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The James Marsters Interview

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"I Almost Punched The Preacher, Man."

CB: After your theater company, you eventually made the transition to television and film. Technically, those are like night and day.

JM: Totally.

CB: You might be doing a thirty-second scene, cutting, going six times in a row. How did you cope with that transition? Was it jarring for you?

JM: Yeah, totally. And I knew it. I knew before I moved down to L.A. that there was a whole different need for film than onstage. I quickly sussed out that I needed to dump basically everything that I'd learned. I was thirty-four, and I hadn't conquered the stage, but I was a good usable actor in Seattle and Chicago, and thought I knew basically how to do the job. And I basically had to just flush it. Okay, here it is: onstage, you're like a Benihana chef. You ever been to Benihana, where the chef comes out and serves it to you?

CB: Sure.

JM: And all the costumes and the script and the lighting and everything else, that's like the celery and steak and onions and it's all of your ingredients, but at the point of sale, when you actually create the product, it's just you, and you use the ingredients as you do. And you know, I hate to say it, but the playwright could be dead. The producer could be dead. And the lights could fail, frankly. You're right in the driver's seat, making product and selling it to the customer. But in film, you're the celery. [laughs] And so, if you try to tell the story, you're really barking up the wrong tree. If you try to manipulate the rhythm, or try to hang up words in the air to try to make a certain color or effect, you're way up the wrong tree. Like I've heard, I don't know if it's true, but I heard that Meryl Streep doesn't even focus on where the scene comes in the story. Like she reads the script once to see if she wants to do it and then she just focuses each scene as if it's its own play.

CB: That's interesting.

JM: Yeah. So I had to dump everything, absolutely everything, and, like, I knew it, and I told the producers on Buffy that I knew it, and, like, I remember Joss once told me, "A little less Laurence Olivier and a little more Tim Roth." I was like, "I know, I'm trying! I'm trying!" But it only really worked when I was completely apathetic. I was so tired, and I came to work and I really didn't care anymore. And then I saw that it was the best stuff I ever did.

CB: You seem like kind of an anglophile these days -- you've spent a lot of time in England touring. Had you spent a lot of time there before Buffy?

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Mondo Extra

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Mondo Extra
The James Marsters Interview

Episode Report Card
Grade It Now!
YOU GRADE IT
"I Almost Punched The Preacher, Man."

CB: After your theater company, you eventually made the transition to television and film. Technically, those are like night and day.

JM: Totally.

CB: You might be doing a thirty-second scene, cutting, going six times in a row. How did you cope with that transition? Was it jarring for you?

JM: Yeah, totally. And I knew it. I knew before I moved down to L.A. that there was a whole different need for film than onstage. I quickly sussed out that I needed to dump basically everything that I'd learned. I was thirty-four, and I hadn't conquered the stage, but I was a good usable actor in Seattle and Chicago, and thought I knew basically how to do the job. And I basically had to just flush it. Okay, here it is: onstage, you're like a Benihana chef. You ever been to Benihana, where the chef comes out and serves it to you?

CB: Sure.

JM: And all the costumes and the script and the lighting and everything else, that's like the celery and steak and onions and it's all of your ingredients, but at the point of sale, when you actually create the product, it's just you, and you use the ingredients as you do. And you know, I hate to say it, but the playwright could be dead. The producer could be dead. And the lights could fail, frankly. You're right in the driver's seat, making product and selling it to the customer. But in film, you're the celery. [laughs] And so, if you try to tell the story, you're really barking up the wrong tree. If you try to manipulate the rhythm, or try to hang up words in the air to try to make a certain color or effect, you're way up the wrong tree. Like I've heard, I don't know if it's true, but I heard that Meryl Streep doesn't even focus on where the scene comes in the story. Like she reads the script once to see if she wants to do it and then she just focuses each scene as if it's its own play.

CB: That's interesting.

JM: Yeah. So I had to dump everything, absolutely everything, and, like, I knew it, and I told the producers on Buffy that I knew it, and, like, I remember Joss once told me, "A little less Laurence Olivier and a little more Tim Roth." I was like, "I know, I'm trying! I'm trying!" But it only really worked when I was completely apathetic. I was so tired, and I came to work and I really didn't care anymore. And then I saw that it was the best stuff I ever did.

CB: You seem like kind of an anglophile these days -- you've spent a lot of time in England touring. Had you spent a lot of time there before Buffy?

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14Next

Mondo Extra

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