James Marsters says Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans never should have wanted for Spike, his vampire character, to get together with the titular character, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.
“The original idea for Buffy was that that vampires were just metaphors for the challenges of high school, or the challenges of life,” the actor explains RadioTimes.com in a new interview. “They were designed to be overcome, they were designed to die. Buffy is not an Anne Rice kind of thing, where you’re supposed to feel for the vampires. It’s why we’re hideously ugly when we bite someone, they did not want that to be a sensual kind of thing. It was supposed to be horrific.”
Richard Cartwright/The WB
But the writers didn’t know exactly how to handle the character — especially because fans loved Spike, no matter how evil the writers made him. “[The writers] were always coming to me at the beginning of every season saying, ‘We don’t know what to do with you! We have a plan for the season, we have a plan for all the other characters, we have all the arcs of all the other characters, we just don’t know what to do with you again,’” Marsters recalls. “And because they were so creative, they were able to figure something out. But what it meant was I think that I was plugged into the other arcs. I was the villain, and then I was the wacky neighbor, and then I was the wrong boyfriend, and then I was the fallen man trying to redeem himself. And then ultimately a kind of guinea pig hero by the end.”
When Marsters became a series regular in Buffy’s fourth season, the writers decided to put a chip in Spike’s head to render him incapable of killing humans. But the actor would have preferred for Spike to fall in love with Buffy. “In that way, it would be more active for Spike in how he’s not going to try to kill her anymore, as opposed to just being prevented by a machine,” he says. “I mean, the whole thing is, how do we get this guy on without having him ruin the theme?”
And if he had his druthers, Spike’s time on Buffy would have been much shorter “If it had been me producing that show, I would have killed Spike off in a heartbeat,” he says. “As soon as the audience said, ‘Oh, we want him. Oh, have him with Buffy. Oh, we love that character.’ Like, uh-uh. He’s ruining the whole thing. I would have killed me off after probably three episodes. I’m kind of a bastard when I’m producing! I’m heartless! So I’m very lucky that they had more imagination and courage than I would have shown, frankly.”