Sarah Michelle Gellar had to split her time between two different Scooby gangs when making her latest feature - one as Buffy the vampire slayer and leader of a group who call themselves the Scoobies and secondly with a gang of sleuths in a real life feature adaptation of Seventies animation series Scooby Doo.
Sometimes it’s not easy being in both a hit television series and shooting a major feature film in Australia. Denying rumours that her seven-year-old Buffy was coming to an end, Gellar recalls that while shooting Scooby Doo, the live action version of the classic animated series, she was "doing two weeks on Buffy and then I would do two weeks in Australia and then two weeks on Buffy."
At least her blonde Scooby look was all wig. "I was going to dye my hair but when you get in to the logistics of that, it’s one thing to have every two weeks but can I go back and forth with the hair colour every two weeks?"
Not just a pretty face
The 25-year-old plays damsel-in-distress Daphne in the Scooby feature, a role she was determined to avoid playing as a stereotype. "I think it was important specifically for that character who in the cartoon was the most underdeveloped, to find her voice, to speak out and to say that she is worth it," Gellar says with a staccato rapidity that perhaps exemplifies her excitement.
Gellar also felt that as a role model for young girls who see Scooby, "I wanted to say: 'Look just because your stereotype is the pretty one in the group and even though your dad bought the van, you have more to offer to the group.' So having Daphne’s story be about finding that voice, I think was important and I hope that came across."
Buffy gets wired
Gellar’s fight sequences had nothing to do with parodying her work on Buffy, the actress insists, "but was about Daphne finding her strength, and about her wanting to be the one to finally save the day."
Although Gellar fans are used to her action moments on Buffy, she didn’t take Scooby any less seriously on that level.
"I worked for a month with a Hong Kong wire team, not having ever done wirework before. So that was all new and so much fun. However, what was important and I think harder for me in this film was to always make it look like it was still Daphne. She was not this martial arts expert all of a sudden, and still had her facial expressions. In addition, specifically, I think, in the beginning of the film audiences need to know that she could not take care of herself and I think she needed that."
Books vs Comics
Through Buffy Gellar has emerged as a major and popular star of her generation. She has starred in over a dozen films and met fiancé Freddie Prinze Jnr on the set of I Know what you did Last Summer.
Refusing to talk about her relationship with Freddie, she does concede that she doesn’t quite share her future husband’s fanaticism with comic books, "although I will say that I have a great life THROUGH them. Growing up, I was a book lover, and could sit down and read two books. You know, us book lovers can be snobby and we can read comic books. You know, it is not the same as holding that 15th century Chaucer or whatever, but I’ve learned to have such a great love for comic books and cartoons and what they bring to people and how much they mean. What I really learned through this is what happens with something that you have such an emotional investment to as a child and to keep seeing it evolve like that. It’s pretty amazing. I have certainly grown to love them."
Another big-screen Buffy unlikely soon
Perhaps it was Buffy that instilled in her a greater love of fantasy. The actress emphatically confirmed "that we have another season coming up" and remains continuously surprised that the series is such a success.
"If you had asked me in the beginning how long I thought the show would run, I would have responded that hopefully we’ll be on for like two or three years," Gellar recalls with amusement. "We were like this mid-season replacement on the WB called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You can see why people would say to me, ‘Well sweetheart, you’ll get another pilot next year, you know, don’t worry. Uh, my friends were so sympathetic."
That was then. Now about to start shooting season seven, Gellar insists that Buffy will not be hitting the big screen any time soon. "I’ve got to be honest and say that I believe that, first of all, it didn’t work as a film and we battled for so long, just getting out from underneath was essentially a failed feature film. I feel that with the beauty of the story, that the attachment you have and the ride that you take with these characters, that we make a movie every week. Therefore, to take one episode to expand, is kind of a waste."
Gellar also feels that her Buffy "is kind of a shocking thing for television" and if the show decides to end, "it’s really important for us to go out with a bang. We don’t want to be the show that people say your show had gotten cancelled two years ago. If we are going to go, then we’re going out with a bang and we’re going to walk away saying we did this many years of fabulous television."