It's been 20 years since the finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired and James Marsters, who made his name as fan favourite Spike, still adores the show.


The iconic actor, who starred alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy), Alyson Hannigan (Willow), and Anthony Head (Giles) in the beloved fantasy series, exclusively spoke to to celebrate the milestone – and answer some burning fan questions.

Out of all the Buffy/Angel episodes you were in, do you have a favourite?

Submitted by Joel (@The_Talisman772)

Marsters: "The one from Buffy that's my favourite is not the one I was in. It's The Body. That proved that the show, dramatically speaking, was strong enough that you didn't need vampires, you didn't need special effects, you didn't need magic, you didn't need any of that. It didn't need a soundtrack, you could just watch a young woman lose her mom. I just thought that was brilliant.

"I loved Fool For Love. I got to do a lot of fights in that, I love doing stunts – I probably did too many of them because I have back problems now! But I got to fight Ming Qiu who played the Chinese Slayer in the Boxer Rebellion... she is probably the deadliest person I've ever met in my life. She is not a large person, she's very diminutive, but she is largely regarded in Hollywood as, 'Don't mess with that woman.' She's nice but she's like a superhuman, frankly, and I got to do stunts with her so that's something I'll take to my grave.

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James Marsters as Spike and Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Fool for Love
James Marsters as Spike and Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Fool for Love Disney+

"And then the musical, primarily because, as I said before, the theme of Buffy is 'Don't give up,' and the thing about the musical is we were all terrified. We were all sure the show was being flushed down the toilet, that we were jumping the shark, so to speak. No one was doing musicals at that time. Most of the cast had a really good point when they said they were hired to be a one-camera actor, a dramatic, comedic actor and did not get hired to do musical theatre. They're not singers, and now they're being asked to do something they're not good at in front of a wide audience. It's gonna ruin their career. That's a really good point actually! I think Sarah asked to juggle chainsaws rather than do the songs. She said, 'That would be safer for my career, to cut a hand off.' That's potentially true!

"Tony Head and I were comfortable singing. I was in a band and Tony was already doing his own albums, he'd done really, really successful musical theatre in England... I just didn't think the songs were any good! I thought the songs were cheesy. I was wrong but I can forgive myself because Joss [Whedon] gave us a cassette of him singing the songs and Joss is not a great singer. He's a great writer but he's not amazing at singing. He can play the piano but he's not amazing at that. It just sounded cheesy, just some dude plunking out chords on the piano, singing the songs. Like, what is this? But we were all wrong.

"The reason it's my favourite episode – whereas there were a couple of weeks leading up to filming where we were all bitching and complaining and trying to get out of it and and there's no hope and all is lost – there was a point at which everyone stopped fighting it and even though we were sure we were about to go down in flames, we decided to go down swinging and we decided to try our best anyway. I was so proud of us. And we got to work. So I think that for one episode, we spoiled Hollywood actors actually lived up to the theme of the show."

What did Buffy’s letter to Spike say in Touched? Was there anything written on that piece of paper?

Submitted by AJ (@ZZBoomslang)

Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters attend the Wolf Pack Premiere
Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters attend the Wolf Pack Premiere Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Paramount+

Marsters: "No! And so I don't know. Oh man. That's a very specific question – there's a thing that happens when you ask actors about specific things that they may not readily remember, we can often seem like we don't care because we don't remember these things. The truth is that, when you're working 12, 15, 20 hours a day and you're sleeping for four hours a day for nine months at a time, you get tired on a level that your short term memory evaporates.

"We went 20 hours quite often. Most shows just go 12. That's enough to burn you out but Buffy never went 12. 14 and 16 was the norm, 18 was quite often and 20 was not unheard of. We would play a game, we would be at lunch and we'd say, 'Quick, what did we film this morning?' And there would be nothing. 'I don't remember that at all, I'm just trying to get my lines down. Stop bothering me!' So there are some details that I don't recall." "I can imagine it was a bit hard at times doing those hours."

Marsters: "Yeah, like every good mountain climb, it's a steep climb. You're sweating. You've got to work at it. It's okay, it wasn't a bad thing, we weren't trying to get off the show! We were happy to be there. But it wasn't easy."

If you could write an episode of Buffy, what would you have the scooby gang do?

The cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Twentieth Century Fox

Submitted by Sarah (@spopcornchat)

Marsters: "That's just not where I live. I did write what was going to be a TV movie. But it wasn't about the scooby gang, it was about Spike. The scooby gang weren't in it, actually. My question was, 'How do you do a redemption arc for Spike without retreading Angel?' Because they already did it. I remember asking a producer, 'What about a Spike TV show?' and they said, 'Wow, a vampire spin-off of Buffy, what would we call that? How about Angel?'

"And so I thought if Angel is a mythic character, kind of like Superman, he's always in a mansion in front of a big roaring fire, sipping port wine, thinking about his soul. Well, what if Spike gets a soul? This will be just right after Buffy. And what if now, he can't kill people for lunch, he can't steal stuff to to get a new pair of shoes, maybe he's starving to death. And he's homeless because he can't figure out how to survive in the world with a conscience. And so I tried to just go opposite of Angel, and so I wrote a story where he tries to be a hero. There's a monster, it looks like an old woman but then when he attacks it unfurls into a 30 foot monster and just kicks his ass.

"He tries to be a lover, he falls in love. But he doesn't have the courage to tell her that he's a vampire. So when the fight happens with the monster, she's there, and he vamps out and she sees what he really is and just dumps him flat. But he does figure out a way, he figures out a way to get a new pair of shoes without hurting anybody, without stealing them. And that's one small step toward figuring out how to exist in the world with a conscience. And I thought that would be fun, and it turned into a comic book because it didn't get made into a TV show."

Did you ever imagine the character arc Spike would go through from your first episode on Buffy to your finale one?

James Marsters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
James Marsters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Disney+

Submitted by Holly (@HolzC).

Marsters: "Well, I was a little egotistical after season 2. It had really gone well and we didn't have as much interaction with fans, the internet was not as interactive and we weren't as plugged in with the fanbase, but we knew enough to know that Spike was very popular.

"After season 2, I kind of went, 'Try to do the show without me, baby.' And then I'm waiting for the phone and it doesn't ring all summer long – nothing, nothing, nothing. And I watched season 3 and I meet Faith (Eliza Dushku) and I'm like, 'Oh no! They don't need Spike at all! They can create interesting, complicated, darker characters spinning out their fingertips. They're just really good writers, they're never gonna call me.'

"And they didn't, and then they had me in one episode, kind of like, 'He was a popular character in the past so we'll give him one episode just to get the fans off our backs!' I had that one episode and then that was it, there were no more plans for the character but then Angel spun off into its own TV show and took with it Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) and Cordelia was the character in Buffy to say, 'Buffy you're stupid, we're all gonna die.' And they needed a character to do that and they thought maybe Spike would work.

"That is the reason I became a regular cast member. It wasn't wholly that the fans demanded it. Buffy, one of the reasons it's a good show, is it doesn't give the fans what they want, it gives the fans what the writers think they need, which sometimes is painful experiences. And I think that's why it's such a good rollercoaster ride."

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