Homepage > Joss Whedon Cast > James Marsters > Interviews > James Marsters @ DragonCon Atlanta - Atnzone.com Interview
« Previous : Fox close Official Firefly Forum and Mutant Enemy fight to bring it back
     Next : Zoic Studios Garners Emmy for Visual Effects  »

From Atnzone.com

James Marsters

James Marsters @ DragonCon Atlanta - Atnzone.com Interview

By Henry Hanks

Tuesday 16 September 2003, by Webmaster

It was a wild weekend for Buffy/Angel fans of all ages at Dragon*Con Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, GA. The Buffy track was one of the most popular, thanks in large part to guest James Marsters, who regularly brought in incredibly long lines for his panels and autograph signings. Along with him were guests Andy Hallett, Danny Strong, Iyari Limon and James Leary. The Buffy track also included discussions on the previous seasons of both shows as well as games like "Weakest Slayer" and a viewing of Amber Benson’s film "Chance" (along with a special visit by her aunt and uncle to promote the film). Meanwhile, at the American TV track, it was standing room only at a discussion on Joss Whedon’s canceled Fox series "Firefly," (soon to be a major motion picture) which included yours truly. It all led up to the big Buffy/Angel extravaganza panel, which included all five "Jossverse" guests.

Prior to the questions, the panelists mentioned a zealous James Marsters fan flashing the audience at Marsters’ solo panel the day before and Danny Strong said he would like to give out his number: "818... 555... 5555," to huge laughter and applause. They also did Paul Lynde impressions and Iyari Limon commented on being between the sexy James Marsters and Danny Strong, while Danny joked how excited he was to be this close to James Marsters. Now, the transcript:

Q: You guys are all pretty lucky to work on a show where the writer is the producer and in charge and everything, and traditionally in Hollywood, I know that writers sort of get the shaft as far as respect is concerned. How does that affect you as an actor and are you spoiled for shows where the writing is so good and so respected?

James Marsters (JM): Yeah I think we’re totally spoiled. Um, basically if we stand on the tape and our hair’s okay, we get all the credit. (Laughter) And when the writing is as good as it is on Buffy and Angel, it’s a lot of credit. Yeah, but in television, writers get a little more power, because they often become executive producers, and they can do anything. And that’s more than anything why I love television, because the writers are in control, and not the actors. Love you guys, but, you know, you’re not writers.

Danny Strong (DS): We love you too, James. (Laughter)

JM: A little less now. (Laughter)

Q: First off, are y’all gonna be doing any more signings after this?

DS: I think an hour.

James Leary: An hour... (spills water)

DS:... At the most. (Laughter) He’s cute, but he’s awkward.

JL: We’re actors.

JM: Are you gonna pay us because we’ll be there.... You’ve got the microphone, put your lips up to it and abuse us.

Q: Each of y’all, what is the best city you’ve been to and why? I wanna hear stories.

DS: Good question.

JM: My experience in different cities kind of evolves around how good the room is...

JL: The hotels are usually great and the airport is awesome and that’s about all we usually get to see.

JM: I have a baby grand in my room. It’s bigger than my house. Like, I walk... (Power goes out) Now we have to prove we’re actors! (Applause) It’s always Leary’s fault.

Audience member: Leary rocks! (Applause)

DS: You know what makes me nervous is no one’s.... (Power on.)

JM: We have the ego back.

DS: Favorite city? Is it me or is it you? It’s you I think.

JL: James had the baby grand in his p... (Laughter) And, uh, I, uh...

JM: Honesty will screw you, every time.

JL: You people... get your minds out of the gutter.

JM: I’ve got an upright piano. (Laughter, applause)

JL: I got a whole orchestra, baby. (Applause)

DS: I got a kazoo. (Laughter, applause)

Iyari Limon: Not gonna tell you what I’m thinking...

JM: Don’t anybody feel sorry for James Leary, okay? When he was on the set, the girls were crowded around him... sorry for the woman that he married. Um, the ears man, the ears were a big draw. You got more action than I’ve ever seen in my life.

JL: The ears got some action. You know what? We should probably answer some questions.

DS: I love all cities, we love you all.

JL: Yes.

DS: Every city in the country. But I thought the convention in Basra and Baghdad was great. (Laughter) Go ahead.

Q: Hello. My question is to all of you. When Buffy originally started, did you expect it to be the success that it has become?

JM: No way.

Q: James, I still think you’re hot.

JM: Thank you, I’m gonna carry that all my life.

IL: James tried to warn me. Do you remember that?

JM: What?

IL: "What"... Look how sexy you are, "what." When we were getting makeup done and you were like "Oh baby, it ain’t gonna be the same" and I’m like "What are you talking about? I’ve only done a few episodes." "Mm-hmm." And it has never been the same. It’s been wonderful. You guys are awesome.

Q: The rest of you, did you think it was gonna be as big of a success as it was?

DS: I think everyone at this table, in Hollywood, and maybe the world thought it was gonna be a colossal failure. Hands down, it was a joke, the biggest joke in town. The pilot that we were auditioning for... I actually auditioned for the pilot and I read the script. And uh, I read the script and the script was really good, and I thought this has more potential than people were giving it because it was a joke, it was one of the biggest jokes of pilot season that year, because it was a failed film. They’re making a TV series of a failed movie?

JM: Several years later.

DS: Yeah, several years later.

JM: Guys, you know what Joss is working on now? Joss is doing a movie of "Firefly." To all the executives that screwed it up. (Makes rude gesture) (Applause) Now I’m gonna be unemployed for the next 30 years. In my experience, if something risks something, if something talks about something that’s real, it usually fails. People like to be touched where they’ve already been touched. (Applause)

JL: That’s what I try to tell my wife. (Laughter)

JM: God help me, James... I can’t be serious. But seriously, seriously, Buffy... you guys are all here because you’re brave and you don’t mind us coming into the living room and touching you somewhere you didn’t expect. (Applause) But usually that stuff does not go over well.

DS: Normally I have to pay $100 for that. (Laughter)

JM: Serving ’em up on a silver platter... (Laughter) By the way this is the nice guy contingent... These are the nicest people I’ve ever worked with right here... (Applause) Not that nice counts for anything in Hollywood.

DS: Go ahead honey.

Q: Hi there, um, I enjoy watching all of you guys, but this question is just for James Marsters.

JL: Imagine that! (Laughter)

Q: Uh, James, how did you feel about the guest role you did on "Millennium?"

JM: I was really honored because I noticed that the lead, Lance, I noticed him in Alien 2, you know... and he broke my heart... and in that movie, I mean, how can you break a guy’s heart in the middle of all that blood? You know, but, uh, he’s really one of the best actors we have, but, uh, yeah... (Applause) And I went on that and the whole crew, the show is a lot like Buffy, in that it strays toward cinema. It tries to be as good as a movie, and what that means is that everyone works really hard. This is the joke name of Buffy in Hollywood: Buffy the Weekend Slayer. Because we start at 4:00 in the morning on Monday and we leave the set about 6:00 in the morning on Saturday. Uh, and, uh, with "Millennium," it’s just that much. The joke about "Millennium" was that there’s two shots for every shot that they use. They shoot many more setups than they even cut to. And everyone was apologizing to me, "Sorry we’re not nicer, we’re just kinda stressed out right now." And, I don’t know, I’ve never seen people work harder and be nicer about it, and I was honored to be on the set frankly.

Q: Thanks. (Applause)

JM: Okay, enough serious bulls--- from the blond.

Q: I have another serious question. James, you were telling some of us at the last Con that something you always wanted to try was hang-gliding...

IL: I did that... Yes!

Q: ... because it’s something you’re scared of and you... I was gonna ask is there anything scary that you all have wanted to try?

DS: Uh, yeah.

JM: I feel like I’ve done so many things on Buffy. I’ve really let it all kinda hang out and I don’t need anymore terror. I’m kind of hiding now. Yeah. But you hang-glided?

IL: I hang-glided.

JM: That’s great!

IL: Well, okay, you wanted the truth and we’re being honest here so it was my birthday and one of my dreams is to fly like a bird and that was the closest you can get to flying like a bird and I threw up the whole time. (Laughter) Horrible, but you know I did it... I’ll do it again. Yeah but it’s cool to do it.

JM: I don’t have the balls.

IL: I beg to differ.

JM: I keep finding a new excuse.

DS: Um, you know, yes, I have always wanted to run a marathon. It’s been a lifelong goal of mine. And this leads to a segue. I am going to be running the New Orleans marathon February... (Applause) Thank you, and I’m going to be running for an AIDS marathon so I’m raising money for AIDS. (Applause) And you guys have so far this convention since I’ve had a little thing out to put dollar bills in, so far you guys have raised $500 for AIDS marathon. How awesome is that? And I’m actually gonna have my assistant Tammy, she’s holding up the bucket right now, she’s gonna be there at the end of the... So if you have any loose change or a buck or something when you’re leaving, throw it in the bucket. Because, uh...

Andy Hallett: If everyone here threw in a buck...

DS: That would be a tremendous amount of money, so if you’ve got a buck, you’ve got some change, whatever. Give it to Tammy.

JL: It all adds up.

DS: So that’s my scary thing and I’m going for it, so we’ll see if I make it. (Applause) Thank you. The last time I ran 26 miles, I had two cops behind me. (Laughter)

JL: He was on "Police Slowest Chases."

AH: I don’t do exercise. I hate exercise. I hate it, I hate it. And I was at the store buying sneakers the other day and this guy was like "Are you gonna be running in these?" and I was like "Only if I’m getting chased." (Laughter) The only way you’ll see me moving at top speed.

JL: I don’t like sharks. (Laughter) No, no, seriously, I could be in a pool and I’m afraid of sharks. (Laughter) If the bathtub has too much water in it, I’m afraid of sharks. If I’m in a lake, there could be some giant genetically-mutated crawdad... (Laughter) some 18 foot alligator going, I was water-skiing...

JM: James has fear of sex.

JL: No... what?

JM: Fear of deep water is fear of sex. (Laughter)

JL: No, it’s not fear of water, it’s fear of a shark thing in the water. So I...

JM: According to your wife, you have no fear of sharks. (Laughter) Okay, sorry, okay, sorry. Really sorry for that one. We say things at these things that we have to make up to each other the whole year. I’m never gonna... you’re gonna make jokes on that one... oh my God. Save us, hello.

JL: Yeah, please, more questions.

Q: Hi, thank you all for being here. I really enjoy you all, but I have to say green is good. (Applause)

DS: What?

Q: Green is good.

AH: I hate green! I hate green! I don’t have anything green anymore.

Q: Well, whatever color you are, that’s fine.

AH: My green truck is gone. I don’t do Christmas trees...

JL: Good, what were you doing with a green truck? (Laughter) What are you doing with a green truck? Green?

Q: This question is actually for Danny.

DS: Wow, when I first met James Marsters, I... (Laughter) I’m sorry, I apologize, go ahead. 555-55... (Laughter) I can’t believe I got another laugh on that.

JL: Just keep driving it into the ground.

Q: I understand that you’re gonna be working on an independent film called "Four Men Eating Out?" Could you tell me where that’s being filmed and when that’s gonna be released?

DS: It’s called "Four Guys Eating Out" actually. I’m not yet a man. (Laughter) And we are shooting in November and we’re shooting in Los Angeles. (Laughter) What’s going on? I’m missing something. Napkins. Ha! Crazy napkins! Crazy, funny napkins! As far as the release goes, I have no idea. It’s an independent film and most of the independent films I get a lead role in don’t get released. I don’t know if that’s a theme with films that star me. (Laughter) So it’s... who knows? We haven’t even shot it yet.

Q: So is it going straight to video then? (Laughter)

DS: It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gone straight to video, let me tell you, sweetheart. Hopefully not, it’s really funny. The script’s funny, we’ll see how the movie turns out.

JM: Shall I hit the trapdoor? (Laughter)

Q: This question is for James. Can you compare your experience working on Buffy to going to Angel where it’s mostly men actors?

JM: You can hit on the chicks. I had a good experience on Buffy. There are a lot of good people there. But I have to say, uh, David is really professional.

AH: What? (Laughter) Angel. Angel, not "Touched by an Angel." He’s talking about Della Reese.

JM: He’s like "He’s new." No, when I first met David, he was doing Buffy. (Applause) Wow, guys I can do double entendres, there’s no need to stretch. My first memory of him was when he was doing a gag with steel cables on his back and it ripped him through 2x4s and he broke 2x4s with his head, and everyone was like "Are you okay? Are you okay?" He’s like "Shut up, let’s just get the shot. Let’s just go." And two weeks ago, he came back from a weekend of football and blew his knee out, and he was doing crosses, 150 foot crosses because at Paramout we have all the room in the world. And he was not willing to talk about it, and I had to go to the director and said "David is really in pain, I think we’ll get the shot better if he’s taken over 5 feet," and uh, but he did not even mention it and I have a lot of respect for that. But I’m really comfortable where I am, I’m really happy to be there. And uh, I’m really glad for the cast members that have welcomed me. Because I’m kinda insecure and you can probably get away with all sorts of bulls---... Just kidding. F--- with me at your peril. (Applause)

Q: I have a comment for James and I have a question for Andy and James. My comment is James you’ve said many times, you’ve said that if a man is mean to the world, he’ll be mean to you.

JM: Yeah.

Q: Well, I want to clarify, because I think most of us like Spike because he enjoyed being mean to the world and he was willing to give it up for love. (Applause)

JM: But the truth is, in the world, that if a man is not healthy enough to interact with the world successfully, he will not be able to do that in his personal life either. And the thing that worried me about playing Spike was that it seemed that I was propagating a big lie. You know? And I’m happy about the way that it resolved over time, because it was all explained. And really the only way to get that big of a d---head in line is to give him a soul. Joss can do it with the stroke of a pen, unfortunately it’s a lot harder for women. You know? Uh... find a nice guy. Yeah. Nice guys rock.

Q: Obviously men and vampires...

JM: And we’re good at sex too, by the way. (Applause) Yeah, you know what I mean? Nice guy, right? Good at sex right? You go, yeah. (Applause)

JL: I can’t imagine why someone took their top off yesterday. (Laughter)

Q: My quick question, though, is for you and Andy about "Chance." How did you like your experience doing "Chance" because it was a great movie?

JM: Andy and I were fighting street noise. Remember that shoot? There was car noise the whole time. And planes. But the thing was we both knew our lines and we were what is called in Hollywood "actors" and it didn’t matter. We could take that thing 30 times and it was fresh. And I’m waiting for the same experience on Angel and I haven’t had it yet but I’m looking forward to it.

AH: Which experience?

JM: The whole wide range, baby.

Q: Hi, this question was originally for James but I’m gonna spread it to everybody.

DS: Thank you! Oh my God, how generous.

AH: Last time someone said that we were all getting shot. (Laughter)

Q: Specifically for James, at GenCon you mentioned that you did painting. And I was wondering if you were still doing that and who your favorite artist was... and for everyone else who their favorite artist is.

JM: My favorite artist is Monet. He painted the air, in between the subject and the object. And, uh, I think that that’s the most ingenious discovery in painting to paint the air. But to tell you the truth, I have not had time to pursue painting, I really wanna pursue music right now. Music is a...

AH: Want to? You are, and doing a wonderful job. (Applause)

JM: Music is a real taskmaster. You don’t... what I love about music is if you make one mistake, it’s right out there. And I have bandmates I can count on and they count on me, and there’s a (inaudible) that happens every time you do a live performance. I feel like I can count on these guys if that’s worth something.

Q: The rest of you...

JM: Enough sincerity.

DS: No, I was gonna be serious, I feel bad.

JM: Go, Iyari.

IL: I love Monet too, I do. I love surrealism, I don’t have a favorite, I just love it all. I find beauty in every, every artist has something different to offer, and I love it all. That was very easy, go Danny.

DS: Uh, Van Gogh. Or as Diane Keaton (inaudible) would say "Van Gah." I love Van Gogh, he uses form to convey meaning which to me is the highest form of any time of art, entertainment, literature. Unbelievable. And he’s very sick. So... (Laughter)

JL: I don’t know nothin’ about no fancy paintings. (Laughter) I like me some of them comic book artists. (Applause) I just, we were in France and I got to go to the Louvre and the paintings there were amazing. But I would say some of the best artists around today are working in the comic book medium. (Applause) I like reading the words on the pictures. Them stories is good.

AH: My fav... where did she go? My favorite artist is a gentleman who no longer is alive named Knute Kaleek. And I met Knute Kaleek... has anyone ever heard of him? What do you know about him? I’m so surprised, I’ve never actually met anybody that’s heard of him, quite a few people have. I had the pleasure of meeting him years ago, and he is blind and he has 13 kids but that’s another story. Rock and roll! Wanna see that one again? So art... yes.

JM: One word in front of the other.

AH: Is it true that they’re frisking all the passengers before they go? (As Paul Lynde) Sure, that’s the only reason I fly. (Laughter) Baby, grab that mike, we’re just gonna keep riffing.