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James Marsters at ECCC 2011 - I worship at the television altar — LiveJournal
James Marsters at ECCC 2011

James Marsters did a panel at Emerald City Comicon on March 4, 2011, and Pop Culture Zoo was there. They brought back a wonderful video, which you can watch below. James is his usual awesome self: intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, funny, and immensely entertaining. He talks about Buffy, Torchwood, Hawaii Five-0, his new pilot Three Inches, his music, and more (the only thing he says about Smallville is that he would gladly go back if they asked him).

He shared some insights about being attached to a long-running series, and what it feels like when that is over, that I found especially interesting because I've been thinking about Smallville ending so much lately. Here's a partial quote:

In film, you might have to do a really weird thing. You might have to do something that scares you, or something that you're not even prepared to do. And if you read a script in film, and you're not prepared to do that in front of a camera, you call your agent and you say, "I pass."

In television, you're contractually obligated to do anything that they tell you to do. Seven years. But the safety is that you're basically telling the same story over and over every week, so there's no real danger. But on Buffy, you had no idea what they were going to ask you to do, and I came to a point where I realized that I was on call, five days a week, 24 hours a day, I had to wear or not wear whatever they said, and do whatever they said, to whoever they said to do it. And at some point that becomes terrifying.

All I can say is, knowing what the Smallville writers are capable of, I would be pretty nervous when a new script arrives. James also talked about doing other projects while you're on a series:

No, there's just no time. People who are on television series and rush out during the summer to make a movie, usually pick any movie that's filming in the summer, and it turns out to be junk. So, the best thing to do is just concentrate on that role, and when that role is done, find another role.

My favorite quote of the panel was what James answered when a fan asked if one of those moments that terrified him was when he read his Torchwood script and found out (to use her words) that he had to make out with John Barrowman:

No, no, no, no. No. No. When I read the script for Torchwood, I'm a subversive artist, which is to say, that we are all taught things in this culture that are lies. Things like old people are boring, or you can buy cool, or that gay people can't be heroes, right? And so when I read that script, I was like, oh, this is my alley, man. This is exactly, like, if I was producing theater, I would produce this script. This would be something that I cared about. So I was, no, I was full-on the whole time. And John is a GREAT kisser.

If the embed doesn't work for you, watch the video at Pop Culture Zoo HERE.

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10 comments or Leave a comment
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: March 7th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC) (Link)
James sounds like a pretty cool guy.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 9th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
He does. I love his Con panels so much; he's a marvelous storyteller, and very open.
tasabian From: tasabian Date: March 7th, 2011 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)
His remarks about TV obligations are very interesting - wasn't he quite horrified at the scene where Spike tries to rape Buffy? That must have been one of the "terrifying" days. (At least on SV he only had to put a bracelet on naked Michael!)

He was awesome on Torchwood, that character was such fun.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 9th, 2011 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you're right, I remember him talking about that scene before. During this panel he went on to say that as an artist, being terrified is exactly what he needs, but as a person, he was relieved when Buffy ended.

I've seen so many people criticize Tom (and Michael) for being ready to move on from Smallville, and I think it is so selfish of those fans to never even try to imagine what it's like for them.

I loved the way James invited people to ask him anything, to be dangerous.
audrey229 From: audrey229 Date: March 7th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
He will always be one of my favorite people ever. I just adore him.

I feel like he is this secret, brilliant talent and I'm always so excited when I meet people who watched Buffy and love him as much as I do.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 9th, 2011 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I think James is truly exceptional, in every way. Smallville is so lucky to have had him play Brainiac. For a show that so many people like to say is terrible, it's amazing the caliber of guest stars Smallville has been able to attract over the years. It makes me proud of our little superhero show. :)
audrey229 From: audrey229 Date: March 9th, 2011 12:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
He is a class act in every respect. And on a superficial note, he is aging very well. I always found him to be very sexy on Buffy which is weird because his physical appearance is not at all what I usually find attractive. But it's just him. He just has something about him that is so appealing and so raw and sexy. Just as I don't think anyone could have EVER been a better Clark Kent than Tom Welling....I truly don't think anyone could have played Spike better than James did. I always think it's so funny that Joss Whedon's original plan was to kill Spike off right away. But once James got in there and ran with it....they just couldn't do it. haha. And he winds up becoming one of the pivotal characters in the series and quite literally the character who plays such an essential role in the series finale. And it's all such a credit to James.

I agree with you that Smallville has had some incredible guest stars.

I think emotions are high with Smallville right now. And I think the show has legitimately made a lot of mistakes. But I do think that when it's over.....people are going to appreciate the good things. It might take some time. Sometimes I think people need time to step away. But I do think that Smallville will be remembered fondly in the future. Particularly if the series finale is as good as I expect it to be.

tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 17th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
But it's just him. He just has something about him that is so appealing and so raw and sexy.

I totally agree! He's on a whole different level compared to most actors, and he makes every scene he's in better.

I think Smallville's legacy over time is assured. Of course some people will always write it off as a poorly written, poorly acted, silly sci-fi show, but Smallville resonates with millions of viewers, and it has a timelessness that will make it possible for people to watch it for the first time ten years from now, and fall in love just like we did.
chris_43 From: chris_43 Date: March 10th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely adore James! He's honest, direct and funny. I find his comments about working on a television series very telling! He's a huge draw for me. If I find out he's doing or appearing on a show, I watch it. Thanks for sharing the video and the quotes!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: March 17th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
JM's presence on a show is always enough to make me watch. He is an amazing actor, and I'm even more impressed with him off the screen. I so appreciate his intelligence and his unflinching honesty, and he tells a great story to boot! :)

I was especially fascinated by his remarks about having to play the role you signed up for, as written. Now that Tom is an executive producer, people are so quick to blame him for every plot development they don't like, and to charge him with fixing whatever character is being dealt a disservice in their eyes.

Tom is still an actor, and Brian and Kelly are still the showrunners. Sure, he has more of a voice now, but he's an actor with a contract nonetheless, and he isn't suddenly the boss of everyone. Besides, being a producer, especially for someone as conscientious as Tom, isn't just about having the clout to get your own way all the time. It's also about having a responsibility to help the show run smoothly in the big picture sense, in any way you can.

I think people assume Tom has power that is not within his grasp, and also forget that he's never been motivated by his own ego. In spite of his title, I'm sure in many ways his hands are tied. And I have to believe that after ten years, he's anticipating the freedom to choose a new adventure with a lot of excitement, along with the sadness of saying goodbye to Clark Kent and the whole Smallville family.
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