Angel’Angel’ Promises to ’Not Fade Away’
By Kate O’Hare
Saturday 15 May 2004, by Webmaster
Scrunched into a director’s chair on a soundstage at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Alexis Denisof of The WB’s "Angel" munches on fruit and ponders his future. It’s nearly his last scene on his last day of shooting, on the last episode of the supernatural drama’s last season, which ends with "Not Fade Away," airing Wednesday, May 19. "It’s been a roller coaster of emotions," Denisof says. "The WB did us a favor by telling us [we were canceled] early, as opposed to going into the hiatus and wondering if you’re coming back. In a way, it’s been a lot better. You know you’re ending it, so you take more time to appreciate the people and the world before you say goodbye to it."
Denisof began his stint as British Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Pryce on "Angel’s" predecessor, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," where he also met the woman who would become his wife, "Buffy" star Alyson Hannigan.
"That’s the best," he says, smiling. "I can’t think of anything better that I could have gotten out of this. I’m very lucky."
With two units working on two soundstages — which, says series regular J. August Richards, has interrupted an ongoing Scrabble game — the mood is brisk and busy.
"Not Fade Away" — directed by executive producer Jeff Bell from a script he wrote with series co-creator Joss Whedon — has all the action, operatic emotion, mass destruction and earth-shattering special effects fans have come to expect from the tale of a vampire with a soul (David Boreanaz) trying to redeem himself and fight evil in Los Angeles.
"Another finale, another apocalypse," quips James Marsters, whose character, the Britpunk vampire Spike, died in a blaze of glory in the "Buffy" finale, only to be resurrected last fall on "Angel."
This season, Angel and his crew went into the belly of the beast, taking over the L.A. branch of the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart. It’s been a year of soul-searching and sacrifice, and the intensity continues into the show’s final frame.
"Joss and the writers come up with great stories," Denisof says, "and for all the demons and special effects, it’s just stories about people, what human beings go through."
On Feb. 13, Whedon and WB executives told the cast and crew that there would be no season six, despite a general consensus that this has been the show’s strongest year creatively.
"It’s all monkey mojo," Bell says. "It’s just about money. We did everything they asked us to this year and more — and I think they would say the same. So it’s things I don’t understand."
Whatever the reasons for shutting "Angel" down, the passionate reaction of fans — who paid for ads, a billboard, a rally and more — may mean the network will actually make proposed "Angel" movies.
But first, they’ll have to convince Boreanaz. "It depends on who the players are," he says, "what’s going on with it. It would have to be the right thing. The bar would have to be much higher."
As he has been since his days as a guest-star in season one of "Buffy," Boreanaz is philosophical. "Like I said at the beginning of this run, you go season to season, show to show. The departure of this group - there’s not a lot of tears; there’s not a lot of remorse. Everybody’s very upbeat. Of course, we were upset that we didn’t get picked up. But for all of us, in the long run, we feel as though it’s another step in our lives.
"What they’ve created here is a unique show that will live on forever. Everybody should be proud of what they’ve accomplished."
As for what he’ll miss, Boreanaz says, "I’m going to miss being on a big studio lot like Paramount, coming to work every day, seeing all the heavy players, walking through the gates. I’ll miss the crew. I won’t miss the early mornings. I will not miss those late calls, those late scripts coming in, stressing over the lines.
"It takes a lot out of you, but it prepares you for what’s to come."
Marsters isn’t even to the point of discussing missing Spike, who began in season two of "Buffy." "I can’t talk about it. It’s feast and famine, and I have been feasting for six years, and I am so gorged. I don’t want to answer the question of whether or not I’m going to miss him. I’m sure I will. Right now, I’m really tired."
"But we’re cooking, and it’s a good way to go out."
Taking a break outside, Bell (who goes next year to ABC’s "Alias") echoes that sentiment. "Tired. I don’t have time to be sad right now. Today is Alexis’ last day, so we’ll feel that. Until then, just try to get through it. There’s so much work to do. It’s such a big episode. The fear emotion is overriding the sad emotion."
A few minutes later, Boreanaz and Marsters pop out of the adjoining stage after finishing a scene.
"There they go," Bell says, "our dynamic duo. James’ energy, and the way he and David have chemistry, has been great for the show."
While Bell struggles to wrestle the finale to the ground, Amy Acker is starting to feel the sadness. Her character, Fred, died in a deeply emotional episode (directed and written by Whedon) earlier this season, only to be transformed into a blue-haired demon called Illyria.
With a puffy jacket thrown over Illyria’s patchwork-leather jumpsuit, Acker says, "It feels very over now, all of a sudden. I’m so sad about it. I really think I’m going to miss it, and all the people. I keep being the only one who cries, then I make everyone else cry, and I feel bad."
A dedicated "Scrabbleista," Richards will miss the small things. "Those will be my fondest memories," he says, "just sitting back, kicking it, playing Scrabble."
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