Sarah Michelle Gellar Talks ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Legacy and Why It Hit as a TV Show vs. Movie [Exclusive]

Sarah Michelle Gellar sculpted the role of Buffy Summers into a fierce hero in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and said more of Buffy’s story should be told.

Similar to the James Bond legacy, Buffy’s magic transcends generations and is packed with the kind of empowerment both young women and men currently crave. Gellar recently mused with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about where she would like to see the character adventure, sharing that Buffy’s legacy is far from over.

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ works better as a series than a few hours at the movies

“I think Buffy inherently works better as a TV show than a movie,” Gellar said. “By the way, most great characters inherently work better over time. So whether it’s a Bond movie where you get all this time with James Bond and one actor really doing it or over a TV show because you become invested in a different manner when you have that length of time. And so I think when the movie was made, there were so many constraints.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green, and Michelle Trachtenberg are photographed at the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' reunion
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green, and Michelle Trachtenberg | Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage

“When you make the TV show, we really got to develop her over time,” she said about Buffy. “It didn’t have to have a neat bow at the end. And so it could have it be messier, which is more real, and you could really explore what the metaphor was, which is basically the monsters were the metaphors for the scariness of being an adolescent. And growing up and those horrors of being in school and developing all of that. So I think I was lucky in that sense. And also because maybe the movie wasn’t as well known. I wasn’t stepping on the same toes.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar has mad respect for Kristy Swanson’s portrayal in the film

Gellar acknowledged that the “first” Buffy, Kristy Swanson in the 1992 sleeper film version, set the groundwork for the character to grow and develop. “I think Kristy is great in the movie. I really do. One of my favorite lines is ‘All I want to do is graduate high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater and die!’ It’s great. But it’s a different Buffy.”

Swanson said she was not offered the Buffy series because she aged out of the role. “I was not offered [the series], and I was not surprised,” she told Fox News. “I was 22 when I did the movie, and I was already playing someone in high school. So it wouldn’t have made sense for me to do the role at that point. There were no hard feelings. It never even went through my brain, like, ‘Why didn’t they call me?’ It was seven years later, so I was almost 30. And they didn’t ask anyone from the movie to be in the series.”

Swanson also viewed the character the same way Gellar sees it today. “It was obvious that the series was meant to be a whole new, fresh thing,” she said about the series. “And I was actually super excited when they announced it because I remember growing up with shows like Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman. So I knew how significant it was to have a strong female character to look up to. And I thought, “This is going to be really great, young girls will now have Buffy to watch on TV every week. Hopefully, it lasts.” It’s a great character to look up to. That’s just the way I saw it.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar would like to see Buffy’s story continue … but maybe in a different way

Gellar mused that if the character were to continue, she’d love to see an actor like Zendaya take on the role. But during her interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Gellar said, “There’s all this discussion of whether or not to reboot, to redo. And I do think that there’s more story to be told. There’s always more story to be told.”

“But it doesn’t have to be Buffy, per se,” she mused. “It can be a legacy. And I think that’s what’s so interesting about the way we left the show is that the idea is that any girl who wants the power can and will have the power. It’s not for me to do because the Buffy that I did was an adolescent story. I’m clearly not an adolescent anymore. But like I said, the allure is there. And you can give that legacy legs.”

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