William the Bloody. Hostile 17. Captain Peroxide. But you know him as Spike—the platinum-haired vampire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Played by James Marsters, Spike went from a wannabe big bad to a big-time love interest and co-star in his own right. Put down the kitten poker and savor a bite of 44 bloody cool facts about Spike the Vampire.
44. Paging Dr. Freud!
When casting Spike’s mom, the showrunners settled on actress Caroline Lagerfelt because she resembled the object of Spike’s affections, Buffy (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar). To make things creepier, the shooting script lists her as “Anne,” which is also Buffy’s middle name.
43. Taking a Punch
Having choreographed fights for stage shows in the past, James Marsters insisted on doing much of Spike’s own stunts himself.
42. Looking Bad Takes Work
Spike’s signature leather jacket cost the show a hefty $2,000. To achieve that worn and edgy look, the crew ran the coat over with a truck and rubbed dirt all over it. Apparently, just buying a dirty coat from a thrift store was just not punk-rock enough.
41. Refusal to Die
Spike was not supposed to live past season two of Buffy, but viewers’ positive response to Spike expanded his lifespan.
40. Forever 27 (to 30) Club
According to semi-canon Buffy comics, Spike was born between 1850 and 1853.This made him about 27 to 30 years old when he was turned.
39. Traumatic Craft
Marsters is sensitive to depictions of sexual assault on TV and film. He called the season six scene where Spike attempts to rape Buffy the hardest thing he’s had to do as an actor, and he would very much like not to film such a scene again.
38. Build-an-Accent Workshop
Anthony Stewart Head (who played Giles) helped Marsters with his British accent. Head speaks with a South London accent, which Marsters roughed a bit with a working class edge. As a result, Spike sounds more like Head’s natural speaking voice than Giles with his more formal, librarian-worthy dialect.
37. Howdy, Slayer?
Early in the character’s development, Spike’s accent was Cajun. They eventually settled on British Cockney as the “sexier” option. Marsters quotes this change as why Spike was popular enough to survive more than 5 episodes: “When I read for Spike, I also did it with a Southern accent, which would have been sexy but not as dangerous. I’d have been staked if they’d gone with Southern; I’d be dead by now.”
36. No Inspiration Without “Punk”-spiration
Spike and Drusilla were styled after doomed punk rock couple Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Sid Vicious was in the punk rock band the Sex Pistols. He was charged for the murder of Spungen before he himself died of an overdose, mirroring Spike and Drusilla’s own violent relationship.
35. Sick of Sid
Marsters was resistant to Spike being modeled after Sid Vicious. The actor told Joss Whedon, “Sid Vicious was an idiot; he was also a horrible bassist. The reason why the Sex Pistols were the Sex Pistols was because of Johnny Rotten…I’m gonna give you Johnny.” Joss Whedon apparently said, “Yeah, whatever,” and Marsters did what he wanted.
34. That’s Close Enough?
At the end of Lovers Walk, it appears Spike is paying homage to his character’s roots as Sid Vicious as he sings along to the Sex Pistols’ cover of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. In fact, the song is a cover of Sex Pistols’ own cover! It’s sung by Gary Oldman, who played Sid Vicious in the film Sid and Nancy.
33. Battle Scars Make a Good Beauty Statement
Marsters has a Y-shaped scar on his eyebrow as a result of a mugging. Make-up artist Todd McIntosh shaved around the scar in order to make it more prominent and edgy.
32. Mr. Congeniality
Spike scarcely gets along with people, but ironically, he is the only Buffyverse character to have met all of the series regulars on both Buffy and the spinoff Angel at least once.
According to attentive fans, Spike has committed 38 onscreen kills during his time on both Buffy and Angel. This includes 21 vampires, 15 demons, and three humans.
30. Queen C’s Understudy
When Spike re-joined Buffy as a series regular, Whedon intended for the character to inherit Cordelia Chase’s role of the person who stands from the side and says, “Buffy, you’re stupid, and we’re all gonna die.”
29. Heir to the Playboy Mansion
In the post-Angel comic After the Fall, it’s revealed that Hugh Hefner is a vampire. Spike kills the Playboy founder and replaces his bunny harem with his own “Spikettes.”
28. Move Over, Governor Schwarzenegger
When Los Angeles fell into a hell dimension in the post-Angel comics, there was a scramble for power. Demons appointed themselves the lords of various LA districts, and Spike and Illyria find themselves as the co-Lords of Beverly Hills.
27. Love at First Fright
Marsters played Spike with an attraction to Buffy from the start. This beat is somewhat evident from Spike’s first episode, when he observes Buffy dancing at The Bronze.
26. Silver Hair, Silver Screen?
In 2004, Whedon had plans for a spin-off Spike movie. By 2006, Amy Acker confirmed that it would not go ahead due to money issues.
25. Evil Takes Care
To achieve the devilishly white ‘do, Marsters had to re-bleach his hair regularly. Sometimes, it would make his scalp bleed or even fall off during takes!
24. Cutting Himself Off
In 2004, Marsters finally got to shave off his iconic blonde Spike hair. He did so on live television for a charity event.
23. Comical Efforts
Marsters had some of his own ideas for the Spike spin-off movie, and even created a script. The script was used for the 2014 comic titled Spike: Into the Light. The story followed a recently souled Spike on his own adventures, finding it difficult to survive without committing crimes (and needing a new pair of boots).
22. From the Mouth of Whedon
The Buffy/Angel (“Bangel”) vs. Buffy/Spike (“Spuffy”) ship wars will undoubtedly go down in history. But if you ask the showrunner himself, Joss Whedon firmly prefers Spuffy.
21. I’m You but Shorter and English
Buffy loves to play with doppelgangers. Case in point: Spike’s human first name was “William,” which is the Anglo-equivalent of Angel’s Irish given name, “Liam.”
20. Older Than He Looks? Or Can’t Do Math?
Spike has three “ages” in the show. In his first appearance, Giles reads that Spike is barely 200. However, in the season four episode “The Initiative,” Spike calls himself 126 years old. Finally, in the season five episode “Fool for Love,” Spike became a vampire in 1880, making Spike about 150, give or take, including his human years.
19. Trick and Switch
Todd Freeman was also in the running to play Spike. Instead, he went on to play another Buffy vampire, Mr. Trick.
18. A Pratfalling Homage
Spike’s human name “William Pratt” is a homage to the classic horror actor Boris Karloff, of Frankenstein fame. Karloff’s birth name was William Henry Pratt.
17. Bunkmates to the Tomb
As if the gods of media themselves willed this rivalry back to life, Spike came just under Angel on Forbes‘ 2009 list of Hollywood’s Most Powerful Vampires. They were #3 and #2, respectively.
16. One Spike to Rule Them All
Spike ranked first on SFX magazine’s “Top 50 Vampires” on TV and movies list. He beat out his fellow Buffyverse vampire this time; Angel only came in third.
15. You Can’t Take the Skies From Him
Buffy lives on in comics, and Spike has managed to keep busy. Although he was absent for a while, he briefly led his own spaceship of alien bugs. They found purpose in their vampire leader, and he, in turn, taught them poetry, culture, and chaperoned their weddings.
14. Transfer of Property
Spike continued to have his own adventures in a Post-Angel comic series. Relocating to Las Vegas, he reconnects with Drusilla, who herself is dating a human. Her new boyfriend is soulless, claims that Spike took his soul, and now wants it back. Awkward.
13. Making Academic Spaces Unsafe Since 1997
We all know Buffy has inspired its own interdisciplinary field of scholarship called “Buffy Studies.” Even scholars can get pretty intense when it comes to the subject of Spike. In their article, “The vampire Spike in text and fandom: unsettling oppositions in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Dee Amy-Chin and Milly Williamson mention how emotions at the 2004 Slayage Conference could run high and veer in a way that did not “fit into a scholarly environment.” Particularly, “emotions ran high on the subject of Spike–and…any scholar presenting a paper that sought to criticize the character was met with considerable hostility.”
12. Retconned Into Granddaddy
In his first episode, Spike calls Angel his “sire” (Specifically: “You were my sire, man. You were my Yoda!). This is revealed to be untrue as it was Drusilla who turned Spike into a vampire, not Angel. Joss Whedon covered for his mistake by explaining that Angelus could still be called Spike’s “grandsire” because he sired Drusilla. Sure, let’s go with that.
11. Sir Creeps-a-Lot
Victoria Spah’s article reads Spike’s often creepy romantic antics through the lens of courtly love. Courtly love is a rather archaic set of principles wherein the “knight” (in this case Spike) performs a series of chivalric feats for the lady above his station (which she reads as Buffy). The article invites us to view “Spike’s snagging Buffy’s underwear as a twisted (and amusing) parallel of the knight’s insistence on obtaining his Lady’s ‘favor’ and tying it on to his armor as he goes off to battle.”
10. Casting Is a Funny Thing
James Marsters is closer in age to Kristine Sutherland, who played Buffy’s mom, than he is to Sarah Michelle Gellar. In the show’s defense, Spike was not originally cast to be Buffy’s love interest, but still…
9. Whedon’s Write-Hand Boy
In a Reddit AMA, Joss Whedon listed Spike among his favorite characters to write (Angel was the hardest).
8. Wife Inspired
Spike’s love interest, Dylan, from the Spike: Into the Light comic was modeled after Marsters’s real-life wife, Jasmine.
7. Undead Acting Reaction
Remember the iconic first scene where Spike and Drusilla lean into each other, touch foreheads, and then look at the camera in sync? That beat was inspired from James Masters’ audition, where he and Juliet Landau’s improvised chemistry was noticed immediately. When it came to getting cast, James Marsters gave huge props to his co-star and audition-mate. Landau had already been cast and “didn’t have to extend herself that way,” but Marsters said they developed an “instinctual trust.”
6. A Wet Willie the Bloody
When it came to biting peoples’ necks as Spike, James Marsters got a bit awkward…and wet. He had to spit all over the necks of his “victims” for it to seem like he was really chewing into them. He found himself wiping down a lot of neck afterwards and apologizing.
5. Who’s Mom Bringing Home to Dinner?
In an interview, James Marsters once half-joked that it would be funny to see Spike and Buffy’s mom dating. As he says, “You know, she’s more mature. Spike’s 12 you know.”
4. Smash the Censors
In “Smashed,” Buffy and Spike notoriously bring down a house with their first-time sex. The final cut was edited to minimize the steam. If you search the Internet hard enough, you can still find the raunchier cuts floating around.
3. Love Tokens
In one Season five episode, Buffy is stabbed in the gut with her own stake and needs to temporarily wear a bandage. In a later episode, Buffy uncovers Spike’s stalker shrine devoted to her. In the episode shooting script, set details mention “a large gauze pad with dried blood” atop the shrine’s table—a feature that makes Buffy clutch her ribs…
2. Chimney Sticks
Spikes smokes Morley’s cigarettes—the same brand that James Marsters preferred.
1. Fiendishly Fragrant
When asked what Spike smells like, James Marsters simply replied, “Sex.” Not bad for a vampire who doesn’t have a bathroom.
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