Marc Blucas almost missed his chance to be Buffy's commando boyfriend, Riley, on the cult fave Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The handsome 32-year-old originally bounced around the idea of playing pro basketball or, worse yet, wasting those rugged good looks as a lawyer! Thankfully, he came to his senses at the last minute.

"I was a business major, just doing theatre on the side," Blucas recalls. "I grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania. I used my sport to get me out of town. I love going back there, but I knew I wasn't a lifer. I got a scholarship to [Wake Forest University], played basketball there, did the Hoop Dreams thing and got to play professionally [with England's Manchester Giants] for a year.

"I had an academic scholarship to law school," he continues. "I thought that was the path that I was supposed to be on. If you grew up in Girard, Pa., people would throw rocks at you if you said you wanted to [act]. Two weeks before law school, I said, 'I don't love the law and I'm doing this for the wrong reasons.' So I called my folks — which was interesting — and said, 'I'm moving to L.A.'"

So far, the big leap has worked out well for Blucas. Besides Buffy, he's made his way onto the big screen in movies like Sunshine State and First Daughter. And he's glad Buffy's fan base has supported him along the way.

"Buffy was a show where there was no gray area," he asserts. "It is not like people watched that show and said, 'Well, I missed it last week and I don't think I'll be able to watch it next week.' You either watched it or you didn't. The fans are fans. When I was in England, I couldn't walk out of the hotel. You would have thought I was Mel Gibson.

"It was crazy," he laughs. "I was doing laundry at the local laundromat with, like, 15 people talking about scenes in Buffy that I forgot. But I came on that show at the perfect time. It was an up-and-running hit. I went on being seen as the romantic lead and action guy, and had the opportunity to get out of it when I wanted to. It was the perfect situation for me."