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Catch Up With the Cast of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ — See the Stars Then and Now!

Plus, fun facts about the cast members — including their new podcast series!

It’s safe to say Buffy the Vampire Slayer…ahem…slayed television. Picking up after the 1992 movie of the same name starring Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer, and with an epic death scene performed by the late Pee Wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens, the WB (and later UPN) TV series, which aired from 1997 to 2003, became a cult favorite, spawned successful careers of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv show cast (think David Boreanaz of Angel, Bones and SEAL Team) and even inspired an area of academic study.

Sarah Michelle Gellar led the Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast as the high schooler who finds she’s the latest in a long line of young women through history who are “chosen” to battle the blood-sucking undead — as well as a whole gaggle of supernatural demons. Buffy is stronger, faster and braver than most and has an extra-sensory ability to know when something wicked her way comes. The conceit is that high school can be — literally — Hell: the town she lives in, Sunnydale, California, sits on a portal to the underworld (the Hellmouth).

MUST-READ: ‘True Blood’: See Where the Cast of the Campy Vamp Series Is Today

Buffy is aided by “Watcher” Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), the school’s librarian and a sort of vampire expert/mentor, and her group of friends, including fiercely loyal nerd turned lesbian witch Willow (Alyson Hannigan), funny buddy Xander (Nicholas Brendon), cheerleader Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) and Oz (Seth Green), who briefly gets involved with Willow (and happens to be a werewolf), among others. Buffy’s slow burn flirtations with vampire Angel (David Boreanaz) and then equally undead Spike (James Marsters) kept fans sparring and debating online.

‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ cast, 1997WB/MoviestillsDB

Created by “quick-witted prince of nerds” Joss Whedon, the series was hailed for its strong female characters, sexy, funny and even groundbreaking storylines: In “The Body,” Buffy’s mom dies of natural causes, which the Slayer is powerless to change; the “Hush” episode had almost no dialogue and yet is “hilarious and utterly terrifying,” raved The Guardian. The epic “Once More With Feeling,” was a gleeful musical episode long before Glee or High School Musical made the scene.

Most recently, some members of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast participated in a new Audible original series, Slayers: A Buffyverse Story. Written and directed by Amber Benson (who played Willow’s girlfriend Tara), the story picks up 10 years after the Buffy finale episode and follows Spike as he fights evil in L.A. until a new slayer comes along. “I’m ecstatic to be back with my dear friends for this next chapter,” Marsters said. Carpenter, Emma Caulfield Ford (demon-turned-human, Anya) and Head also appear in the series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast: Then and now

Twenty years after Buffy went off the air, and despite controversy around Whedon’s behavior, the series is still beloved by fans. If you’re (blood) thirsty for more, we’re looking back at some of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast, along with fun facts and trivia about this much-loved show.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
1999/ 2023 Mitchell Gerber / Contributor // Dominique Charriau / Contributor

Having won a Daytime Emmy Award for her 1993-95 role as the daughter of Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) on All My Children, Gellar was familiar to some viewers when picked up Buffy’s spike. Tough, funny and vulnerable, Buffy led to her film career in such cult hits as Cruel Intentions, The Grudge and I Know What You Did Last Summer, where she met her husband Freddie Prinze Jr, with whom she has two kids.

Related: Sarah Michelle Gellar Talks Unplugging, Knowing Your Worth and What She *Really* Thinks About the ’90s Fashion Comeback

Since Buffy ended, Gellar has continued to act, including in 2023’s Wolf Pack on Paramount+, for which she’s also an executive producer. About werewolves, “It reminds me of Buffy,” she told The Hollywood Reporter, “not the show itself, but the way it addresses the horrors we’re facing today: anxiety, the stress of daily life, feeling isolated.”

Did you know? Academics, dubbed Buffyologists, wrote numerous papers and books about the sociological, psychological, gender-related themes in Buffy, which also inspired an academic journal called Slayage. James South, philosophy professor at Marquette University in Wisconsin, told NPR in 2003 that when he would mention the show to colleagues at various conferences, “we would just start talking about Buffy instead of philosophy, until we realized that we were doing both at the same time.”

Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles

Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
2000/ 2011 Getty Images / Stringer // Fred Duval / Contributor

The London-born Head came out of musical theater, having performed in versions of Godspell and Frank N. Furter in a stage revival of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His musical talents showcased in Buffy’s “Once More With Feeling” episode landed him a role in the rock opera Repo! The Genetic Opera in 2008. Head has become a go-to character actor, showing up in multiple other TV roles, most recently as obnoxious soccer team owner Rupert Mannion on Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso.

Did you know? Head had input into the development of Giles as a character. On his way to meet with Whedon, he told IGN, “I’d just seen Four Wedding and a Funeral on the plane…and I was very aware that Hugh Grant sort of cut a sexy figure at the time as this slightly bumbling, bookish man,” so he took a cue from that, combined it with some Alan Rickman (Harry Potter), “and quite a lot of Prince Charles,” and voilá, Giles was born!

Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg

Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg Buffy the vampire slayer cast
2003/2020 Steve Granitz / Contributor // Slaven Vlasic / Contributor

Buffy’s BFF, along with Xander, Willow goes through perhaps the greatest changes over the course of the series. Starting out as a shy computer nerd, by the grand finale she’s a powerful witch who for a time even goes to the dark side before being redeemed. Hannigan had been acting since age 4 and had starred with another Buffy actor, Seth Green, in 1988’s My Stepmother is an Alien.

Hannigan’s turn as Willow led to roles in American Pie, and also introduced her to her future husband, Alexis Denisof, who played Wesley Wyndam-Price on Buffy and later on the spin-off Angel. A mother of two, Hannigan starred for nine years on the hit How I Met Your Mother.

Did you know? Hannigan is reportedly very good friends with the singer Pink, who named her daughter Willow. What’s more, when she was younger, she used to babysit for Bob Saget’s kids— Saget (who passed away in 2022) later became the narrator on How I Met Your Mother.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris Buffy the vampire slayer cast
2000/ 2017 Getty Images / Stringer // Gilbert Carrasquillo / Contributor

Buffy’s childhood pal Xander is actually the one who began calling their circle the Scooby gang because their mystery-solving abilities are similar to those of the pals from Scooby-Doo. Unlike many other of his friends, however, Brendon’s Xander never develops any special powers — unless you count his magical sense of humor.

Though he crushed on Buffy, he eventually falls in love with former vengeance demon Anya. Sadly, since the end of Buffy, Brendon has struggled with depression and substance abuse and has been arrested several times. He appeared on Dr. Phil in a heartbreaking episode where he discussed feeling “hopeless.” He has lain low after suffering a heart attack in 2022.

Did you know? Brendon is also an artist whose work is available to view on his website and as a high schooler his date to the prom was actress Marley Shelton (2022’s Scream). Reportedly he brought her 100 roses.

David Boreanaz as Angel

David Boreanaz as Angel Buffy the vampire slayer cast
1997/ 2023 Vinnie Zuffante / Stringer // Paul Morigi / Contributor

The handsome Boreanaz got his big break with Buffy and his brooding, conflicted vampire was such a hit, that when Buffy and Angel finally slept together in “Innocence,” it earned the series’ highest ratings.

In 1999 he got his own spin-off, Angel, which ran for five years. Boreanaz went on to star for 12 years on Bones, opposite Emily Deschanel, and in the hit military series SEAL Team, which will air its seventh and final season on Paramount+ in 2024, a role for which Boreanaz says he feels “fortunate and blessed.”

Related: From ‘Buffy’ to ‘Angel’ to ‘Bones’ Here Are David Boreanaz’s Best Movies and TV Shows

Did you know? It was Boreanaz’s portrayal of a woman that got him the spin-off Angel! In Buffy’s Season 2 episode “I Only Have Eyes for You,” Angel and Buffy both get possessed by the spirits of former students. The surprise? Angel is inhabited by Grace, the girl. “I watched David very emotionally, unabashedly, and poetically playing a woman, and in that moment was like, “This guy can anchor a show,” creator Whedon has said.

James Marsters as Spike

James Marsters as Spike Buffy the vampire slayer cast
2016/ 2023 Justin Baker / Contributor // Albert L. Ortega / Contributor

Though many viewers were die-hard Angel fans, Spike became an interesting and controversial love interest for Buffy in the fifth season. A nemesis turned irresistible bad boy with platinum hair and a British accent — Spike’s seduction of Buffy culminated in the episode “Smashed” and a sex scene so passionate that the building they were in disintegrated around them. (Filming the scene knocked out Marsters’ stunt double, Steve Tartalia! “Basically, I came to with some flashlights and smelling salts,” he said.)

In addition to acting, Marsters is a musician and comic book writer. In 2023 his band, Ghost of the Robot, released a new album, Tin Man, which includes the song “Don’t Worry Son,” which Marsters wrote while working on Buffy. What’s more, his son Sullivan, 27, is a member of the band.

Did you know? Despite the fact that Marsters spoke with an English accent on Buffy, he’s actually a California native. Head helped Marsters out with his accent for the series. “Spike was supposed to be dirty and evil, punk rock, and then dead,” Marsters said at Comic Con. But his popularity surprised everyone, and he went on to appear in Angel as well.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv show is currently available to stream on Hulu.

For more cult classic tv shows, click through the links below!

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‘Felicity’ TV Show Cast: Where Are They Now?

‘Criminal Minds’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With The Agents of the B.A.U.

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