For seven glorious seasons, Sarah Michelle Gellar quite literally slayed as the kick-ass titular character in the blood-thirsty television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the show’s stab-happy legacy still lives on (seven seasons worth of Buffy’s infamous roundhouse kicks are available on Netflix, obv), there’s a surprising amount of stuff that went on behind the scenes during the show’s run from 1997 to 2003.
Here are 15 surprising Buffy the Vampire Slayer facts you never knew:
1. Before Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar was up for the lead role in a different magical show.
SMG was also up for the titular role in Sabrina the Teenage Witch during the same time. Ultimately though, Sabrina went a different path with Melissa Joan Hart and SMG accepted the role of Buff.
2. Katie Holmes was also up for the role of Buffy.
What strange alternate universe we’d live in if Katie Holmes wasn’t famous for portraying Joey Potter on Dawson’s Creek and SMG wasn’t a vampire-killing high schooler.
3. SMG originally auditioned for the role of Cordelia and Charisma Carpenter (AKA Cordelia) auditioned for Buffy.
Again… What a bizarre alternate universe we’d live in. It’s nearly impossible to imagine these two roles reversed…
4. Ryan Reynolds was slated to play Xander.
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Nicholas Brendon as Xander… But Ryan Reynolds in the role is nearly comical! In the end, RR turned down the role and spent the late 90s making movies.
5. The actor who played Spike wasn’t actually British.
Bet you’d never have known that James Marsters, the actor who played Spike, wasn’t actually British. (Don’t worry; We won’t shatter your teenagehood. Giles was a total Englishman.) Actually, James was a California boy and initially, he gave Spike a Texan accent in his audition. That plot line was scrapped and the British Spike we’ve come to know/hate/and love was born.
6. SMG and Alyson Hannigan are the only two actors to appear in every single episode.
That’s 145 episodes total. Xander missed only one. Wonder what he was up to…?
7. Dolly Parton was an executive producer of the show.
How’s that for shocking?
8. Britney Spears was supposed to guest star on the show as the robot April.
Oh, baby, baby. Season five of Buffy was supposed to boast the “Baby One More Time” singer but unfortunately, the international pop star couldn’t fit the appearance into her crazy schedule.
9. Actors were known to play more than one villain.
When the villains are easily disguised with demon makeup and vampire-altered faces, it’s not hard to re-purpose a few actors!
10. The vampires were specifically designed to be extremely hideous.
Speaking of vampiric face prosthetics, there was a reason Angel and the rest of his vampire counterparts weren’t exactly cute when they transformed. The show’s creator, Joss Whedon, went on record saying he didn’t want Buffy to go around stabbing normal-looking teenagers. He said the monster quality gave it less of a realistic feel.
11. The crew nicknamed SMG “Jimmy Stewart.”
Don’t get the reference? Since Buffy dealt with so much emotional and physical turmoil in the show, Whedon and the writers nicknamed her after the fictional character who dealt with the most pain in history.
12. The actress who played Faith never did any nude scenes because of her religion.
Sure, Faith was all about the sexy crop tops and attempting to steal Angel with her make-out skills, but that doesn’t mean Eliza Dushku was 100% down with her rebellious character. IRL, Dushku is a Mormon, the reason for which she cited refusing to do nude scenes.
13. Dawn was originally intended to have super powers of her own.
Dawn, played my Michelle Trachtenberg, was initially supposed to be written with a slew of super powers. In early scripts, Dawn was written as a clairvoyant, but then the idea was eventually scrapped.
14. The show was pitched as a cartoon, but no one would pick it up.
Seriously. Why did no one want an animated Buffy Summers on their network?
15. Nicholas Brendon was asked to stop working out at one point.
Proof that Ryan Reynolds never could’ve played Xander… At one point during the show’s seven consecutive seasons, it was decided Nicholas Brendon was getting too buff for his nerdy character Xander. Producers had to actually ask him to cool it on the weight-lifting!