1. Joss Whedon originally wrote Buffy The Vampire Slayer as a direct response to the helpless damsels in distress characters he saw in pretty much every horror film of the time, as he felt women needed better screen idols to look up to. As you no doubt know, Buffy originally debuted on the big screen in a 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson - to say that Whedon was upset with the depiction of his characters is an understatement!
Most of Whedon's original script was rewritten, with Donald Sutherland (who played Merrick) improvising many of his scenes. Whedon felt his actions made the dialogue lack coherence, and went on to refer to Sutherland as a “dick.” This whole experience prompted him to bring Buffy to the small screen, and retain more creative control.
2. The hunt was on for a new Buffy Summers. Amongst the actresses who were considered for the part were Selma Blair and Katie Holmes. There were also many actresses who auditioned for the title role that Joss Whedon remembered and went on to offer alternate characters to, including Julie Benz (who would play Darla), Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy), Julia Lee (Chanterelle) and Mercedes McNab (Harmony).
One person who didn't actually come in originally to audition for the part of Buffy was Sarah Michelle Gellar - she read for the role of Cordelia, but Whedon felt she'd make a far better Buffy.
3. As for Cordelia Chase, Bianca Lawson was offered the role, but turned it down! (She went on to play vampire slayer Kendra in three season two episodes). Charisma Carpenter had read for the part of Buffy, despite some initial hesitation as she was 26 at the time of the audition and personally felt she was too old to audition to play a teenager.
But just as Whedon felt that Sarah Michelle Gellar would make a better Buffy, he also thought Carpenter would be a better fit as Cordelia. Again, she wasn't so sure. She'd just finished playing Ashley Green, a “bitchy” character, on Aaron Spelling’s short-lived Malibu Shores TV series, and was reluctant to take the part of Cordelia as she felt she would be typecast in these roles. It was her agent who persuaded her by saying that "you can’t be typecast if no one knows who you are" Ouch! So she took the part, making her the oldest actor on the series playing a teenager, as she was 27 when the show first aired. The only older members of the mainly young cast were David Boreanaz and James Marsters, and age didn't really matter there as they were playing the undead.
4. Beating all of the above to a contract was Anthony Head. Casting director Marsha Shulman said:
“Anthony Stewart [Head] was the first person that got cast on the first day we started casting. He was just it.”Although many other actors read for the part, Joss Whedon said they all made Giles too stuffy, but Head’s take was just how he imagined the character.
“Tony Head was one of the few people that we saw and instantly knew right away that nobody else was going to play that part, he embodied it perfectly.”
5. Other possible alternate castings include; Nathan Fillion who tried out for both Spike and Angel, and Ryan Reynolds who was actually offered the part of Xander, but declined.
6. Most of the first season of the show was already shot and in the can before the pilot ever aired, which allowed Joss Whedon time to re-shoot certain scenes and tweak them. So when Buffy tells viewers, “It was my first day…”, this was actually recorded on their last day of filming at the fictional Sunnydale High School.
This location (Torrance High School in Los Angeles) was actually the same one used in Beverly Hills 90210, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, She’s All That, Not Another Teen Movie, and many more.
7. James Marsters, who played Spike, isn’t actually British - he’s from California and performed his audition with a Texan accent. Joss Whedon felt the character might work better if he was British (something that wasn't in the original character brief), and offered Marsters the part under the condition he used a London accent. Marsters got himself a vocal coach - Anthony Head! Throughout the series he guided him on his dialect, as Spike's accent resembles Head's actual speaking voice and not the one he adopted for Giles.
8. Joss Whedon always knew that he wanted one of the characters to come out as gay, but before Willow began dating Tara in season four he had toyed with the idea of Xander being the gay character instead.
It was around this time that the producers were becoming concerned that Nicholas Brendon was getting too fit to play Xander, after all he was supposed to be the nerdy sidekick. So he was advised to stop working out!
9. Season 5 was to feature two famous guest stars, but scheduling conflicts got in the way of both of them. Firstly, Freddie Prinze Jr (Sarah Michelle Gellar's future husband) was originally set to play Dracula in the season opener Buffy vs Dracula. Then, Britney Spears was set to play dream girl robot April in the episode I Was Made To Love You, as Joss Whedon revealed:
"They said ‘Britney wants to do the show’... but we had never seen her act at all, so I was like well, we’ll cover our bases, let’s write a show about a robot, and that way if she can’t, we’re fine!"
10. After the show ended Buffy's adventures have continued in comic book form, but Joss Whedon had plans for another TV series featuring the Chosen One. Whedon put together seven scripts for an animated Buffy series and shopped them around. All the proposed episodes were set at different times during the live action show's first three seasons and the plan was to feature as many original cast members as possible to provide the voices (Sarah Michelle Gellar was on board!). Amazingly no one bought the show! Whedon said:
"They were really fun to write, [but] we could not sell the show. We could not sell an animated Buffy, which I still find incomprehensible."
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