A packed house greeted former Buffy star Emma Caulfield for a two-part panel at Chicago Comic-Con Friday beginning with a question and answer session that recounted the star’s career as Anya the vengeance demon and her new comic book venture, “Contropussy,” before transitioning to a full-on Buffy discussion featuring Doug Jones and Camden Toy.
Caulfield took the stage to applause before greeting a malfunctioning sound system, which she countered by using her “stage voice” to reach the fans in the back while staff worked to correct the problem during the opening minutes of the panel.
“I’m sort of blind, so I can’t fully make out hands,” said Caulfield as she addressed fan questions.
The sound then started, allowing the first fan to ask Caulfield’s opinion on her least favorite animal, a timely question given her new comic stars anthropomorphic pets.
“Moths,” said Caulfield to a laughing audience, “honestly I don’t see what their purpose is. They eat clothing and they burrow into your food, but other than that no. “I have a healthy respect for sharks. I can’t go into the ocean for that reason – up to my knees is about as far as I go. But as for an actual problematic issue, just moths.”
Another fan wanted to know if Caulfield was mad when her character was killed on “Buffy.”
“No, I asked [Buffy creator Joss Whedon] to kill me, so there was no problem there,” said Caulfield, “I wasn’t expecting him to kill me in a…um…scene, I thought I’d get, I dunno, a little bit more love. No, but I wanted to die, I thought it would be poetic.” Caulfield’s comments were light in tone, especially since her character was killed suddenly in battle.
From there a fan transitioned to a question about Caulfield’s knowledge of current Whedon projects.
“I haven’t seen any,” said Caulfield to laughter.
A fan wanted to clarify, asking if Caulfield had seen Whedon’s latest series, “Dollhouse.”
“Oh yeah, I think it’s rad,” said Caulfield implying she hadn’t yet watched the series, but noting that, “Eliza (Dushku) is awesome.”
The next fan asked Caulfield which episode of “Buffy” was her favorite.
“To film – the musical, that’d be my favorite one to film. My actual favorite is kind of a toss-up. I really liked ‘Plush,’ I really liked, I don’t even know the name of it, ‘Restless?'” said Caulfield noting the impact those episodes had on the series.
The musical was a popular topic during the panel, with the next fan wanting to know how long it took to film the special episode.
Caulfield recalled the episode took about two full weeks to shoot, which had been preceded by 2-3 months of preparation, including singing in a recording booth, which Caulfield credited for augmenting her talents.
A fan followed up by asking if Caulfield had any experience singing and dancing before joining the cast of “Buffy.”
Caulfield responded explaining that she had some experience from high school choir and musicals, but nothing extensive.
“And I smoke, too, so my voice, I don’t know what you’re going to get out of me,” said Caulfield to laughter.
As for how Caulfield got the role of Anya, she explained the process was pretty straightforward.
“Luck? I dunno. I auditioned and I got it. It was supposed to be a one-off, it was just supposed to be a guest arc, and Joss must have liked something and kept bringing me back for the third season until I was there all the time.”
Caulfield went on to explain that her character wasn’t planned to stick around and wasn’t in the bible of the show initially, but was accommodated as the larger storyline was fleshed out.
Next Caulfield explained how her character evolved over the chorus of the series.
” Well her mannerisms, for better or for worse, I guess I’ll have to take credit for. I don’t know when that really changed. At any actor at any moment, you just sort of feel like, “that’s what she should feel like now,” said Caulfield who characterized the evolution of the character as a symbiotic relationship between herself and the character of Anya.
“Maybe it was all the hair dye?” said Caulfield to laughter.
Following the details on Anya’s character, Caulfield was asked which actor she most enjoyed working with on “Buffy.” While the actress said she liked everyone, but had a soft spot for Tom Lenk, who played Andrew Wells on the show. Caulfield also liked her chemistry with Spike, played by James Marsters, for the unexplored, but fun and strange relationship between the characters.
Given the romance between her character and Nicholas Brendon’s Xander, the next fan inquired about whether the actress missed making out with her former co-star.
“I can’t answer that for Nick. There’s really no good answer to that question. My first impulse is ‘no,’ but that sounds bad. Nick and I – we’re so brother and sister. So how there was any chemistry at all is a mystery to me,” said Caulfield, “He thought it was really fun – and he was the only one – to eat salmon with red onion before a take, which was really interesting, and just laugh and laugh and laugh like a twelve year old boy. So No. I don’t miss it. But I do miss Nick. I haven’t seen him in forever.”
The next question transitioned into Caulfield’s upcoming projects, asking the actress what she’d be involved with in the future.
Caulfield responded that she’d just completed acting in a film called “Timer,” which she was very proud of since her comedic role had to differ so much from her ditzy personality as Anya.
“If any of you have seen ‘500 Days of Summer’ there’s a very sort of similar tone, I guess. If you liked ‘500 Days of Summer,’ you guys are going to like ‘Timer.'”
The next fan returned to the subject of musicals, wondering if Caulfield would ever want to participate in the medium again.
“Absolutely not. No. If I could have many lives running concurrently, there’s a desire to be on Broadway. But musicals? No,” said Caulfield who explained that she preferred plays, but only on Broadway.
Caulfield went on to explain that she prefers many of her new roles to acting.
“I’m actually much happier being behind the camera. I love writing and love creating other things. And when I act it’s like, ‘okay.’ ‘Timer’ being the exception. I think you do a few things that are really, really good, but it’s kind of pointless to do something that’s not of that caliber. I don’t know what I mean. I guess I’m not an actor,” said Caulfield to laughter.
A fan wanted to know if Caulfield had considered working on a project with Whedon.
“Wow, that’s interesting. I’ve never even thought of that. I mean, I think he’s a genius. Yeah, that’d be a lot of fun. He’s definitely trained me in a lot of ways. I think every dynamic he’s been very influential to me. [“Contropussy”] being an example. Yes, he’s – without even realizing it – is very influential in this project. You’re using allegories and slightly subversive material. I think this is even more subversive.”
Caulfield expanded on her Web comic, stating the new title is part of a planned multimedia project.
“‘Contropussy’ is a Web comic that launched today. It’s actually phase one. There’s ultimately three phases. Phase two is a [motion comic] and the last part is a film.
Caulfield also mentioned that her “Contropussy” co-creator Camilla Rantsen and she had written a film together and were waiting to announce some news on it.
“I’m hoping people like you will respond to ‘Contropussy’ the way I think you will. It’s not over the head. You have to essentially be smart. If you’re smart you’ll like it. It revolves around this cat that is in some fashion my alter ego, but in some ways every woman’s alter ego,” said Caulfield who went on to explain that the series would tackle sexual issues, absentee fatherism and other hot topics with two weekly installments over the next three months.
The panel then welcomed Camden Toy and Doug Jones to the table, who both played a variety of monster roles on “Buffy.”
The first fan to address Jones asked about the actor’s role as the Silver Surfer, which Jones joked about given the panel’s “Buffy” theme.
Jones explained that J. Michael Straczynski originally planned script hadn’t quite moved forward yet, but that he’d love to play the character again given his angelic qualities, which stand in stark contrast to his own personality.
The next question centered on the kind of pranks that happened on the set of “Buffy.”
Caulfield recalled co-star Alyson Hannigan’s shenanigans between takes, devoting time to hiding in bushes or behind corners to pop out and scare people.
Beyond scares, Hannigan also played an elaborate prank on Caulfield during her 27th birthday.
“It was my 27th birthday. [Hannigan] somehow got it into her head that it would be really funny if it was my 30th birthday and decided to tell everybody that I was a liar,” said Caulfield, revealing that she found her trailer filled with Depends adult undergarments later in the day.
Next Caulfield challenged fans to identify the project that she and Jones had worked on prior to “Buffy.”
It didn’t take long for a fan in the back to identify the film “Darkness Falls,” which both stars has mixed feelings about.
“To anyone who saw that film, I apologize,” said Caulfield to laughter, going on to say, “There’s good films, there’s bad films, there’s good bad films and then there’s Darkness Falls.”
Jones and Toy’s portrayals of silent, smiling killers in suits called “The Gentlemen” were favorites of “Buffy” fans, who wanted to know which roles the actors preferred outside of the series.
Jones enjoyed his time on the set of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” relaying that fans told him his character gave people nightmares. Toy identified the monster Gnarl, a demon that fed on human skin and was “the Hannibal Lecter of the underworld.”
Since the actors are famous for roles as monsters, a fan wanted to know if makeup and prosthetics made roles more difficult or obscured movement.
” I don’t think of [prosthetics] as obscuring, probably as enhancing. If you approach it like that it really helps,” said Jones.
“There’s so much to play with,” said Toy.
Jones also went on to explain that the monster costumes expanded his ability to perform as an actor and joked he’d landed many more opportunities than he did with his real face.
The conversation then transferred to Twitter, a social networking tool Caulfield wanted fans to trust.
“For all of you on Twitter. Can you just confirm that it’s me? I don’t know what more I can do. I’m about to get Twitter out on the phone,” said Caulfield to laughter.
One fan wondered if the actors had ever practiced their characters in front of their families at home.
Caulfield said she never did, with Toy and Jones agreeing.
“No, you hear about those actors who stay in character for like three months and I…no,” said Caulfield.
Back on the subject of “Contropussy,” a fan wanted to know if Caulfield would be contributing voice work to the proposed animated version or motion comic.
Caulfield said she’d like to be a part of the process, but has a friend in mind who she thinks is perfect for most of the roles on the show. Specifically, she thought a cameo or a performance as a squirrel who got run over by a car would be fun.
Transitioning back to Jones and Toy’s roles in monster makeup, a fan wanted the panel to describe whether or not they preferred working in costumes and prosthetics.
Caulfield said that she hated them, but Jones explained that acting is acting and toy agreed that each role is an actor’s baby. Jones went on to state that much more dignity was being brought to actors in full makeup, for playing monsters with human stories, but acknowledged a recent performance as a white man going through a mid-life crisis had its advantages for allowing him to work the snack table easier.
A fan asked Jones if he’d ever fallen asleep while being put in makeup, especially since he’d had to spend between five to seven hours in makeup preparing for his shoots.
“I have fallen asleep countless times in makeup and on the set,” said Jones, who relayed a story of crashing in Abe Sapien makeup only to wake up to laughter as his makeup artists wiped drool from his chin.
The panel wrapped with the group thanking fans for coming and for their remembrance of “Buffy,” and encouraging fans to check out “Contropussy.”