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James Marsters reflects on 20 years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

No one can twirl an evil mustache quite like James Marsters, star of the upcoming Marvel television show Runaways.

“It’s a group of teenagers who find out that their parents are supervillians.

“I’m not playing a teenager,” jokes Marsters at his Calgary Expo Panel.

The art of embracing villainy is cathartic.

“It’s so much fun,” explains Marsters.

Ashley Sloan, long time Buffy fan, asks James Marsters what it was like to act on the television show at the Corral Centre in Calgary on  Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

Ashley Sloan, long time Buffy fan, asks James Marsters what it was like to act on the television show at the Corral Centre in Calgary on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

It lets one spew out all the evil thoughts and actions that one cannot typically embrace when they are trying to be “nice.”

That practice is what has made Marsters the go to anti-hero in a number of television shows including Supernatural, Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Torchwood.

“I’m the character that gives the lead character a headache,” said Marsters describing the roles he continually attacks on the small screen.

Marsters is familiar with playing the anti-hero. The actor starred as the vampire with an accidental soul, Spike, on the television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

“I think I’m at my best in life and on camera when I’m not comfortable, and it certainly was that way on Buffy,” said James Marsters.

2017 is a big year for Marsters as it is the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Buffy was the best because it was the scariest,” said Marsters.

Working with Joss Whedon forced James Marsters to commit to his best work. The level of production challenged the actor to rise to the occasion.

In a twist worthy of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, the character Spike was originally only intended for a five to ten episode arc.

Spike became a wild card. The level of charisma, confidence, and charm the actor brought to the role made the vampire stake proof.

He made a point of brining a vulnerability to the character, so he was not just your typical textbook villain.

Spike ended up playing a diverse role in the television series, allowing the character to reach the pantheon of geek pop-culture.

“I was a disposable villain, I was a wacky neighbour for while, I was the awful boyfriend for a while, I was a guinea pig hero for a while. Finally I was that friend who said he was going to visit for a week, but never leaves [on Angel],” laughs Marsters explaining the zigzagging story arc for Spike.

“It just made for a roller coaster kind of ride my character,” says Marsters.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer star has been acting since fourth grade and trained in stage acting at the Juilliard School in New York City N.Y.

The actor also moonlights as a musician with his band Ghost of the Robot.

James Marsters preforms at Cowboy's Casino in Calgary on  Friday, April 28, 2017. The Calgary Expo Official After Party featured an intimate performance by a solo Marsters crooning about loss and love. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

James Marsters preforms at Cowboy’s Casino in Calgary on Friday, April 28, 2017. The Calgary Expo Official After Party featured an intimate performance by a solo Marsters crooning about loss and love. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

“I was singing in bars when I was 13, only James Taylor songs. In high school I started a punk band. I was preforming in bars and clubs in Los Angeles.”

Yet, with all of his musical and acting experience, one of the most daunting challenges of Marsters career was the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“We really though that Joss [Whedon] was flushing the entire show down the toilet,” says Marsters expressing his initial trepidation to the musical episode. The entire Buffy cast was nervous for the television event.

“We thought this is a perfectly good show, why are you ruining it,” said Marsters reflecting on the build-up to the big event.

These fears motivated the Buffy the Vampire Slayer crew to elevate their acting and to train like they were preparing for the apocalypse.

“We decided that in the certain face of failure, we would go out swinging,” chuckles Marsters explaining how the cast threw themselves into their singing and dancing roles.

In the end though, the musical episode went down as an immortal part of television history, a benchmark for niche television.

To top off his show-stopping panel,Marsters crooned about love and loss at the Calgary Expo Official After Party in an intimate musical performance at Cowboys Casino next door to the Calgary Expo

Marsters can be seen next in the new Marvel television show Runaways premiering in 2018.

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