With Covid-19 restrictions cautiously being lifted across North America, it means we’ve all been able to get back to doing some of the things we love – going to a restaurant or movie theatre, meeting up with family and friends. But, when we were were all basically told to stay home, there was always the question of what do you do with all that time locked down? Some people looked out their windows forlorn, others took up hobbies; some read the books they’d always meant too, while others actually wrote one. Of course, many of us did some combination of all of the above to keep the black dog at bay.
For James Marsters, known to millions as Spike on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, it turned out he had a surefire way of keeping busy.
“I’m a gamer,” he told me in our exclusive interview leading up to this weekend’s FAN EXPO Canada: LIMITED EDITION in Toronto. “So, I had to stay indoors and find something to do. Hmmm, this is gonna be just fine. I went back and did Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla again. I went through all of Far Cry again. I like big, open world games. I knew how to beat ’em but they’re still fun.”
“Far Cry 6 is really good,” I immediately chimed in, having begun playing the recently released Ubisoft Toronto creation for Biff Bam Pop!’s upcoming Holiday Gift Guide. “It’s my first Far Cry game and it’s so great.”
“You’re killing me!” Marsters said, smiling. “I’m on the road right now, and it’s downloaded. I hit download before I got on the plane and it’s waiting for me. I have a Xbox S, the new one, because it’s very small and you can travel with it, but I also have the PS5 and I wanted to play Far Cry 6 on the more powerful console, so I was a good boy, I didn’t download it on to my little travel thing.”
Expanding on his love of the franchise, Marsters said, “(In Far Cry) anything can happen! You’re trying to get one thing done and some animal comes and eats you alive out of nowhere! It’s just bedlam and I love it.”
In running down his list of games played, Marsters also revealed that “Wolfenstein II is my absolute favourite video game. It’s about a world where the Nazis won World War II, and in the second game they come and take over the U.S. and half of the population is just fine with that. You get to go into New Orleans and shoot people with white hoods on them, and you get to shoot them a lot.”
After everything we’ve all gone through because of the pandemic, getting back on the road and meeting fans in person has allowed Marsters some form of normalcy.
“It’s wonderful,” he says. “The thing that I missed most during lockdown was community, seeing people in three dimensions and interacting with them live. Conventions are just off the hook great that way.
“I was a bit nervous about it at first,” he admits. “But I talked to my ex-wife who is a nurse at a Covid hospital and has spent the last year and a half just hanging around people with Covid, basically. And she said, “Look, if you follow protocol, if you follow it rigorously, you’ll be fine. You have to get the right mask, get an N-95, make sure it’s sealed, wash your hands a lot, and you will be ok.” And I said, man, if that’s what she does, I’m gonna do that, and I find that that works. I think that there’s a way for us to come back together, we just have to be a little bit careful how we do it.”
As part of FAN EXPO Canada: LIMITED EDITION this weekend, where he’ll be doing signings and taking pictures, while also performing an edition of his famous Live and Unplugged set, there’s no doubt that James Marsters will encounter a fan base that continues to adore him for his iconic work as the platinum blonde vampire Spike on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Marsters made his on-screen debut as the character nearly twenty-five years ago in “School Hard”, the third episode of the show’s second season. Perhaps surprisingly, Marsters wasn’t initially keen on joining the series.
“(My agent) sent me the audition for Buffy and I was like, “Awww man, I saw the movie, it’s pretty cheesy. I don’t want BuffyThe Vampire Slayer,” he remembered. “And they said, “It’s on tonight, James. Why don’t you watch it and call us back after you watch it and make the decision then. It’s a television show now, the writer’s in control, and it’s very good actually.” So I watched about fifteen minutes before I called them back (and) just went “Holy crap, this is amazing! Yes, I’ll get on it!
“And I lucked out.”
FAN EXPO Canada: LIMITED EDITION takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre October 22-24. Visit their website for complete details, including information on photo opportunities and a Live and Unplugged event with James Marsters.