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James' most noteable role was as the villain "Spike" on the action drama "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." former stage actor James Marsters got his start in the spotlight by performing in such Shakespeare classics as The Tempest before donning fangs to portray the conflicted bloodsucker who eventually falls for the one girl sworn to do battle with the undead. Marsters was born in the Northern California logging town of Greenville, later moving with his family and spending much of his childhood in nearby Modesto. From his grade-school stage debut as Eeyore in a production of Winnie the Pooh, the aspiring thespian knew that he had the talent and drive to become an actor. After studying his craft at New York's renowned Juilliard School of the Arts, he set his sites on Chicago, making a name for himself with impressive performances at the Goodman Theater before heading west to Los Angeles. The talented stage actor made a transition to the small screen when he made an appearance on the popular series Northern Exposure in 1992, with a few other minor television roles preceding his rise to fame on the wildly popular Buffy. Though his character, Spike, was originally supposed to be killed off during his first season on the show, he proved so popular that he was kept on and eventually made a regular. In addition to his appearances on Buffy and Angel, Marsters also found time to act in a pair of independent films entitled Winding Roads and Chance. While fans of his character on Buffy may have been saddened when that series wound to a close, they could take some solace in the fact that he would return as the mischievous Spike in the 2003-2004 season of successful spin-off Angel. Marsters' other small-screen roles included appearances in Strange Frequency and Andromeda, as well as voice work on the animated television series Spider-Man in 2003. In addition to his theater roles, Marsters maintained an entirely different stage persona as a member of the rock band Ghost of the Robot.
James Marsters: One on One
James Marsters plays the ever-popular Spike on Buffy.
What would you want to be if you weren't an actor?
A director, or a producer, of music or theatre. Some kind of storytelling or performance art. It would have to be connected with performance art somehow, either in the front of the house or the back. I was myopic about this from fourth grade on.
As a fan, what anime would you most recommend watching?
Akira, by far. It's just the absolute bomb. Ghost in the Shell was really good, it's a little bit more recent.
Speed Racer is good to cut your teeth on, but if anyone has not seen Akira, go get it.
What are your and Spike's philosophies about life?
My personal philosophy would be don't whine, don't let opportunities pass you by, be willing to work hard, and remember that you don't know as much as you think you do, ever.
Spike's was a very simple philosophy when we met him. I think that now he is forming one, and I think that the best thing that he has come up with so far is that a lot of being human is about degradation and pain and humiliation. I think he's starting to understand that for the first time.
I think he got away from that by becoming a vampire and that's why he was so keen to stop being human, but he's getting back to being human now.
Can you tell us anything about the rumoured Faith spin-off?
Yes, we were looking for a Faith spin-off, but then Faith backed down. Eliza got a really wonderful offer over on Fox in a show, and, for reasons I didn't talk to her about, she decided to go there, and everyone respects that.
So, I'm going to go over on Angel. Joss is just going to find a way to keep me bleaching my hair, which is fine.
How far was the pitch for the series worked out?
Structurally it was intact. Details in the mcguffins had to be worked out, but it was there. It was a good idea. I'm not going to tell you, because I didn't think of it.
What's your favourite genre of music?
I like all music. Well, I don't like music that was created to make money. I don't really like bands that don't write their own music.
Beyond that, if a group is expressing themselves and writing their own stuff, I love. It's all magic to me. Country to punk rock, all of it. Chopin to Kurt Cobain. But it always all comes back to punk for me, because that was the last time, punk rock or grunge rock, was the last time that passion ruled the airwaves.
The songs that became famous were the ones that held the most raw passion. And we've gone, again, really far away from that. I feel like every once in a while, the bands take rock and roll back from the hands of the corporate people, and I feel like the corporate guys pretty much have the market right now. So, for me it goes back to grunge and then very clearly punk, which for me, was the last previous time that raw passion was the most important thing.
So, musical influences, obviously Nirvana and still Foo Fighters, I always say Bob Dylan, and curiously enough, Joni Mitchell, I'm hearing more and more of her. Nobody in the band wants to admit that, they just tell me to shut up about that. She's jazz based, and she's fused jazz with folk and I think it's a good thing.
Which version of Spike was the most fun to play?
Tough guy Spike was always the funnest, but I'm most proud of the more recent stuff, the last season, I think.
It was a lot harder, but I think we got something that was maybe fresher than just watching somebody strut around and bite people. Which I love to do, that was really fun, but it opened up from there and I'm really thankful for that.