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From Hollywoodreporter.com

Joss Whedon - Hollywoodreporter.com

By Steve Hockensmith

Monday 19 May 2003, by Webmaster

Virtually no one thought that the show with the funny name on the then-fledgling WB Network would ultimately become a critical darling and cult favorite. Yet somehow, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did exactly that during its seven-season run. With the series signing off next week, creator Joss Whedon spoke with Steve Hockensmith for The Hollywood Reporter about the show’s legacy and what his future might hold.

The Hollywood Reporter: With "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" about to end its run, what kind of legacy do you hope the show will leave behind?

Joss Whedon: Honestly, I hope the legacy of the show would be that there’s a generation of girls who have the kind of hero a lot of them didn’t get to have in their mythos and a lot of guys who are a lot more comfortable with the idea of a girl who has that much power.

THR: How did you arrive at the decision that this would be the last season for "Buffy"?

Whedon: The decision came about largely because I was like, "I can’t do this anymore! I’m so sleepy!" (Sarah Michelle Gellar’s) contract was up, and I knew that she wanted to branch out. She always gave her best and was very professional, but at the same time, I knew that she was getting worn down by it, and so was I. Just physically, not mentally. I feel like the show could run forever in terms of the stories you could tell, but it’s just that eventually the process grinds you down; you’re going to start letting things slip. I didn’t want that to happen. So this whole year was designed to be the last year of the show.

THR: Would you say the series has had something of a bumpy ride?

Whedon: I would say probably less than most shows in the sense that wherever we were, we got to make the show we wanted to make. We were never really clamped down on. It’s very difficult to make this show. It took a lot out of us because in a show that does every genre — sometimes simultaneously — it’s very hard for a director to get it right. So you have to be ever vigilant if you want it to be what it can. But actually, the biggest problem a show can have ultimately comes from the network or the studio or from the stars. We didn’t have those problems. I would say it was actually a pretty smooth ride. So smooth, in fact, that "Firefly" (which Fox canceled during its first season on the air) was such a slap in the face to me because I just assumed this is how it worked.

THR: But the ratings did drop during "Buffy’s" run on UPN. Was that something that concerned you?

Whedon: I stopped (paying attention to) ratings at a certain point. I thought (that) if we’re not being canceled, then I have more important things to do. But the last year came in for a huge amount of criticism. People always (say), " ’Buffy’ is great except for Year 6." I believe that as time passes, people will look at Year 6 as part of the whole and realize how important it was. It was a pretty dark year, so I get why people didn’t respond to it.

THR: There’s been a great deal of talk about a spinoff series. Is that something you’re planning to do in the future?

Whedon: What happened was, I came up with a premise, and then Eliza Dushku (Faith) landed in our laps. We talked about the possibility of a spinoff, but that fell through. Although it was a good premise, it would’ve required a great deal of energy on the part of a lot of people, most of whom were like, "I feel the need to do something new." When it didn’t happen, we realized that we were clutching our stomachs with relief. Even those of us who might be involved in another spinoff — and I think there’s great potential in a lot of different directions for spinoffs — we need a breather.

THR: What happened to the plans for the animated series?

Whedon: We just couldn’t find a home for (it). We had a great animation director, great visuals, six or seven hilarious scripts from our own staff — and nobody wanted it. I was completely baffled. I felt like I was sitting there with bags of money and nobody would take them from me. It was a question of people either not wanting it or not being able to put up the money because it was not a cheap show. One thing I was very hard-line about was, I didn’t want people to see it if it looked like crap. I wanted it to be on a level with "Animaniacs" or "Batman: The Animated Series." And that’s a little pricier. But I just don’t think it’s worth doing unless it’s beautiful to look at as well as fun.

THR: Do you think you’ll take a year off and then jump back into the franchise?

Whedon: I don’t know. Everything is completely misty right now, which is very nice for me. I’ll obviously be working on "Angel," but I have such a good team there that it won’t rule my life the way "Buffy" has for seven years. Beyond that, there’s movie potential, there’s spinoff potential, there’s all sorts of potential.

THR: How does it feel to say goodbye to something in which you’ve invested so much of yourself?

Whedon: I had dinner with the writers the other night, and we listed the title of every single show, which was hard. Just the weight of the thing, the bulk of the thing — every single one of those episodes had a message and a meaning and a very specific purpose. It wasn’t always completely realized; it wasn’t always as tight as it could have been. But the fact that 144 times we sat down and broke our backs to make a story worth telling is something that makes me feel enormously proud.