Giles, the world’s stuffiest librarian, in drag? ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Anthony Stewart Head surprised some fans late last year by donning Dr. Frank-N-Furter fishnets on the VH1 tribute ”Rocky Horror 25: The Anniversary Special.” Despite that sartorial transgression, he’s still EW’s favorite snob: In naming ”Buffy” one of the 10 best TV shows of the year, EW TV critic Ken Tucker raved that ”the guy gets more laughs out of prissiness these days than Frasier and Niles combined.”
Off screen, Head, 46, is no fussy stick in the mud. To prove it, the former Taster’s Choice pitchman talked to EW.com about Giles’ love life, the new direction ”Buffy” is taking, and how he mastered tromping around in stiletto heels.
Hey, you don’t sound like Giles! What happened to the posh accent?
I’m kind of a long way from Giles in a lot of ways, which people realize when I walk in the door with my earring and my jeans and everything. But over the years, Giles has gotten a little closer to me, becoming a little hipper and a little funkier.
So, fess up. When is Giles getting a new girlfriend? He hasn’t exactly been lucky in love.
I’m constantly getting asked about it, and I’m very flattered. But the problem they found with my last girlfriend Olivia (Phina Oruche) was that she was normal. What do you do with that? She couldn’t join the gang, and to kill off another girlfriend (like the ill fated teacher Jenny Calendar, played by Robia LaMorte) would be too cruel to Giles. I think he’d end up in the loony bin. But I’m going to pass the suggestion on to Joss.
In its fifth season, ”Buffy” is up 12 percent among adults 18 to 34. Do many grownup ”Buffy” junkies approach you?
Yes, but they always say that they like the show in a slightly hesitant way, slightly embarrassed. ”I know I’m not supposed to, but I watch ‘Buffy.”’ And it’s like, it’s all right, man! You’re not alone!
Is it frustrating when people refer to ”Buffy” as a teen show?
It’s never been marketed as what it is, because it has a truly universal appeal. Though the teen thing has done very well for the WB, I think they have to widen their horizons. At a photo shoot once I asked an executive, ‘Are you looking to expand our audience?’ And he looked at me pointedly and said, ”Well, we’re now looking at ways to attract more women in their 40s.” And I just thought, I’m not saying a word. That’s not about looking at the big picture. Look at what you have, not what you think you have.
How have you been coping with the fan reaction to the show’s newest cast member, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg)?
People got so pissed about the sister, Dawn! And even my publicist was calling me saying, ”What’s going on? This is horrible!” And I told her, just wait, it’s cool, something will happen. Because I didn’t want to spoil it, since it’s such a great concept.
This season Buffy seems to be exploring her dark side and her connection to the first slayer. Will this change the tone of the show?
Joss wanted this season to be about the id, about finding out what makes you tick. It’s the next step after that ”Yeah, alcohol!” part of growing up. And that’s something that you go on learning. I’m still hanging in there.
Last season, Giles serenaded us with a bluesy rendition of ”Behind Blue Eyes.” Is his musical side going to emerge further?
That represented the climax of his midlife crisis, so it’s kind of done its thing. Joss hasn’t proclaimed either way on it. But I have been approached by a little independent record label that wants to put me and George Sarah, who’s written a few songs for our show and ”Angel,” together for an electronic music album. I’ve written a bit and we’ve compared notes and it looks great.
Your family [girlfriend Sarah Fisher and his two young daughters] still lives in England. That’s one hell of a commute.
Yes, and I don’t get back often enough. But the kids absolutely love the show. The times when we’ve talked about maybe me leaving they’ve said, ”Oh my God, no, you can’t, you can’t!” It’s very hard, because they’re growing up and Sarah has raised them as a single mother for six, seven years now. At some point, I will have to go and spend some time in England. But we shall see.
Isn’t your brother Murray Head, the guy who sang 1984’s ”One Night In Bangkok?”
Yes, he is. He’s living in Paris now. I saw him a few months back, and I know he wrote and starred in a film in France. But to be honest I don’t know what he’s doing.
For seven years you did those soap opera Taster’s Choice commercials with Sarah Maughan. Do you even drink the stuff?
No, I don’t. But I still get recognized from the ads. It’s always, ”Do I know you?” Because I wasn’t an actor in a show and you didn’t see my name, I was just this person in people’s living rooms.
Having starred in the London stage production of ”The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in 1991, was it a thrill to get back into your Frank-N-Furter costume for VH1?
I got an extremely warm reception, which surprised me because I wouldn’t have thought that many people would know my work from eight, 10 years ago. In London, my Frank was much more demonic than any of the Franks that went before. I liked the challenge of finding something different in the character. Instead of wearing green scrubs, I came out in a 1950s high waisted nurse’s gown with a pillbox hat. I just had fun with it.
How hard was it getting around in those stiletto heels?
I’d seen countless Franks in very clumsy, stacked heels and platforms, and I wanted to be very mobile, so I had these 3 1/2 inch pointy black patent leather ankle boots. Because they supported my ankle I could leap around like an idiot. And I did.