Angel's Charlies

Selected from Cult Times Special #16

Gunn at work with Cordy and Angel ©Warner BrosGunn Fighting

‘When Angel needs a little extra back-up, he calls in Gunn, who can provide the muscle and the fighting skills the others lack’

Angel Profiles by Lisa Kincaid
J August Richards interviewed by Mark Wyman

When Angel returns to Sky 1 for its second season in January, you’ll see a new regular, making last year’s surviving trio of Angel, Cordelia and Wesley into a quartet. Those who’ve seen the last three episodes of Season One will know him already: he’s Charles Gunn, the activist and renegade vampire hunter who develops an unlikely respect for Angel.

Playing Gunn, as the character’s generally known, is the affable and confident-sounding J August Richards – “Everyone just calls me J,” he assures Cult Times when we ask about his unusually structured name. We caught up with Richards on an important day in his career – the very morning before the WB network was to broadcast Judgement, which kick-starts Angel’s second year into action.

So you’re in the title sequence now…
You know what? That’s the thing I’m most excited about, because it’s like a badge of honour. I’ve done a lot of guest-starring work, where you come up after the titles, but this is the first time I’m in the opening title sequence, so it’s going to be cool.

What were your impressions when you joined the series? Did you know much about the whole Angel and Buffy phenomenon?
Ironically, no. I knew they existed, but I’ve been taking acting class on Tuesday nights for the past year-and-a-half before getting the role. It was a really fantastic class, taught by Eriq La Salle, the ER actor. And you know, everything I learned in the class absolutely prepared me for the role I’m playing in Angel. It’s amazing in a way because you don’t know what you’re being prepared for at the time, but a lot of the tools I got there are helping me right now.

So how is your character involved in the set-up now?
Well, his obligation to his people is very strong, so he’s not going to abandon them – you’re never going to see that, and I love the fact that it’s left that way, because that’s the core of his character. But what you’re going to see are specific relationships developing between him and the other three members of the show. It’s not like Gunn sees them all as one lump sum – he has very specific feelings about each of them, and I think it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in Season Two..

Those other three – David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter and Alexis Denisof – worked together on Buffy the year before last, and were a team for the second half of last year’s Angel. What’s it like joining a team like that? Do you feel at home among them?
I absolutely do now. When I started, with Warzone, I kept to myself a little bit, because I was concentrating on the obligations of the job. But I’m a very outgoing person, so that didn’t last long. I got more comfortable after my first week, although I didn’t actually get to do anything with Charisma or Alexis last season. This season I’m getting to spend time with them, which I’m enjoying a lot. [Indeed, when the existing employees of Angel Investigations first meet their boss’s ally in Judgement, stand by for misunderstandings and more than a little tension.]

There has been talk that Gunn and Cordelia may get a little unprofessionally involved…
Ooh, you’ll have to see! You’ll have to see… But I will say – I have the highest regard for all my cast members, but I love working with Charisma [Carpenter], she’s so talented and such a hard worker. I don’t want to gush about any one more than the others though.

Interview and profile continued in this issue; along with profiles of Angel associates Cordelia Chase, Wesley Wyndam-Price and Allan Francis Doyle. Order it from VI Direct.

Charles Gunn profiled

J. August Richards as Gunn © Warner Bros

Gunn was introduced onto Angel as the sort of character most television viewers have seen many times before: a young black man, street smart, with attitude and a sharp tongue and not really defined beyond that. He lives on the street, barely surviving but somehow managing to wear a different stylish outfit every day.

Fortunately, Gunn also manages to mix up the formula a bit by being more than a wise-cracking teenager. He also happens to hunt vampires. His gang of similarly handsome and homeless youths are sick of vampires running their neighbourhood, so they decide to drive the bad element out by themselves, and they turn out to be very good at it.

Naturally, when Gunn first meets Angel, it isn’t a match made in heaven, with Angel being a vampire and Gunn being a fellow who likes to kill them. They agree to something of a cease-fire, however, which turns into a grudging respect, and eventually becomes a full-blown partnership.

When Angel needs a little extra back-up, he calls in Gunn, who can provide the muscle and the fighting skills that both Cordelia and Wesley lack. And when Gunn’s in trouble – though he’s clearly not fond of admitting it when he is – he can call on Angel for a little help.

Gunn isn’t all brawn and no brain, however; he also pitches in with insightful observations and a healthy dose of common sense that the Angel Investigations team often seems to be lacking...

Images © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2000.
Not for reproduction

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