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Interview with Buffy Actor Nicky Brendon (Branson Con Interview)

At Branson Con, I had the opportunity to sit down with actor Nicholas “Nicky” Brendon.  Nicky is best known for his role as Xander on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series.  He portrayed Kevin Lynch on Criminal Minds.

When I first sat down with him, he told me right away to call him Nicky.  Nicky was full of energy and excited. You can tell he is instantly the life of any party.  His quick wit and humor always bubbled up to the top and often into different voices. His personality was comparable to Robin Williams.

I could tell as soon as I sat down with him, Nicky was upset about something.  As per his personality, it wasn’t held back. I included it in our interview

GK (Geeky KOOL): I am Larry Litle with GeekyKOOL.com.

NB (Nicky Brendon): I am Nicky.

GK: Great to meet you. You go by Nicky instead of Nicholas?

NB: Oh yeah.

NB: Hey do you know these girls?  (Hands me a business card of someone he had just met)

GK: No I am not familiar with them.  

NB: These girls approached me and told me that they are looking voice actors for a project they are making.  I told that that is not the kind of acting that I usually do. I wanted to start of by saying that no one looks like their pictures (on the business card).  I said from moving forward, know who you are talking to before and be more prepared. They said, “we normally are.” I said, alright, cool. And one of them said, “It isn’t like you are famous or anything.” I said, “I am trying to do you a expletive)( favor. You are not going to get dick like that.”  It starts creating some (expletive) energy. That is what is going on right now. I am getting angrier and angrier. With the famous thing, just don’t be an idiot about it. Don’t be ignorant.

That is what we have going on in society at present.  People have the hardest time simply saying I am sorry. And the are 100% in the wrong and they know it.  You know when you are wrong and you are called out on it and you start to get warm. You are digging your own grave. When you say you are sorry right away and defuse it, it is awwwww (sigh of relief).  People don’t do that. I mean I speak from experience.

When you say, “you are right. I am sorry.” People say cool. I will help you anyway I can. But don’t get high and mighty about it. Just say, I am sorry.  It is crazy and it is so easy. I mean theoretically it is easy.

GK: We don’t practice it much in society anymore.  

NB: Not at all.

GK: In society we tend to have Tweet wars with each other and one upping each other on Facebook.

NB: Social Media is just a mess.  

GK: We don’t know how to interact with people any more in society.  We don’t know how to say I messed up.

NB: It is like if two guys get into a fist fight, after it is over they are lifelong friends. Then it is like, “do you know how we meet, we kicked each other’s ass.

GK: That is the way it often happens.  You get that out and then you are done.

NB: I am sorry is so powerful.  

GK: I agree. That is great. I appreciate that.

NB: You are welcome (as he starts to stand up like he is leaving with a gleam in his eye). I am joking.

GK: If that is all I get from you, then that is pretty cool.

NB: You can use that in your article.

GK: I definitely can.  

(Both of us laugh for 15 seconds)

GK: I do have some questions for you Nicky because I actually do know who you are.

NB: I never said I am famous (laughing)

GK: Well I believe you are famous.

NB: We were in eastern France shooting a show out there.  It was Sarah’s, my girlfriend, birthday so I took her to Cannes for the day.  I have a friend that I shot the show for and he was checking in on the room was available.  It was the front desk at this place called the Carlton. It is the biggest hotel there. They asked, “Is it the Nicholas Brendon?”  I walked up and they were like, “hello sir.” When they know you in France. I am not saying I am (famous) and I am not saying I am not.  I am saying don’t be a (expletive) (expletive). I had to get that out.

GK: I completely agree. There is no reason to be that way.  

NB: Inexperience.

GK: That is true.

GK: Buffy started 22 years ago.  Is that difficult to believe that it has been 22 years since it started?

NB: Yes and No.  It was difficult to imagine but now I am getting used to it.  As the years roll by and it was just off, it was hard to imagine.  But now that isn’t the case anymore. It is just as popular now. So I have come to terms with it.  Once we did the 20th anniversary photo shoot, then it sunk in.

GK: Your characters are just as popular as ever.  There is a comic book know.

NB: I wrote season 10.

GK: I forgot you did that.

NB: I am a New York Times best selling author.  

GK: You are just a little famous.

NB: A little bit. In France, me and Jerry Lewis and (expletive) David Hasselhoff. Oh, Hasselhoff is Germany.  

GK: He is big in Germany and they love his singing.

NB: I did a Con with Hasselhoff. He is a weird,weird man.

GK: He seems like a caricature of himself.  

NB: 100%.  That is written poorly. (acting like he is talking to David Hasselhoff)  Time out.  What? We are going to stick with that?  Okay.

GK: Do you get a lot of interesting experiences at Cons (geek conventions) where you are meeting people and thinking they are really out there?  

NB: Not really. I don’t keep to myself.  Everyone is always very nice. You have certain people that you can tell don’t want to be there.  But I love doing Con. I love meeting my fans. I love meeting new people. I don’t care about the actors.

GK: How do you feel about the longevity and popularity of Buffy?

NB: I feel good about it.  (Laughing)

GK: (also laughing) Okay that was a stupid way to ask that question.

NB: Thanks for helping me out. (Pauses)  The think with it is that I get ask a lot this question, “Did you know when you were shooting it would be this popular?” And of course we didn’t.  As the years went on, we knew we were doing something very special. But even then, you don’t really know until it was done done. When they start teaching college courses on it, then you know.

(With a gleam in his eyes and a wide smile, he continues) This is rumor and scuttlebutt and conjecture. They are thinking of adding chapter in the New Testament called Buffy. Actually the Book of Buffy.  They are voting on it now in the Vatican. If pink smoke comes out of the (expletive) chimney, then it is a yes.

GK: They are talking about a reboot (of Buffy).  What are you feelings on them rebooting?

NB: I don’t know. (Pausing) If Joss (Whedon) wants to do it. If Joss thinks they should do it.  Buffy is his baby. This is why he is still involved with the comics with the story and the arcs.  Warner Bros a few years back were going to make a movie but Joss was not involved. But the fans said NOOOOO! So they scrapped it. The fans said, only if Joss is involved.

With this thing, Joss is involved. Gail Berman is involved. They are very protective of it. I think it will work.

I think it will work better if you have some of the original characters.  The three that make the most sense are either Giles, Xander, or Willow. These are the only ones that can make a lot of sense.

I am open about it. I am open about my depression and autism now.  I have been arrested about 14 times in the past. Now Disney owns Fox. I might not be able to do it just because they are high and mighty racists. They don’t like the Jewish people apparently.

It is like Xander makes the most sense.  We all make mistakes. My thing is what am I doing today and moving forward. I made mistakes and then I move. To me it is like if you have one of those three in there then it will give the show more credence.  I think more people will definitely embrace it more. Those are my takes.

I talked to the person running the show, the writer. We had a dialog.  I pitched her my idea how it would open. It is a low shot (camera angle). It is scorched Earth. You see all of these bodies and stuff. It is just mayhem and stuff with death and scorched hills as far as the eye can see. Very much like with (Vlad) the Impaler.  Basically Dark Willow is the big bad.

Xander is there.  He is a closet alcoholic and a pill popper because he is so stressed out. He is still funny but it is much darker. That is definitely how I would see it and that was my pitch.

GK: Would you keep Buffy at that age or how would you  do that.

NB: She is going to be an African American girl who is still in High School. I am not great with the mythology. I don’t know how they would end up being the same name. I don’t think there is anything that stated the name wise.

In my idea, Sarah’s Buffy is dead. Her daughter, who is upset because her mother is dead and is in foster care. She is the slayer and her name is also Buffy, because Buffy is a narcissist.  (Both of us laughing).

That is how we get it started. We have a girl with the same name who has been raised in the child protective services who is just angry. You have the Pill popping Xander and Dark Willow.  That is a gritty new look.

GK: That is a great pitch. That would make the reboot or sequel make sense.  

NB: 100%. It would be like Riverdale meets Fuller House.

GK: You talked about your struggles. Many of them very public struggles with your depression, your alcoholism, and your suicide attempts.  What are you doing to take care of yourself now?

NB: (Smiles) None of your (expletive) business. (Laughing)

GK: That is a fine answer! (as I laugh back with him)

NB: The alcoholism is funny because people know what that is. With depression and mental health, there isn’t a clean definition.  So people really hold onto the alcoholism because they know someone who is an alcoholic. The alcoholism was really a symptom to the disease.  It was self Medicating. That desire to drink was lifted. I don’t skirt over the alcoholism. It no longer has power over me. I don’t like drinking anymore. My twin brother is having a really hard time right now and is back in rehab.

I want to say I get it. It has a lot of power in my life. It is a true, true thing. There are many stages of it and why you do it.  Is it life? Is it nature? Is it nurture? So the alcoholism, thank God, that obsession has been lifted.

The other stuff, I am doing a tour.  It is the Happiness Runs Amuck tour. I help fans of mine that are suffering.  We get together and either do Karaoke, bowling, or a watch party of something I have done.  We get together and have a great (expletive) time. They meet too and bring relationships. These bounds are created so that helps me a lot. It helps keep my sanity.

I was in Brussels last weekend for Brussels Comicon.  A lot of horrible (expletive) is being said about me at the moment on social media. Old Bull (expletive).  I just cried. I cracked. It is bad. I am losing jobs and stuff. I had my first panic attack. I do these live Facebook watch parties. We watched Grave, where I saved the world. I was just crying a lot.  I did it for two reasons. One to show others what depression looks like. Two, I need to do it as well. It helps me as much. It also helps to be open about it.

Thinking and right actions is what I am doing right now or as right as I can. Moving that tape forward.  Before I was very reactionary. Life had rules and now I am aware that life has rules. I definitely think about them more. I still am reactionary

GK: It is hard to completely change that core part of your personality.  I come from a counseling background. I have a Masters in Counseling and worked in the mental health field for a long time.  

NB: So I am saying all of the right things.

GK: You are. What you are saying is resonating with me.

NB: I had a guy who was in Boston, the head of Psychology for Harvard, and I told him that I feel like I have a PHD in Psychology because I talk to everyone. Anyone. You want to talk I am there. There is a lot of real world experience. I really feel like I do understand. We had a person at my event. There was a mother and son. She was concerned because he had expressed interest of committing suicide about a week prior. She (the mother) had talked to Sarah, my girl, and wanted to know if I would talk to him. I said, “Of course”.

We were at the event and he was a great guy. It didn’t come up. I had also forget about the conversation. But when we were done, I called him. He is doing good. It was very situational. He was having a bad day.  He is fine.But if you type it or say it, then it is a cry for help. Now in fact, he going to be good. It is neat. Well not neat but it is nice to have that understanding. I told him if he needs to talk, then he can call me anytime.

GK: Do you find it therapeutic to yourself to be helping others?

NB: Yeah!

GK: That is often where we get into recovery with those things when we realize that we have to do this for me but also I am trying to help someone else.  

NB: It is not as altruistic as it sounds.

GK: It is always about helping yourself but you get that extra motivation there when you get to the place where you want to help other people also.

NB: It is a lot of work too.

NB: By the way, I like your eye.  

GK: What?

NB: You have like a chronic spaghetti western Clint Eastwood eye.

GK: Yes I do.

NB: It is great. I love it.

GK: I have never had anyone say it like that before. Thank you.

NB: It is kinda like (pause) do you know who Kyle Chandler is?

GK: Yes!

NB: Him too. Right here (hands between the forehead and the noise) is all Kyle Chandler baby.  

GK: Right here (Motioning from my neck down) is all James Cordon.  

NB: (Whispering in almost a Joker voice) Beautiful! I want to massage your full body.  (Both laughing) Not because I want to but because it makes me feel better.

GK: Nicky, you have had a long list of other roles you have done, not just Buffy.  Criminal Minds and several other characters you have played. Is there another character that you really resonate with beyond Xander?

NB: Ummm. Kevin Lynch on Criminal Minds.  He was very Xander like. I like playing the guy next door.

I did a movie for ABC Family called Celeste in the City. There was tthe love interest, ended up being Ethan Embry,  or Dana, the over the top gay cousin. They gave me the choice of what part I wanted. I said, “I am going to go with Dana.” I didn’t want to be the love interest. To me that is boring. I am happy I did that. I want to have fun with it.

I will do Karaoke events, right? I will sing Sweet Transvestite to pay homage to Tony Head. I will put on makeup but I will smear it all over. We will live Facebook it. Sarah, my girl, says I cannot do it anymore because she says I look crazy. But I have this makeup on and I will go into just being the Joker. With the Joker, you want to like him. You feel bad for him. He is talking to Batman and is like “Buddy I haven’t always been like this. I was an accountant. I was married with two kids. And something just snapped.” Then Boom he blows somebody up. He is like “Why so serious, man.”

For me, play it down. Don’t play it up. That is fun. I like to kinda flip things on their ear a bit. Then when you are doing a intimate scene, (yelling) “YEAH! You know what I mean”. No that is stupid. (Both laughing). (Yelling again) “You kids be quiet. Your mother is sick. She had a stroke. She cannot handle the noise right now.” That wouldn’t work that way.

GK: (still laughing) That would be a unique way to go with it.

NB: (all still laughing) First all, if you are calling her Mother, you don’t give a transvestite (expletive) that she is sick or not. Or even worse, Kathy is sick. You call your mom Kathy? Whatever. But her name is Margaret.  

GK: One last Buffy question for you, Nicky.

NB: Absolutely.

GK: Is there a character you saw on the show, either recurring or a one time shot and you said, that would be a great character to play.

NB: Not for me, no. I never think like that. Because that is narcissistic. You can do it better than that person can. The one I really appreciated was Spike. When I look at it now, because I am re-watching it now. When I look at James and how he played Spike, it is that thing where either he or I always had the best lines ever.  We watched the Musical last night. There is this line that Spike had. It was where you had to say why you are here in five words or less. He said, “Out for a walk”, and had the look of glee. And he has one more word, “Bitch”. It is the subtle things. And in the musical where he was singing, “Then I will kill her.” And when Xander and Spike are together, it is really good  (expletive). They is why I brought them back together in the comic book.

GK: They were great together.  

NB: But Xander and Angel?  No.

GK: Angel was kind of a …

NB: Boring character.

GK: Compared to Spike, he was horribly boring.

NB: It was a pleasure to do this.  

GK: It was a pleasure to get you time and a great interview.

NB: Of course. Are you here all weekend?

GK: I am here all weekend.

NB: If you need one, I am giving out free hugs all weekend.

GK: Can I get one now?

NB: Yeah! (gives a big bear hug).

I hope you all enjoyed the long read but wonderful interview with Nicky.  I am so happy he is getting his life right. He is fully of life and energy.  After that small meeting, I almost feel like we are friends.  He recognized me and talked to me and hugged all Branson Con when I walked by his booth.

Stay Geeky!

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