The modern TV viewer that has such a wide variety of quality genre television to choose from nowadays can't possibly imagine what it was like when Joss Whedon first brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the WB in 1997. The show's clever dialogue, feminist characters and compelling storylines made it a huge cult classic and a surprise commercial success for the WB. It was so popular that Whedon was able to spin off one of the characters from the series, David Boreanaz's Angel, into his own series on the WB.
The original Buffy series ran for seven seasons and the Angel spinoff ran for another five. All in all, Whedon worked on the "Buffverse" from roughly 1996-2004 (plus he later returned to expand the show's storyline in the world of comic books). That's quite a long time to work in one continuity and in those years, there was plenty of fun to be had backstage. As many big fans know, the cast and crew transcended just being coworkers and then friends, becoming as close as family on their journey together. Here, we've collected 15 amusing behind the scenes photos from both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to "once more with feeling" share in all of the "smile time."
15 THEY STARTED IT ALL
An important thing to remember about Buffy the Vampire Slayer is just how young Joss Whedon was when he created the show. He wasn't even 30 years old when he wrote the original movie (starring Kristy Swanson as Buffy), and was only 32 during the production of the first season of the series. He was less than a decade older than Alyson Hannigan and Nicholas Brendon (Sarah Michelle Gellar was the youngest of the main original cast, just 19 years old during the filming of the first season).
Therefore, seeing him together with the three main characters in this photo really highlights how they really were sort of all together as young people putting this great product together with each other. It wasn't a case of some old overseer, it was more of a group of equals.
14 IT WAS THE 1990S, AFTER ALL
When you're coming up with outfits for the actors to wear on a series, you can't help but be influenced by the current era that the series is filming in. However, generally speaking, clothing designers for TV series at least try to make an attempt at coming up with looks that will hopefully not become helplessly dated a year after the episodes air. Buffy the Vampire Slayer certainly achieved that distinction. The show was clearly made in the 1990s, but not obnoxiously so.
The same, however, cannot be said for the cast members behind the scenes, as this throwback photo hilariously illustrates. Plus, you have to love the contrast between Angel's typical duds and what David Boreanaz is rocking in this photo, not to mention those regrettable frosted tips.
13 THE BOREDOM WARS
Buffy the Vampire Slayer became famous for its ensemble, as Joss Whedon kept adding great new characters to the original core members of the cast, like Charisma Carpenter's Cordelia and Seth Green's Oz. However, the heart of the show was still clearly Buffy. Ass a result, she got a lot more screen time than anyone else, which of course makes sense. The end result of a filming split up like that is that there was plenty of down time for the other cast members, especially the slightly lower level characters on the show.
Here, we see Nicholas Brendon and Charisma Carpenter entertaining themselves behind the scenes of what was likely a long shoot by playing the ol' "throw popcorn into each others' mouths" game. We cannot confirm whether this shot made it, but it is nice to remember that these incredible stars killed time just like the rest of us!
12 HEADS UP
Lorne the singing demon, portrayed wonderfully by the late, great Andy Hallett, was from a demonic dimension called Pylea. One day, he ended up being transported to Los Angeles via a portal and opened up a successful club in the city. He eventually befriended Angel and reluctantly agreed to go back to his home dimension to help rescue Cordelia, who had been transported to Pylea.
On the mission, Angel and the gang met The Groosalugg (Mark Lutz), a Pylean demon who was horrifically disfigured, by which, of course, it means that he looks like a human. Here, Hallett poses with Lutz and Charisma Carpenter along with, creepily enough, his head. Lorne, you see, can survive a be-heading, so they had to make a copy of Hallett's head for the episode. That must be so disturbing to carry your own head!
11 SWORDS ARE FUN!
Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of show business, actors can seem to forget about just how awesome their jobs can be at times. Yes, there are plenty of downsides of acting, but they also get paid to dress up and play fight, which has got to be so much fun!
You can see how much fun it could be in this great picture showing Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz going at each other in one of the times that Angel has turned evil and become his bad guy alter ego of Angelus. They are supposed to be super serious and intense in this scene, but when you get to run around with fake swords, you can't help but occasionally crack a smile while you're going at it.
10 FOUR TIMES AS MUCH WILLOW IS A LOT OF WILLOW
As an actor on a series that has so much action in it, you're going to have to have a stunt double, because there are certain scenes that you simply cannot trust an actor to do. Partially, this is because they're too dangerous for the actor, but also because they can't be expected to do some of the things that a trained stunt professional can do.
The actors have an interesting relationship with their stunt doubles. They have to spend a lot of time with them but it is all behind the scenes, so fans rarely know who they are. In the episode, "Doppelgangland," there are two Willows in the episode. The regular Willow and a vampire version from an alternate dimension. Each Willow needed a stunt double, leaving us with three people trying to look like Alyson Hannigan!
9 CELEBRATING 100 EPISODES OF BUFFY
On any TV series, getting to 100 episodes is a major milestone that is met with a lot of celebration. That was clearly the case with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, things were a lot different with this particular celebration. You see, the 100th episode, "The Gift," was important for a whole other reason. It was the season 5 finale and it marked the final season that Buffy would air on the WB!
Yes, after five seasons, Joss Whedon ended up moving the series to the rival network (that had launched at the same time as the WB), UPN, for what turned out to be the final two seasons of the series. So this celebration must have been a particularly bittersweet occasion for a number of members of the cast and crew.
8 THE MAKEUP CHAIR TRAP
As noted earlier, filming an ensemble TV series requires a whole lot of down time when you're not being filmed. However, there is a whole other problem for some actors when they are working on a fantasy show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. You see, these shows have some of the actors playing vampires and when you're playing a vampire that means you have to be transformed into looking like a vampire.
That means that you have to go through some rigorous vampire make up, which in turn means getting into work early and just sitting in a chair for hours with nothing to do except talk to people or maybe listen to music. For characters like Spike who frequently "vamp out," it means James Marsters had to do a whole lot of sitting around while getting ready to play the popular anti-hero bad boy.
7 ANGEL GETS IN ON THE ANNIVERSARIES
Just like Buffy, the 100th episode of Angel was a lot more bittersweet than a typical 100th episode celebration. Of course, to be fair, the "Buffyverse," in general, is all about the bitter with the sweet, so it would be strange if an episode ever was just a flat out happy celebration. Originally, the plan for the episode was to bring Buffy Summers into the series to deal with the fact that Spike had joined the cast of Angel in Season 5 following the conclusion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer earlier that year. Gellar, though, backed out due to a death in her family.
Instead, the episode resolved Cordelia's storyline on the series by killing her character off. So the 100th episode celebration was also a farewell to Charisma Carpenter (who had already left the series, but now she was gone for good).
6 ILLYRIA HAS SOME FUN
Speaking of how much the "Buffyverse" likes to give the bitter with the sweet, soon after Winifred "Fred" Burke (Amy Acker) and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) had finally professed their love for each other on Angel, Fred was killed and her body became the host to a powerful demon named Illyria. So now, not only did Wesley have to deal with his true love being dead, he had to keep seeing her body possessed by an ancient evil demon!
Illyria required Acker to do some intense acting, so it is fun to see a behind the scenes photo with Acker laughing and having a good time while decked out in her Illyria outfit. Talk about a major juxtaposition between a character and the actor's personality when the cameras aren't rolling!
5 POWER SHOWDOWN
As we mentioned, for as much as Buffy the Vampire Slayer was very much an ensemble show, it was still called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and as a result, Sarah Michelle Gellar was the heart of everything. As the series went on, she got more and more involved in the running of the series.
Joss Whedon was not against this extra involvement by Gellar, of course, but it was still interesting to see the two sometimes clash over the direction of the series and/or Buffy's character. We don't know whether this particular behind the scenes shot was capturing a contentious discussion or not (frankly, it looks like a civil discussion), but it definitely gives off the sort of vibe of "The kids hanging back while Mom and Dad talk," doesn't it?
4 EVERYONE HAS TO EAT LUNCH
In a famous anecdote about the filming of the movie, Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish talked about how her co-star, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Pinkett Smith's husband, Will Smith, invited themselves on to a swamp tour that Haddish was going on during a break in the movie's filming in New Orleans. Naturally, the other people on the swamp tour were shocked to see major celebrities on their tour.
This is because we build up this image of celebrities in our minds that when we see them doing normal things, it looks strange. It's the same basic concept behind why it is weird when you're a kid and you run into your teacher at the supermarket. Similarly, that's why this photo of the Buffy cast just having lunch during a day of filming is so funny to look at. They're just like us!
3 "ONCE MORE WITH FEELING" GETS THE BEST OF GELLAR
One of the most famous episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer occurred in the sixth season, in the episode, "Once More With Feeling," where a "musical" spell is cast on Sunnydale, causing everyone in the town to act as if they were in a musical (with Joss Whedon writing all of the music and lyrics for the episode).
Some of the people in the cast had a musical theater background and others did not, so for some it was a particularly grueling episode to film. The cast went through months of vocal training and they also had to take part in rigorous dance training. This photo of Sarah Michelle Gellar in the middle of training explains why she recalled of the episode after it aired, "In the end, it was an incredible experience and I'm glad I did it. And I never want to do it again."
2 THE ANGEL CAST GETS TO DRESS UP
Not all of the times that an episode was a "very special" one was the "very special" part of the episode a burden on the actors. For the cast of the Angel Season 3 episode, "Waiting in the Wings," it was a bit of a delight for everyone involved.
The episode involved the characters all going out for a night at the opera. This allowed the actors to all dress up in fancy clothes and you can see from this photo that they are delighted by that fact. It also allowed them to shoot during the daytime, which was a nice treat for the actors, to be able to actually go home for dinner afterwards. You have to understand, the show often filmed at night because it was such a dark show -- as shows about vampires often are.
1 ONE FINAL DANCE-OFF
The final battle of the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer took place on location at the heart of the Sunnydale Hellmouth. They arrived at Sunnydale High School in a school bus (the cast had grown exponentially in the final season with the addition of all of the young women who had the "potential" to become Slayers if the current "official" Slayer, Faith, were to die). They then successfully destroy the Hellmouth. Spoiler!
With everyone knowing that this was the final scene of the series, there were lots of behind the scenes photos taken of that day, as it was very emotional for everyone. However, with that much emotion, you need for some people to try to liven up the mood. This led to an especially humorous photo featuring Eliza Dushku (Faith) having a dance-off with Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells).