They say you know you’re getting on in years when policemen start getting younger. Well, vampires getting older has much the same effect. Many of you won’t welcome the news that James Marsters, the actor behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s follicaly-fried erstwhile villain Spike, is to celebrate his fiftieth birthday this year. Because if Spike’s fifty, it means we’re all getting old too.
It’s over fifteen years since the first TV episode of Buffy aired in the US, and this Sunday marks nine since Buffy’s “Grrr. Argghh” monster delivered its final “Grrr. Aargh”. You may have followed the Scooby Gang since then in comic, animated series, or spin-off form, but many of us that day just gently closed the show’s eyelids, bowed our heads respectfully, and walked away.
But what of Whedon’s cast? How has the past decade treated that gaggle of faux teenagers, big bads and librarians? (Well, okay, just the one librarian). Join us on a quick trawl through what Buffy et al did next…
Sarah Michelle Gellar
The Scooby Gang member who took the nickname somewhat literally, Sarah Michelle Gellar bracketed her final years as Buffy with two appearances in the live-action Scooby Doo movies. She followed that up with a bit of J-horror remake action in the form of The Grudge one and two, and some generic thrillers, though none really managed to cement her position as a film actress.
Following the success of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly’s 2006 Southland Tales must have seemed like a good bet for Gellar, but nobody quite predicted the cluster fiasco that picture would turn out to be. The blame for that can’t be laid at the feet of Gellar, but her next few limited release and straight-to-DVD roles also did little to strengthen her film career, which even voicing April O’Neil in 2007’s TMNT wasn’t able to get back on track. A return to TV it was, with a string of appearances in Seth Green’s animated comedy series Robot Chicken, some Saturday Night Live hosting, and a cameo in the show that started it all for Gellar: ABC’s All My Children.
The recent Gellar vehicle Ringer (in which she plays identical twins) was something of a non-starter, getting a 22-episode series order but being cancelled for low ratings towards the end of its run. Her next move appears to be a more domestic one, as the actress is currently knocked up with her second child. Yup, our Buffy’s a mum. What was that about feeling old?
Despite not really aiming high post-Buffy (she turned up in bit-part comedy roles and movie spoofs like Farce of the Penguins and Date Movie immediately after the series ended), Alyson Hannigan has ended up as probably the most recognisable on-screen presence of the Buffy graduates. Her secret? Two long running series: one a movie franchise, the other a Friends-style sitcom. And it all began with one really filthy line…
Hannigan filmed the first three American Pie pictures alongside her role as Willow in Buffy, going from a supporting part to series regular thanks to a particularly naughty performance (and that line), which pulled the rug from Michelle’s sweet ‘n’ innocent persona. A short turn in Veronica Mars, some cameos in Mike Judge animations, and her own Robot Chicken appearance later, Hannigan scored the part of Lily in 2005 sitcom pilot, How I Met Your Mother opposite Jason Segel. The rest, as they say, is history. The show has just concluded its seventh season, and is to return in the autumn for another round.
Hannigan has also kept herself intermittently busy by marrying Alexis Denisof (aka Buffy’s Wesley Wyndham Price) in 2003, banging out a sprog, and being (at the time of writing) pregnant with her second.
Oh Xander. Sweet, loyal, wise-cracking Xander. In many ways the heart of the Scoobies, with your Snoopy dance, yellow crayon speech and later, tragic loss of depth perception. Whatever happened to you?
Quite a bit of theatre, actually, as well as 13 episodes of 2005 sitcom, Kitchen Confidential, co-starring Bradley Cooper, and a web comic about koalas on the run. Nicholas Brendon, like many of the rest of the Buffy cast, has also been a regular on the convention circuit since the show ended, and along with Tony Head, Alyson Hannigan and others (not Sarah Michelle-Gellar, it should be said) provided the voice for his character in the animated Buffy series and video games.
Along with a spin on Private Practice, Brendon has also had a recurring role on FBI profiling crime drama Criminal Minds since 2007, the irony of which wasn’t lost on those reporting on the actor’s recent arrest. It would be indecorous to go into the problems of Brendon’s personal life, though it is safe to say though that 2009 TV movie A Golden Christmas isn’t technically his most criminal act…
Tony Head has maintained a very public post-Buffy profile on this side of the Atlantic, so much so that we hardly need remind you of his central role in the BBC’s Merlin between 2008-2011. Before that, there were those Little Britain sketches, and bit-parts in a number of UK comedy and drama series, including the likes of Spooks, Silent Witness, Monarch of the Glen, and My Family. Though Joss Whedon’s proposed ‘Ripper’ spin-off didn’t come to anything, Rupert Giles has been a more or less constant presence on our screens since the end of Buffy.
Head’s involvement in Doctor Who probably won’t have escaped you, from his role as a demon-y headmaster opposite the tenth doctor in School Reunion to web work, Big Finish audio plays, and becoming the voice of Doctor Who Confidential. He may not have got the part of the eighth doctor in the 1996 TV film, but that hasn’t stopped him from having fingers in a number of Doctor Who pies over the years.
In terms of film, we saw him pop up recently as a wimpy Geoffrey Howe in the largely celebratory Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady, and as Will’s dad in 2011’s The Inbetweeners Movie. Head is currently filming the Percy Jackson sequel, and has no plans as yet to release a follow-up to his 2002 album. Shame, that.
One word: Bones. Well, okay, two words: Bones, and Angel. That more or less sums up where David Boreanaz has been hanging out since he left Buffy at the end of series three. His Angel spin-off ran to five seasons, and took a couple of choice members of the Buffy cast with it (Cordy and Wesley, to be precise, though others popped up too in the various crossover episodes), before he bagged the role of FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth in Bones, and there he’s been ever since. In fact, Boreanaz is probably more recognisable to today’s TV viewing public for the crime drama, which has just been renewed for its eighth season, than he is as tortured soul/LA detective Angel.
There were forays into film, but most of them are best forgotten (his direct-to-DVD The Crow sequel with Tara Reid should be expressly avoided). There was a summer sex comedy, an action crime thriller, a girls’ basketball pic, and a horror-com, but none of them come highly recommended.
No, it’s TV-land where Boreanaz has made his name (even if no-one can pronounce it), and TV shows are evidently something the actor has no difficulty remaining faithful to, which is more than we can say about his… Let’s just stop there, shall we?
More than any of the others, James Marsters has remained a card-carrying member of the geek brigade, popping up in sci-fi and fantasy shows on both sides of the Atlantic. Marsters has had recurring roles in Smallville, Torchwood, and Caprica, as well as showing up briefly in Supernatural (alongside fellow Buffy alum Charisma Carpenter), and providing voices for characters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Superman: Doomsday.
He’s served the geek world proud. No FBI profilers or sitcom characters for him, when it comes to Marsters, it’s all alien super-villains and omnisexual time-travellers. Good old Spike. With that cache of TV work, it makes you grateful his film career never really got off the ground.
It’s part of Buffy lore that, like her on-screen squeeze Xander, Charisma Carpenter had a good ten years on her high school queen bee character Cordelia Chase when Buffy began. Another nugget fondly trotted out by fans is that the actress and Sarah Michelle Gellar originally auditioned for each other’s roles, something which worked out in the end when Cordy left Sunnydale to become a founding member of Angel investigations with her very own slayer-ish powers (well, migraines, but she got to slay some demons at least). A couple of good seasons went by before her Angel character underwent some seriously weird treatment and left under a cloud the show’s producers are still yet to fully explain.
No matter, because Carpenter kept busy after departing the Whedonverse, with a string of parts on the likes of Charmed, Veronica Mars and recently, teen soap drama, The Lying Game.
Film-wise, she had a recent small role in Sly Stallone’s The Expendables and is soon to be seen in The Expendables 2. Other bit-parts and TV movies were less successful, such as her 2004 sex comedy What Boys Like, which currently boasts the dubious honour of a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Dushku’s post-Buffy and Angel TV career has been dominated by two Fox series, both cancelled early on by the network after two seasons: Tru Calling (in which she co-starred with The Hangover actor Zach Galifianakis) and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. Dushku was joined by the man behind her Buffy character’s former watcher, Alexis Denisof in Dollhouse, a show populated by a number of Joss Whedon’s repeat collaborators.
The same roster of TV bit-parts and largely inconsequential movies came to Dushku post-Buffy (including a geek-tastic role in Torchwood spin-off Web of Lies), but none of her movie parts has yet come close to giving her the exposure of her TV roles. It says something that 2000’s cheerleading pic, Bring It On, is probably still Dushku’s best known film role.
Former Beverley Hills 90210 and General Hospital actress Emma Caulfield made such an impression as vengeance demon Anya in season three of Buffy, that much like the character of Spike, her small role was extended to make Anya a series regular. If the rumour mill is spitting out the good stuff, then Caulfield was apparently approached about the roles of No. 6 and Kara Thrace on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica when Buffy came to an end, but let both pass, instead doing a short stint on Seth Green’s Robot Chicken then three recurring roles in TV dramas Life Unexpected, Gigantic and self-created Bandwagon. She made an impression recently in fairy-tale series Once Upon a Time, as illustrated in her witch-y image above.
There have been movies too for Caulfield, though her big-screen debut, 2003’s Darkness Falls is probably still her best known work on the big-screen, and unfortunately not for any of the right reasons.
Not a regular Scooby member, nor even one of the white hats for season six, Danny Strong’s Jonathan was an intermittent but key part of Buffy. Since leaving Sunnydale, Strong has flitted from hit show to hit show, with recurring parts in Gilmore Girls and season four of Mad Men as well as a host of supporting movie roles.
Most interesting though is Strong’s recent move into film writing, which he’s making no small headway doing. Following a couple of shorts, Strong is part of the team writing Lee Daniels’ upcoming The Butler White House biopic, and of that working on forthcoming Dan Brown adaptation, The Lost Symbol. Not too shabby for young Jonathan there.