Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer Might Have Never Existed Without Luke Perry

Perry's star power, and kindness, helped secure Buffy's pop culture future.

By Matthew Jackson
Oliver Pike (Luke Perry) dons slicked back hair and a leather jacket in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In the early 1990s, Luke Perry was one of the biggest stars in the world thanks to the success of the hit teen drama Beverly Hills 90210. Like many of his castmates, he had legions of fans, a place atop the ratings, and most importantly when it came to other projects, the kind of clout and box office drawing power which meant he could make or break the right project. 

That was the case when Perry, after signing a two-picture deal with Fox, got excited about a script by a little-known writer named Joss Whedon, about a teen girl who cheerleads by day and hunts vampires by night. According to the film's director, Perry's presence on the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer (airing this month on SYFY) didn't just mean she had a kind and devoted ally on set. It meant that the movie got made.

For More on Buffy The Vampire Slayer:
Remembering The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Movie
Dolly Parton's Connection to Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Natasha Lyonne was First Choice to Play Buffy the Vampire Slayer

How Luke Perry Helped Buffy the Vampire Slayer Get Made

"If it wasn’t for Luke Perry, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would’ve never happened,” director Fran Rubel Kuzui said in an excerpt, published by Vanity Fair, of Margaret Wappler's new book A Good Bad Boy: Luke Perry and How a Generation Grew Up

Kuzui, according to her recollection of the project, first signed on for Buffy after reading Whedon's original script, then began working on rewrites to craft a draft that would refine the concept. With Kuzui on board, the film went from being a studio reject to getting some interest from Fox. That's where Perry came in. He'd read the script and wanted to play Buffy's (Kristy Swanson) eventual love interest, Pike. After a meeting in which Kuzui said the two felt like "old friends," Perry was in. 

"Luke and Paul Reubens were the ones who got it the most,” Kuzui recalled of Buffy's campy horror vibe. She also recalled several instances in which Perry's kindness helped to buoy her during a difficult shoot, including one day when he physically carried her back to set after she'd stormed off amid "unprofessional" behavior from the crew.

Through it all, Perry shot under the constant shadow of 90210, even working under an alias on the call sheet so fans couldn't learn his location and ruin a shot with their screaming. He was, according to Kuzui, "always 100 percent present" to play Pike, and helped secure Buffy's future place in pop culture history. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is airing this month on SYFY. Check the schedule for more details.