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Feature: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Hell Hath No Fury…

Anya, a colourful Buffy character

Emma Caulfield’s character of Anya in Buffy always spoke her mind whatever the consequences, and often with hilarious results. Now, as she leaves the series, it’s Emma’s turn to set the record straight...

Over a century ago, Anya began casting vengeance spells on men after her boyfriend broke up with her. It was the demon D’Hoffryn who took advantage of her situation and made Anya a vengeance demon. For the next thousand or so years, she continued her ‘work’ under the guise of Anyanka, the patron saint of scorned women. It was when she ventured into Buffy’s home town of Sunnydale that Anya’s rampage came to an end. Since then, she has teetered on the edge of good and bad. Playing her is quite a balancing act for Buffy veteran Emma Caulfield.

“The challenge when it comes to Anya is keeping her in check all the time,” explains the actress. “If she goes too much either way she can become a caricature of herself. I’m constantly walking a tightrope between the fantastical and the real because my character has elements of both in her. Anya is her own little universe complete with the sun and planets, figuratively speaking of course. Any shift and the world goes dark with her. So it’s up to me to keep the sun shining in all the right places,” jokes Caulfield.

The actress made her début on Buffy in the third season episode The Wish in which Anyanka grants Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) a powerful wish when she discovers that Xander (Nicholas Brendon) cheated on her with Willow (Alyson Hannigan). However, instead of taking revenge on Xander, Cordelia wishes that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) never came to Sunnydale. This results in the creation of an alternate reality, and it’s up to Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) to set things right. Unfortunately, for Anyanka his solution strips her of her powers and she ends up trapped in the body of an ordinary teenager.

Going from immortal demon to mortal teenager was quite a shock for Anya. It also gave Caulfield the opportunity to create a more three-dimensional character. “Deep down, I think Anya is really sweet,” notes the actress. “She’s also very observant and tenacious as well as bright, although she comes off as just the opposite. In my opinion, though, that’s just her inevitable misfiring insofar as her approach to life. She tries so hard to get things right. Anya tackles everything with such fervour. I mean, she’ll sink her teeth into a situation and hold onto it as hard as she can. Sadly, she ends up ‘killing’ whatever it is in the process, but she doesn’t mean to.”

“In The Wish, my goal was to wring out as much as I could with her,” continues the actress. ”Naturally, the more episodes I did the more comfortable I became playing Anya. That’s when all these other elements to her began to bleed through. I hope that makes sense. Little by little it evolved into the perfect marriage between the writers and me. Playing Anya comes easy to me. I’ve just inherently always understood her, which doesn’t happen very often. A lot of times as an actor you’re searching for a voice to your character. Well, I heard Anya screaming from the moment I began playing her, and I more-or-less think she’s still screaming,” Caulfield laughs.

by Steve Eramo

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TV Zone #162

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #162
May 2003
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