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James Marsters explains why 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is this generation's 'Star Trek'

The actor talks 20 years of the hit series, his new Marvel show "Runaways" and more.
James Marsters
James Marsters dishes on 20 years of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Photo by Getty Images

Since 2017 marks two decades since the premiere of the legendary TV drama “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” we decided to head back to the world of Sunnydale, demons and a whole lot of ‘90s denim looks with actor James Marsters.

Known for playing Spike, the suave, platinum blonde vampire heartthrob, Marsters loves interacting with fans and frequents many conventions when he’s not filming or recording with his band “Ghost of the Robot.” Sadly, due to a scheduling conflict, Marsters will no longer be able to attend the upcoming Boston Comic Con. But don't fret, as we still got the dish on all things "Buffy," his music and joining Marvel’s “Runaways” series on Hulu.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Why do you think the Buffyverse has been able withstand the test of time and remain so iconic?

Whatever your job is, you hope to do something that matters and lasts. Being a “Star Trek” fan, I was on the set of “Buffy” telling the cast we could be the new “Star Trek." I was aware that in a science fiction or fantasy series, if you can create a world that is interesting to the audience, even after they’ve memorized the dialogue and they know how the plot plays out - if that’s still a world they want to come back to, they will keep coming back. As I was watching "Buffy," I noticed there’s this sparkle or interestingness. I used to say that if you can find some way to make something interesting, terrifying or funny to happen every 30 seconds, then you have a successful television series. If you can do it every 15 seconds you’ve got a hit, and if you can do it every four seconds you’ve really got something going on. And I was noticing that "Buffy" was doing it every four seconds, like clockwork. And if we become the new "Star Trek" then I claim Spock. Spock Spike, Spike Spock - either way.

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If you had to guess, what would your character Spike be up to these days?

I would hope after 20 years, he would have figured out what to do with his soul. I think he was on the slow road to redemption when we left off with "Buffy" on the show. He was certainly enjoying being a jerk to his old friend Angel, but hopefully he’s grown past his competition with him. And mostly, I wish he has become the kind of vampire that would deserve Buffy. I think the ultimate pairing on the show was Buffy and Spike, as it obviously cannot happen with Angel since he becomes soulless every time they couple. But I also don’t think he was ready for her yet, he had a lot of learning to do. I think getting the soul was just the first step to that. So yeah, after 20 years, he would totally deserve her.

We know you probably have to keep quiet, but can you tell us a little bit about your role as a criminal parent in the upcoming Marvel series “Runaways” on Hulu?

I am overjoyed to be working with Marvel. Everyone I’ve met is on the top of their game and couldn’t be friendlier. The comic book is a very interesting examination of teenagers waking up to find their parents are not perfect. In fact, in many ways they’re evil. Everyone has been there, and it’s made me look around my life and wonder in what ways am I evil. In what ways will my kids look at my behavior and come to the conclusion that I’m not very good. Depressingly, there are things that I come up with. I am a part of a generation that is leaving them with a troubled world. Sadly, I can’t say much more than that.

While you’re primarily known for your work on camera, you also play in the band “Ghost of the Robot.” Are there current projects you guys are working on?

The band just got together in southern California and had a party with fans so that we could share our latest album “Pair of Bulls." I am over the moon about the album, it is the best music we’ve done. It is clean and sparkling, and I think that is obvious that we are still learning as with every album we get better. We did a live concert before we released the album, put that on our Facebook and Instagram feeds and we reached about 170,000 people that night. The little concert didn’t suck, which is good.

Going back to that iconic musical episode of "Buffy," how would you feel about bringing that onto stage?

Oh god, that would be awesome! Firstly, because on stage, my face would be a pin size and you could almost believe that Spike was still young if I’m a football field away from you. I think the material would hold up, and I come from theater so the idea of doing something live would be fabulous. 

 
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