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Hello!, magazine, U.K.

  • "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Star Anthony Head At Home In Somerset With His Partner and Two Children," July 10, 2001.
  • "Anthony Head: At Home With the Star of the Smoothest Romance on TV," June 1990.


    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Star Anthony Head At Home In Somerset With His Partner and Two Children," July 10, 2001, by Sean Vaardal.

    Somerset will be getting used to seeing a lot more of actor Anthony Head now he's hung up his tweed suit as Rupert Giles on the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Over the last seven years, work commitments in Los Angeles have meant the 47-year-old Tony has been a virtual stranger at the house he shares with his partner, animal trainer Sarah Fisher, and their daughters, Daisy and Emily.

    Tony, an established star in the theatre, with starring roles in Chess and The Rocky Horror Show, first broke onto our screens in the Eighties as the suave neighbor in the Nescafé Gold Blend ads. When the ads stopped, Tony gambled on a move to Hollywood. A decision made all the more difficult as it meant leaving a young family back in England. But the gamble paid off. For the past five years, Tony has been bookish Rupert on the cult Buffy, a role which has taken his career to a new level.

    Now back home hopefully for a while, Tony invited "Hello!" to his beautiful house just outside Bath to talk about Buffy, being a long-distance father, instant coffee--and wearing high-heels.

    Why have you decided to step down your commitment to Buffy?

    "I missed my kids and Sarah and I wanted to be with them. All you can do in life is go on your gut feeling and just as it felt right to start Buffy it also felt right to finish."

    Was it hard being away from your two daughters for so long?

    "Over the last year all four of us were like, 'it's time.' For nearly seven years Sarah has been practically a single mum raising two girls on her own. About halfway through season two I told Emily and Daisy if they wanted me to come home I would. But both girls were unanimous, saying 'no, no, the show's really cool, we'd like you in it, please.' Fair dos to them both."

    Why did you first decide to leave England?

    "Sarah and I talked about our options. I was still being offered theatre, but in terms of films and TV, the Gold Blend ad had limited my profile here. But the Americans have a slightly different attitude."

    What attracted you to the part of Rupert Giles?

    "The initial premise was the 'fish out of water.' He's a character steeped in tradition in a place where his idea of tradition doesn't really fit. I first saw him as somewhere being Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham, with a bit of Prince Charles thrown in for good measure."

    Quite a contrast with your role in The Rocky Horror Show! How did you get into character for that?

    "When I played Frank N Furter there was the make-up and the scanty clothes ritual but when I put the shoes on, everything changed. You can't help it when you're standing in three-inch spiked heels!"

    Did you ever go home in the gear?

    "There was a moment during the rehearsals period when I was hoovering at home and Sarah came in and said I looked extremely furtive. So I stepped out from behind the bed in the heels they'd given me to practice in."

    How did you two meet?

    Tony: "We met backstage at the National Theatre 18 years ago. I was doing a play called Danton's Death and for the last entrance I had to come on as a soldier taking traitors to the guillotine. I'd wait in a corridor at the back with my musket and one day this beautiful lady walked past carrying a pint of beer for some guy front of house. I got there earlier and earlier in the hope I'd see her again. Eventually, we'd sit and chat before I'd have to go on for a beheading."

    Sarah: "When the production ended I thought that was it. But a while after I thought, 'I'm going to phone him and see what he's doing'--it wasn't until he'd left that I realised I missed him. So I called and they said he'd moved, but they'd pass my number on. Two weeks later the phone rang--it was him. That night, we got together and we've been together ever since."

    Sarah, was it difficult coping while Tony was away making Buffy?

    "Many people have partners who work abroad--you've just got to trust it's going to work out. It was difficult for Tony, too, especially if he phoned when friends were around. He'd be happy that I was happy, but hearing everyone in the background made him homesick. We now laugh about the fact that, although we've been together 18 years, it's probably only about four when you work it out."

    Tony, how was your time divided between LA and London?

    "Usually eight-and-a-half months of the year I'd be working. In that time if I got six days off it was just enough time to come back to England."

    Have you and Sarah ever thought about marrying?

    "For us marriage never really came into it. Why introduce something into our relationship that might impose a strain? We have children together and that's the way it is."

    Do people still mention the Gold Blend ads to you?

    "People do still know it. It's not all-consuming like it was, more a generational thing."

    Any regrets about stepping down from Buffy?

    "I know some people will think I'm mad and say, 'how can you turn down 22 episodes a year on an American salary?' But for me that's the way it's got to be, it wasn't about the money. I'm looking forward to spending more time in England and having a more settled family life, but ultimately I'll take whatever life throws at me."

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    Anthony Head: At Home With the Star of the Smoothest Romance on TV, June 1990, by Ian Woodward.

    The next few weeks are going to be rather tricky for Anthony Head. Just starting on TV is the latest episode in the series of Gold Blend coffee ads in which Tony plays the supercilious smoothie who comes to the aid of Sharon Maughan's cool sophisticate from the flat upstairs.

    And already letters by the sackful are pouring through his letterbox from women won over by his fine line in seductive banter.

    To compound matters, our dashing hero is to star as Phileas Fogg in the new £1 million musical Around the World in 80 Days, opening at the Opera House, Buxton, on June 20 before its West End premiere next month. Once again his romantic charm will be on the fore: the musical journey becomes simply a backdrop to the more important story of a man who learns that he is capable of love.

    "I'm already bracing myself for clandestine exits from the theatre to avoid some of the rather more obsessive female fans," he chuckles philosophically.

    The reason why Anthony has no time for his fans is the love of the two females he goes home to each evening--Sarah Fisher, the former drama student and theatre usherette with whom he has shared his life for seven years, and their delightful 18-month-old daughter, Emily Rose. He's besotted with both of them.

    "One way or another, love, women and song have figured fairly prominently in my life during the past few years," reflects the actor-singer who starred in the West End productions of the musicals Chess and Godspell, and who invited "Hello!" to meet "the family" at his sprawling garden flat in a grand Victorian building in South London.

    It is, he says, the home that the Gold Blend ads helped to buy. They moved there two years ago when Sarah was pregnant with Emily Rose. It was at a time when he was winning a huge female fan following, thanks to the coffee commercials which have since become television's most surprising soap opera romance.

    "One of Sarah's many talents is interior design," he says proudly. "She's marbled the hall and I'm building a bed and various other things. It's a very distinctive flat, with a very interesting feel to it."

    The man who comes across in the coffee commercials as perfection itself then confesses: "The only thing that bugs me is that although I'm great at starting things, I'm hopeless at finishing them off. The bed's not quite finished, and the things I've built in the living room aren't quite finished..."

    Anthony, aged 36, the younger brother of Sunday Bloody Sunday star Murray Head, is a man of diverse talents, a singing, songwriting actor, equally at home playing the classics at the National Theatre as playing villains in TV series like Howard's Way, Boon and Pulaski.

    But nothing he has done in his acting career has quite captured the public's imagination as much as the series of 40-second TV coffee ads. The principal characters are both nameless and, despite conversation crackling with sexual tension, the couple never actually kiss--yet the commercials have millions of British women hooked.

    Moreover, consumption of Gold Blend has increased by 15 per cent since the new series of ads started in 1987 (we now drink 10 million cups of the stuff every day and spend £60 million a year on it), and Anthony's "desirability" ratio with women has soared sky-high.

    The joke is that Anthony, the smoothie personified in the coffee ads, is in real life a shy, awkward, accident-prone person who totally lacks the polished self-assurance of his TV persona.

    "I'm always telling Sarah: 'If only they could see me now.' Come to think of it she's always saying: 'If only they could see you now'!" he chuckles. "I'm just a very messy, dreadfully unpunctual, awkward clot most of the time."

    What does Sarah think of all those women who lust after him? "She thinks it's rather sweet."

    Does she ever get remotely jealous? "Oh, good grief, no! It's quite flattering that some women should think her man is desirable in some way. Also, she knows me, so she thinks it's very funny that a complete clot could be desirable."

    Sarah, an accomplished horsewoman, is 10 years younger than Tony. It's obvious by their body language and eye contact that they're very much in love.

    "She's got unbelievable eyes, beautiful, stunning eyes," Anthony enthuses unashamedly. "They were the first things I noticed about her."

    Sarah was working as an usherette at the National Theatre when Anthony was starring there in Danton's Death. Even now, he can still recall the precise moment when he fell under her spell.

    They've been together seven years now. Anthony calls her "my back-up team." During rehearsals for Around the World in 80 Days, as always when he's rehearsing, she becomes his first audience---"the most critically perceptive eyes and ears in the whole world."

    "I convinced myself at drama school that when learning a role, research wasn't important," he reflects. "I felt that a part should be instinctive.

    "Sarah then pointed out that my portrayals were beginning to get very flimsy, because I was only using myself and not any exterior layering, which research would have given me. Now I research roles like mad. Being so close to someone like Sarah has really been invaluable to me."

    However, that closeness has not remotely inspired the idea of wedding bells for either partner. He says firmly, "We don't want to get married because we have a very good relationship which is going to go on for ever."

    He glances at Emily Rose, playing on the floor with Sarah. "Just look at that sweet little girl. She's got Sarah's 'front,' all her confidence. Sarah loves people and will chat to anyone, whereas I'm quite shy. She's got Sarah's positive attitude to life and my frown."

    Would they like to have more children? "Very definitely. I don't want Emily Rose to be an only child. I don't think it's fair, because she must learn to share. Sarah's talking about three kids--but I'd find of like two."

    Unlike the smoothie in the coffee ads, whose main function in life seems to be charming the birds out of the trees, Anthony's principal passions are rather more down-to-earth: like smoked salmon, cucumber sandwiches, and writing rock music.

    "I reckon I'll stay at our flat for about another year and then start looking for a house in the country," he says. "Sarah knows a lot about horses and she'd like to run her own livery stables at some point."

    Anthony, meantime, has the adventurous Phileas Fogg and the Gold Blend smoothie to keep him more than occupied. "My bank manager isn't complaining, and neither am I," he grins.

    Photo captions:

  • Photo 1: Anthony is very much a family man, devoted to Sarah and 18-month-old Emily Rose.
  • Photo 2: (no caption).
  • Photo 3: It was love at first sight for Anthony and Sarah (above) when they met backstage at the National Theatre seven years ago. And fans might be disappointed to learn that neither Tony nor his screen partner Sharon Maughan (below) are remotely like the smooth sophisticates they portray.
  • Photo4: (see photo 3).
  • Photo 5: Anthony and Sarah have no plans to marry, although they'd like to have a brother or sister for Emily Rose. Meanwhile the biggest event in Anthony's life right now is his role as Phileas Fogg (below) in the £1 million musical Around the World in 80 Days which opens in Buxton this month.
  • Photo 6: (see photo 5).
  • Photo 7: Despite his hectic schedule, Anthony still finds time to share precious moments with his family. Feeding the ducks with Emily Rose (above). She's got all Sarah's 'front,' all her confidence," he says about his daugther proudly.
  • Photo 8: (see photo 7).
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    Page created March 19, 2001; last updated December 16, 2001. Original material Betsy Vera (bentley@umich.edu). This website is for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by others.

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    June 1990:

    Tony, Sarah, Emily Rose
    Tony
    Tony and Sarah
    Sharon Maughan
    Tony, Sarah, and Emily Rose in the park
    Tony: Around the World publicity picture
    Tony and Emily Rose feeding the ducks
    Tony, Sarah, Emily Rose