He arrived with A bang in Season Two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and heís been around, more or less, ever since. He is the English punk vampire Spike, played with panache by actor James Marsters. Season Six saw the forming of a violent and destructive relationship between Buffy and Spike, and the end of the season saw another radical change for the character. Starburst recently met James Marsters to find out just whose side Spike is on these days?
Starburst Youíve been quoted as saying that youíve become tired of being hung up and tortured this session. Is that true?
James Marsters The thing is, if youíre going to talk about that kind of redemption, Joss Whedonís instinct was always to earn it. Just like when Buffy died and he brought her back, and he didnít wind that up really fast. Frankly, I think he waits until he knows the audience wants it, and then he moves. I was talking to Marti [Noxon, co-executive producer] and I said, ĎYou know, I was watching an episode early in the show, and it was amazing how much I smiled, and I miss thatí. You see, we donít have Giles to beat up anymore. Remember when Giles got drunk and said, ĎWho am I? Iím a librarian with a tendency to get knocked on the head.íĒ
Starburst Now youíre that guy? ?
James Marsters Yeah, you have to create peril, and in order to create peril you have to hurt people that the audience cares about. So thatís going to have to be someone in the cast. But itís cool, itís like playing GI Joe. This scary demon, who has been in make-up for about 12 hours, is beating me up Ė itís just like being a kid. Your body hurts afterwards!
Starburst Are you finding that the fans are actually missing the evil Spike? ?
James Marsters Yeah, but evil Spike was a fairly two-dimensional character, and if they had had to watch evil Spike for the last six years they may not be crying for his return as much as they think.
Starburst What do you like about Spike? ?
James Marsters Initially I liked him because he had a perverse sense of fun; I liked him because, as I saw it at the time, he could both be a good boyfriend and also be a maniacal killer. In some ways, that was at odds with the very moral universe that is Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Then I liked Spike because it was fun to play that much pain. But I have to say; method acting for series television can eat you alive. I donít think anyone who invented it was thinking in terms of submerging that long. The rape scene with me and Buffy still haunts me. It was the bravest thing I think a television show could do. Artistically I think it allowed them to take Spike to another place and Iím artistically proud to have done it, but it was the hardest day of my career. It was hard for me and it was hard for Sarah; weíre fine now but it was not a good day.
by Judy Sloane