This past weekend during New York Comic Con, the world of slayers was celebrated throughout the convention and during an amazing activation set up near the convention center to celebrate the new podcast series, Slayers: A Buffyverse Audible Original Series.
Set 10 years after the original series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, in a world where every person that could be a slayer would be a slayer, Spike is teamed up with a 16-year-old newbie slayer, Indira. She, along with Spike and Clem, join forces with an alternate universe version of Cordelia Chase to stop an evil we all know and hate to love from our original universe, Drusilla. This new Scooby Gang, along with some other favorite characters from the original series, join forces to stop the new Big Bad from destroying Cordelia’s universe and they sound amazing while doing it on this new Audible Original series.
Nerds and Beyond sat down to talk to some of the cast at the convention and discuss what it was like coming back to this world once more and the overwhelming love they have for the fans and this fandom.
James Marsters: “I was excited to just be able to come back at all because I told the producers when we were filming, they have seven more years that they want me to play because I’ve been playing it for seven years and I think a 14-year window for a vampire was about enough. So just the idea that I could go back and play Spike was really exciting. The idea that Amber would be writing with Christopher Golden was freaking perfect. Because both of them know the world in and out. They’re both hugely talented and so patient, which is good for me because I can be annoying.”
James C. Leary, who played the demon Clem in the original series, added: “No, it was incredibly exciting. And to get to play in the world and to have the character so much more fleshed out and to get to do scenes with people I had never worked with Tony (who plays Rupert Giles) and Emma (who plays the demon Anyanka). Well, I worked with them, but not with Charisma and those … like watching everybody work was like sometimes I was like, ‘Oh crap, I have a line’. So yeah, it was incredible.”
Changing from doing screen work to voice acting wasn’t too much of a challenge for both James Marsters and James C. Leary, as they’ve both done it before, but there was some concern for the fight scenes in an audio format.
James Marsters: “My concern was the fights. I’d done other Audible dramas, and the fights kind of sounded like this ’Ooh! Ahh! Eeh!’ like, cheesy is not the brand. I think the movie was kind of camp but that’s not the way to serve this kind of property and they were like, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it … we’re a different company. We do it right.’ I listened to about 15 minutes of it and I was like, ‘oh my god, it’s perfect.’
The technology that they’re using is this proprietary technology that puts the audience in a specific point in the room, and then blocks the actors digitally, because we recorded it just standing still at a microphone, but they’re manipulating movement. And there they are moving our voices around the room and they took the time to block all of the scenes for all of the episodes, and then show me the notes and they have me listen to it. And for those people who have surround sound, you will hear us walking around you and they had me listen to it in stereo too and it’s very effective. I had this idea that people should, in their friend group, find the person who has surround sound and then have listening parties for the series.
Speaking with Amber Benson and Christopher Golden who created this new audible original series, they spoke about how it started and who got the ball rolling in regards to contacting the cast to participate in the series.
Christopher Golden: So it really came together because I was having a conversation with our friend Lydia, who’s an executive at Audible, about the fact that they had gotten the rights to do this and immediately I jumped in as I would in a case like that and said, ‘Well, hey, I want to do that but the only way that this is going to work is if it’s Amber’.
Amber Benson: I have the Rolodex and I can make the phone calls [laughs].
Christopher Golden: Not just that, but more importantly, and I know you hate when you hear this … first of all, we have written together many times over a lot of years, we wrote an animated series together but it’s also a level of trust.
Amber Benson: Chris is my East Coast family …
Christopher Golden: Yes, yes and there’s a level, you know, that everybody involved knew that if we were doing this together, and Amber was writing, directing, that they would be in hands that cared for them and I am 100% certain that there’s no way to do this without you.
Amber Benson: I was gonna say something pithy and silly, but they gave me Kleenex … I’ll tell you it’s been really emotional. I think for me, how we treat each other is really important. And everyone getting back together and being a family was really, really important. The love is real. I feel like so often we work on stuff and like, ‘Oh, I like them, they’re fine.’ But this, I love these people, I’ve known these people a long time, we see each other at conventions, and it’s like, I hug them and I want to work with them. Also, to be able to give some of them closure on things that didn’t get closure was really wonderful. There was some rough stuff that we’ve all been through as a group and to try and make this a better experience was high on our list. We keep saying we are ‘people forward’. Everyone should be ‘people forward’, the world would be a better place. So we try. We mess up. Everybody does. But you know, we try. That’s all you can do.
The feeling between everyone wanting to do this series right and having a safe space to participate in this project was a huge deal for everyone involved, especially Charisma Carpenter who has been open about her experiences on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series. With Amber and Christopher, Charisma says she felt safe and knew the project would be incredibly different and discusses how working with Emma Caufield Ford helped as well.
Charisma Carpenter: I do want to say this, that is why doing this project means so much to me is that I really wanted given … my statements before, that the show is more than just one person and I spoke out about the one person. I will always want to be Cordelia. I will always want to be a part of this, the show was 200- 300 people that put their blood, sweat, and tears and I gave up and sacrificed a lot. You know, I hope with the SAG-AFTRA strike, people are starting to understand the image of what actors lives are like and that that’s being dispelled today, but there is a not glamorous side to working 14-16 hour days and not being able to be there at Halloween for your kids or take your husband who cut his finger to the hospital because you’re on set. When you have strep throat and you still go to work or you can’t stop puking and you still have to go to work. These are the realities of doing what we do and it’s not always glamorous but there’s this idea that we are glamorous.
So I wanted to give permission back to the fans, I wanted people to understand that I loved this character. I love that job. I love a lot of those people. I’m gonna get emotional but Cordelia is me and I’m her and she is the one person that I think changed who I was to put me in a position to be able to speak out. And that’s kind of rich … it’s almost like that one person created this character that then ended up being empowered enough to speak out about what was happening and I think that’s important. I wanted people to know that I love her and I love this fandom. They’re separate, to me, in my mind and I want to give permission to the fandom to enjoy that show and this show and to maybe give it a rebirth and regenerate and create new positive memories.
Our entire table was left emotional after hearing Charisma speak in this way but it was absolutely beautiful to see her take the power back from her experiences on these TV shows and give some of the power back to the fans to continue loving the old series and move on to an amazing new series that continued this story.
This series, Slayers: A Buffyverse Audible Original Series, is a love letter to the fandom that brings joy and happiness to the fans who have stuck by the show for almost 30 years and to the new fans, who will enjoy the new Slayer Indira, and fall in love with all of the characters the rest of us have loved for decades. The series is an amazing homage to the original story with an absolutely thrilling twist that will keep everyone binging the series until they are sad it’s over. Here’s hoping for a season 2!