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Sarah Michelle Gellar on the surprising way 'Buffy' changed her Hollywood perspective
The Buffy star on how her breakout series shaped her work now.
Sarah Michelle Gellar is in the midst of what feels like a major comeback. She just appeared in the hit Netflix dark comedy Do Revenge, and soon she'll be seen in the upcoming werewolf series Wolf Pack, giving her two more major genre credits in a long career that includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scooby-Doo, and much more.
But even with all her other well-known roles, it's Buffy that's come to define Gellar's work for much of the public. The Joss Whedon-created series about a young girl who learns she's the Chosen One in a long line of warriors against the forces of darkness ran for seven seasons and cemented Gellar as a pop culture icon. Looking back on it now, though, Gellar also remembers something else the series taught her. Speaking to The New York Times about her new projects, she noted that while she made Buffy, she also took time to familiarize herself with every conceivable aspect of the filmmaking machine, which taught her a valuable lesson about her work.
"I always try to come in with a smile on my face and set a tone on a set. We’re all equals," Gellar said. "It doesn’t matter what job someone does, they get treated exactly the same. When I was on Buffy, I made sure that I did every job at least one time, so that I understood what everyone did. I held the boom; I tried to mix sound — I was really bad at it; focus pulling. I think a lot of young actors go, 'My job is to show up and say my lines.' Not really. Your job is to be part of the whole team."
With that in mind, Gellar's roles within the larger filmmaking team have grown in recent years. As she returns to acting more regularly, she's also made sure she takes a more active role in the larger production. After acting for most of her life, including work as a child star in the 1980s, she's keen to impart that wisdom on to the next generation, and offer a little bit of protection.
"Especially now, I go into my projects as an executive producer," she said. "Wolf Pack, for example. I have these two young girls and two young boys [acting] on it. I have made it very clear from Day 1 that if there are things the production wants to talk to them about, I want them to go through me. Because I’ve been there. And I want [the performers] to always have a safe space."
It's not clear yet exactly what the future holds for Gellar as she picks up more and more projects, but it's clear that she's decided her decades in the spotlight have granted her wisdom that she's eager to use. It's also clear that she herself sees a bit of Renaissance coming.
"You sometimes have to step away to miss something," she said. "I’d been working my whole life. I did The Crazy Ones [opposite Robin Williams] when my son was weeks old. I thought, I can do this for the next five years and be a mom. And when Robin passed away, I just had to re-evaluate everything. I saw what it did to him. And I needed that chance to be a parent and be present. That time away just made me appreciate what I get to do now."
Do Revenge is now streaming on Netlix. Wolf Pack is coming soon to Paramount Plus.