We'll always have Spike, but James Marsters' blond Buffy bloodsucker isn't the only sci-fi character the actor wants to sink his teeth into. Marsters was happy to share his upcoming otherworldly projects with TV Guide, including his flamboyant turn on the Season 2 premiere of Torchwood (Saturday, Jan. 26, at 9 pm/ET on BBC America). In this first of two parts, Marsters talked about his wild past, his romantic present and some future roles. In next week's Part 2, we'll discuss his return to Smallville. (New to Torchwood? Our Strike Survival Guide can bring you up to speed.)
TV Guide: In your guest role on Torchwood, you once again play a witty, randy scoundrel with a Brit accent. It's not a Buffy crossover, so who are you?
James Marsters: Captain John is a Time Agent — a thief who travels through time stealing the wealth of whole planets. His partner used to be Captain Jack [series star John Barrowman], who's now reformed. I show up in town wanting him to come back to his villainous ways and have fun with me.
TV Guide: Early on, Jack and John do something that Buffy's Spike and Angel never would have done, no?
Marsters: No, no, no. We kiss. My character is way beyond bisexual. Spike was a romantic; this guy would do anything that moved. I cast a lustful glance at a poodle!
TV Guide: Yikes.
Marsters: Hey, when Captain Kirk went to different planets, he slept with different species. They just all looked like hot pinups from Planet Penthouse. We're a little more realistic. [Laughs] On some planet, you might find yourself having a relationship with something that looks more like a fish!
TV Guide: OK, so how was the kiss with Barrowman?
Marsters: I had never kissed a man on film before, but luckily my girlfriend, Patricia, was there, and she said it was always a fantasy of hers that I would kiss another man. I probably can't give that to her in real life, so she came to the set. She thought it was really hot. I was turning my girlfriend on — it was all good.
TV Guide: Who is your girlfriend?
Marsters: I can tell you that she's Patricia and she's studying design and fashion in Germany now. She's very, very wonderful. We've been together three and a half years.
TV Guide: She's living in Germany — and you're not. How is long-distance romance?
Marsters: That sucks, especially because, as I say, she's wonderful and so being away from her is very hard. And at the same time, I'm so busy that if I had a girlfriend who thought I would be there for her seven days a week, I'd have a very frustrated girlfriend right now.
TV Guide: How did you wind up on a British sci-fi series?
Marsters: I was on a concert tour in the U.K. — I broke up my band, so it was just me and my guitar — and my tour manager, Lisa, got me to watch Dr. Who. I thought it was a really well-written show and would be fun to do. So my agent called Russell T. Davies, who wrote Queer as Folk and is responsible for Dr. Who. Russell said no, but he would love for me to come on Torchwood, the spin-off. It's a funny, subversive show like Buffy. I feel very much at home.
TV Guide: What was a favorite subversive moment on Buffy?
Marsters: What I'm most proud of is when we had a kid in a bell tower with a rifle right after Columbine, and especially the relationship between Willow and Tara. That was a big deal, and Joss [Whedon] got a lot of pressure to step off of that. To his credit, he didn't and gave a lot of gay women something to feel good about. That's one of the best things I've been part of.
TV Guide: So is the Spike spin-off absolutely dead now?
Marsters: I don't think it's absolutely dead. I told Joss that I didn't want to do the character as an old vampire, which would be really sucky. [Laughs] But I'm holding up better than I thought I would. With the right lighting, we might be able to get away with it.
TV Guide: What was it like on the Torchwood set? More high-brow than the usual Yank sets?
Marsters: [Laughs] To the uninitiated, it can be a bit of a shock. It's a sexually charged show, so there are a lot of sexual jokes and a lot of double entendres in the air, but none of it is serious. After the first four days, I was saying stuff that made John start to blush. I told him, "Dude, you shouldn't have unleashed it. I told you I was nastier than you."
TV Guide: You return later this season, but will you be back next season?
Marsters: I'd like to. The character is sexy and villainous. Why stop doing that? Plus, Wales is great. If anyone wants a great vacation and they don't mind seagulls, go to Wales.
TV Guide: Didn't you write some of your new album, Like a Waterfall, there?
Marsters: I finished three songs and worked on several others. That was a good time. Unfortunately, when I went back to shoot the last episode, I had a broken hand and I couldn't play guitar.
TV Guide: How did you break your hand?
Marsters: Um, it was up in Canada. And for reasons of professional courtesy, I think I'm not going to say any more than that.
TV Guide: Did you get into a fight with an actor on the set of Smallville?
Marsters: No, I haven't been in a fight in, like... 12 years. I'm a good boy now, don't be spreading that around.
TV Guide: When were you bad?
Marsters: When I got kicked out of college, I went pretty super-wild for a few years. The head of Juilliard said [in a British accent], "You should quit before you get bitter. You'll never make it. So get out now." I'm not bitter because I did just fine. But right after, it did hurt and it did lead toward a dark period — a very funny dark period.
TV Guide: You recently released Like a Waterfall on your website. How would you describe your music?
Marsters: I'd say it would be folk- and blues-driven with sprinkles of punk and pop and rock. There's also a taste of Joni Mitchell and jazz. We got the guitarist Ben Peeler from the Wallflowers to play. A lot of the songs were inspired by or directly about my girlfriend. I wanted to name the album after her, but I decided to be a little more discreet. She's got really nice hair that falls like a waterfall around her shoulders.
TV Guide: You were married previously. Do you have kids?
Marsters: I don't want to talk about this too much, but yes, I have a son and I take care of my niece. I'm so proud of them.
Check out a clip of James Marsters on Torchwood in our Online Video Guide.
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