James Marsters is opening up about the difficulties writers faced when creating his iconic character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
During a recent interview with the Radio Times to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sarah Michelle Gellar-led show’s finale, which aired May 20, 2003, the actor said writers “never really knew what to do with Spike,” the punk vampire that became a fan favorite.
“The original idea for Buffy was that that vampires were just metaphors for the challenges of high school, or the challenges of life. They were designed to be overcome, they were designed to die,” Marsters explained. “Buffy is not an Anne Rice kind of thing, where you’re supposed to feel for the vampires. It’s why we’re hideously ugly when we bite someone, they did not want that to be a sensual kind of thing. It was supposed to be horrific.”
The actor, who later reprised the role in the series spin-off Angel, said trying to fit Spike into the show’s storylines long term posed challenges, but that eventually, “because they [writers] were so creative, they were able to figure something out.”
“But what it meant was I think that I was plugged into the other arcs,” he added. “I was the villain, and then I was the wacky neighbor, and then I was the wrong boyfriend, and then I was the fallen man trying to redeem himself. And then ultimately a kind of guinea pig hero by the end.”
But after noticing that the fan’s views of the vampires on the show were changing because of Spike, he admitted that he “would have killed Spike off in a heartbeat.”
“As soon as the audience said, ‘Oh, we want him. Oh, have him with Buffy. Oh, we love that character.’ Like uh-uh. He’s ruining the whole thing. I would have killed me off after probably three episodes,” Marsters said. “I’m kind of a bastard when I’m producing! I’m heartless! So I’m very lucky that they had more imagination and courage than I would have shown, frankly.”