Question & Answer
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I was just recently cast as Spike in a community theater production of Once More With Feeling in Arizona. I’ve been a big Buffy fan for years and what you’ve done for the character is beyond amazing. I wouldn’t want to let you down. If you could please give me a couple of tips about Spike or about acting in general then I would be forever in your debt.
Wow…the stage. I would say – don’t care. My breakthrough with Spike was when I was so tired and so offended by the process of television that I…there was one episode, I forget what it was, and I just didn’t care anymore. I just said the lines and went home. And I think that was my best performance to date. So I would say embrace apathy. I hate to say it like that but don’t try for the audience’s approval, don’t try for laughs, just kind of shrug and amble off stage. And basically, that’s Spike. A lot of directors would come to me and say, “hey, you gotta care about Xander! He’s bleeding over in the corner!” and I would shrug and say, “I don’t care about him. He could live or die. I just care about Buffy.”
Have you ever been to a psychic or a fortune teller?
No. I am embracing spirituality right now so, I can’t say that that stuff is not right – I would refer you to a one act play by David Mamet called The Red Coat. I think that we have to be careful of things that we want to be true and ignorance of the future is one of the three things that human beings really are not going to conquer. The other two being death and toil. And anyone that tells you they can get you beyond those three things is usually selling snake oil. I hate to sound cynical but that’s what I’ve noticed.
Have you ever done a role that required you to dance and would you?
Yeah…Spike. Uh, sure! In fact, I started in theater doing musicals. We did Bye Bye Birdie, we did Guys and Dolls – and I danced as well as I could which was horribly badly. And so, I went to drama and made my money there. I’m willing to dance for a nickel, but I don’t know if you’d pay a nickel to watch me.
Steve: So, if Dancing With the Stars called Steve, what should he say to them?
Uh, he should say that he’s busy right now I think.
As an actor, do you like or dislike seeing yourself onscreen and why?
Uh, I like it. I like watching myself on screen. I’m very aware there are lots of people behind the camera toiling to make the story fit. I got into acting for probably the same reasons that a con man gets into being a con man. I like to hoodwink the audience. I like the artifice. I enjoy being in on a plan and creating an illusion that the audience will buy. So, I’m always looking to see if the props hold up, see how the shot is cut together, kind of like how the whole machine is working and to see if…I’m always trying to slip in little things to sell the fact that we’re in the same day or if it’s cold, you know, I’m always looking to see that little extra shiver that I was trying to give make it look cold, when if fact we were hot – it just tickles me.
What would you say to someone who loves just as unrequited as Spike did?
Love yourself. Beyond the love of a parent, the only unconditional love that you’ll get in your life is from yourself. So, look in the mirror, look yourself in the eye, and tell yourself that you’re a good person and that you love you. And if you can’t do that, get a therapist.
Do you miss producing and directing plays?
Very, very much. I used to be good at it and I hope someday to get back to it. Yeah.
Best theatrical performance you’ve ever watched?
Killers, a John Olive play in Chicago, Illinois by the Steppenwolf Company. If anyone is within 500 miles of Chicago, I would suggest driving there, or crawling there and going immediately to Steppenwolf and seeing something. You will probably remember it all your life.
Best Spike scene to play, in your opinion?
They were all really fun. I remember enjoying the very first thing I shot when I was just looking at Sarah dancing in The Bronze club and being able to mix wanting to kill her and wanting to kiss her in the same shot. That was great. And then I remember doing the conversation with her in the shade in the daytime and I don’t even remember if I had any lines. We were sitting on crates, I remember, and just listening to her and thinking that I was trying to communicate a lot to her without talking. And then when they edited the scene, they ended up using a lot of what I was doing without talking, which was kind of cool.