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Marti, James and Nick - Scifi.com

By Patrick Lee

Monday 24 February 2003, by Webmaster

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the long-running fantasy series that redefined genre TV, is facing yet another apocalypse on the Hellmouth. But this time, it could mean the show’s end, not the world’s. As the series enters the home stretch of its seventh season, questions remain about the show’s future. Will star Sarah Michelle Gellar renew her contract once it expires at the end of this year? Will the show continue in some form or other should Gellar decide to leave or dramatically reduce her involvement? Will the current cast and producers return?

Some cast members, notably Emma Caulfield (Anya), have already said they won’t be back in Sunnydale should the show continue into an eighth year. Others, such as James Marsters (Spike) and Nicholas Brendon (Xander), are gung ho. Alyson Hannigan (Willow) is contractually bound to come back to Buffy, but not necessarily to a spinoff. Some, such as executive producer Marti Noxon, are ambivalent.

Noxon, Marsters and Brendon took a moment at the UPN winter press preview in January to speak with Science Fiction Weekly about the show’s prospects.

Marti Noxon, you were quoted as saying you didn’t want to come back for an eighth season of Buffy?

Noxon: I don’t think I said that exactly. I think I said I had really mixed feelings, and I think one of the reasons I wouldn’t want to come back would just be that I feel like we’re still doing a really, really good show, and if Sarah leaves and the show changes, it might be time to just say, "Look, we left while it was still fantastic."

And [series creator] Joss [Whedon] may or may not move on. But he’ll certainly reduce his participation. Maybe not. That’s actually probably not a fair thing [to say], because I don’t know if he’s really decided. But in any case, for me, it’s sort of like maybe. If the show is going to be remembered as Buffy, maybe it’s time to just call it a day.

On the other hand, Joss has never done anything that isn’t fantastic, so if he’s involved, and it’s going to be something that he cares about, then it could be amazing. So I really honestly don’t know.

Have any decisions been made by the network or by Sarah?

Noxon: No. I think the only thing that we have a sense of is that it most likely will continue in some form or another.

As a spinoff?

Noxon: There could be a spinoff. It still could be Buffy. We haven’t even gotten the final word on that, so it really is very much a big "We don’t know."

What are the different options for a spinoff? The show recently introduced a number of potential Slayers, including possibly Dawn [Michelle Trachtenberg].

Noxon: Honestly, there are many possibilities, and there’s no one that’s been decided on. But there is an exciting spinoff idea that Joss has that I think is really going to be exciting to people.

Can you tell me about it?

Noxon: No, I really cannot, sad to say.

When do you wrap the current season?

Noxon: April, actually.

What do you think it would take to bring Sarah back?

Noxon: Honestly, I really don’t know. That’s really a question that she would have to answer, because I feel like she really still has a lot of affection for the show, and she still really enjoys herself. But I also really understand that she wants to pursue other things creatively. So I don’t know.

I mean, I think as we get closer to contemplating the fact that it might actually really be the end, people are a little more reluctant to be cavalier about leaving, because we all know we have it really good. So just like the people on Friends keep saying, "Oh, I’m gone. I’m out of there. OK, maybe I’m not."

It’s not just about the money. It’s about knowing that they’ve got a great working situation. So I can’t speak for her. Maybe she’ll come to that same conclusion, but we’ll see.

You and Joss both recently had babies. Do you bring them to the set these days?

Noxon: Well, I do. And [Joss’ boy is] just brand new. He’s just a few weeks old. But I think that he will come to the office. So there’ll be little bouncing baby boys everywhere, which is pretty cool.

Are we going to see more baby stories on Buffy?

Noxon: Yeah, exactly [laughs]. The supervillain pees and cries a lot. We have to keep changing the supervillain’s noxious emissions.

James Marsters, are you contracted for season eight? Are you coming back?

Marsters: I’m interested in continuing with the show. Contractually, it depends on if it’s still Buffy or not whether I’m committed to it. That’s the legal sense. But artistically, I’m interested in continuing with the writers and producers.

Some cast members have said they’d come back; some are waffling. Do you have a sense it’s going to end?

Marsters: I think there’s a lot of variables. A lot of them are about money, and those are not in control of everybody. I think artistically, there is still a lot of good work we could do. I don’t think the show has run its course artistically. I think it’s poised to go other cool places. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be back. But commercially, there are [TV] commercials to be sold on a project like that, so there’s hope. Look, you can’t pay attention too much about what people are saying right now, because everyone’s holding out for money. So they’re not going to come out and say, "I will do it for free."

Is it about money for Sarah? What do you think would be a compelling reason for her to want to stay?

Marsters: Man, Sarah’s got a great movie career. She’s got a new husband [Freddie Prinze Jr.]. She’s a woman. She probably wants to be a mother. If I were her, and I asked myself what would make it worth it to continue on ... I probably wouldn’t want to come back. But if they throw an absolute mammoth ton of money, I guess I couldn’t turn it down. But I don’t think she’s really trying to get money or anything. I think she’s very honestly done seven years of a lead of an action show, and she’s a girl. Fighting in the dirt is not usually what girls want to do every single Friday night of their lives.

Do you have a sense of what a spinoff might be? Marti said that there was a very definite idea. Do you know what it is?

Marsters: Yeah.

Can you tell me?

Marsters: If Marti didn’t, I’m not going to touch it. Sorry.

Does it have to do with another Slayer? [Rumors include a spinoff featuring Faith, played by Eliza Dushku.]

Marsters: We would still have to slay vampires, so yeah. Another chosen one. I don’t know how that mythology is being worked out.

Would it be a Spike show?

Marsters: If they would like it, I’d love that. Hell, yeah. But at the same time, I don’t know. The demographics of the show are such that there’s a lot of young girls who watch the show, and the most respectable wisdom would say that you would need a young girl to lead in order to make the structure work and the fantasy work for the audience. So they would have to take a big risk by completely changing that and putting up some male character.

Are they talking about Dawn now?

Marsters: Everyone always talks about Dawn [laughs]. But you’re not going to get me, man.

You’ve been quoted as saying you’re getting tired of being hung up and tortured this season. Are you going to have other stuff to do?

Marsters: It’s weird. There’s a part of me that just loves it. It’s weird. They’re dumping me in this water that’s been on the stage forever. Yeah, and then part of me is just, "This is cool. It’s still just like playing GI Joe. This big scary demon that’s been in makeup for 12 hours ... is beating you up, and it’s like being a kid." But yeah, your body hurts afterwards. Oh my God.

Nicholas Brendon, are you signed for an eighth season of Buffy?

Brendon: Am I signed on? Yes, I’m contracted for it. But is it going to happen? I don’t know.

Some people have been saying it may be time to hang it up, that Buffy’s run its course.

Brendon: Hang it up? Yeah, I don’t know. Hey, listen, I’m having a great time. I haven’t heard that people think that this should be the last year of the show. We are [technically] on year six, because our first year was [as] a midseason replacement. So if people think we should hang it up, well, then, fine, that’s what they think. But I haven’t heard anyone think ... that we should hang it up. We’re having a great time, and it’s still a great show.

Are you willing to do another season?

Brendon: I would love to. I’m having a great time, you know? And since I feel that we’re on season six with a show that is as good as our show, and especially with what it’s done, six years of a successful show is kind of like ending it ... a tad prematurely. So I think we have some great stuff in it still, so whatever happens happens, I’m not really sure, but I’m having a blast.

What’s going to happen with Xander this season?

Brendon: He’s the guy that doesn’t have any powers. So he’s just living life, you know? And I think that’s kind of like ... the baseline of the show. Because everyone else has powers, and this is the guy who is like muddling through and figuring stuff out normally.