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Sarah Michelle Gellar's 11 best roles in genre film & television
Take a walk down memory lane as we appreciate Sarah Michelle Gellar's impressive genre resume.
All feels right in the world of genre because Sarah Michelle Gellar is once more amongst us with her new Paramount+ series, Wolf Pack. In her very long acting career, she's been a Scream Queen, brought cherished animated characters to life with her voice acting, and remains the forever Slayer to a lot of generations. Wolf Pack represents her return to genre episodic storytelling, as an actor and now an executive producer helping to shape the narrative of the horror/supernatural series.
Having her back got SYFY WIRE thinking about her invaluable imprint on contemporary genre storytelling, so here's our opportunity to celebrate the depth and breadth of what's she contributed to sci-fi, supernatural and horror storytelling through her project choices and character portrayals.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
One of Gellar's many late '90s horror films that have since become classics, Kevin Williamson's I Know What You Did Last Summer revenge/slasher movie had a hook-wielding killer going after a bunch of kids who killed someone in a car accident. Gellar stars as beauty queen Helen Shivers, adding another bad girl portrayal to her resume. Summer came out a few months after Buffy the Vampire Slayer launched on The WB, which was the proverbial one-two punch in solidifying her as a major player in genre storytelling.
Kevin Williamson must have signed a two-for-one deal with Gellar snagging the actress to appear in Summer and then just two months later in his sequel Scream 2, as Windsor College sorority film fan, Cici Cooper. With the original Scream a huge hit, it was a no-brainer for Gellar to appear in a one-and-done role as another victim of Ghostface. She made her mark and then left to do other things (including anchoring her own TV series).
One of the weirdest rom-coms of the '90s, Gellar plays Amanda Shelton, a young woman who inherits her mom's restaurant but has no skills in the kitchen. But then a magical crab shows up (we kid you not), and suddenly Amanda is able to imbue her big feelings into her food and the restaurant takes off. It's magical realism meets foodie fun, with like a weird crab Patronus woven into the whole thing. There's no other rom-com quite like it, and Gellar is a big part of that charm.
Scooby-Doo & Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Gellar totally landed the real life incarnation of Daphne Blake from The Mystery Inc. gang of sleuths in Scooby-Doo and its sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. The films captured the animated characters' groovy vibe, but added some spicy contemporary comedy for those who had grown up watching the animated show. In Gellar's hands, Daphne was way more than just the pretty one, and she reframed the character for another generation.
Gellar was part of that big push to adapt Asian horror films for Western audiences. In The Grudge and The Grudge 2, Gellar plays Karen Davis, an American social worker living in Tokyo. She becomes embroiled in a frightening curse that surrounds someone she's caring for, and watches those she loves and cares about succumb to the curse too. No one would say these remakes were in any way better than the original films, but they did introduce Eastern horror to more Western eyes, which is never a bad thing. And these two films certainly captured a chilling vibe.
With Southland Tales, Gellar really jumped out of her comfort zone to be part of Richard Kelly's fever-dream of a post-apocalyptic movie. Also starring The Rock, Seann William Scott, Amy Poehler and Justin Timberlake, Gellar plays Krysta Now, a psychic reality TV creator who was once a porn star. About as out-there as you can get in terms of a premise, Southland Tales ultimately flopped hard, but Gellar had some great company in swinging for the fences with this one.
Happily N'Ever After
An animated riff on the stories of the Brother's Grimm, Happily N'Ever After features Gellar voicing the central character of Ella (as in Cinderella). However, the character gets to subvert expectations over the course of the movie and dump the prince for her best friend (voiced by her husband, Freddie Prinze, Jr.). The stellar vocal cast also featured Sigourney Weaver and George Carlin, alongside many others.
In the 2007 CGI iteration of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gellar voices the Turtles' human BFF, April O'Neil. In this version of their story, O'Neil is an archaeologist and shipping company owner who helps her hero-in-a-half-shell pals avoid danger. To have the genre icon voicing the beloved character from comics and cartoons was a match made in heaven.
Star Wars Rebels
When Gellar went into self-imposed retirement to raise her kids, some of the only work she took on was voice work. Luckily, she joined her husband to be part of Star Wars mythology in Star Wars Rebels as the Seventh Sister, a very scary Mirialan Inquisitor for the Galactic Empire. Gellar helped craft a formidable villain tasked with finding and taking down Jedi Ahsoka Tano.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation
Again, finding a way to help redefine a beloved animation character, Gellar voices the very reimagined Teela in Masters of the Universe: Revelation. Arguably, a lot of the first half of this series is Teela's story as she comes to grips with finding out the truth of Prince Adam's superhero alter-ego. She leaves the palace and becomes a mercenary with her own arc, ambitions, and story outside of just being the lady sidekick.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel
Saving the best for last, Gellar's performance as Buffy Summers, The Chosen One/Slayer, who literally keeps the demons and monsters at bay so everyone else can have a normal life, created a new-era heroine in the genre that remains one of the all-time greats. As the petite demon slayer, she made the campy premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer deadly serious and fun. With her quips and nightly acts of bravery while on patrol, she showed grace and vulnerability, and a lot of athletic ability. In Gellar's hands, Buffy is a timeless heroine and the model for everyone like her that's come along since.
Wolf Pack debuts today, Jan. 26, on Paramount+.
Looking for more werewolf drama? Check out Peacock's hit series Wolf Like Me. Want something with a bit more (vampiric) bite? Chomp into SYFY's Reginald the Vampire. Just looking for some ghostly thrills? SYFY's SurrealEstate is always a creepy option.