Director’s Cut
Interview with Amber Benson
Dec 7, 2003, Offenbach

4. "Chance", Sex and Power

1. Magic, Multitasking and Motivation
2. Movies, television and the family
3. Being in control
5. The Technicalities of Being Inspired
6. Reading, Collaborating, Watching & Listening

There’s more "Buffy" in there – the club was the Bronze, right?

Yes, and Joss gave us a song – the opening song "Burn it down", Grant wrote the other song. David Solomon let us use his technology to edit. This was during the summer, after the "Buffy"-season was done, so the editing came after, but we shot during "Buffy". Actually, the time when my brain got sucked out by Glory, that was the time we filmed.

So that’s why Simon has Spike’s hair.

We couldn’t do anything about the hair, we took him as is. We were talking about it, the hair isn’t Simon. It also isn’t James, ‘cause he has very dark hair, it’s funny when you see him what his normal hair colour is. It’s like when you meet him for the first time and he speaks in an American accent – like Tony [Head] putting on his Rocky Horror regalia and singing. It’s beautiful and wonderful put you’re thrown for a moment. Reality makes a difference. And Simon, he’s so different from Spike. James is so good at comedy – it’s utilized a little on "Buffy", but not really. He’s so funny, I had no idea. You see the humour in Spike, but it’s very dry, dark humour whereas this is very broad humour. Anyway, back to the story -everyone was very supportive, helped us, gave us breaks, gave us deals during the sound stuff…

And there are cameos, "Buffy"-people pop up. David Fury is there…

Yes, and Nick Brendon’s wife, Tressa Di Figlia. She’s the dead girl. I kept joking with him: I kissed your wi-hife….

Alright, the sex question: how’s Hollywood homophobia? Are we better off since the day Ellen DeGeneres came out?

It’s a tough question. With her it was suddenly: hey, here I am, I’ m doing what I’m doing and I don’t care what you think. But it destroyed her career in some respects, for television, for middle America. Not for doing standup or what she’s doing now, but…

There are whole regions of the US where they don’t play Jill Sobule’s "I kissed a girl" on the radio, aren’t there?

The place I’ m from, Birmingham, Alabama, wouldn’t show "Ellen"’s coming out episode. It did not get played. I mean, if someone missed the jump there – all of a sudden, she’s gay or what? Who’s that? What’s going on? To me it’s such an odd thing. I was never bothered by "the problem". I always felt kind of blessed that I got to play that character, kick that door down. But it’s not about sensationalism: two people, that was the big thing that Joss and Alyson and me and the whole group talked about – making sure that it wasn’ t about sensationalism, or a gimmick, it was about a relationship that two people are having, it could be any gender, any colour, any religion. Two people that love each other, and I really do think that it was the strongest, the best relationship on "Buffy". I mean, they took care of Dawn! The two lesbians raised the kid.

And Dawn was so happy for them when they got back together. Even Spike is affected by that, when he says: The birds are flying again. It gets to everyone, he’s cracking a joke but…

But there’s a truth to every joke. It’s interesting – in retrospect I look back and it kind of did hurt me as an actor. Not that they type-cast me per se, but it hurts you when people want to cast you for other things and then they say: Oh, gosh, we can’t show middle America this person anymore because, you know… It’s very pavlovian. They associate you with being a gay character, all of a sudden that is what you are. And you can’t be pitched to middle America, all they associate you with is “Buffy” and being a lesbian.

A lesbian witch, even.

Yeah. On top of that. But on the other hand, it’s better than it ever was. And I’ m going to continue to do what I need to do.

So back to the control thing: when you watch the career of directors, it seems that artistic progress lies in the direction of more and more creative control. The later Kubrick could do anything: replace Tom Cruise with a broomstick, if he felt like it.

And then spend three years getting the broomstick to do what he wanted it to do.

Is that something you aspire to, more control?

Yeah, definitely. Well, let’s see: Woody Allen. He doesn’t have to kow-tow to to anybody. He can do what he wants: you need me, I don’t need you. But on the other hand, sometimes that breeds complacency. It’s like you don’t have to work anymore. Woody Allen’s work, it’s hit-and-miss, some things are wonderful, some things are just terrible. And you notice, it’s because no one’s telling him: this is sucky, you shouldn’t do this. I want to maintain that, I think Bergman has the right idea: he has this group of people that he works with, and he goes back and forth between theatre and film and I’d like to do something like that, where I have control but it’s not close-minded. The minute you have a figurehead, the minute one person is too powerful and they don’t know how to be co-operative, the creative process dies on the vine. To me it’s like I have these people – not just family, my friends- people that I like to work with, some "Buffy"-people. You just collect people as you go, you find people that click with you and you work with them again and again, because they get what you do. It’s very difficult to maintain openness sometimes though, when you’re a writer, especially when you’re writing comedy. Because comedy is a specific thing: you have to say things a specific way in order to push the joke. If you don’t deliver a line correctly it falls flat, there’s no joke anymore. So for me watching "Chance" being performed, really the only time I was adamant that a thing had to be said a particular way was when there was a joke involved. It needed the delivery. Other than that, it’s really: let the actors do their thing. Sometimes that’s tough, because you’re like: Oh, gosh, that’s not how I imagined it. It sounds different, but ever so often you find that it was better. If I tried to force what I thought, that wouldn’t help.

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