Nicholas Brendon Talks LGBT fans, Buffy and CONjure in Orlando

NickBrendonNicholas Brendon, best known for his role as quirky, loveable member of the Scooby Gang “Xander Harris” on the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ran for seven seasons. Though the allure of the show was it’s title powerhouse, Buffy, it was the supporting characters and their interactions with one another that was tantamount to the show’s success.

Most recently, Brendon has had a recurring role as Kevin Lynch on the CBS drama Criminal Minds as FBI technical analyst and love interest to the bureau analyst Penelope Garcia. He just completed the tenth season, appearing in over 30 episodes of the show’s nine year run.

“It’s fun to play “Xander” by proxy,” the actor says.

The 43 year old actor recently wrapped on filming and starring in the creepy Coherence, which opened June 20. Brendon has also been a contributing writer for Dark Horses’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series, which is now in its tenth season. He was tight-lipped about details of what’s to come for the gang but did offer a few morsels.

Fresh off a plane, Brendon granted Fire Down Below an exclusive interview before his appearance at CONjure, the pop culture convention in Orlando.

ERIKCABAN: Tell me about what you’ll be doing at CONjure in Orlando this weekend.
NICHOLAS BRENDON: This is my first time at CONjure. I’m going to be giving my fans hugs and three Q & A panels.

Are you going to have time to do anything else while you’re here?
I really want to go to Disney World but I broke my ankle about a week ago & it’s so humid here. So. Humid. Here. Holy Moley! I’m hoping maybe on Sunday night to go for like an hour.

You’re no stranger to the Cons. So, I’m sure you know to expect a lot of fellow “Xanders.”
I’m shocked. I have a friend that said she’s going to be in Orlando and I was like, “I’m going to be in Orlando!” I found out there are actually two Cons going on; CONjure and Leaky Con. I guess Orlando is Con-centric? I’ve never once been to a town where they have two pop-culture Cons going on at the same time.

We have a lot of nerds here. [Laughs]
You know what, I love ’em.

Especially through Buffy and your cult hits like Psycho Beach Party, Celeste in the City and most recently, Big Gay Love, you’ve built a large gay fan base.
Yea, I know. I love it. Every Halloween, there’s a big Halloween party in West Hollywood where they shut down the whole city. One year, they wanted the whole cast of [Buffy] to be the Grand Marshals of it. We were so stoked but we had to work, since it was on a weekday. At that point we kind of knew we were kind of touching the gay, lesbian and transgendered [audience.] It’s wonderful. Also, with Psycho Beach Party, that really struck a [chord] as well.

What’s been the craziest fan encounter?
Typically, since I play the “guy next door” who everyone seems to relate to, all of my fans are really, really lovely. If I were to play a brooding vampire or some shit like that, I think it would be different. I think since my characters strike a common chord with everyone, which is normality and that it’s ok to be normal in a chaotic situation, I tend to bring out normal fans. I’ve had friends of mine have strange fan stories, but they’re playing the dark, brooding parts. So, I feel very fortunate.

Though you have a broad spectrum of roles, it’s interesting that people seem to see and relate you to your role as “Xander.”
Yes. I still believe “Xander” is still one of the coolest characters on television. He had amazing lines. Outside of season seven, because Xander got a little whiney.

Season seven was kind of a dark season.
I wanted to end it the way we started – “the softer side of Sears.”

Very few celebrities have the opportunity to make that impact on fans through a character that you have.
Yea. I’ve heard so many great stories from people. When they were fighting a horrible depression or suicidal or fighting drug addiction, they said they would sit and watch the show and it got them through more horrible situations than us. I’m honored to be part of that.

I, myself, thank you for being that left -of- center/it’s- ok- to- laugh- at- yourself character I could relate to in high-school.
If we don’t laugh, we cry.

I see that you’ve been co-writing the comic series Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 with Joss Whedon. How was it going back to Sunnydale and working with Joss again?
Now we’re in San Francisco and we blew that fucker up. About a year ago, we had a writer’s summit for season 10 in West Hollywood. That was neat to see the whole arc of the season come to life with all these very creative people. My writing partner on this is a guy named Christos Gage, who’s really wonderful. It’s kind of cool putting words back in Xander’s mouth. I would love to one day put his floral shirts back on – with the eye patch. Xander looks great in the comics with an eye patch.


It looks like eight issues are already penned. Are you going to keep writing for them?
Yea. We have 11 and 12 coming out with 30 episodes each season. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a rounding success.

Are you able to give any tidbits of what’s to come?
Nope. I can tell you that Xander and Spike will move back in together. During the writer’s summit, I was telling them how much I enjoyed the three episodes of the show when they lived together in Xander’s basement. I loved the Odd Couple and while there’s no way to improve the original, Xander and Spike are probably the closest you can come to making an actual remake.

Tell me more about Coherence. From the previews, it kind of looks like a Twilight Zone – “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” type of tale.
You hit the nail on the head. It really is like a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode – not the UPN version. It’s really hard to talk about without giving anything away. Jim Byrkit, the writer and director, was very protective because one bit of information could ruin the entire movie for you. There wasn’t a script. We shot in five days. Every actor was given between five and ten points of actions to convey. So, we had no idea what was going on. It was shot in chronological order, so we’re reacting to everything as it’s happening. It was very unique in that regard. You need to see it. [Laughs] It’s a really great film. Since I wasn’t in the last scene, I didn’t know how it ended. So when I saw it, I went “Holy shit! Now everything makes sense.” [Laughs]

What say you about the Anthony Stewart Head/Buffy spin-off Ripper? Would you be game to bringing “Xander” back to the small screen if it came to fruition?
I’d love to! Love to! It’s funny, my booking agent said Anthony Head tweeted for me to call him. And I totally forgot until now. [Laughs] I better give him a call.

Speaking of Buffy; were there ever any behind the scenes romances amongst the Scooby Gang?
[Laughs] I think on every show there is. Figure it’s eight years and we’re not blood related. [Laughs] That’s all I’ll say about that.

More info:
Who: Nicholas Brendon
What: CONjure
Where: Doubletree by Hilton at Universal
when: August 1 – 3, 2014
Twitter: @NicholasBrendon

Photos courtesy of @NicholasBrendon