James Marsters, who played the bleached blond vampire Spike on Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its spinoff “Angel,” approves of the new breed of vampires that have taken over pop culture, especially the ones in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” novels.
“I like them man. They got my niece to read,” Marsters says on a conference call to promote his guest starring role on “Caprica.” “She wasn’t reading a lot, but she hit ‘Twilight’ and just ate them up and read them five, 10 times. Now she’s on to other vampire romances. She reads like a novel a day now. So, go Stephenie Meyer.”
And although he acknowledges that Meyer’s vamps follow the successful formula that Anne Rice used, making the vampires less monstrous and more “ancient creatures with heart,” he says that was the opposite of how “Buffy” creator Whedon approached the fantastical beings.
“He really wanted the vampires to be ugly when they were vampires and very quickly dead,” reveals Marsters. “He was talked into the character of Angel by David Greenwalt, his writing partner. He fought it. I don’t think he was too excited about it but he allowed David [Boreanaz] to do it, and the character just took off to the clouds. I think that he always remembered that he was only going to allow one Angel-like character on the show and that all the other vampires were going to remain in some way hideous.”
Hideous or not, Marsters is more than willing to don the fangs again.
“When Joss came to me and asked me about [reprising the role of Spike] right as ‘Angel’ was coming down, I told him, ‘I’ll follow you to hell, I’ll follow you to heaven. Just give me a call. I’ll do one line for you. I’ll do 10. Sure I’ll do Spike for you. Of course I’ll do Spike for you.'”
The only problem is that there’s an expiration date for a Spike return: Seven years, give or take.
“You have seven years because I’m aging, and Spike’s not supposed to [as a vampire],” points out Marsters. “I don’t want to do some lame line like, oh he’s been drinking pig’s blood right now so he’s aging slowly or some stupid thing like that. It’s now been seven years. When I look in the mirror I gotta say if I’m well rested, I look OK with the proper lighting. I don’t know. As the years go, I get more and more nervous about that. Let’s just do a screen test and see if we can light this character and say, ‘Look, I haven’t aged.’ If we could hold that, that would be cool.”
Since playing Spike, Marsters has played a series of mean, menacing guys, including his character Barnabas Greely, a diehard revolutionary on “Caprica,” but he doesn’t mind being typecast.
“I mean if I was playing Urkel, then I’d have a problem being typecast,” he says. “But when you’re typecast as the cool guy or the tough guy, or the potent character or the jerk who mixes things up, I think if you’re going to get typecast, that’s the one you’d want. I went in to audition for this ‘Moonshot’ [moon landing TV movie]. I love the Apollo program, I’m a science geek and stuff, so I was just so excited and would have taken any three roles, but the director’s like, ‘Oh no, I saw you in “Buffy” and I need you for Buzz Aldrin because he’s the rock star.’
“I’ve always been really thankful I got to play a character that got to wear so much makeup and bleach his hair and got to have a cool English accent.”
In reminiscing about “Buffy,” Marsters recalls how the cast and crew would get together at Whedon’s house to do readings of Shakespeare plays.
“Tony Head was Richard the Third. [Joss] got to do Hamlet. Alexis Denisof did a Bottom in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ that just rocked, best Bottom I’d ever seen,” he says. “After the Shakespeare reading, out would come the wine and we’d have a little party. And then one day I brought my guitar. We started playing songs, and Joss started playing songs on the piano. Joss says that that was the beginning of him thinking of a musical for ‘Buffy.'”
Speaking of musicals, would he get a cameo in the next “Dr. Horrible”?
“I hope so, that would be fun,” he says with a laugh.
Marsters will appear in a multiple-episode story arc on “Caprica” beginning Friday, March 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.
Check back with Zap2it for the second part of the James Marsters interview in which he discusses “Caprica.”
Photo credit: Getty, Twentieth Century Fox