For seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anthony Stewart Head’s portrayal of Buffy’s Watcher, mentor, and father figure Rupert Giles served as the moral center of the show. A character who started off as a stern authoritarian teacher to our favorite Slayer slowly revealed himself to be a complex individual with a dark backstory. At face value from the moment we caught wind of his presence in the pilot episode, Giles appeared to be nothing more than an overly harsh, dull stickler who demanded that his rules be obeyed at all times.
Not only did future episodes reveal him to have quite the charming personality with a hinge of sly humor, turns out that there is a reason why the man finds such value in the rules. The more we learn about his past, the more we learn that he used to have a knack for breaking the rules, until it dearly cost him the lives of his friends. That’s just one thing that surprised us about Giles during his run on the show. There is a plethora of things about The Watcher which even the most diehard of fans do not know to this day, include some interesting behind the scenes facts about the man.
15. HIM AND ETHAN MAY HAVE HAD A ROMANCE
From the offset of his first appearance on the show, Ethan Rayne was always presented as both Giles’s best friend and mortal enemy. Essentially, Giles was the Angel to Ethan’s Spike. Supposedly, there may be more to the their relationship than we were ever led on to believe on-screen.
Jane Espenson — the writer behind the Ethan/Giles-centric episode “A New Man”– once opined that Giles and Ethan may have had a romantic relationship with each other in their younger days. Or, at the very least, they experimented sexually with each other because “Come on, they both went to public school,” she explained. Considering this was one of the writers of Buffy giving this hypothesis, maybe we should consider this theory as canon with some weight to it.
14. HE WAS THE FIRST ACTOR CAST ON THE SHOW
Prior to being cast for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anthony Stewart Head was but a LAMDA educated theater actor working onstage with the likes of Craig Ferguson in productions of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. He had a few television guest spots here and there, but he did not decide to seriously dedicate to a major role on tv until the mid-’90s.
Not long after failing to snag the title role of FOX’s 1996 Doctor Who movie, he went into another audition; the audition that would change his career forever. In his audition for the role of Rupert Giles, Joss Whedon and casting director Marcia Shulman only had to take one glance at Head to know he would be the perfect Giles. Just like that, Head was the first actor added to the cast, and frankly, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in Giles’s shoes.
13. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO SHOW UP IN SEASON FIVE OF ANGEL
We never saw Giles on-screen again after the series finale of Buffy, but there were plans to bring him over to the spinoff series, Angel, in season five. Anthony Stewart Head was planned to return to the role for the episode “A Hole in the World,” the episode where Fred gets possessed by and is slowly dying from Illyria. In an attempt to save Fred, Angel and Spike would’ve approached Giles about a cure for Fred, and Giles would tell them that there was no way to save her.
Whedon wanted to use Giles as a character who both the audience and the characters would believe without question, but it proved to be too expensive to fly Head from England to LA. Giles’s role was replaced by a new character, Drogyn, who is mystically compelled to always tell the truth.
12. ANGEL WOULD HAVE KILLED GILES ON-SCREEN
This has never been confirmed, but it has long been speculated and assumed that had original plans for Giles to make an appearance in season fivce of Angel actually followed through, we would have seen Angel kill Giles. In the penultimate episode of the series finale, “Power Play,” Angel would have used Giles’s death as his way to be initiated into the Circle of the Black Thorn.
It is actually very likely that these were the original plans as this is exactly what happened to Giles’s replacement character, Drogyn the Battlebrand. Again, this has never been confirmed or denied by Joss Whedon himself and it’s certainly something that someone needs to bring up to him one day, but considering Giles’s actual fate in the comics, these were probably Whedon’s original plans.
11. ANGEL KILLS HIM IN THE COMICS
While it does seem as though there were plans for Giles to get killed off by Angel on-screen, it turns out those plans eventually did come to fruition in the comic books. In the comic book continuation of the eighth season, there is a Big Bad that calls itself Twilight. Twilight manages to possess Angel and in the midst of battle, Twilight snaps Giles’s neck in the exact same manner as Angelus snapped the neck of Giles’s girlfriend from season two, Jenny Calendar.
Much like the death of Jenny Calendar, the death of Giles left fans shocked and devastated. In fact, this death was even more devastating as fans had gotten to know Giles since the very first season of the show. And just like that, he was gone in an instant.
10. HE’S RESURRECTED IN THE COMICS AS A CHILD
After indirectly killing Giles, Angel was a broken mess of a man. He may have been possessed at the time, but as far as he was concerned, Giles died at his hands. He was determined to make things right and with the help of Faith, Angel crafted a special ritual to bring Giles back from the dead. The ritual worked, but not without its side effects. Giles returned, but in the form of his 12-year old former self.
Oddly enough, 12-year old Giles looks suspiciously like Harry Potter. Anyway, as happy as she was to see Giles back among the living, Buffy couldn’t help but make jokes about him being a child. He was forced to grow as any other young adult, which became problematic when he found himself particularly moody while going through puberty.
9. A SPIN-OFF WAS PLANNED
After Buffy left the airwaves after seven seasons, a plethora of spin-off shows were in the works. Among them being one centered around Giles called Ripper. As early as 2001, there were plans for Giles to helm a miniseries for the BBC where he would basically be a ghost hunter. When that fell through, talks resurfaced in 2005, only instead of miniseries, they were working on a two-hour television movie. Then, Whedon became too busy with Dollhouse and the Buffy comic continuation.
When Dollhouse was cancelled, Whedon started working on Ripper again, but then found issues pertaining to the rights of the character. We may never see Ripper on-screen, but some storyline elements that were planned for the project made its way into the Angel & Faith comic in 2012.
8. HE HAS A TASTE FOR CLASSIC ROCK
Whenever the opportunity arose itself, the show managed to give audiences a glimpse of Giles’s taste in music. It turns out he actually has a solid appetite for classic rock. In the season three episode “Band Candy,” Giles reveals his album collection which includes Cream’s LP Disraeli Gears. He plays the song “Tales of Brave Ulysses” for Buffy’s mom, Joyce, and then listens to it again in “The Body” for Joyce’s funeral.
He also appears to be a big fan of The Who and Lynyrd Skynyrd, seeing as he performed a rendition of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” Over the course of the show, he is also revealed to be a tremendous fan of David Bowie, Velvet Underground, and The Bay City Rollers.
7. HE WAS LITERALLY BORN TO BE A WATCHER
Much like how Buffy Summers was destined to be a Slayer, Rupert Giles was always destined from birth to be a Watcher. It kind of runs in the family. In fact, it has for three generations no less. His grandmother and father were both Watchers before him, and learned at the age of 10 that he was next in line to take up the Watcher mantle.
Giles, at the time, had dreams of being a fighter pilot, but when destiny and true callings are thrown into the mix, he never exactly had a choice in the matter. After he was able to use magic to kill a light demon that was attacking his family, he was immediately taken to the Watchers Academy to train and hone his craft.
6. HE WAS THERE FROM BEGINNING TO END
Anthony Stewart Head worked hard to dedicate as much time as he possibly could to playing Rupert Giles on the show for seven seasons. As a result, Giles had a huge presence on the show, appearing in all seven seasons, amounting to appearing in 123 episodes. That is an impressive feat in itself, made even more impressive knowing that Giles is one of only five characters to have shown up in both the pilot episode and the final episode.
Those other four characters were Buffy (of course), Angel, Xander, and Willow. Throughout the course of seven seasons, we have seen a countless number of characters come and go from the show, but knowing Giles was one of guys who stuck around the longest actually warms our hearts.
5. RECENTLY NO-SHOWED BUFFY REUNION
In March 2017, to mark the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Entertainment Weekly staged a reunion for everyone in the cast to attend. Well, almost everyone. One notable omission from the bunch happened to be Anthony Stewart Head’s Giles. Fans were dismayed to discover that their favorite Watcher was missing from the festivities, but Head had a perfectly good reason for not showing up.
Head wanted desperately to appear and catch up with all of his old mates from the show, but the photoshoot and interview double feature happened to coincide with the tech rehearsal for his theater production of Terence Rattigan’s Love in Idleness. Afterwards, Head explained himself on Twitter and apologized. The play opened up a few months later to rave reviews.
4. GETTING KNOCKED DOWN WAS A RUNNING GAG FOR HIM
When Buffy finally wrapped up after seven seasons on the air, fans used the opportunity to extensively rewatch the show, study it, and judge it on its merits in retrospect. Most fans take the opportunity to analyze complex storylines, take into consideration the symbolism of it all, appreciate the foreshadowing, etc. Other fans take the opportunity to check out every episode where Giles gets knocked down and knocked out.
Turns out he gets knocked out a lot during the course of the show. So much so that a Youtube video titled “Giles gets knocked down” went viral by showcasing every clip where Giles gets the stuffing beaten out of him and knocked unconscious. He gets knocked out countless times in countless episodes across the show.
3. HE FOUNDED PINK FLOYD
Well, so he says, although he later admitted this was false. When Giles was in his teenage years and after he dropped out of Watcher’s Academy to pursue a normal life, he became something of a rebel. He briefly pursued a history degree at Oxford University before dropping out and falling in with the wrong crowd (future frenemy Ethan included) to delve into the dark arts.
In the middle of all this, he used to pick up girls by telling him he was a founding member of Pink Floyd. Years later, after giving up his pursuit of the dark arts, he founded a punk rock band of his own called Wretched. That is until he was encouraged by grandma Edna to fulfill his destiny as a Watcher, which he finally did in only to redeem himself of the mistakes he made in his youth.
2. HOW ANTHONY HEAD PREPARED FOR THE ROLE
When he was cast as Giles, Anthony Stewart Head was more than eager to start his first day on the job. There was only one problem: he knew nothing about librarians. He admitted on a DVD character profile that he felt so out of place taking on the role of a librarian. To rectify this, he did a lot of research for the role.
So much, in fact, that Head claimed that it was the most extensive research he had done for any role and he used his experience as a researcher to play a researching librarian. At one point in his researching, he spend a day with a librarian at a local high school, who was relieved to see a positive on-screen portrayal of librarians. “At last, there is someone to speak up for librarians,” the librarian told Head.
1. HE HAS HIS OWN COMIC BOOK NOW
While we will probably never get an onscreen Ripper spinoff for Giles, he has found a new life in the comic books. Not only in the comic book continuation of Buffy, but in his very own comic book written by both Joss Whedon and actress Erika Alexander of Living Single fame. Alexander most recently had a cameo in Get Out and has been writing Dark Horse’s Concrete Park.
This Giles spinoff is a four issue miniseries picking up where Giles’s adventures in the comic book continuation of Buffy left off. Last we saw him, he had died and been resurrected as a child. Now, in his new comic — Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Giles — he must navigate through Los Angeles high school life with an adult mind and a teenage body. The first issue hits shelves on February 28th.
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