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James Marsters on Life After Buffy

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   June 11, 2003 at 12:44 PM
CATSKILL, N.Y., June 11 (UPI) -- The final episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" left rabid fans debating several burning questions, among them: did Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) mean it when she told reformed vamp Spike (James Marsters) she loved him?

Talking to more than 800 spellbound fans at a Moonlight Rising "Buffy" convention over the weekend, Marsters offered his take on the series finale, stating unequivocally that Spike died knowing Buffy never loved him, but deeply appreciative of the fact she said she did.

"It's true," Marsters insisted. "It's the truth and he shows his manhood by saying so. Yeah. I thought that what the final episode did very well was admit that Buffy really is in love with Angel. That the sexual relationship she had with Spike was unhealthy. That it was unwise.

"It was fun to watch, but it wasn't good for Buffy and that Buffy was discovering a level of respect newly for Spike that she hadn't felt before and as a friend, she knew he loved her and she wanted to give him something because he's about to die and he shows the strength to say: 'Well, no. That's very kind of you to say, but that's not true' and I'm comfortable with that. I don't need to be Buffy's one. I think that would have been really strange. Thematically, it would have been really difficult. Spike was evil. They never really played Spike as the boyfriend you ever really want to have... The truth is, if a guy is a jerk to the rest of the world, he's going to be a jerk to his girl or his lady or his woman. Nice guys rule!"

The handsome 40-year-old California native also said he found it disturbing that although he kept trying to reveal Spike's evil side to the show's viewers, his all-too-forgiving fans stood by their vamp. Therefore, in order to turn people against Spike, he said, the show's writers added a shocking scene where he tries to rape Buffy at the end of the series' penultimate season.

"(Attacking) Buffy to prove my love? Hello!" he remarked, incredulous. "So, I started to get uncomfortable because people still wanted Buffy and Spike to be together, the same way I was uncomfortable with smoking too much because a lot of young kids watch and I didn't want to make that cool."

Asked what it was like to film that infamous scene, the nice-guy actor grimaced, "That was the hardest day of my life."

"I have turned roles down because they are rapists," he confessed. "It's something I don't even want to watch. If I even click on it on TV, I have to click it off or I'll put my foot through the screen... What you see on that screen is just my terror at having to do that scene. There's not really any acting going on and I haven't watched the scene. I've seen little clips. You know, 'previously on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."' They show it sometimes and I'm always like, 'Oh, God.' I hope that since Spike has a soul he's not capable anymore of doing anything like that. That's what I really hope. That they won't bring him back in that state of mind... The writers are fabulous, but when I showed up on set that day I told them: 'Sometimes you guys just don't know what you do. You just do not know what you're asking us...' I'm proud of it artistically, but as a human being I never, never, never want to do a scene like that again and I will always refuse because I know what it does to me."

Marsters is set to reprise the role of Spike next season on the WB's "Buffy" spin-off, "Angel," but the actor hinted that he and the show's namesake probably won't be battling evil saide-by-side.

"I really hope that Spike and Angel don't get along at all," he admitted, a touch of mischief in his voice.

Noting that series creator Joss Whedon skillfully pit the two rehabilitated vampires against each other in the last episode of "Buffy" a few weeks ago, the actor quipped: "I said, 'Angel wears lifts.' So, I don't think we're going to become allies. Hopefully, I don't know what it's going to be, but I want to make life as tough as possible for Angel and, of course, everyone knows Joss always listens to me."

Marsters also took the opportunity to dismiss rumors that Spike, the vampire with a soul, would return from the dead as a human.

"Spike become a human?" he mused in mock horror. "How boring is that? No, he's not going to do that. That's just misinformation. God help me."

Marsters is currently touring Europe with his rock band Ghost of the Robot and is expected to start filming "Italian Heat" with Derek Jacobi and Sean Bean in September.

"It's from a hit play on the West End of London called 'Italian Heat,'" he said, "and being that there's a lot of sex in it, I think that's the wrong title. It sounds like soft-core porn... It is about a gay man, who I play, who is in a marriage in fascist Italy and he's got a horrible marriage and two refugees come into the house that he lives in --- one's gay and one's not -- one takes to the wife, one takes to the guy."

Marsters revealed that he drew on the pain of one of his own failed relationships to prepare for the role.

"The thing is that in fascist Italy, people were being hung for being gay and the thing that I responded to in the script was --God, let's get personal --I was in a long-term relationship. In fact, I was married to a woman who didn't really love me... Anyway, God..." he candidly acknowledged, drawing a breath. "I know what it's like to live a lie without even knowing you're living a lie and in my experience there was a sexual component to it and so what I responded to in the script was that a scene could be about how important it is to be yourself no matter what that is and how high a price you have to pay or should be willing to pay to be yourself."

Marsters recalled how thrilled he was when he first heard about the project since two of his favorite actors were also starring in it.

"It was a big deal!" he exclaimed. "And I was all excited about it and I went to my manager and said, 'Do I have to kiss a guy?' And he's like, 'Oh, yeah.' And I was like, 'Argggh!' And then I read the script and there was so much more than kissing that I froze up for a while and I just put the script away and I started making my own personal connection to it and so I feel like I can play that role.

He added: "I know what it's like to have that bottled-up anger. You think you know what the problem is, but it's really not... So, I'm started to get excited about it and I'm less terrified than I was two months ago. Two months ago, I probably wouldn't have wanted to talk about it, but you don't refuse a film like that. It's a really great script and I'm looking forward to it."

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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