You know her best as Anya, the reformed vengeance demon from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER whose character succumbed to Joss Whedon’s famed “Pen of Death” more than 8 years ago but in her time away from Sunnydale actress Emma Caulfield has carved a unique and impressive path in projects as diverse as the sci-fi/rom-com TIMER, the screamtastic DARKNESS FALLS, and the web-comic CONTROPUSSY.
In this exclusive interview we touch on some of those projects, her time on BUFFY, a possible BUFFY musical, Joss Whedon, her web-series BANDWAGON, her pursuit of both critical and mass success, the Peach Pit, and her actual take on bunnies.
Can you describe BANDWAGON in three words or more for the sadly un-initiated and will there be a 2nd season?
EC: Satire. Mocumentary. Comedy. The focus of this first season was “Emma’s” quest to help shed light on the disparity between black Hollywood and white Hollywood by teaming up with African American actress Tracie Thoms (DEATHPROOF).
As this is a satire and of course on trend, what better way for her to do that than through a musical (GLEE) featuring a black and ethnic cast (Urban). In typical Hollywood fashion, the network decides that it’s lead needs to be white and to add insult to injury, has zero talent.
We are in the process of securing funding/branding and or distribution for a second season. In a sense we are waiting to be “picked up” as they say in the world of television.
There is this history of actors who have created their own projects because they are dissatisfied with the projects being offered to them. Is that a part of how BANDWAGON, both the movie and the web series, came to be?
EC: Yes, some of BANDWAGON came out of a dissatisfaction with what I had access to. I’ve felt for a long time, that I was quite far way from my end goal. However, I also seek to better myself and grow as an artist and business woman. I want to participate in my own creative empire rather than just be a gun for hire.
Can you go into some detail on what it takes to pull together a web based project of this magnitude and how involved were you in the casting process?
EC: Its been an undertaking but a thrilling one. I was working on LIFE UNEXPECTED last year, and I believe it was around November when the other creators (Camilla Rantsen and Karri Bowman) and I started talking about bringing the project to the web. We’d shot BANDWAGON the film in 2004 I believe, and though we did well in the film circuit, it didn’t get distribution. We shelved it and we all went on to focus on different things. As it is with us, we all felt a pull back toward this basic idea of an actress with terrible follow through and nothing to lose and said, “let’s play again“; let’s take advantage of the web and the freedom it offers and bring BANDWAGON back to life.
Once we settled on a story for “Emma” the rest came pretty easy in terms of casting. We basically cast our friends, many of whom are actors or who excel at being ridiculous. Yvette Nicole Brown was completely new to the circle…I stalked her on Twitter and thankfully she agreed to play with us.
Ok, the short film HOLLOW freaked my stuff up and out (to put it genteelly). DARKNESS FALLS too, but then there’s TIMER and BANDWAGON, so you’re clearly able to play in both worlds. Do you prefer comedy over horror or vice versa?
EC: Answer: Hmmm…I prefer neither really, but I am most at home with comedy. I guess it depends on what part of my psyche needs tending too. Sometimes I want to dive into the darkness and I end up doing something like HOLLOW, or RIPPED. Other times I want to challenge and maybe even offend, so BANDWAGON fits the bill. If I can pull them all off, well then I am happy.
You’ve acknowledged the cult appeal of BUFFY before and both BANDWAGON and TIMER are subtle and maybe too clever to find wide commercial success. Do you think that kind of success is overrated and what matters more: the response to the work or your opinion of it?
EC: Both. Ahahaha…Look I don’t want to do crap and God knows I’ve done plenty of it. Sometimes it was simply about keeping the house and not about artistic integrity or fulfillment. I want to be commercially viable and be in things that cross genres. There is a coolness to being a part of a cult club, but at the end of the day I want it all. I want my DARK KNIGHT or my INCEPTION or my LOST…artistic endeavors that were both commercial and independent from the norm. I want to be able to move from commercial to off the grid.
I look at TIMER and think it should’ve been a huge hit in theaters. It wasn’t. It opened and closed. But low and behold a year later it is this huge underground hit that found a life on Netflix and Showtime. I am a hit, but behind closed doors. If BANDWAGON does the same, well that is out of my hands. But I think it is not too insular and good enough to find a wide reach.
What’s a favorite memory from your time on the set of Buffy? Keep in mind I will award you bonus points for any reply that includes ample curse words and/or pseudo embarrassing revelations about the impossibly proper seeming Anthony Stewart Head.
EC: I don’t have one specific memory. I grew up in many ways on that show so it is really what I remember of my life during that time that I take away with me. I have worked with a lot of great crews but that crew was special. Just stand up, funny, talented people. I made some great friends who I still see today and some I have worked with on other projects.
Funny that you mention Tony as he has been very helpful in getting another project of mine called RIPPED into the right hands. RIPPED is about the early days of Jack the Ripper and the rise of psychic phenomenon in London. It launches as a graphic novel on-line on Oct 25th. Maybe that will be my Inception. Time will tell…
“The Body” is one of the best episodes of television I have ever seen and there are two scenes that really stand out: Buffy discovering Joyce and Anya’s breakdown in the dorm room with Willow and Xander. What does a scene like that take out of you and how did you feel about the material as you were filming it?
EC: That episode impacted a lot of people and really they can all thank Joss. For me, all I could think about during that scene was that we were in meal penalty because we were shooting into lunch and I had to go to the bathroom. There was no real thought to my performance at all. I winged it that day and went on instinct. Throw in a full bladder and dollar signs ticking and there’s the performance. I would love to say there was more to it than that but there isn’t.
Joss has said that a Buffy musical “belongs” on Broadway and the characters obviously still live on in comic book form, though not Anya because that evil man (Joss) killed you. As someone who was a part of the show, do you care about its life in other mediums? Also, if a Buffy musical happened would you rather be on stage or in the front row?
EC: That was a period of my life that I am grateful to have had and it helped shape me in many ways. But it’s over and anything creative that I had to give I gave it then. I have no doubt that if Joss put his mind to it, he could make a kick ass musical of it or out of anything he has created. Personally I think a Firefly musical would be a welcome addition to Broadway.
TIMER says a lot about how we seek love, what we think we want versus what we feel we want. Bandwagon takes aim at people who seek to validate themselves through good deeds. What’s the message behind your new film, TELLING OF THE SHOES and when will that see the light of day?
EC: TELLING OF THE SHOES is about telling the truth no matter the cost. Beyond telling the truth to others, it’s crucial to be honest with oneself. It explores the cost of that lie. Beyond that I can’t really say much more.
In all actuality are you pro or anti-bunnies?
EC: I have no issue with them.
You’ve appeared on SAVED BY THE BELL, the O-G BEVERLY HILLS 90210, and of course BUFFY. What’s the better hang-out spot: The Max, The Peach Pit, or The Bronze?
EC: The Peach Pit. Better food.
Has there been any drawback to your involvement in BUFFY?