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Feature: Buffy's loyal sidekick
Just a Normal Everyday Hero
In six seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Nicholas Brendon has played Xander Harris, the awkward everyman who has remained unchanged by his many and varied encounters with the Supernatural.
To celebrate the release of the sixth series of Buffy on video and the fourth series on DVD, Shivers spoke to Nick and asked him how it felt to be one of the founding members of this pop culture phenomenon. The star was initially dismissive ("Oh yeah, right," he laughs. "Pop culture!") before settling down to trace the parallel developments in the lives of Nicholas Brendon, actor, and Xander Harris, friend of The Vampire Slayer.
"I've been through so many phases of my life since I first got the show," says Brendon. "It's been six years now. I went through a couple of relationships, got married... It's really weird to think that the show's been around that long. It was my first acting job, really, and I was learning as I went. I didn't know what a mark was, you know? Camera left _ camera right. So I just kinda had fun, really."
How does Brendon feel about the character's evolution in these six years? And how does he feel about Xander today?
"He's exactly where it should be," Brendon smiles. "I think Xander's the only character that stayed true to the pilot. Where everyone else got superpowers or discovered they were gay, I'm the only character that is just a normal guy. I'm `normal guy' in a show of extraordinary characters. You kind of feel weird, because people buy into it when you have powers. You have all the others who can do these fantastic things, and then... there's Xander, the guy who says the jokes. You don't see lightning bolts coming out of my eyes and me doing spells, so it's very strange. It's like that guy who's just under the radar a little bit."
But one of the more intriguing episodes this season saw Xander and Anya preparing to get married. Did Brendon think this was going to change the dynamic of the character?
"Well, that's hard to say, really," he laughs. "Because of future episodes that people won't have seen. Let's just say I was pleased at the way it all turned out."
How aware is Brendon of the impact of the show? It's very important to a lot of people.
"I'm completely aware, yeah," he smiles. "I know how important the show is to the fans. It's fantastic that you can bring joy to so many people. Just with one show you reach 5 or 6 million people _ make them laugh, make them cry, but whatever you take them away from everything. If they've had a bad day, then it's great if you're making their day better."
What does Brendon think is going to happen after Buffy finishes its run on network television?
"I don't think that far in advance," he admits. "I only got married six months ago, so hopefully I can spend more time with my wife."
What does he think the final legacy of the series is going to represent? It's a benchmark series in a lot of ways.
"Yes, it is. It's hard to say what the legacy will be. It's gonna change TV. I mean, it already has! I think that the girl power thing is here to stay for awhile, instead of the dumb blonde going into the alley to get killed, she's going to come out of the alley fighting. It's hard to say. I think we'll have to wait and see what happens."
by James Abery
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