THEN: It’s no secret that I was a fan of the uber-cool TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In fact, if it crosses my path while channel surfing, it stays on. What was great about it? Well, everything and then some. Cool characters, smart dialogue and really charismatic actors bringing it all to life – and of course the crazy talented Joss Whedon. Now we here at AITH have talked about Sarah Michelle Gellar in this very column. Yet there is one dude from “Buffy” that was a personal favorite and it seemed like a good time to check out what he has been up to. I’m not talking Angel or Spike or even Giles. I’m talking about Xander. He was funny, decent and one of the coolest regular JoBlos on TV… even if he helped fight off vampires, demons and giant praying mantis women. A huge part of the character's appeal is what Nicholas Brendon brought to the role.
It is impossible to talk about what made Brendon’s Xander such a great character without narrowing down a couple of moments. I’d wager a bet that not one single Buffy fan will ever forget his “yellow crayon speech” to Evil Willow. It was a heartfelt yet a beautifully intense moment of true friendship brought to life by Brendon’s impressive performance. And then there is the terrific episode entitled “The Zeppo” where Xander is involved in his own adventure while the rest of the Scooby gang does their usual thing… saving the world. Brendon carried the episode perfectly, and it was one of the many times he gave this classic series heart.
Now Brendon wasn’t a stranger to genre. In fact, a year before he took on his iconic Buffy character he appeared in CHILDREN OF THE CORN III: URBAN HARVEST (1995). Unfortunately this rather forgettable sequel didn’t offer much for horror fans, but that was no fault of Brendon who is only credited as “Basketball Player One.” Thankfully, working on Buffy from 1996 to 2003 created a niche for this charismatic guy. And in between a couple of seasons of the cult hit he was featured in the indie horror comedy PSYCHO BEACH PARTY in 2000. In the film he appeared as ‘Starcat’ opposite the very talented Lauren Ambrose. Maybe it’s because I kinda dug those goofy Sixties beach flicks, but I had some serious fun with this wacky comedy that featured a groovin’ soundtrack.
Once “Buffy” saved the world for the final time in 2003 – at least on television – all the series regulars went on to different projects here and there. Brendon still gave Xander voice in animated episodes of the show, but he wasn’t finished with doing episodic television. In the underrated comedy “Kitchen Confidential,” he starred opposite one of my favorite gals, the lovely Jaime King, as well as ‘Rocket Raccoon’ himself, Mr. Bradley Cooper. While it wasn’t genre, it was a very funny show that didn’t even make a full season back in 2005 – 2006 which is a damn shame. Brendon once again excelled giving into his comedic side and helped make for a very entertaining series.
While I had to make a slight detour from horror simply because I dug “Kitchen Confidential,” it wasn’t long before this talented dude returned to horror. In 2007, Mr. Brendon appeared in a couple of cheapie thrillers entitled FIRE SERPENT and UNHOLY. Neither really made much of an impact, yet in UNHOLY, he starred opposite genre legend Adrienne Barbeau and I was kinda sorta okay with it. Had there been a little budget behind it and maybe a better script, we could have had a more deserving flick. Yes I wanted to like this flick when it first came out, but alas it just made me happy seeing both Brendon and Barbeau on screen. They just needed a good movie. He had a little better luck with the comedy horror flick BLOOD ON THE HIGHWAY in 2008… but only a little.
Television has continually been the best place to find the actor doing fine work. He appeared in the series “American Dragon: Jake Long” in 2006 and 2007. He also starred in a more dramatic arc in 2010 and 2011 in “Private Practice.” The following year he appeared in three episodes of “Hollywood Heights.” The beauty of television is that it often offers a home for many an actor who found success as he did with “Buffy. If only we could see him in something a tad more genre-influenced, some show that is worthy of his talents. However, he will always be the guy who brought Xander to life and that earns him a gold star in my book every single time.
NOW: Nicholas Brendon is a talented actor and thankfully, he is still working. Over the past few years, he has become a recurring character on the hit series “Criminal Minds” as ‘Kevin Lynch.’ To be honest, I’m not at all familiar with the series but in it, he appears opposite his PSYCHO BEACH PARTY co-star Thomas Gibson which is pretty darn cool. Yet horror is still in his wheelhouse thanks to a couple of low-budget flicks listed on his IMDB page, including THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER and INDIGO – both from 2014. And recently, our very own site offered a very positive review of the mindf*ck thriller COHERENCE which he stars, and it is getting a ton of buzz. This is one I’m hoping to catch very soon as it looks pretty damn good.
Aside from his work, the one thing that Brendon appears to have is love for his fans. This past weekend at San Diego Comic Con, I had the opportunity to meet the man, the myth, the legend and it was freaking awesome! This guy is the genuine real deal when it comes to giving fans the love. And thankfully, with COHERENCE, “Criminal Minds” and the good will of “Buffy”, we hopefully will be seeing him on a regular basis. If you’d like to find out if Mr. Brendon is at a convention near you, you can find him on Twitter, or “Like” him on Facebook. Either way, I’d like to personally thank Mr. Brendon for helping make my Comic Con experience all the more amazing! And as he wrote on my autographed picture, I’d say the same to him, “You Da Man!”