Director Joss Whedon draws terrific performances from his actors, and several of his stars have given him their best work in their career to date. But those aren't the only people who have benefited from his sphere of influence: According to James Marsters, who we knew and loved as Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss had a method of wringing the best work from his writers.
Marsters told the Last Vegas Review-Journal,
"Joss asked the writers to come up with their worst day, the day they regret, the day that keeps them up at night, the day that they hurt somebody without a good reason, or the day they were publicly humiliated.
"And then slap fangs on top of that, and tell the world about their pain. And this was every single time."
"I would say, 'What a great script. 'And they would look at me sheepishly, and say, 'Do you realize what we've written?' They were being very brave every single week," he said.
"It's basically Buffy having one bad day after another, trying to grow up, trying to become an adult. So he was asking for the real stuff from those writers, like, 'Don't just be interesting, tell me something you do not want to tell me.'"
Joss wanted his writers to share their pain. It's a testament to how good those writers are that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was also funny. Perhaps the writers could laugh at their trauma after they distanced themselves from it.
In addition, Marsters revealed that he played Spike to be "seductive" -- against Whedon's directive that vampires should be "soulless."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired from 1997 to 2003. We'll be seeing more of Joss' work on May 1, with the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And we'll see just how much more pain we'll be able to tolerate.