On the first evening of Wizard World San Jose, ProFan Shanna caught up with James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood, Caprica) to talk about Shakespeare, his band, and why he loves attending fan conventions.
Although most people might recognize him as the Brit quippy, punk vampire Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, James Marsters immediately distinguishes himself as a thoughtful conversationalist even without the British accent he sported during his years on the show. When asked what he was a fan of he cites the subversive nature of sci-fi/fantasy and its ability to push the boundaries under the guise of aliens and werewolves. We discussed what he described as art’s ability to help the masses unlearn what they’ve been taught and grapple with the world around them.
A boundary pusher himself, Marsters is an accomplished television, film, and stage star as well as a musician. After schooling me on the deeper meanings of Star Wars, we talked about his experience in the theatre world where he expressed an affinity for Chicago’s theatre scene and its willingness to take risks. Marsters started his own theater company in Seattle and has a particular love for Shakespeare. As most Whedon fans know, Joss hosts dinner parties where many of our favorite stars would act out various Shakespeare scenes (Sidenote: James, I mean it, I want an invite to the next one). He noted Tony Head’s rendition of Richard III and Joss’ humorous turn as Hamlet. These Shakespearean salons would eventually turn into jam sessions with Marsters on the guitar and Whedon on the piano, and eventually that spawned Buffy’s iconic musical episode “Once More with Feeling”.
Marsters just completed his latest album with his band Ghost of the Robot called Bourgeois Faux Pas, which he described as a return to the hard-hitting sound of their first album, but with the elevated production of a band that has learned some things along the way. When describing his shows, he talks about how he enjoys watching the guys dragged there by their girlfriends become fans in their own right. Similarly, he enjoys conventions like Wizard World because of the opportunity to meet and interact with new people from all walks of life. There’s always one memorable interaction that makes the trip a delight. Marsters is truly an artist; someone who soaks up experiences and sucks the marrow out of life.