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’Angel’ Calls on Faith, Gets Willow

By Kate O’Hare

Monday 17 March 2003, by Webmaster

It’s a crowded day in the lobby of the hotel set that The WB Network’s Wednesday-night drama "Angel" calls home on the Paramount lot in Hollywood. Along with the regular cast members — all assembled, except for newly minted regular Andy Hallett — a couple of visitors from Sunnydale have stopped by to help the demon-fighting team at Angel Investigations save the world.

The episode being shot this day is called "Orpheus," and it ends the three-episode guest-star run of Eliza Dushku as two-fisted Slayer Faith, a character originally introduced on UPN’s "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel’s" predecessor and sister show. After this episode, which airs Wednesday, March 19, she heads up to the "Buffy" haunt of Sunnydale for a stint helping her fellow Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) save the world up there as well.

On hand to do a little badly needed magic — and take Faith back to the Hellmouth — is Alyson Hannigan, who plays witch Willow on "Buffy." With the soul of good-vampire Angel (David Boreanaz) still outside his body, team member Fred (Amy Acker) has called on Willow to work her mojo to restore it (for the second time, as "Buffy" fans may remember from that show’s second-season finale).

"This is our first time actually meeting each other," Acker says. "She’s pretty cool, so I’m hoping that Joss (series executive producer Joss Whedon) will maybe make me a witch or something, too."

Shortly before rehearsal begins for the latest scene, Hannigan can be seen off in a corner, holding hands and laughing with her fiance, Alexis Denisof, whom she met when his character, demon-fighter Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, originally was introduced on "Buffy" as Faith’s Watcher.

Talking later outdoors, Denisof says, "It’s a blast. I feel like it’s a play day. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m at work. My girl is here. We’re not getting to see much of each other. She has three jobs on her plate — she’s doing the next ’American Pie’ movie, she’s doing ’Buffy’ and today on ’Angel.’ She’s a busy woman, so it’s a double delight."

"I keep looking at her, and inside I keep giggling, and I keep thinking to myself, ’I have to remember I’m in a scene. I can’t just smile at my fiancee.’ But really all I want to do is run over and give her a hug."

"I finally get to spend a day with my honey," Hannigan says, "so that’s really nervous coming in. I had butterflies in my stomach. I don’t know why I was so nervous — maybe because I don’t know how to pronounce half the lines I have to say today. They’re in some made-up language."

Since "Buffy" left WB for UPN a couple of seasons ago, crossovers have been sparse, mostly relegated to phone calls and mentions of characters. "I did just come here and pout for a second when Buffy died," Hannigan recalls, "so that was the only other time. I always heard, ’Oh, no more crossovers. Oh, it’s not going to work anymore. Oh, there it is.’ I’m breaking it."

Faith, a regular commuter between the two shows, hasn’t been seen lately, since her character has spent two-plus years in prison for killing a human. "I could be in a coma," Dushku says, referring to a spell when she was out of commission on "Buffy," "[or] thrown in the klink. Whenever they don’t use me for a while, I go and hang out somewhere."

Asked how prison has changed the angry, aggressive Faith (who’s still getting into plenty of fights, if her bruise makeup is any indication), Dushku says, "How would prison change anyone? There was something about the fact that she’s a Slayer, so she wouldn’t really be there unless she wanted to be, because she’s got superhuman strength. She could have busted out of that joint if she really wanted to."

"But she and Angel developed this relationship. He was leading her down the road to redemption, kind of facing the things she’s done and recovering from that, and hopefully being a better her. She’s been in there, doing the time, thinking. She’s still a tough girl, but she really has to suppress her demons a little more."

"In these past few shows, that’s what we’re seeing — her teetering on the line between the old her and the new her."

"Buffy" star Sarah Michelle Gellar has announced she will not return next year (nor will the show, in its current incarnation), but no formal announcement of a spin-off has been made. "Angel" also waits on word whether it will return this fall.

To battle the rampaging Beast (Vladimir Kulich) in the second half of the season, Angel’s pals had to take his soul away, causing him to revert to his evil alter ego, Angelus. At the same time, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), apparently returned from a brief stay in a higher realm of existence, has been revealed to be evil herself — and pregnant (as is Carpenter) by Angel’s troubled teen son, Connor (Vincent Kartheiser).

"Kinda creepy, man," Boreanaz says of the Cordelia-Connor relationship. "There are a lot of things that are going to happen with Cordelia in the next episodes that are going to be really, really crazy. It’s going to heighten not only the pregnancy, but things that have been happening around and to Angelus, so to speak, and to Angel."

"Connor, for me, has always been on the outside. He’s been this kid who put me to the bottom of the ocean, denied my feelings. It’s like a normal father-son relationship, I guess." Boreanaz, the first-time father of a baby son, chuckles. "I don’t know, man. Oh, no."

"Our relationship has always been tempestuous, so I think it will continue to be that way, until he sees what happens."

The "Orpheus" episode of "Angel" airs Wednesday, March 19 at 9 p.m. ET on The WB.