If you are any kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, you probably know that Sarah Michelle Gellar wasn’t originally cast as Buffy: She landed the role of Cordelia Chase, the role Charisma Carpenter eventually secured (after herself auditioning for the part of Buffy). Things eventually turned out the way things do, and the result was the lineup we’re all familiar with (I’m just assuming you all love Buffy and you watch it every night like I do. That’s not weird. Is it? Emily is watching it too!)
But what if…
What if Sarah Michelle Gellar hadn’t been Buffy? Moreover, what if the casting decisions for the entire show had been sucked into the Twilight Zone? You can never really trust Wikipedia, but if it’s anything close to accurate in this case, we might very well have seen this version of Buffy instead.
Julie Benz as Buffy: It’s hard to reconcile her spritely evilness as Darla, and broken sincerity as Rita in Dexter, with Buffy’s burdened innocence.
But…yeah, I would have watched this show.
Also, you’re welcome, guys.
Riff Regan as Willow: “What?” you might ask. But Alyson Hannigan was not even originally cast as Willow. In the unaired pilot, that role was played by Riff Regan, an actress with a regular role on “Sisters”.
I’ve seen the pilot, and Riff does a fine job as Willow. I don’t know if she could have pulled off Willow’s development in later seasons, but it’s not crazy that she was picked first.
Bianca Lawson as Cordelia: Between Sarah Michelle Gellar landing the role, and Charisma Carpenter ending the search, Bianca Lawson auditioned for the part of Cordelia Chase.
Who is Bianca Lawson? Oh, maybe you didn’t recognize her without her Caribbean accent. That’s Kendra the Vampire Slayer.
The way she was made up in the Kendra role makes me think “No way could she have played Cordelia”, but the glamour shot to the left here makes me wonder.
Nathan Fillion as Angel: I don’t know if I can believe him with anything other than an old-timey southern accent (Mal, Caleb), but since he’s actually Canadian I have to think those accents were affected.
In any event, he could not do a worse fake Irish accent than David Boreanaz did in the early seasons of Buffy.
Also, you’re welcome, ladies.
Alexis Denisof as Giles: Actually, I don’t know if Alexis ever auditioned for the role of Giles. But since his character, Wesley Windham Price, is basically Giles but a little younger, it’s not too difficult to see him in the role.
Ryan Reynolds as Xander: The second Canadian actor with a giant career who might have been in the original Buffy cast, I wonder if Ryan wishes he’d gotten the part.
Also, again, you’re welcome, ladies.
And, yeah, you’re also welcome, guys. It’s okay to admit your man-crush on Ryan Reynolds now.
I’m sure Buffy fans are perfectly happy with the way the show eventually turned out.
But oh, what might have been.
(Editor’s Note: I’ve decided I’m going to be a little more unrestrained about the nerdy/geeky things I like, and share or talk about them here. I never shut up about them on Twitter anyway.)
31 thoughts on “The Buffy That Might Have Been”
I knew about SMG trying out for the part of Cordelia, but not the others. Wow, I learned something new on a blog today! :)
(PS: I readily admit my man-crush on Ryan Reynolds. But I'll just call it a crush.)
(PS2: I also admit my geeked-out love for all things BTVS. My dog is named Cordelia)
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If you want to know everybody's Twitter handle, I can help you out. For instance, Charisma Carpenter is @AllCharisma.
Was James Marsters always meant to play Spike or was their someone else in mind for that role? I love Spike.
I don't know. That article didn't go beyond the initial casting process.
I love that almost all of them ended up on Buffy in another role. And in the case of Nathan Fillion, another Joss Whedon show. It's just proves that it's good to be a part of Joss Whedon's world. That and he makes awesome television.
Nathan Fillion was also on Buffy.
Really? Wow, it's been a long time since I watched Buffy. I can't believe I forgot that.
As much as I love smushy-faced Xander, earlier exposure (heh) to Ryan Reynolds would not have been a bad thing. Of course he might not have seemed to out of Cordelia's league? Maybe better not to mess with perfection.
That's a good point. Xander had to be pretty geeky.
I just made my children read your blog for the very first time. (You're welcome.) They are currently spending their summer re-watching the entire Buffy collection from start to finish. Needless to say, this post blew their minds.
(Also, you just totally earned serious street cred in their eyes as a fellow Buffy nerd. You may have even edged out Mr. Lady in the cool department. Well played.)
We're up to Season 3 now on our re-watch.
We are slightly ahead of you. We're mid season 4. My love for Angel grows with every episode.
Oh, Riley's not that bad…
We're also on Season 3 on our current re-watch as well. Last night was Revelations (S3E7).
We're almost ready for Prom.
I think we started ahead of you, and then we went on vacation and ZOOM you cruised right by me. How many do you watch in a day? We can only do one, sometimes two, before we pass out.
2 or 3.
Buffy is seriously the best. show. ever. Even though just about anything Joss Whedon touches is fantastic – we're watching Firefly again because I have already gone through Buffy so many times.
It is always interesting to wonder how a show may have been different because of casting choices.
Oh, and keep talking about Buffy because then I will click more of your links on twitter. ;)
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I will be geeking out more often, I promise.
Love Buffy – it's one of the things my husband and I bonded over when we were first dating. Our first daughter is named Cordelia (no, no, it was for Shakespeare's character, not Buffy like everyone thought. Although we did get the nickname of Cordy from Buffy.)
I'm glad they didn't go with Julie Benz as Buffy – she was really just perfect as Darla. (And makes it very hard for me to watch her in Dexter.)
Nathan Fillion as Angel is making my brain go wild with the possibilities. I'm not sure if I'd like him more than David but it would have been interesting to see. Either way, I'm glad that Joss found other uses for Nathan. I'm still sulking that Firefly was only given one season.
And a movie! Where's my Buffy movie? (One made by Joss without the Kazuis.)
You know, I almost think Ryan Reynolds isn't geeky enough to have pulled off Xander in his earlier days.
PS, you are a blogger. Why on earth would you hold back on your geeky/nerdy interests? We already know, man. We already know.
I was letting the “dad blogger” label pigeonhole me.
Thanks for this post. My husband and I met via bonding over Firefly, but I am a Buffy gal first and foremost. (Though I usually just pretend Season 6 didn’t exist.) I had no idea how many of Joss’s “stable” were initially up for roles/different roles in Buffy. I love that he has established an ongoing relationship with these folks and utilizes them whenever possible.
Man, if you let your geek flag fly more often, I may just have to delurk and comment regularly. (Not that I don’t love your parenting posts; I just don’t know what to say that won’t sound either fawning or ass-y).
How did you get Emily to watch it with you? I've been trying to get my husband to watch for years, and still no dice. Did you just wear her down eventually or did you come up with a killer argument?
I could see Bianca Lawson as Cordelia, I really could.
I'm glad Fillion wasn't Angel, he doesn't do it for me quite the same way as David Boreanaz
Saw above you are on Season 3 currently. That is hands down my favorite season. The prom episode kills me every time, and also two words: The Zeppo.
I think it's time for a Buffy re-watch. And no way could Ryan Reynolds be Xander.
It's always time for a Buffy rewatch. I was in the middle of a Buffy rewatch when we started this Buffy rewatch. Not a joke.
Well if it had gone that way, and then you blogged about how SMG almost got cast, we'd be like, what? And you be like, yeah. And then we'd be like, no way. Then you'd say, I know, right?
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