Radio Times, TV and radio guide, UK.
My Kind of Day, 30 Septermber-6 October, 2000. Anthony Stewart Head talking to David Gillard.
For the past four years I've spent eight and a half months a year in California playing the English Librarian in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had plenty of theatre work in Britain but I was best known on TV for doing the Gold Blend ads with Sharon Maughan. The ads were a hit in America, too, but the Americans were prepared to see what else I could do. Buffy is huge out there--it's as much a cult adult show as a kids' show in the States--and it's worldwide now, number one in France and Australia. I get hundreds of letters every week and I was recently voted the second sexiest man in TV sci-fi! I do get recognised quite a lot in the streets of Los Angeles but, apart from the occasional shriek, the fans are very gentle with me.
Being away from my partner Sarah and our two daughters Emily, 11, and Daisy, 9, makes for a very lonely life. I miss them intensely and there are some days when it really hurts. If I have six days off filming then I'm on a plane back home. We do speak most days on the phone and they come and join me when they can--the girls went to school in Santa Monica for a couple of months and fitted in extremely well. But I'm very fortunate to have a family who not only tolerate my being away but encourage it. Sarah said: "If it's right for your career then you must do it and we'll think about what we'll do." And the girls think Buffy is cool and say, "You can't leave it!" But Sarah is a single for most of the year and I really don't know how she does it because she is also an animal therapy practitioner with her own business. She is an extraordinary woman.
When I'm in America I live in a rented flat in Santa Monica and the life I lead is not remotely glamorous. I choose to be as down to earth as I possibly can and Sarah would certainly not tolerate me being airy-fairy. I have a very strange enforced bachelor existence there--no glitzy Hollywood parties, though the Buffy publicist encourages me to attend a few film premieres. I try to occupy myself as much as I can, otherwise, I think I'm wasting my time out there when I should be with my family. So when I'm not in the Buffy studios (actually it's an old warehouse in Santa Monica) I'm at the flat working on screenplays--I've got three on the go. Every Saturday I go to acting class. I trained at drama school in England but now that I'm working in TV in America I think I should immerse myself in their style. It's all about adapting, changing and growing.
I have another three years to run in my Buffy contract and all I can say is I still enjoy reading the scripts and expanding my character. To get something that's booked for 22 episodes a season is fortunate enough but to be part of a mainstream success gives it a whole new twist.
In England, at our Regency house on a hill near Bath, I do my best to put something back into family life--I cook, take the girls to school and do the chores around the house. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen making things like lentil soup and corn stew and I really miss the Aga when I go back to LA. We've been in this house for seven years (a medium told us we would buy it and described it exactly) and we're trying gradually to get it back to its original state--we've taken up the Victorian floorboards to reveal the Georgian pennant slabs and replaced the fireplaces. We're currently looking for an authentic Regency front door. It's a daisy chain, but it's a labour of love.
We have ten acres of land and stables with ponies and horses. Sarah works closely with our vet and at the local dogs' home and treats animals through a series of exercises and pressure point touches that are designed to relieve pain and tension. I get involved by default, really, but I did once help to save a squirrel with pneumonia by massaging its ears! We also have a most wonderful dog and four cats for whom I'm currently building a cat house in the old washroom. Los Angeles seems a world away.
Anthony Head, 13-19 March 1999, by Frances Lass.
He was the rich, smooth star of those Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Depending on which generation you belong to, you will either recognise this man as Tony Head, the dashing smoothie from a successful series of eighties coffee ads. Or you will know him as 44-year-old Anthony Stewart Head, the Watcher, a very Hugh Grant-like Englishman, whose job it is to guide Buffy through her career as scourge of the undead.
It's a role that takes him to America for eight-and-a-half months of the year, leaving Sarah Fisher, his girlfriend of 16 years, and their two daughters (Emily, ten, and Daisy, eight) behind in Bath. "I am lucky to have a clever, gifted and loving partner, but I won't be doing American television forever. I don't want my children to end up at 16 saying, 'I never see my father.'"
Those coffee ads also ran in America under a different name (Taster's Choice). "The whole thing spanned about ten years. In England we pulled it as it began to follow its own tail, but in the States there was more room to evolve. We wanted to make it more family-oriented, so we brought in a son for Sharon Maughan's characters and an ex-husband, played by Trevor Eve [her real-life husband], which was just brilliant. There was so much chemistry between the three of us that we didn't really need to act-just let it play itself. But they pulled it when a new managing director [of the coffee company] came in and for some reason found it offensive. He felt that two people in mid-life should not be talking about sex and relationships outside wedlock. It stopped on a cliffhanger; I still get people coming up to find out what happened."
On the back of the commercials' success Head decided to seek his fortune in Hollywood. He did a series called VR5 (shown here on Sky 1 and BBC2) for 13 episodes, then landed the role of Giles.
"I read the script and laughed out loud, but at the same time I couldn't wait to turn the page to find out what happened. It's seriously funny, wry, sardonic humour, yet it's funky, cool, very hip and thrilling. Plus, it's not a cop show, not set in space and it's not in a hospital!"
He had a very clear idea of how he wanted Giles to be. "He had to very competent at his job but totally at sea with anything social. It's that sort of stumbling, stuttering Hugh Grant thing with a bit of Prince Charles thrown in. He is Buffy's foil--they are opposites of each other." But any accusation of stereotyping is quickly rebuffed. "Josh Whedon, who wrote Buffy, spent a few years here at public school and hated it. He based Giles on two of his teachers, so it's not some invention of an American TV executive."
With its ingenious mix of high-school angst, horror and humour, Buffy has made him a star in America. As the first series nears the end of its terrestrial TV debut in the UK, does he think it will take off in the same way here? "It is going to take a while before people get what it's about, but it will spread by word of mouth. It's a slow boiler."
Head plans to stick around for the near future. "If I chose to leave, I could, but I'm having too good a time right now."
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Page created May 1999; updated December 14, 2001. Original material © Betsy Vera (email@example.com). This website is for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by others.