As speculation mounted that Gellar was leaving the series, a lot of people assumed she was trying to make that treacherous journey from TV to film. George Clooney be damned, it's a hard road: Gellar's only starring vehicle, Simply Irresistible, grossed an anemic $4.4 million in 1999.
The actress is refreshingly candid about her movie mishaps and bad reviews. And while she won't admit to having a post-Buffy plan, one is starting to emerge: supporting roles in blockbuster franchises (Gellar films Scooby-Doo 2 this summer) mixed with a dash of Kate Hudson. At press time, Gellar was negotiating with MGM to star in Romantic Comedy, which is, well, exactly that: Gellar would play a woman whose suitor woos her by cribbing scenes from old love films.
EW So now it's on to a big career as...Daphne in Scooby-Doo?
SMG [Laughs] I get a lot of ''Scooby-Doo?! That's why you're leaving?'' Scooby-Doo was interesting. The reviews were scathing, and I took it really hard. [But] Freddie said to me, ''Scooby-Doo isn't for reviewers. We're not making it for them.'' And when all these children came up to me to say, ''Scooby-Doo is my favorite movie,'' that was great. But for a weird time in between, I took everything really personally.
EW Do you have a clear post-Buffy plan for making it in the movies?
SMG If I did, I'd write a book, cash in, and retire. My movie experience has shown me you can't plan.
EW Simply Irresistible was a major flop. Do you have something to prove at the box office?
SMG No. Simply Irresistible was [just] a bad choice -- and for that it was a great [learning] experience. I wasn't ready to make that movie. I was too young. The script was not ready. I knew in my heart before I left [to make it] that I should back out.
EW Have you ever had any fear that you would be trapped by your Buffy image?
SMG Of course. You run that risk with anything you do. [But to]be greatly identified with anything is a mark of success. My biggest fear right now is that people will blame me for [ending]the show. People are going to think that it's my fault that their favorite show is going off the air. And God knows we're always looking for someone to blame.
EW Do you think people will hold it against you in a way that will hurt other things you want to do?
SMG No, it's more personal than that. Less professional, more personal. I love the fans. We were a midseason replacement on The WB called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, based on a movie that was a flop. People were like, ''Don't worry, you'll get a pilot next season.'' People pitied me -- pitied me. We couldn't pay directors to come here. Nobody wanted to be on our show. And look what happened.
Buzz -- and ratings -- grew quickly in Buffy's early years. But by the end of season 5, viewership had trailed off and The WB refused to pay the huge license fee bump that the show's producers requested. When negotiations fell apart, UPN inked a two-year contract for the show. Season 6 premiered on UPN in the fall of 2001, and for diehards, it was the stuff of legend -- in a bad way. The polarizing year began with Buffy's resurrection (she had been killed off the previous May), which was followed by her resulting depression and her graphic sexual relationship with Spike (James Marsters), which annoyed fans of her first vampire lover, Angel (David Boreanaz). The year was capped off by sweet fan favorite Willow (Alyson Hannigan) turning wickedly Wiccan after her lover Tara (Amber Benson) was killed. As Gellar wrapped up our interview, she revisited a difficult year and took a look forward to her last episodes.