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Into every generation, a Slayer is born and with her a TV series that pierces pop culture like a stake through the heart. Over the course of its seven-season run (all of which are now available on Hulu), Buffy the Vampire Slayer garnered one of the most loyal fandoms in television history, thanks to its unlikely but oddly seamless blend of genres (horror! comedy! teen soap! tragedy! musical?!?) and one of the most unique heroines ever seen on screen.
The series followed bloodsucker-hunter Buffy Summers as she navigated the horrors of Sunnydale High, both real (being the new kid, finding a date to the prom) and supernatural (snake monsters, hyena people). “It’s the ultimate metaphor: horrors of adolescence manifesting through these actual monsters,” says star Sarah Michelle Gellar. “It’s the hardest time of life.”
Adds David Boreanaz, who played Buffy’s vampire paramour Angel, “When you’re going through a really horrible part of your life, like your teenage years, you feel alone. And Buffy was a way to tell the audience you’re not alone.” Emma Caulfield, who played bunny-phobic former demon Anya, echoes Boreanaz: “It just touched on really basic human emotions, like a life blueprint. ‘I don’t have any friends. I feel isolated.’ Those sort of core human emotions.”
In honor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer turning 20 years old (and still looking damn good), EW reunited the cast and creator Joss Whedon for their first joint interview and photo shoot in over a decade. “This is surreal,” says Whedon. “For the most part, this is like a high school reunion but much worse because they all still look really great. I was hoping some of them would puff out a bit. But that did not take place.”
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In between shots, the actors shared photos of their kids with castmates and caught up on life post-Sunnydale. “I make an excellent macaroni casserole if anyone’s interested in doing a potluck,” jokes Seth Green, who played dry-humored musician (and werewolf) Oz.
And like most high school reunions, amid all the fun, a sense of reflection washed over the participants. “It was the role of a lifetime,” says Alyson Hannigan, who played Willow. “I met the love of my life [costar Alexis Denisof, who played timid Watcher Wesley]. And just to get to go to work every day and have Joss sort of train me — I’ll never have a better experience than that.”
But it’s Gellar, who played the title role from 1997 to 2003, who encapsulates the moment they’re all experiencing: “I’m so incredibly proud of what we all created. Sometimes you need distance to really understand the gravitas of that. I appreciate everything about that job. As an actor, all you ever want to do is leave your mark — you want to do something that affects people.”
And, for those who made Buffy and love it so much, it’s become more than just a television show. “The most important thing to me is that I have had people come up to me and say the show made me feel different about what they could be, about what they could do, about how they respond to problems, about being a female leader,” says Whedon. “People getting strength from my own little terrors is… There is no better legacy than that.”
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EW gathered the cast and Whedon to talk about making TV history, whether Buffy could ever return, and the biggest question of all: Angel or Spike?