Sarah Michelle Gellar Shares the Random Way ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Writers Gave Her a Break From the Show

TV shows often mean grueling hours for the cast and crew. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the hit series from Joss Whedon, is no different. To give the show’s star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, a break, the writers got creative. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar rose to fame as Buffy Summers on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

Sarah Michelle Gellar poses for photographers at the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards
Sarah Michelle Gellar at the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards | Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

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Before fighting evil in the fictional town of Sunnydale, California, Gellar played Kendall Hart on the popular soap opera, All My Children. She also appeared in a number of commercials as a child actor.

However, it wasn’t until Gellar took on the role of Buffy Summers in Joss Whedon’s WB show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, did she become a major star.

As a teen herself, Gellar played Buffy, a high school student with an unusual extracurricular activity: killing vampires and demons. Starting out, Buffy had a small budget.

Funds were so tight, scenes had to be filmed in a warehouse instead of a soundstage. Of course, over time the show’s budget increased as it became more and more popular with viewers. 

By the end of the show’s run in May 2003, Gellar had cemented her status as a major player in the TV world.

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Meanwhile, Buffy the Vampire Slayer lived on in the form a spinoff series, Angel, that went off the air in 2004 after five seasons. Gellar went on to star in other TV shows and movies but her turn as Buffy remains one of her most recognizable roles. 

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ filmed at night

On a show about vampires, it’s not surprising that most of the filming happened at night. That meant the cast and crew of Buffy the Vampire Slayer spent long nights on the show’s set churning out episodes. 

On top of filming the show at night, the cast underwent the time-consuming process of prosthetics to look like demons or other evil creatures. Then there are the fight scenes the show became known for.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Getty Images / Handout

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During a 2013 interview with HuffPost, Gellar reflected on her Buffy the Vampire Slayer days. 

“It was really hard,” Gellar said. “I was 18 years old when we started … Vampires come out at night so you’re working these crazy hours when everyone else is sleeping and it was physical. I was constantly getting injured.”

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ writers gave Sarah Michelle Gellar a break by turning her character into a rat

To give Gellar some time off from fighting evil as Buffy, the show’s writers came up with a plan, which the actor shared with HuffPost. They made her character a rat.

“One time, literally, they turned me into a rat so I could get a break,” Gellar said. “I was like, ‘Really? The most creative writing on television and that’s how we’re giving me a break?’ she added. “But it was sort of like that was who the show was and it was an incredibly ambitious project to do.”

The incident Gellar’s referring to happens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 16: “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”

During an argument, Amy (Elizabeth Anne Allen) casts a spell transforming Buffy from human to rat. Thanks to less screen time, Gellar got to take some time off.

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