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General Musings

Before They Were Famous: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer celebrates becoming 20 years old this year, so to celebrate let us take a look at some of the now famous faces who made early career appearances in the show.

The incredibly popular TV show that ran for six years from 1997-2003 has retained a fervent fan base even after it ended, but it was also a platform for actors to get their first gigs in the show business. So which actors and actresses did we see before they broke out into the bigger stars they are today?

Nathan Fillion – Caleb

This is a slight cheat as Fillion had already started making a name for himself by the time he made his 5 episode stint on season 7 of Buffy in 2003 playing misogynistic serial killer Caleb. It’s a turn not normally associated with the rest of his filmography, especially considering he sticks his thumb through Xander’s eye, but he was great nonetheless.

Michael Cudlitz

Before getting his brains bashed the fuck in by Negan on season 7, the man who effortlessly played the rugged Abraham on The Walking Dead also made an appearance in Buffy. In season 3 Cudlitz turns up as Bob in the episode The Zeppo, one of the undead gang building a bomb. So before he was even killing zombies, he was one.

Eric Balfour

Since starring in two episodes of Buffy back in season 1 Eric Blafour has been around the block starring in the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Skyline, 24, and most recently the show Haven. In Buffy he starred as Jesse, a Sunnydale High student turned into a vampire by Darla of the Order of Aurelius, who is accidentally staked by Xander.

Amy Adams

In the very same year that the 5 time Oscar nominated actress starred in straight to DVD sequel Cruel Intentions 2 she also appeared in the episode Family on season 5 of Buffy. In it she played Tara McClay’s cousin Beth, who is visiting Tara for her twentieth birthday in order to get her to come home, whilst also threatening to reveal she has a demon side to her. She even calls Tara “a selfish bitch”, how rude.

P.S. Fun fact, The Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift star Brain Tee also appears in the same episode as Intern.

Alexandra Breckenridge

Remember when Buffy becomes a school counsellor? Well another alumni of The Walking Dead, Alexandra Breckenridge played the role of Kit Holburn in the same episode ‘Lessons’; the premiere of season 7. If y’all don’t remember what happens, the newly reopened Sunnydale High has some manifest spirits preying on some of the schools students, Kit being one of them. It’s quite the transformation from this to horny housemaid in American Horror Story season 1 isn’t it?

Clea DuVall

The acting veteran from such films as Argo and The Faculty featured in the first season of Buffy during the episode ‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’ where she played Marcie Ross. Her character had developed the power of invisibility over time as she was constantly ignored in favour of those around her. As a result she torments Cordelia throughout the episode as well as attacking the Scooby Gang before being sent off to an FBI ran school of invisible kids.


In 2003 Ashanti made a guest appearance on Buffy during Season 7 just as she was becoming a global singing superstar. Her character Lissa though wasn’t as nice as her singing, as she tried to raise a Turok-Han vampire by sacrificing Xander and letting him bleed over the Seal of Danzalthar. Thankfully Buffy was on hand to decapitate her and save the day.

Jason Behr

We might not have seen him since Breakout Kings in 2012, but before Behr took a leading role in Roswell High he starred in season 2 of Buffy as Billy Fordham in the episode ‘Lie to Me’. An old friend of Buffy who asks to be turned into a vampire by Spike, Billy turns his back on her because he was secretly suffering from terminal brain cancer and rather than die wished to be undead. Fun fact, Behr and Sarah Michelle Gellar would go on to star in The Grudge remake together seven years later.

Wentworth Miller

Believe it or not but the Prison Break stars appearance during season two in the episode ‘Go Fish’ is his first listed IMDB credit. A member of the Sunnydale High swimming team who are all taking steroids, Miller played Gage Petronzi, who went on to turn into a Gill Monster. I could think of worse fates.

Pedro Pascal

I couldn’t believe it myself looking back, but the man who memorably played the Viper in Game of Thrones, and was last seen fighting monsters with Matt Damon in The Great Wall made an appearance in the first episode of season 4 ‘The Freshman’. After bumping into Buffy whilst looking for his dorm Eddie is kidnapped by vampires and sired before getting staked by Buffy later on. He doesn’t have the best of fates on TV does he?

Amber Tamblyn

For such a young woman Amber Tamblyn has had a storied career thus far, but long ago her first credit after starring in General Hospital was in the episode ‘All the Way’ during the sixth season of Buffy. Her character Janice demonstrates what happens to young girls who go off with mysterious boys on Halloween night, she is bitten by a vampire in a graveyard. Ye be warned!

Kal Penn

Kal Penn made one of his first appearances on TV during season 4 of Buffy on the episode ‘Beer Bad’ where tainted beer starts turning people into neanderthals. It just so happens Penn plays one of the college boys who is affected by the contaminated drink turning him and his friends primal. Thankfully the effects only lasted a day or two.

John Hawkes

By the time Hawkes made an appearance in Buffy he had already met his demise at the hands of Richard Gekko in From Dusk Till Dawn, but his role in season two is obscure enough to mention. During the episode ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ Hawkes appears as the schools janitor who winds up being possessed by a spirit and shooting a teacher. Poor Hawkes, he never gets it easy anywhere.

Aldis Hodge

Hodge is currently having a big moment in the film industry having starred in Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back in the past couple of years. Not to mention having the shows Friday Night Lights and Leverage under his belt. However once upon a time he got punched in the face by Buffy during the episode ‘Fear, Itself’ after stupidly jumping out on her on Halloween night. What else would you expect really?

Gil Birmingham

You may know him as Billy Black from the Twilight films, but I know him as Ranger Alberto Parker from Hell of Highwater. However once upon a time Gil Birmingham starred as Peru Man in the episode ‘Inca Mummy Girl’ during the second season. Peru Man was the bodyguard assigned to prevent the Incan mummy straying from her path. He didn’t do that great a job as he ended up getting the life sucked out of him by the very person he was sent to guard. Nevermind.

Chad Stahelski

Unless you followed stunt work in the film industry you’d likely not have known Chad Stahelski’s name until John Wick hit the scene in 2014. The stuntman turned director blew the roof off with the frenetically violent film, but many moons ago he appeared in season 3 of Buffy as the demon Kulak in the episode ‘Homecoming’.

There you have it, just a selection of the famous faces who once upon a time turned up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and we haven’t even included the likes of John Ritter, Shane West, Brian Thompson, and the list goes on.

About Snooty Usher Dan

Favourite Film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) Worst Film: The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) Guilty Pleasure: Step Up 2: The Streets (The dancing is awesome ok.....)


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