The recent cast reunion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer led to some heartwarming moments, funny anecdotes, and fond memories for the actors as well as the fans, but perhaps the greatest thing to come of reassembling the Buffy cast had more to do with the romance between Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay. Speaking about the groundbreaking lesbian romance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alyson Hannigan, who played Willow, and Amber Benson (Tara) shared their memories of the story arc and their feelings about making a lesbian romance a prominent part of the series.
Alyson Hanningan and Amber Benson Bring Same Sex Love to Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced the horror genre to television in a way that had never been done before, combining monster of the week stories with the greater story arc of the main characters, but, as Entertainment Weekly shares, the romances were as important as anything else going on in the series. At a time before the internet evolved into what it is today, the LGBTQ community was sadly misrepresented in television, but the love affair that blossomed between Willow and Tara offered one of the first glimpses into same sex relationships.
Ms. Hannigan recalls that the first conversation with series creator and showrunner Joss Whedon might well have been a Buffy the Vampire Slayer scene with Willow taking a bit too long in connecting the dots.
“We were walking in the parking lot, and he just said, ‘Willow’s going to get a friend, and she’s going to be a special friend.’ I was like, ‘Okay, great!’ I didn’t really know what that meant,” admitted Alyson.
Later, as that “special” friendship developed in front of millions of viewers, Hannigan says fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were nothing but supportive and were eager to see the Willow/Tara romance continue. Alyson says the famous Buffy lesbian relationship helped an entire generation of LGBTQ fans, teens and adults, cope with their own personal lives and the Buffy actress adds that she never received any hate for her role in what was one of the first televised lesbian relationships.
“We’ve got a lot of letters. I think there were a lot of young people who felt very isolated, and to see two characters on a television show be accepted by a group of peers changed the game,” adds Amber Benson. “The already loved Willow but then to see that Willow became even more somebody that they could identify with it made it okay for them to be who they were.”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Co-Creator Gail Berman Dishes On Adapting For Television
Berman, who adapted the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film for television along with Joss Whedon, opened up about the process in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter and she was only too happy to dish on some of the show’s greatest secrets. Among those pearls is the fact that Sarah Michelle Gellar was original wanted in the role of Cordelia Chase, adding that seeing Sarah audition a second time led to the decision to cast her in the lead.
Angel was another Buffy the Vampire Slayer character that created friction on the casting team, because another unnamed actor had nearly been cast in the part with Berman holding out and insisting that the actor was wrong for the part. It wasn’t until David Boreanaz walked in to audition that everyone came to an agreement.
“When David came in he was so young and just so new. He walked in the room and I thought, ‘This guy is it!'” said Gail.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered at a time when female empowerment was at a low and very few shows offered strong female leads, so presenting Ms. Gellar as a strong-willed, fierce hero was something that Berman says was necessary.
“As a woman, as a mother, these were values and notions that really were important to me. This show was important for female storytelling, for genres like Twilight and anything that came after Buffy. It changed storytelling.”
[Featured Image by Mutant Enemy/20th Century Fox]