Considered one of the greatest television series of the last several decades, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of those rare amalgams of heartfelt drama, witty dialogue, and innovative storytelling. Buffy's fight with the forces of darkness was a great metaphor for the struggles of adolescence. One of the most beloved characters to come from its seven seasons was everyone’s favorite platinum blonde haired vampire, Spike. He didn’t start off as a series regular; he didn’t even appear until Season 2. The series involved a group of teenagers, led by the Chosen One Buffy Summers, who protected the world from the opening of the gateway to Hell that existed beneath their town.
Spike was simply a minor villain they clashed with that became a fan sensation. Like the best genre projects, the Scooby Gang’s conflicts with vampires, demons, and demi-gods were a means to explore themes of friendship, loyalty, love, and loss. No one got better storylines than the conflicted anti-hero Spike, torn between wanting to kill the Slayer and love her. You may have seen every season of Buffy, but there are a few facts we at CBR bet you didn’t know. Here are the 15 things that not even die-hard Spike fans may not be aware of!
15 HE SPEAKS SEVERAL LANGUAGES
Spike may come off as a little crass and uncultured sometimes, but underneath all that uncouth cynicism is a cultured linguist. From his British education as William the Bloody before he was turned into a vampire, he has a great command of Latin, which comes in handy when he’s the only one that can decipher a prophecy related to the Scoobies taking on Caleb. When Giles was turned into a Fyarl demon, Spike was the only one who could understand him, which was a good thing too, or Giles would have become best friends with Buffy and Mr. Pointy.
In Season 6 he appears to have an understanding of Luganda, a Ugandan language, when he visits a village in Africa to win his soul. Seeing as he’s over a hundred years old, while still considered a young vampire, his extensive traveling has clearly given him a wealth of knowledge.
14 JAMES MARSTERS ISN’T ACTUALLY BRITISH
Despite having an impeccable British accent (real Brits have had trouble believing he’s actually a yank), James Marsters was born in Modesto, CA. When it was decided that Spike would have a British accent, James based his dialect on Anthony Stewart Head, aka Giles, whose dulcetly articulated tones were very helpful to him to mimic.
This worked well for flashback sequences when Spike was William Pratt, his human self in Victorian London, but for modern vampire Spike, a slightly more blue collar accent was needed. It’s a good thing that Anthony Stewart Head’s own accent is much the same, which requires him to make it sound more posh and refined. This meant that he could help coach James in whatever manner of elocution he needed.
13 THE ROLE REQUIRED JAMES MARSTERS TO STAY OUT OF THE SUN
Despite living on the beach and being a solid Los Angelino, James Marsters had to stay out of the sun so as not to contract a tan. Despite having tons of CGI in it, Buffy wasn’t about to do some post production magic to lighten any tan lines. Of course, another reason he had to stay out of the sun was because he was recognized almost everywhere he went, since he was required to also keep his hair bleached white almost constantly.
James is purportedly fantastic with fans, even staying hours after his scheduled panels discussions at conventions to mingle with them. Fan love aside, being at a convention was probably the only place he felt he could blend, with so many attendees sporting his iconic look.
12 HE’S JOSS WHEDON’S FAVORITE
Joss Whedon has arguably written several of the most compelling characters on the boob tube, and given that he managed to center a whole series around the archetypical blonde who usually gets killed in all the horror movies, his unorthodox creative approach deserves recognition. And even as awesome as Buffy is herself, Joss Whedon has admitted that Spike is his favorite character on the show.
For a villain, he’s got a lot of layers and unexpected depth. He’s note all good or all bad, and right when you think you’ve got his motivations pegged (hint, mostly evil), he surprises you. It’s what makes you secretly root for him. There are a lot of sides to his personality, and he is given complex storylines that showcase them all.
11 HIS HAIRSTYLE WAS HARD TO MAINTAIN
As iconic and appealing as Spike’s platinum hair was, it required a lot of upkeep. James Marsters supposedly had to bleach his roots every eight days for six years to keep the color looking fresh. This may have been less the case in Season 6, when after doing some pretty horrible things to Buffy over the course of their on again, off again relationship, went crazy and lived under the high school where his hair was allowed to get a little wild.
In order to make bleaching sessions more bearable, he reportedly put several packets of Sweet and Low into the mixture to reduce the burning sensation on his scalp. The current look Spike sported was the same look he’d had in the ‘70s when he defeated his second slayer, and chose to rock a Billy Idol do.
10 JAMES MARSTERS WROTE A SPIKE COMIC
Though the Buffy television series ended with seven seasons, the adventures of Buffy and the Scooby Gang continued in a series of comics. A regular at San Diego Comic Con, James Marsters was describing a plot he’d been brainstorming for some time to comic book artist George Jeanty, who was already known for drawing many of the Buffy comics. Jeanty thought it was a great series of ideas and suggested that he get in touch with Scott Allie, editor at Dark Horse.
Jeanty made the call to Allie, and James made his pitch. Scott liked what he heard, and the one-shot was created, though it’s not considered canonical since it doesn’t fit in neatly with other events in the Buffy timeline. The content nearly became a Spike movie years ago.
9 HE GASLIGHTS HIS LOVE INTERESTS
Spike enjoyed quite a few love interests thanks to his bad boy persona and charming attitude. Despite being a babe magnet, he was horrible boyfriend material. When he dated the ditzy vampire Harmony, he used her sycophantic nature to make her into his puppet. She did reconnaissance for him, got him random humans to snack on, and generally did everything she could to make him happy. And though her methods weren’t perfect, he verbally berated her and made her seem like her feelings were invalid. She finally wised up and left him.
When he began a steamy romance with Buffy, he preyed upon the fact that she’d recently come back from the dead, her mother had died, and she was trying to fill an emotional void. When in her right mind, she had no need for his manipulative version of love.
8 SPUFFY IS A THING
Throughout the seven seasons of Buffy, the titular character enjoyed three major romances, two of them with vampires, and only one of which Sarah Michelle Gellar regards as Buffy’s true love. That would be Angel, the moody and brooding vampire from Season 1 who, because he had a tendency to go evil whenever he was with Buffy, had to break up with her. James Marsters likes to think that Buffy’s true love is Spike, because he challenges her more, and their romance isn’t “sappy”.
Joss Whedon would have to agree with James, also feeling that Buffy’s true love is Spike, who went through all the pain of getting a soul for her, and actually tried to better himself to be a man that she could love. There’s also no denying their chemistry, so it’s no wonder many fans agree with him.
7 HIS TRENCHCOAT WAS RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE
Spike’s leather trenchcoat is, aside from his platinum blonde hair, one of the most iconic things about his look. It gives off the badboy vibe, but also harkens back to the long coats he would have worn as William the Bloody, as opposed to a simple leather motorcycle jacket. Plus it billows quite moodily in the misty cemetery.
Believe it or not, his trenchcoat cost about $2,000, and it was run over with a truck and rubbed in the dirt to give it that weathered look. That seems a little extreme given that there are plenty of crappy looking trenchcoats chilling at the local thrift shop. Spike enthusiasts looking to recreate the look for cosplay or costuming purposes should definitely take the less expensive commitment to authenticity.
6 HE WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO MAKE IT PAST SEASON 2
Originally when Spike’s character premiered in Season 2, he was supposed to be a minor villain with a small story arc that only lasted a total of five episodes. He came to Sunnydale with his mate Drusilla to use the powers of the Hellmouth to heal her in her weakened condition after a violent incident in Prague. Buffy and the Scoobies had other plans for the Big Bad.
And despite the fact that Spike fled Sunnydale at the end of the season, the character proved so popular that he was written into several more storylines with the Scoobies in season 3. After a time, his “guest appearance” credit disappeared and he became a series regular, begrudgingly helping the Scoobies in their conflicts against the supernatural and evil.
5 HE WAS ALMOST REPLACED BY XANDER
In Season 4, the seeds are sewn for Spike’s budding crush on the Slayer, mostly in the form of flirtatious banter, and the occasional theft of an article of her clothing to cuddle. By Season 5, the crush was legitimate, with an episode towards the end involving him contracting a “Buffybot” to be made for whatever carnal fantasies he’d imagined. At the beginning of Season 6, when Buffy comes back from the dead, the pair start a strange romance that centers on Buffy feeling alien in her own body.
Nicholas Brendon, who plays Xander Harris on the show, suggested that Buffy and Xander have a romance in Season 7, but executives wanted to continue having Spike be the main man in Buffy’s life moving into the next season, presumably because their interactions were a big hit with fans.
4 JAMES MARSTERS COULDN’T HANDLE THAT ONE SCENE
Season 6 was the season for characters going against type, with many fan favorites acting incredibly erratically, to the detriment of their interrelationships. It was also notably darker than the other seasons, with Willow becoming addicted to magic after Tara’s death, Xander leaving Anya at the altar, and Buffy going from being altruistic and morally unambiguous to participating in reckless behavior. Not only did she routinely drop commitments with the Scoobies, she engaged in a torrid relationship with Spike that brought out the worst in her.
As Joss Whedon plunged into the darkest part of his characters, Spike got a troubling scene; Spike nearly assaulting Buffy in her bathroom after desperately trying to get her to say she loves him. James declared the day they shot the scene as the hardest day of his professional life, with him spending time in the fetal position between takes.
3 SPIKE WAS ALMOST FROM TEXAS
Before Joss Whedon and the writers knew how they envisioned Spike’s character, they tossed around a lot of ideas about his background. At one point, it was thought he would be Creole, and they had James Marsters practice a Bayou accent. Then they thought a Texas accent was the better choice. James thought it would make the character more “sexy” and charming, but Joss Whedon wasn’t convinced it would make him sound dangerous enough.
At the last minute, the creative department decided that Spike would be British and not Texan, and specifically from a tough working class background. They wanted him to sound rough around the edges and intimidating, reserving a more refined accent for the flashback sequences when he was depicting William the Bloody.
2 NATHAN FILLION AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE
As famous as James Marsters became for playing Spike, another famous face almost portrayed the Big Bad (although he wasn’t well known at the time, either). Nathan Fillion, since famous for his starring role on Whedon’s series Firefly, auditioned for the role. Like James, he approached it with a Southern accent when it was thought that Spike would be from the South.
Ultimately Nathan wouldn’t get the part, but he did get a recurring guest spot as a villain in Season 4; the cult like leader Caleb, who was also attempting to open the Hellmouth and release the forces of darkness on Earth (though admittedly from a slightly more fundamentalist/zealot perspective). He played the part of a deranged and power hungry preacher type with hammy aplomb.
1 JAMES MARSTERS DID MOST OF HIS OWN STUNTS
James has stated many times he loves doing his own stunts. He loves learning intricate choreography and filming the fight scenes. With a history of choreographing fights for the stage, he is right at home either in hand to hand sequences or with weapons. The reason the fight sequences between Spike and Angel or Spike and Buffy looked so convincing was due to the trust between the actors, they let little air pass between their swings.
Some stunts were not on the menu for the starring actors, like falling out of two story windows or being hit over the head by two by fours. That was for the stunt actors, but it didn’t stop James from doing as many of his own stunts as he could get away with because he felt it looked more authentic.