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From Angel Magazine #2
AngelAlexis Denisof - Angel Magazine #2 Interview
By Darryl Curtis
Monday 1 September 2003, by Webmaster
"Wyndam Of Change"
Following the conclusion of the fourth season, Angel Magazine caught up with actor Alexis Denisof for a chat about the latest developments in Angel, and to find out what he thinks the future holds for Mr. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.
He may have started out as a bumbling idiot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when he entered the fray as Buffy’s new Watcher in Season Three, but Wesley Wyndam-Pryce has since proved himself to be one of the most dangerous men in California. When he first arrived in Joss Whedon’s universe, the prissy Watcher barely knew how to hold a stake, let alone face up to a posse of blood-hungry vamps. But Wesley has since stood alongside the Angel Investigations team and faced an endless slew of demons and monsters, even leading his colleagues headfirst into danger while Angel was otherwise engaged in wreaking his revenge on Wolfram & Hart in the show’s second season.
Alexis Denisof is one of the first to admit that the character of Wesley has undergone some significant changes over the years, and reveals that in the early days, he was always trying to persuade Joss Whedon to make his character less of the uptight coward that we all knew him to be. "I always said to Joss that I wanted Wesley to be cool when he was on Buffy," he recalls.
"But I like the old Wesley and the new Wesley," Alexis admits, revealing that he has, ironically, particularly enjoyed revisiting the more nerdy aspects of the character in recent years. "I loved it when Wesley got to be a clown," he says, referring specifically to the Angel Season Four episode "Spin the Bottle", in which a spell caused the characters to revert to the personalities of their youth, allowing Alexis to get back into character as he was in Buffy.
Another Angel episode which allowed Alexis to act the buffoon was Season One’s "She", in which Cordelia celebrates moving into her new pad (with Dennis the ghost) by hosting a small soirée for her close friends. As Alexis explains, the script called for Wesley and Angel to dance very badly and fall into people. However, the extras in the episode hadn’t been told what was going to happen in the scene, and most of them didn’t know who Alexis Denisof was or what his character was like. "People were looking at me, like, ’Who the hell is this guy?!’" he recalls. "They didn’t know what was going on."
So what does Alexis put Wesley’s previously uptight behaviour down to? "He needed to get laid!" he laughs. Well, in recent years, Wesley’s certainly had his fair share of female attention. He dated Virginia in Angel’s second season, had a brief liaison with a ’bleached blonde’ in "Dear Boy", fell head over heels in love with Fred in the third season (although, sadly, as we all know, the feelings were not reciprocated), and had a steamy affair with Lilah in the fourth season.
"I’ve been very lucky with the leading ladies I’ve had picked for me," Alexis admits gallantly, adding that he didn’t expect to be paired with Wolfram & Hart’s sexy but dangerous executive following Wesley’s alienation from the gang at the end of Season Three. "I was surprised by Wesely and Lilah, but Stephanie’s a knockout, so I’m glad he got laid!"
Talking of knockouts, Alexis fondly recalls the climatic fight scene in the Buffy episode "Graduation Day", which saw the students taking up arms to join Buffy and the Scooby Gang and helping them bring down the Mayor. Joss Whedon gave Alexis the choice of getting to join in the fray and prove his mettle, or getting knocked out with just one punch. "I chose getting knowcked out in one punch for comedic value!" he says.
"Graduation Day" is just one of the episodes of Buffy and Angel which has seen Wesely take a pounding, and surely one of the character’s biggest claims to fame is his ability to have stayed alive against all odd. He’s been shot (in "The Thin Dead Line"), had his throat sliced open (in "Sleep Tight"), been almost suffocated by his former boss (in "Forgiving") and tortured nearly to the point of death by Faith (in "Five by Five"). But somehow he’s always managed to pull through.
"Joss loves people to suffer, and Wesley has suffered!" Alexis laughs. The actor admits he has always been a little concerned that Joss and the writers might suddenly decide to kill the character off at some point with no prior warning (and Joss made no secret about how much the writers love to tease the audience about killing Wesley at the recent Angel: "End of Days" convention - see the con report in Buffy Magazine 50), and has frequently approached Joss for assurance about his future in the show. "Joss told me the room was very divided," he confides, recalling one particular trip to Joss’ office to enquire about his future on Buffy and Angel. "He said, ’half the writers wanna kill you, and half the writers really want you to survive." Sound like Alexis didn’t exactly get the assurance he was after...
TV show writers and producers often create back stories for the main characters to help the writers and actors better understand and be able to write for and play the characters. These back stories may never be important to the storyline, but they provide essential colour, without which, the characters wouldn’t necessarily have the depth and dimension that we see on screen. As Wesley was not a main character but was introduced as a semi-regular halfway through Buffy’s third season, no back story existed for him. Therefore, Alexis decided to come up with a background story of his own for his own personal reference, which centred on Wesley’s relationship with his father. Not only did this history with Wyndam-Pryce Senior explain to Alexis why the character of Wesley was so repressed, but it also allowed the actor to look at how that relationship - and him facing that relationship - could inform the changes which Wesley has undergone during his time on Angel. "I decided what Wesley was internally confronting his father, and that released him a little bit and made him less repressed," he explains.
So would Alexis like to see the writers one day come up with a scene in which Wesley confronts his father, which could help us better understand the character? "I think it’s better for the father to be kept in the background and not become part of the story," he says.
One theme which has been an important part of the Angel story of late is the love triangle between Fred, Gunn and Wesley. The friction between Gunn and Wesley has caused some interesting dynamics between the characters, in particular following the events of "Supersymmetry", in which Gunn pushed Fred’s self-serving professor to his doom to save her the trouble. Since, the, Gunn and Fred’s relationship has reached its breaking point, and since Wesley kissed Fred in "Soulless", Gunn and Wesley have practically been at each other’s throats. So with Gunn and Fred’s relationship now seemingly over, and the obvious chemistry between Wesley and Fred, does Alexis think there’s a chance the former Watcher could finally get the girl in the next season of the show?
"I can’t say anything about whether Wes and Fred will get together," Alexis says evasively. "I know a few things have been discussed, but nothing is set." As the actor admits, however, Wesley is no longer the love-sick puppy he was back in Season Three, which could make a far more interesting dynamic for a relationship with Fred. "It would be interesting" he affirms. "I could see them together."
While we’ll have to wait for Season Five of Angel to see what kind of romantic liaisons await Wesley, in real life, Alexis Denisof’s romance with former Buffy co-star Alyson Hannigan has been hotting up. The couple recently got engaged, and Alexis delights in talking about the relationship, confessing that he is a big Willow fan. The couple, who were firm friends from day one, got together during a trip away with their co-stars. "We just couldn’t help ourselves anymore," he says happily, adding, "I’m grateful for my time on Buffy - I met the woman of my dreams there."
Alexis is also full of praise for his co-stars on Angel, in particular Andy Hallett, who he reveals is the most fun person to have around on the set. "It’s not so hard to make Andy laugh, which is one of the reasons I love him so much. Thank God they finally made him a regular."
Props master ’Sparky’ is also a favourite on the Angel set - partly because he’s very ticklish and the cast, especially David Boreanaz, can’t help but take advantage of this weakness. "Bless him - he can’t control himself when he’s tickled. It frightens me because I think he’s going to wet himself. But we all love Sparky!"
David Boreanaz may be the eponymous star of Angel, but given the events in Season Two, which saw Wesley take on the mantle of the leader of the Angel Investigations team, a role which he retained throughout most of the third season, it’s not surprising that Alexis Denisof has been asked more than once whether he thinks the show could ever have its name changed to ’Wesley’. So how would he really feel If he were given the chance to be the star of the show? "I’m not sure David would like that," he responds thoughtfully.
However, he quickly overcomes his concern for David’s feelings. "Who care what he thinks! I’ll call Joss!"
Alexis Denisof recently posed for the latest version of the Wesley action figure, which was due to be released from Moore Action Collectibles later this year. The actor reveals that posting for the doll was a very odd experience. "You have to go and be photographed by this 360-degree laser machine," he explains, doing an impression of how it felt by standing stock still with his arms stretched out by his sides. "It was cool though!" he adds.
It’s clear from his enthusiasm about the show and his fondness of his co-stars that Alexis has enjoyed his experiences on Buffy and Angel so far, and is looking forward to the next year of Angel. No one knows whether or not this will be the last year, and if the show were to go on beyond a fifth season, if Wesley would still be in it, but the actor admits that beyond his time with Angel Investigations, he does have one particular ambition which he’d like to realise. "Playing Bond would be kind of a dream come true," he says of the quintessential English hero.
"Give me two years..."
Thanks to Sean Harry of Starfury Conventions.