor what they want next season and he’s going to say ‘More tail. I want to get with chicks and I want to hit guys.’ Bill Cosby would do that. If he had a chance he’d be out there with a chick on his arm, hacking away at the bad guys with a sword.”