Buffy Magazine (2002)
March 2002 (issue #31)
Amy Acker has wowed audiences the world over as new Angel regular Fred. We meet Angel Investigations’ newest recruit and discover how she came to star in the show, what she thinks of karaoke and what the cast really gets up to behind the scenes…
The ability to differentiate an actor from the character he or she plays is what separates fans from fanatics and autographs from restraining orders. Usually the actor will give you a little help in making that determination. For example, David Boreanaz doesn’t burst into flames at picnics, and Sarah Michelle Gellar doesn’t pound stakes into the hearts of anyone with acne and an overbite. Amy Acker, however, makes it a little more difficult to separate fact from fiction.
As the newest member of Angel Investigations, Fred is friendly and soft-spoken, funny and bright. As the actor who plays Fred, Acker is exactly the same. Both have a slight-but-sweet Texas accent, both have a tendency to cry a little bit when they sing, and both have followed an interesting path that has led them to Angel. You already know Fred’s story. Here’s Amy’s.
Buffy Magazine: What was your initial reaction to landing the role on Angel?
Amy Acker: At first I thought I was just doing three episodes. I had a normal audition and at the final callback, I was the only person there, so I kind of thought I was the one who got it. They said that they were looking for another girl-character for the show, but they didn’t know who it was going to be, so we kind of convinced them to use me. Joss Whedon wrote a little screen test and I went in and filmed that with J. August Richards and Alexis Denisof, and found out about a day later.
What was the scene?
Joss said he might turn it into an episode later. I’m hoping that he does, so I guess I won’t give it away. It had a little Shakespearian flair to it.
What was your first impression of Fred?
I didn’t really have one. My audition scene ended up being very different than what the character actually ended up being. I was just really excited to play a different character than I’d played before, someone fun and quirky, yet still vulnerable.
How was your first day of work?
On the first episode, I was just in Cordy’s vision, so I didn’t have any lines or anything. The first day I worked with anyone in the cast was when we were doing the screen test to see if I was going to be a regular. It was pretty nerve-wracking, because Joss had written it and said, “We want to see how everyone likes you and if you get along with the cast and stuff, too.” So not only was I nervous about the acting, but I was hoping everyone would like me and that I’d click with them! It’s kind of out of your control.
So were you going out of your way to offer them snacks and cold drinks?
Not really! I was thinking, “If I’m good in the scene, they’ll be excited to have someone fun to act with.” I was nervous about meeting David and Charisma.
Did the rest of the cast give you any pointers to get you started?
They said, “Get ready to not have a social life!”
How do you like your karaoke scene in Angel?
That was horrifying!
You don’t like to sing?
No! It was very scary. I have this problem that I usually cry when I sing, so I was like, “Please give me a sad song!” But I made it through.
You cry when you sing?
It’s a very bad reaction to singing. I think it’s just nerves. It’s strange, because I did some musicals in high school, so you would have thought I’d have gotten over that fear by now, but I haven’t.
It goes back to the sixth grade, when I was supposed to audition for this thing called all-district choir. I guess I could kind of sing back then, but I was sick for the week before we went to the tryouts, and then I went anyway without going to the rehearsal. I forgot all the words to my song. It was horrible. I think that was the beginning of the end.
We’ve seen a musical episode of Buffy. Do you think there’ll ever be an Angel musical?
I hope not! The Buffy musical is so great and amazing, I would actually love to do something like that. J’s trying to get them to do some kabuki-something or Angel-the-sitcom!
Had you watched Buffy or Angel before auditioning for the show?
In college, a group of people had always had Buffy/Angel night, where they would cook Mexican food and watch the shows. I went to a couple of them, but I didn’t know all the history. I’m still learning things every episode. I’m like, ‘Oh, so he went to high school with you?’
Where on earth would you consider to be most like Pylea?
That’s strange, because it’s so pretty and yet it was such a horrible experience, so I don’t know. It’s hard because I guess I think about where we filmed it, near Santa Barbara, so I tend to think of that as Pylea. It’s weird. I’ve never been to Turkey, but for some reason I would like to think that Turkey is like Pylea.
They have kind of the dirty, older cities, but everyone who’s ever been there always says how beautiful it is.
Kind of like Wisconsin?
We understand you worked there.
I did. I worked at the American Players Theatre, a classical repertoire theatre. I left after graduating college and went to Wisconsin for eight months and did a bunch of theatre in this beautiful place called Spring Green, which is in the middle of nowhere. It’s a town of about 1,000 people, but the theatre has 1,200 seats. Somehow it was pretty much sold out every night. People come from all over to see the shows. You hike up as mountain for about a half-mile and it’s outside with the stars. It’s pretty amazing.
Has your life changed much since you became and regular on Angel?
I don’t sleep near as much. Other than not auditioning all the time and having a job that I go to all the time and constantly learning new scripts, I haven’t had a lot of changes. I’ve only been recognised one time. Maybe it’ll start to change more as the show goes on, but I’m pretty much living the same kind of life.
Where did you get recognised?
Pier One. It was this kid who works there. I think he was from Texas and he happened to have an Angel script with him in his backpack and wanted me to read it. He was prepared. He said, “Are you Amy Acker from Dallas?”
Did you treat yourself to anything when you got your first pay cheque?
The first thing I bought was this poster in Paris that’s this original lithograph of a French advertisement from 1895. It’s pretty cool.
What were you doing in Paris?
My sister went to school there this summer, so I went out there for her birthday. I guess that was kind of an indulgence too!
Do you like to travel?
I do. I love it. I lived in Tokyo for a while and I’ve been to Paris, and pretty much all over the United States. I went to England quite a few years ago and then I just went back while my sister and I were in Paris. All of the people from the show were over there for a Buffy/Angel convention, so I got to see them and hang out with them while they were doing that.
Are you ready for the convention circuit?
I have no idea what to expect, but I’m excited to do one. Andy [Hallet] does a bunch of them and he always has crazy stories to tell, so it sounds like fun.
Do you have any crazy stories from the set?
There are so many bizarre moments. The other day, the stage was freezing, so I was wearing sweatpants underneath my skirt. I pulled my sweatpants down so that they wouldn’t make my skirt look weird on camera, but I still had them on my legs, so Alexis decided to do a scene behind the desk in his underwear. That was pretty weird. It’s hard to act with people when they’re in their underwear! When he was sitting behind his desk in the office in [“Offspring”], he wasn’t wearing any pants!
Have you had any luck convincing Joss Whedon to give you superpowers?
No. I haven’t tried too hard, though.
Is your approach to playing Fred modelled on any other performances you’ve seen?
I love Willow on Buffy. I just love Alyson Hannigan. I always think, “I wish I sounded like Alyson when I did that line.”
What’s been your favourite Fred moment?
I think the episode “Billy,” when I was doing the horror film thing, being chased all over the hotel. I love that episode. I liked being able to be scared, but then to kinda stand up for myself.
Will Fred’s parents come back to visit?
I think we should have them come visit us for Christmas or maybe take the cast of Angel to Texas for an episode. I’m sure there are some sort of demons down there.
5 December in Dallas, Texas
Hilary and Jakie
The West Wing
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
New York Yankees
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