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From Angel Magazine #3


Joss Whedon About Angel Season 5 - Angel Magazine #3 Interview

Tuesday 30 September 2003, by Webmaster

Would Buffy’s ending have been different if Angel did not continue ?

"Angel would have ended differently if I had known it was not going to be picked up, but Buffy was on its own course."

Will Angel Season 5 have more stand-alone episodes ?

"We started Angel saying, "We do stand-alones." And then we decided that wasn’t what we were really interested in. But now we have such a big cast that we can do stand-alone episodes, but still have character resonance in them.

Obviously, every episode’s supposed to matter on its own. On Buffy, up until the last season, we kept [making episodes as] a self-contained show with a bigger arc. On Angel, we didn’t do that, and so we’d have to figure out, okay, how do you make it matter every week ? It’s hard but I’m having fun. Every epidode, you have to get into other people’s lives. And the thing I’ve learned is, they have to affect your life as much as you affect theirs."

Will there be a season arc ?

"Oh, absolutely. There’s relationships, there’s the question of what the hell [Angel and friends] are doing at Wolfram & Hart and what W & H are doing to them. There’s going to be a seasonal arc the way there has always been. The difference is that every episode should be self-contained enough for anybody to walk in and watch who’s never seen it before. Last year, as much as I like to say it was, it wasn’t.

[Having them at Wolfram & Hart] makes our lives more interesting, because they’re in a place of constant conflict. It makes their lives more interesting for the same reason. It’s a double-edged sword. Now we can go anywhere, their cases come from anywhere, the stories don’t all have to be generated internally. At the same time, a lot of them will come out of W & H. While they’re busy trying to help the helpless, their client list are the people who are destroying them."

Will doing more stand-alone episodes lighten the tone this year ?

(Laughs) "I don’t think the tone could be any more darker than it was last year. There was a really, really long stretch they went through where it was pretty hardcore. I don’t think it was ever boring - I mean, other people may disagree, but at the same time, we want to get that sort of thing that we had in the early years of Buffy - incredible tragedy, incredible romance, incredible comedy. You want all three in every episode, but we’ll definitely concentrate on one or the other. It’s that ability to ping-pong back and forth. It won’t be the end ot the world every week. The theme is, how much good can we do, compromising with evil in the world ? Are we going to become corrupted ? We’re going mainstream, is basically what it’s about.

It won’t guide every episode, the way it guided last year. It’s just an overarching question in the back of our minds that will come up if we need it to."

What’s happening with Gunn after his visit to the White Room ? "He’s going to go through some interesting changes. And again, we’ll find out early on what it is, but not exactly what it means. But yeah, Gunn is somebody that we’ve felt is a little under-utilised. J [August Richards] is an amazing actor and we thought Wolfram & Hart would be the perfect venue to find a new side of him, so we’re shaking it up."

What prompted the decision to discontinue Cordelia as a regular character on Angel ?

"You know, it’s been a lot of years. Same thing, it’s like with Buffy, it had been seven years, it was just sort of time to move on. We wrapped up the character and it’s kind of a new paradigm and we just wanted to shake it up some. Actually [Cordelia] had basically been through what Buffy went through in the movie. That journey was over, at this point. It’s not over completely, obviously, because she’s in a coma, and we do want to have her back, but it felt like I was starting to have too many [regular characters] to service. (My note - interesting how earlier he was attributing being able to tell stand-alones because the cast was larger). I felt like her story had resonated and I really want to do more episodes with her. I know exactly what I want to do whenever she’s available, obviously that’s what we want, depending on [Charisma Carpenter’s schedule], but for 22 [episodes], it just didn’t feel right."

Will Lilah be back ? "Lilah is somebody that again, we may see, but that arc also we feel like we played out. There is a new person at W & H that they’re going to be dealing with [Eve], and she just might be a little bit sexy ! (laughs). I must admit, I had Morena Baccarin [from Firefly] in mind for a while, but because she’s doing [another] show, she can’t. She really is special.

Stephanie Romanov is on the list of people I love, but depending on schedules and storylines and whether we can afford her, we may see her. (My note - the budget cuts are seeming to play a huge part in the new season). I believe the character has kind of finished her arc. At the same time, we all love working with Stephanie, so if something came up, we’d jump."

Will the other characters remember Connor ? "Vincent [Kartheiser] is somebody else that we’d like to do some episodes with next year. We’re not going to deal with the idea of nobody remembering Connor a lot, because there’s already so much back-story. Believe me, I know, because I’m working on the first episode right now, and it’s like, ’So, here we are at W & H, the evil law firm that we, the good guys, have recently...’"

Does doing stand-alone episodes give you more freedom on when you write particular characters in ? "It does, actually. It really pumps things up, because then you know exactly what the episode’s about - that person ! When you’re writing it, you know exactly where you need to be. It’s like, gear it around them. For example, like the Cordelia thing, what I want to do just fits in really well in a few episodes. The perspective is stronger, it’s more potent, particularly since [Cordelia] doesn’t know what they’ve done."

Who from the Buffy writing staff is coming onto Angel ? "[David Fury and Drew Goddard] are the only ones, and I was lucky to be able to afford as many as I did. It was a real struggle to get my staff together. It’s a dream staff. (My note - the budget cut effect again !). I’ve got Ben Edlund from Firefly. I’ve got both of them from Buffy and Angel staff that was already in place, so it’s a powerhouse bunch of guys. Jeff Bell did a great job last year, so he is still the showrunner, day to day. And obviously, he’s got David Fury flanking him who’s also at about the same level, and then, every writer produces - they go on set, they watch their episode, they work with the directors."

Has life gotten any easier since you’re working on only one series ? (Talks about getting Firefly movie made) "Some of the pressure is off. I’m very anxious to make Angel everything it could be. I know we’re going to make our 100th episode, it really feels good, so in a way, that’s a kind of pressure that’s off, even though I want the show to go beyond Year Five, and I don’t have to make Buffy any more - that was really hard !"

How do you feel about the New Official Angel Magazine in addition to Buffy Magazine ? "Excellent. One more and I’ll have three !"

Amy Acker, who’s sitting nearby : What about a magazine called Joss ? "Joss : Just Joss !"