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  • True Brit, online article, January 9, 2001
  • Interview with a Vampire, December 1, 2000, by Mary Kaye Schilling.
  • part of an article about the Taster's Choice ads, late March 1997.

    True Brit, January 9, 2001 (online), by Liane Bonin.

    Anthony Head explains how Buffy will see the dark side. Buffy's watcher says the WB doesn't understand the show's fan base.

    Giles, the world's stuffiest librarian, in drag? Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Stewart Head surprised some fans late last year by donning Dr. Frank-N-Furter fishnets on the VH1 tribute Rocky Horror 25: The Anniversary Special. Despite that sartorial transgression, he's still EW's favorite snob: In naming Buffy one of the 10 best TV shows of the year, EW TV critic Ken Tucker raved that "the guy gets more laughs out of prissiness these days than Frasier and Niles combined."

    Off screen, Head, 46, is no fussy stick in the mud. To prove it, the former Taster's Choice pitchman talked to about Giles' love life, the new direction Buffy is taking, and how he mastered tromping around in stiletto heels.

    Hey, you don't sound like Giles! What happened to the posh accent?

    I'm kind of a long way from Giles in a lot of ways, which people realize when I walk in the door with my earring and my jeans and everything. But over the years, Giles has gotten a little closer to me, becoming a little hipper and a little funkier.

    So, fess up. When is Giles getting a new girlfriend? He hasn't exactly been lucky in love.

    I'm constantly getting asked about it, and I'm very flattered. But the problem they found with my last girlfriend Olivia (Phina Oruche) was that she was normal. What do you do with that? She couldn't join the gang, and to kill off another girlfriend (like the ill fated teacher Jenny Calendar, played by Robia LaMorte) would be too cruel to Giles. I think he'd end up in the loony bin. But I'm going to pass the suggestion on to Joss.

    In its fifth season, Buffy is up 12 percent among adults 18 to 34. Do many grownup Buffy junkies approach you?

    Yes, but they always say that they like the show in a slightly hesitant way, slightly embarrassed. "I know I'm not supposed to, but I watch Buffy. And it's like, it's all right, man! You're not alone!

    Is it frustrating when people refer to Buffy as a teen show?

    It's never been marketed as what it is, because it has a truly universal appeal. Though the teen thing has done very well for the WB, I think they have to widen their horizons. At a photo shoot once I asked an executive, "Are you looking to expand our audience?" And he looked at me pointedly and said, "Well, we're now looking at ways to attract more women in their 40s." And I just thought, I'm not saying a word. That's not about looking at the big picture. Look at what you have, not what you think you have.

    How have you been coping with the fan reaction to the show's newest cast member, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg)?

    People got so pissed about the sister, Dawn! And even my publicist was calling me saying, "What's going on? This is horrible!" And I told her, just wait, it's cool, something will happen. Because I didn't want to spoil it, since it's such a great concept.

    This season Buffy seems to be exploring her dark side and her connection to the first slayer. Will this change the tone of the show?

    Joss wanted this season to be about the id, about finding out what makes you tick. It's the next step after that "Yeah, alcohol!" part of growing up. And that's something that you go on learning. I'm still hanging in there.

    Last season, Giles serenaded us with a bluesy rendition of "Behind Blue Eyes." Is his musical side going to emerge further?

    That represented the climax of his midlife crisis, so it's kind of done its thing. Joss hasn't proclaimed either way on it. But I have been approached by a little independent record label that wants to put me and George Sarah, who's written a few songs for our show and Angel, together for an electronic music album. I've written a bit and we've compared notes and it looks great.

    Your family [girlfriend Sarah Fisher and his two young daughters] still lives in England. That's one hell of a commute.

    Yes, and I don't get back often enough. But the kids absolutely love the show. The times when we've talked about maybe me leaving they've said, "Oh my God, no, you can't, you can't!" It's very hard, because they're growing up and Sarah has raised them as a single mother for six, seven years now. At some point, I will have to go and spend some time in England. But we shall see.

    Isn't your brother Murray Head, the guy who sang 1984's "One Night In Bangkok?"

    Yes, he is. He's living in Paris now. I saw him a few months back, and I know he wrote and starred in a film in France. But to be honest I don't know what he's doing.

    For seven years you did those soap opera Taster's Choice commercials with Sarah Maughan. Do you even drink the stuff?

    No, I don't. But I still get recognized from the ads. It's always, "Do I know you?" Because I wasn't an actor in a show and you didn't see my name, I was just this person in people's living rooms.

    Having starred in the London stage production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1991, was it a thrill to get back into your Frank-N-Furter costume for VH1?

    I got an extremely warm reception, which surprised me because I wouldn't have thought that many people would know my work from eight, 10 years ago. In London, my Frank was much more demonic than any of the Franks that went before. I liked the challenge of finding something different in the character. Instead of wearing green scrubs, I came out in a 1950s high waisted nurse's gown with a pillbox hat. I just had fun with it.

    How hard was it getting around in those stiletto heels?

    I'd seen countless Franks in very clumsy, stacked heels and platforms, and I wanted to be very mobile, so I had these 3 1/2 inch pointy black patent leather ankle boots. Because they supported my ankle I could leap around like an idiot. And I did.

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    Interview with a Vampire, December 1, 2000, by Mary Kaye Schilling.

    ...and one feisty librarian. Buffy boys Spike and Giles stick their necks out for EW's Mary Kaye Schilling.

    Anthony Stewart Head and James Marsters are giggling like schoolboys on a sugar high. The two men, who make their living playing demon-watcher Giles and bloodsucker Spike on The WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, are recounting the previous night's revelry: "I was so stimulated," says Stewart Head. "It took me hours to fall asleep." Marsters chimes in: "It was lovely. There were fairy lights in the garden." What's this? Cryptic revelations of carefree debauchery? Not exactly. Turns out TV's bitter adversaries were united in a celebration of (hold on to your tights) Shakespeare. Buffy creator Joss Whedon hosts semi-regular readings of the Bard with various cast members and writers; last night they performed A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Head playing Oberon and Marsters as Demetrius. "Tony and James are true theater geeks," says Whedon. "And I use the word geek advisedly."

    Brace yourself for more shockers: Despite Spike's Johnny Rotten stylings, Marsters, 28, is not British, but a native Californian who, prior to Buffy, toured America's regional theaters. And although Head's accent is legit (London born and bred, his wife and two daughters continue to live there), unlike his tweedy, ascetic Giles, the 46-year-old actor honed his chops playing the stud next door on the English stage and, most famously, in Taster's Choice commercials. "They are both very immature and very unlike their characters" says Whedon fondly. "The whole point of casting Tony was to have someone who wasn't a stuffy grown-up. He brought the underbelly of Giles, the irreverent side. James just has that anarchic energy going on. He could have brought a dark, broody thing to playing a vampire, but he's so goofy.

    As fans can attest, nothing in the Buffy universe is ever exactly what it seems, which is why there's more than a little Spike in Giles, and vice versa (viewers recently learned that Spike's alias, William the Bloody, stems not from his body count but from his 19th-century incarnation's knack for bloody awful poetry). "Spike is what Giles used to be and Giles is what Spike refused to be," sums up Whedon.

    Seated at an outdoor cafe in sunny Santa Monica, the two multilayered gents in question serve us some devilish charm, explaining why their sinfully underused characters are actually Buffy's secret weapons.

    James Marsters: [Commenting on the state of the pizza he's ordered] I said light cheese. The bastards don't respect me. They don't know my power.

    Anthony Stewart Head: Perhaps if you were on the show more, you'd get less cheese.

    Entertainment Weekly: Aside from the recent sweep Spike-athon, what's the story with the extreme absence of both of you this season?

    JM: Speaking personally, they give me really cool s--- to do, and I don't have to work very hard. I come in, do an interesting scene in three hours, then it's back to the beach and the sunblock.

    ASH: I was wondering how you filled your copious amounts of spare time.

    JM: Sleeping, you pathetic workhorse. Counting sheep and canoodling with multiple beauties. [Laughter] Seriously, though, the problem is we need a two-hour show. There are so many people who are regulars. Look at the opening credits--what are there, 10 of us now?--and everybody wants more pages.

    EW: Who's the scariest cast member in real life?

    JM: Joss. You can't get anything over on him. If you want to improvise, he'll say, "Fine, we'll just keep the camera on the back of your head."

    ASH: We're very faithful to the scripts. I see a gag and I'll try and play it, and Joss says, "No, there's a time and a place for a gag and this is not it." We've had our run-ins, but invariable he's right.

    EW: Joss says he's all about giving viewers what they need rather than what they want. And this season has been full of twists some fans find unsettling, like Buffy's out of the blue sister Dawn, and Spike's emerging Buffy love. Everyone has theories as to the reasons behind these developments--can you offer any clues?

    JM: Whatever theories you may have, it will be a lot more interesting. Joss wants to stir you up. He wants viewers to go, "What the f--- is this?" Spike's feelings for Buffy, his going a little soft--I don't know if people are going to be able to accept it. A lot of people might not like my character anymore.

    ASH: Not true, absolutely not true. What James is worried about is that Spike isn't cool. But when I was reading the script [for "Fool for Love"], I was thinking, Ooh, James is not gonna be happy with this. And then as the episode progressed, Spike gets his cool [back].

    JM: There's a part of Joss that doesn't want to please everybody. I don't think he's comfortable unless someone is mildly offended. He wants characters to get under your skin. And the moment that they say they like a character because of one specific quality, he'll go the opposite way. Nothing ever stays the same season to season. Nothing.

    ASH: Do you ever worry that Spike is too comic to be truly scary? I'm thinking about the shorts and Hawaiian shirt...

    JM: I don't think dangerous is interesting to Joss, frankly. He can create a character that is that way, but it's usually a setup--he's exploring something much more human which has gotta be about fallibility and degradation, really. Spike was never meant to last. He was really just a boy-toy for [his vampire maker] Drusilla. But when Juliet Landau [Dru] couldn't come back in season 4, Joss said, "How about Spike without her? It made me pathetic and more human.

    ASH: Which became instantly attractive to Joss.

    JM: Exactly. Joss is Jacobian in that way. He sees that human being are lovable fools, that we all walk around with big hopes and stumble on banana peels all the time. And frankly, if Joss wants to make a scary guy again, it'll take him about 20 seconds to achieve it. Don't worry, guy, Spike's still Spike.

    ASH: One of the chief greatnesses of the show is that it can make you laugh--truly laugh with witty, sardonic humor--and in the next moment scare the living Jesus out of you.

    EW: What's the worst part of playing your characters?

    JM: Keeping my hair dyed.

    ASH: Sweet'n Low is the secret--give the readers a beauty tip, James.

    JM: Four to seven packs in the bleaching solution will save your butt. [It alleviates the burning.]

    ASH: Makes you think twice about what you're putting in your stomach. The worst part for me was disappointing America's librarians. I spent time in a school library as background for Giles, and the Librarian there said, "At last! A voice to represent us!" Little did she know--in fact, little did I know--I would blow up my library.

    EW: And the best part?

    ASH: My own action figure [available this Christmas]. I was sent the prototype and I have something like 12 points of articulation.

    JM: Sweet, man. You've got G.I. Joe manipulation?

    ASH: But there's two breaks in the thighs, which is bizarre.

    EW: I was going to ask Tony how it feels to be the only grown-up in the Scooby Gang, but clearly "grown-up" may be overstating things, so moving on: If either of you could change one thing about the show, what would it be?

    JM: More boy fun. I crossed over the Angel, and they get all the fun stuff. They get all the killing people--Angel gets to kill a lot of people. And I would like to see Giles commit murder--forced to totally compromise his integrity.

    ASH: I'd change how the show is marketed, make it truer to the conception. [The WB] believes it's a teen show, but it was never written that way. It's set in a teen environment because we can all identify with that, but it's as much an adult show. It airs at 11 at night in Britain and has a huge audience. It's the No. 1 show in Australia because they've targeted everyone. Marketing to such a small audience diminishes what Joss has achieved, frankly. He's taken the medium and screwed around with it in ways a West Wing never would.

    JM: When Joss was told to tone down the violence on the show last season because of Columbine, I wondered how he would take it. He ended up doing a semipornographic episode ["Where the Wild Things Are"] where Buffy and Riley basically had sex the whole time. Joss is a bit of a rebel. Like, everyone kept telling him his dialogue was the best anyone's heard. And so the man writes an episode with no dialogue [last season's Emmy-nominated "Hush"].

    EW: Any secrets you'd like to reveal?

    ASH: When Giles' sordid past came up and they needed a picture of him in a band, they stuck a photo of my 17-year-old head onto the body of Sid Vicious.

    JM: When I read for Spike, I also did it with a Southern accent, which would have been sexy but not as dangerous. I'd have been staked if they'd gone with Southern; I'd be dead by now.

    EW: Do either of you have a final fantasy?

    JM: Sunnydale gets sucked into hell.

    ASH: It's kinds been there.

    JM: Okay then, she loses. Buffy loses the good fight. [Pause] Just kidding.

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