Buffy — Choose Your Own Cast

Last week, our friends at Pajiba speculated on what their dream Buffy reboot cast would look like. While some of Rob’s suggestions are pretty great ““ who wouldn’t want to see Tom Hidddleston on their screen every week ““ his dream cast isn’t my dream cast.

 

First, take a breath ““ no one is seriously thinking about rebooting the show. Those nasty rumors last year about a possible Buffy relaunch without Joss have amounted to nothing. The comics series is chugging along in “season” 9, which right seems to be the closest thing we’re going to get to the Scooby Gang getting back together.  This is just meant to be a fun mental exercise.

In working up my list, I gave myself a couple of guidelines – I wanted the actors to be believable in their roles as high school students, so I limited the age-range I would consider for the kids.  Two, I didn’t want to look at my list at the end and say to myself, “My, how Caucasian is this!” Three, I had to consider what was essential to each of the roles and what could be reworked without damaging the character. Example ““ Essential to Angel ““ brooding, guilt, the desire to make up for the damage he did as Angelus. Not essential ““ his Irish origin, bad accents.

Buffy

 BVTS is the story of a young woman coming into her own power as the latest in a long line of Slayers, women who protect the world from vampires, demons, and werewolves (oh my!). She’s the anti-victim, and Whedon deliberately envisioned her as the tiny, feminine, helpless blonde who gets killed off in all those horror movies. While we’ve had an a good number of strong female heroines grace the small screen since Buffy first showed up, I decided I wanted to stick with Whedon’s original subversion. So for me, for Buffy, I’m going with Chloe Moretz. She can handle action, intensity, and comedy, and also, importantly, she looks like she still might get carded at a bar.

 

 

 

 


Willow

I sorted through my mental rolodex of 20-something-redheads – no one would believe Emma Stone or Karen Gillian as meek nerds who have to take off their glasses because anyone realizes they’re beautiful, and I was sort of shocked to discover that Maria Thayer is my age, which is, politely put, real the fuck far away from high school. As much as I love our redheaded friends, it seemed reasonable to branch out. Alia Shawkat’s Willow may not be as shy and awkward as Alyson Hannigan’s, but there’s more than one kind of nerd out there.

 

 

 

 


Xander

First, if one were to reboot Buffy, one might do a better job of giving our Everyman, Xander, a more satisfying character arc. He wallows in boyish, ignorant douchedom for too long on the original series and the long view hasn’t been particularly kind to him. Xander is us, the un-special, the regular human beings who fight evil because it’s the right thing to do, not because he’s predestined to do so. The character wrestles with pressures of traditional masculinity and societal expectations while he’s sidekicking it to a wee-little demon fighter, which makes for some interesting internal struggles. Logan Lerman has a bit of Everydude to him, with a dash of undercover hottie.

 

 


Giles

My first thought was Idris Elba. When I told people about this project and asked who’d they like cast as Giles, everyone said “Idris Elba!” He’s the right age, he’s British, and he’s, well, Idris Elba. But then I decided that what a Buffy reboot didn’t need was sexual tension between the Watcher and the Slayer, and the Watcher and everyone else on cast, because Idris Elba is the sex. So what does Giles need? I’d argue that as much as Buffy has to be a female role, Giles has to be a male one ““ there’s a lot that goes on in the show about rebelling and destroying the patriarchy, and the Watcher’s Council is a very literal embodiment of patriarchal ideas. I’d even make the argument that Giles needs to be British, because of the whole Colonialism/Americanism rebellion angle. Sendhil Ramaurthy has the kind of gravatis one might expect from a British librarian, but he’s got a Ripper lurking inside.

 


Joyce

Joyce isn’t a Housewife. She’s not a cougar. She’s not a granny. She’s a middle aged single mother with a job and a well developed sense of denial. She shouldn’t look “Hollywood” and she needs to give off a sense of grounded-ness for the Slayer to take comfort from. Annabeth Gish fits the bill. She might even buy you matching sweats to watch old movies in.

 

 


Cordelia

 

Alexa Vega. Cordy was the easiest person to fantasy cast ““ Vega jumped to mind right away. She usually plays the good girl in all those Lifetime movies I see her in, but I think she definitely could pull off high school Queen Bee.

 

 

 

 

 


Angel

 

I’m just gonna leave Jesse Williams right here for you to look at.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Spike and Dru

 

Spike is a challenging case. He’s a monster that we grow to understand and the actor that plays him needs to be strong enough to make us like him as a bad guy and be willing to follow him through an arduous arc to becoming a Champion. Angel in some ways is an easier portrayal ““ he’s already regained his soul when we meet him, so we don’t have to deal with the monster until we’ve already gotten to know him. Spike’s arc is the opposite, we have to believe he loves Dru and he’s a cold blooded killer, and we have to want to see more of him. Dru needs to convey a sense of otherworldly dangerousness, a mystic who keeps dead bodies in her porcelain doll collection. Ksenia Solo and her amazing eyes give off a touched-by-other-worlds vibe, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Come on, he’s totally that guy you can’t quit even though you know he’s terrible for you.

 

 


 

Faith

In case you haven’t been staying home sick on the couch recently, The Soap Channel is running the hell out of Veronica Mars so Tessa Thompson has been on my screen a lot. I originally considered her for Cordelia ““ she already played the spoiled high schooler on VM ““but the more I watched her, the more she seemed to have some steel behind her eyes. Faith is impulse where Buffy is control, the loner to Buffy’s family centeredness, selfishness to the other Slayer’s sacrifice. Faith may be all wrong, but she’s got some brass balls on her ““ I’d like to see what Thompson would do with the role.

 

 

 


 

 

So what would your dream cast look like?

Published by

[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

29 thoughts on “Buffy — Choose Your Own Cast”

  1. I think Slay Belle did a pretty good job of casting a multi-ethnic cast just sticking with the main characters.  Sendhil Ramamurthy is obviously of Indian descent, but Alexa Vega is latina (her father is Columbian), Allie Shawkat is of  Iranian or Turkish descent (but definitely not lily white), Tessa Thompson is African-American, and I think Jesse Williams is also of mixed ancestry (wikipedia says Swedish, African-American, and Seminole).  I think that’s a pretty favorable ration in just the first ten characters.

  2. Chloe Moretz would work as Buffy for me, although I personally like the idea of Antonia Thomas (Alisha from Misfits) – I think she would be amazing. And I have a huge soft spot for Kristen Bell, but she’s probably a bit too old. Antonia Thomas is definitely my favourite choice.

    Willow – that’s hard. Maybe Hailee Steinfeld? I’ve only seen her in True Grit, but she was really good, and she looks innocent enough for early-years. And she’d look good as a redhead! Someone at Pajiba suggested Tina Majorino, and that could definitely work. Or an up-and-coming Chinese actress, Zhou Dongyu.

    Xander – ugh. Hard. Maybe Harry Shum jr., or maybe Penn Badgley because Dan is a bit of a douche.

    Giles – Tom Hiddleston is perfect for me. Alan Rickman might be too old and too good for this but I love him, so.

    Angel – Takeshi Kaneshiro would be amazing.

    Cordelia – I’m thinking Mélanie Laurent myself, even though she might be slightly old.

    Spike – Jason Momoa does it for me. Or maybe Ed Westwick, or Jude Law. Or Idris Elba, although the friend I’m discussing this with thinks he’s too old.

    Drusilla – Natalie Tena is good, or Tricia Helfer.

    Oz – maybe Robert Sheehan? I do like Donald Glover as Oz as well.

    Faith – I like the idea of Evan Rachel Wood, or Emilia Clarke.

    This is fun ^^

  3. Oh, fun!

    I can see most of these (those actors I’m familiar with, anyway — I don’t recognize so many of the youngins) working quite well.

    Now the question is…What about the secondary/tertiary characters? Oz, Tara, Anya, Dawn? I’d love to see a few more POC in the cast; not just Kendra and Mr. Trick and Rhona and the Asian Cordette, but using exceptional actors regardless of ethnicity. I’d be especially interested to see one of Willow’s long-term relationships being interracial, or Hank Summers (and maybe Dawn). It would be an interesting play on the environment of Small-Town Southern California.

  4. So I just read the linked article on the recast…and CHANNING TATUM AS ANGEL, are you kidding me??!!?!?

    Don’t get me wrong. Dude is sex on a stick. But. A terrible actor. (sorry boo). He could not pull off the brooding darkness of Angel. Le sigh.

    …and I really don’t like Andrew Garfield as Xander. I don’t know. Haven’t seen Superman yet…but there’s just something about him that screams overprivileged berk.

    And REALLY love Natalie Tena as Drusilla and Dominic Monaghan as Spike. – Natalie has proven she can play nutters very well and would bring a lot to the role.

    Daniel Radcliffe as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce had me giggling like a loon. I can certainly see that…

    And Malcolm’s dad would make for a cool mayor :)

     

    Thanks for the post! THis was fun! I love all the Buffy posts you do, Slaybelle!

  5. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I won’t lie, I’m kinda drunk right now and cannot comment coherently BUT as a major Buffy fan, I gotta say I LOVE your Giles. Mmm me gusta. That man is sexy, intelligent, and needs a hell of a lot more screen time.

    I do love David as Angel but I can see how Jesse Williams would work. Plus, YAY for interracial relationships – we need those so badly in pop culture so people in the real world feel less like weirdos for dating outside their race (holla). Your Spike is also perfect – and that picture really portrays him well.

    And Alexa Vega! Yes, please. :)

    Not sure how I feel about the others…but I like most of your picks thus far :)

  6. My brain is too jumbled to come up with my own fantasy cast, so I shall settle for critiquing other people’s choices.

    I could TOTALLY see Dominic Donaghan as Spike!!

    But Adrianne Palicki does not have Faith’s swag. Sorry, Pajiba.

    And I’d love to see Bryan Cranston play Mayor Wilkins. Now I’m reimaging all his episodes.

    And now in reference to your dream cast…

    I like Chloe Moretz, but I kinda feel like she’d pull off Faith better than Buffy. Buffy is sassy, Faith is attitude, Chloe is the ‘tude as well.

    Sendhil Ramaurthy is sooooo sexy but in that bookish librarian fantasy kinda way. Me likey.

    Jesse Williams smolders in his SLEEP. Hell yeah he could play Angel!

    Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Spike?? VERY intriguing…

      1. Yep, she’s Jack’s nemesis. And she’s sooo good. I think most of her roles have planted her more on the Faith side of the equation, as @Remi points out, but she seems like a really talented young woman. I think she could play a Buffy too.

        Pajiba’s suggestion of Lawrence isn’t bad. She just seems too solid, if that makes any sense, to be even a fake damsel in distress.

         

    1. Spike was shockingly hard to pick. Marsters just does such a fine job with it I really can’t see anyone else. He’s got to be dangerous and likable, edgy enough to believe he was really a murderous bastard, and talented enough to believe in his redemption. That’s a huge order. And so many leading male actors are really milquetoast. Rhys Meyers looks dirty in all the right ways.

      I only picked people I thought were essential to the Buffy mythos. If there was a really a reboot, I don’t know how closely I’d want them to follow the original storylines, so I didn’t cast The Mayor or Glory or Professor Walsh — I don’t think their stories are necessarily essential. (Though the Mayor is a really compelling arc.) Cranston as the Mayor would be brilliant though. He’s such a deep actor.

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