In celebration of Entertainment Weekly‘s two decades of existence this year, we’ve put together a special double-sized issue devoted to the 100 greatest characters of the past 20 years. On our ranked list, you’ll find Anchorman‘s Ron Burgundy, Lost‘s John Locke, Harry Potter, Homer Simpson — all characters who feel as real and important to us as our own friends and family.
Also on that list? Buffy “the Vampire Slayer” Summers, of course. And we thought, who better to illustrate what is so special about the extraordinary young killer of evil things — played in the TV series by Sarah Michelle Gellar — than creator Joss Whedon. “There’s a whole recipe for how to make a Buffy,” he explains. “Take one cup Sarah Connor from the first Terminator movie; one cup Ripley [from Alien]; three tablespoons of the younger sister in [the 1984 postapocalyptic comedy] Night of the Comet; a few sprigs of A Little Princess — the book, not the movies; and a pinch of Jimmy Stewart for pain, because nobody does better pain. Bake those up. Once it’s cool, add a little Rosalind Russell from His Girl Friday. All of this must be in a P.J.-Soles-in-Halloween crust. That’s very important.”
Whedon also weighs in a bit on how his show preceded the whole “vampire craze” that took us by swarm at the end of the ’00s. “Ultimately, my show was less about vampires than most shows with vampire in the title. The show’s about growing up, which for her was basically ages 15 through 22, but the kind of 15 through 22 where you fight wars.”
For more from Whedon and the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years — including Robert Downey Jr. on Iron Man‘s Tony Stark, Johnny Depp talking about Captain Jack Sparrow, an interview with Homer Simpson, and lots, lots more — pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now.
More from EW’s 100 Greatest Characters of the Past 20 Years: