Moviehole.net Exclusive Interview: Nicholas Brendon
So what can fans of fantasy and science fiction expect when they attend Supanova 2007, the Sydney convention that promises two days of “pop culture euphoria”? Well, there are appearances from the likes of Marvel Comics mastermind Stan Lee, Battlestar Galactica femme fatale Kate Vernon and — awesome! — Flash Gordon star Sam J. Jones. And if the fans go along to see U.S. actor Nicholas Brendon, they’ll find themselves treated to discussions on “creationism versus evolutionism” and the American military’s possible exit strategies for the War in Iraq. Oh, and maybe a TV series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Yes, as is his wont, Brendon is cracking wise. Devotees of Buffy, the cult-hit horror series that developed a massive fan base during its seven years on the air, will be well aware that the actor has a real knack for it, with his performance as Xander Harris, the title character’s nerdy but noble offsider, providing a comic contrast to the stalking and staking action.
Brendon’s a frequent fixture at events like Supanova and he admits such conventions do tend to blur into one after a while. So he’s forgiven for not recalling the specifics of what he’s asked to talk about when appearing on discussion panels and the like. “I talk about what people want to talk about,” he says. “But it is typically Buffy that comes up. And stories about my twin brother, Kelly, who’s a hottie. That’s hottie with a heart over the ‘i’, by the way.” Duly noted.
Of course, if his twin brother’s a hottie, that makes Brendon a hottie as well, right? Not according to the man himself. “I’m a nerd at heart, really,” he admits. “I try to cover it up with the clothes I buy and all that kind of stuff but I’m a nerd. And I think it’s better to be closer to your nerd-dom than your studliness, if you know what I mean.” And maybe that’s the secret to the popularity of Xander — the character embraces his dorkiness, but he also got to embrace his fair share of fine ladies during his seven years on Buffy. “Yeah, for a nerd, he did bag a lot of chicks,” laughs Brendon. “Not that I’m complaining.”
Buffy creator Joss Whedon has admitted that he based the character of Xander on himself, something Brendon appreciates. “You mean to be modelled after a genius with a brilliant sense of humour who goes on to live the life of his dreams?” he says. “I can’t say that sucked.” Brendon also concedes that the essence of Xander’s appeal lay in his everyman qualities. After all, not everyone can get out there and slay vampires (“They can’t? Are you saying vampires don’t exist? You’re on a slippery slope now, my friend”) but everyone has occasionally felt like the beta member in an alpha group. “Well, he was the only person who didn’t have a super power,” Brendon says of Xander. “The only power I really had was the ability to see, and even that was taken away from me.” (In a nasty scene in Buffy’s final season, one of Xander’s eyes was gouged out by a demonic preacher.) “But Xander’s a fairly well-liked dude everywhere, which is nice.”
One imagines that Brendon would be a fairly well-liked dude everywhere as well — how could you dislike a guy who throws a Sergeant Schultz impression into the middle of an interview, admits that the main thing that makes him cry is yoga (especially a pose he calls The Upturned Hippopotamus) and cops to having “a little too much fun” during his last Sydney visit six years ago? “It started as business but it became fun,” he recalls with a laugh. “Now I’m making a triumphant return.”
Supanova 2007 runs from Friday October 12 to Sunday October 14 at The Dome at Sydney Olympic Park. For further information about the event, visit www.supanova.com.au.