SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR
The first time I sat down with the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1996 – 2003) I was instantly smitten with its star, Sarah Michelle Gellar. The series – based on the so-so feature film from 1992 – expanded the world of a peppy high school girl with abilities to battle "big bads." And as much as I loved Kristy Swanson who played up the dizzy aspect of the character, it was Gellar who kept me watching week after week. As Buffy Summers, a girl with serious skills when it comes to staking vamps, the actress was a revelation. Of course it didn’t hurt that she was surrounded by an exciting ensemble of actors as well as the very talented Mr. Joss Whedon leading the way. The series was groundbreaking in many ways, and Ms. Gellar helped define a modern day hero – what I wouldn’t give to see Buffy stake “Bella Swan.”
When the actress first introduced the world to her bloodsucker dusting teenager, she also found her place in the world of horror. In Kevin Williamson’s OTHER horror flick – the one that simply followed the genre rules – he put our beloved Buffy in harm’s way without the help of kick-ass slayer skills. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997) wasn’t original and it certainly didn’t help reinvent the genre, but it did offer up a fun thriller in the vein of the original PROM NIGHT (and countless others). Co-starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe and Gellar’s future husband Freddie Prinze Jr., IKWYDLS delivered when it came to a likable cast and that is especially true for Gellar as a young beauty queen who shared a deadly secret with her pals. I’ll be honest, when I saw the film for the first time I was pretty pissed off that Hewitt was the last girl standing – aside from Prinze Jr. of course.
Say what you will about SCREAM 2, but I happened to think it was a pretty solid follow up to the first film. Needless to say I was more than happy to welcome Sarah back to Kevin Williamson’s world – directed of course by Wes Craven. The sequel – released the same year as IKWYDLS – featured the actress as another victim with a whole lot less screen time. Thankfully though, her brief on camera appearance was memorable enough for me thanks to her absolute cuteness and the ability to show mucho vulnerability when terrorized by a psycho. Gellar’s “Cici” managed to elicit tons of sympathy from this “Buffy” fan, even if she did face such an early demise.
Throughout her seven season run on “Buffy,” the actress continued to grow in the role and garner critical and commercial fame. With episodes like ‘The Body’, ‘The Gift’ and ‘Hush’ all the way to ‘The Chosen’, she continued to charm audiences for 145 episodes – as well as a couple of guest appearances on the spin-off series “Angel” starring David Boreanaz. Yet as wildly successful as her TV show was, it didn’t translate all that well to the silver screen. Aside from a couple of memorable flicks including CRUEL INTENTIONS (1999) – the teen version of DANGEROUS LIASONS where she shared a lesbian kiss with Selma Blair – and SCOOBY-DOO (2002) - the slightly successful yet ridiculously bad feature film version of the cartoon – it was a difficult transition to make from her popular series.
After a few misfires like SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE in 1999 and HARVARD MAN in 2001 – both of which strayed far away from things that go bump in the night – she returned to the dark side in Takashi Shimizu’s Americanized version of his 2002 horror film JU-ON called THE GRUDGE in 2004. The film did well enough that it spawned a sequel appropriately titled THE GRUDGE 2 in 2006 which also featured Gellar in a smaller role. Over the next few years she appeared in a couple thrillers that couldn’t live up to her previous success. THE RETURN in 2006 and POSSESSION in 2008 failed to thrill or chill audiences who were still at the time hoping that the actress would return to ‘Buffy’ in some way, shape or form… at this point it is safe to say that there is not a chance in Sunnydale that this will ever come to pass.
Over the past few years Gellar and Prinze Jr. discovered the wonderful world of parenthood and welcomed two children into the world. Motherhood seemed to take up much of her time and frankly, good for her on that. Thankfully however, when an actress finds the kind of television success that she had – including winning an Daytime Emmy for her early work on the soap “All My Children” - it often means that their return is inevitable. Aside from working on a number of animated series’ including “Robot Chicken”, “The Simpsons” and “American Dad”, she made a triumphant return with “The Ringer” in 2011. Okay, well maybe it wasn’t triumphant at all considering the much too melodramatic series only lasted for one season. As much as I adore this lady, the show failed to intrigue me further than an interesting premise and the unbridled joy of having her back on television. Apparently I wasn’t the only one.
Sarah Michelle Gellar traded in her slayer years for motherhood and while she was once an up and coming modern scream queen, she will be returning to comedy in the fall of 2013. In the high profile CBS half hour comedy “The Crazy Ones” she is working with some serious talent on and off camera. This includes Robin Williams return to a weekly series since “Mork & Mindy” some thirty-six years ago, as well as David E. Kelley executive producing, you know, the guy behind “Ally McBeal”, “The Practice” and “Boston Public.” It may not be horror, but it sure as hell looks like it may be worth a glance ( you can watch the trailer for it on the official IMDB page right here ).
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” made a huge impression on me, and it made me what will probably be a lifelong fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar. In fact, the seven seasons of the genre bending show I still revisit on a regular basis. However, I’m happy to report that Ms. Gellar is still as lovely as ever and clearly she is enjoying a brand new phase in her life. Let’s just say I’m counting the days until I get to welcome this bright and shining beauty back into my world on a weekly basis so THANK YOU CBS! And of course, I’ll always have “Buffy” waiting in my DVD collection which you can purchase here . Now can somebody tell me when the hell the series will find its way onto Blu-ray?