I recently got the opportunity to sit down with Nicholas Brendon, who is best known for his performance as Xander Harris in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He is currently on a cross-country adventure and spending some quality time with his fans. While in Cleveland, a group of us had an entertaining evening of karaoke and Chinese food. There are no words to describe Nicky’s hilarity and mad skill as he rapped I’m On A Boat by The Lonely Island.
AM: I feel like the karaoke has become almost a theme with you. Is there a reason that you began hosting these types of events?
NB: When I was doing meet and greets, I would do dinner and we’d get a fair amount of people, but I felt like it was just rushed. It’d be like five minutes here, five minutes there and it just didn’t seem fair. The people that came with their friends, they would talk, but there wasn’t a lot of interaction. We did a karaoke event and even people that don’t sing, they still had fun. So, I find that our events are about three hours. The first hour is very low key, but by the second hour people are fully into it. It was just a way for everyone to kind of get to know each other and then taking a lot of the pressure off of me in regards to the “five minutes here, five minutes there”. It felt very stilted, so this is much better. You can kind of just walk around the room and mingle. I mean, you were there…I mingle. I’m a mingler.
AM: My first article for Crazy 4 Comic Con was actually about “Buffy” turning twenty, so I feel like things have come full circle. Why do you think that the show’s popularity has lasted so long, and why do think it’s still relevant to today’s youth?
NB: The relationships were key to it…and what Joss and the writers did in regards to forming those relationships. I dunno, it’s one of those shows that…it’s like a good cheese. It’s like a piece of American cheese or Velveeta. That you open your fridge twenty years later and it’s just better…and green.
Buffy had to be word perfect, so there was an algorithm. They knew exactly the cadence that they wanted it to be, which was great. You knew exactly what you had to do. When I was doing other shows, if you get about forty percent of the line right, you’re moving on. It was just very well thought out. It’s entertaining. It’s funny. Joss did this thing where he would take you to the cliff of emotion and then I’d have a joke. It was very well orchestrated.
AM: YES! And those were some of the greatest moments. Ok, who was your favorite Big Bad?
NB: The Mayor I think, just because I loved his acting. He was so dry. It’s not really even based upon whatever powers he had, I just really enjoyed watching his work.
AM: Were there any specific scenes or scenarios that you played as Xander that you really identified with?
NB: It’s hard to say because it all kind of bleeds in…what was Xander and what was Nicky? No. With tv shows specifically, writers will actually hang out with the actors so that they can get their cadence and it’s easier to write for them. We were so much alike, so there’s nothing that really stood out like that. Not the wardrobe.
AM: So NOTHING came from your closet?
NB: A couple articles did, but not pieced together the way that they were.
AM: Speaking of wardrobe, did you get to keep any props or wardrobe from the show?
NB: Yeah. I kept two of the leather Barneys jackets from when I was a vampire. I had the one…I wore it and it was lovely, but I left it at a hotel in Tennessee and I was like, “what am I going to do?!” so I went into wardrobe and got my stunt double’s. I actually gave it to a friend who was a big fan of the show a couple of years ago.
AM: That’s a great story! Ok…so I have some questions from my nephew. My five-year-old nephew, Xander, was named after the character, so I decided to mix things up and throw out a few questions to Xander from Xander. Since he’s five, I think they’ll be more entertaining than the run of the mill interview questions. His first question is, “Who is your favorite Spider-Man character?”
NB: The Green Goblin.
AM: He says, “My favorite sport is skipping. What’s yours?”
NB: Watching him skip.
AM: He DID have to demonstrate for me at the bowling alley.
NB: HAHA! Baseball. Hands down.
AM: What’s your favorite type of food? He says his are green beans.
NB: WHAT?! This kid is five?! Good for him! That’s very un-Xander. Umm… Chicken Parmesan.
AM: Oooh! Nicely done. What was your favorite subject in school? He specified real school and not the show. His is Math.
NB: Math I had my most cathartic experience. I wasn’t good at math, but at one point, I think I was in Geometry, I was like “why are we doing this?” Then I had the thought that it was to open our minds, to grow our minds. Once I had that thought, I just went with it. Before that I kept thinking, “I’m never going to use this stuff.”
Probably Science or English.
AM: I’m right there with you. Math just gave me panic attacks. As soon as I started seeing numbers I shut down.
NB: Yeah, but once I allowed myself to go, “Oh, cool. I’m not going to use it, but it’s food for our brain”, whether I was good or bad at it at that point I was just like, “Oh, cool.” I didn’t enjoy it, but I understood why we were learning it.
AM: Really quick before we go, I’d like to touch on the depression thing.
NB: It’s awesome. I love it so much.
AM: Well, I have suffered from panic disorder and depression pretty much my entire life. If there was one thing that you wish people knew about depression, what would it be?
NB: It ruins lives. What happens is that you want to reach out, but then you don’t. You’ll get to it tomorrow or something. The word anhedonia is a word that if people don’t know, they don’t understand, they should really look it up. It’s just that feeling of nothing…and that sucks. So I try my best. I pretend a lot. I pretend that I’m okay.
AM: I think probably most of us do.
NB: I don’t think people would look at me and say, “He’s depressed.” The funnier I am, it’s typically an indication of how depressed I am. It’s a Yin and it’s a Yang.
AM: Humor is a common way to try and cope. I completely understand. Thank you so much for your time and for chatting with me. I really appreciate it.
Take a look at Nicky’s schedule and see if he’s coming to a city near you. Whether you end up bowling, singing karaoke, or just grabbing some local cuisine, a fun time will be had by all. If you have stories from an event you attended, or just want to share your favorite Xander moment, comment below or tweet me at @amlehr.