Actress AMY ACKER, the latest addition to the cast of ANGEL, tells Ian Spelling about discovering her place in the ensemble show.
Amy Acker, the 25 year old actress who’s now a regular on the WB’s vampire series Angel, already counts among her credits the independently produced fright flick The Accident, the unsold pilot for an MTV horror series entitled Hell House, the SF feature Groom Lake (written and directed by Star Trek icon William Shatner) as well as Angel. Not bad for someone whose career has really just got underway.
“I haven’t had that much experience doing anything else as far as film and TV go,” Acker notes. “I really enjoy genre work. You get to be so creative. The things that they come up with are crazy. Someone can come up with the wildest idea and someone else can make it happen. There are no limitations. No one can say, ‘Well, that wouldn’t really happen,’ if (Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator/executive producer) Joss Whedon wants to open a portal to another dimension, there’s a team that can make that happen.”
Acker is getting remarkably comfortable with Whedon and his team now that she’s graduated from Angel guest star to series regular. She first turned up as Winifred ‘Fred’ Burkle late in the second season, in Belonging, then returned for Over The Rainbow, Through the Looking Glass and the season finale There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb. Over the course of those four episodes – the final four of the year – Fred was introduced as a ‘cow,’ a human slave living among the demons in that otherworldly place called Pylea, to which the pretty would-be physicist had been whisked while minding her own business at the local library. Fortunately, when Angel (David Boreanaz) and company – namely Gunn (J. August Richards), Wesley (Alexis Denisof), and Lorne (Andy Hallett, who’s better known as The Host) – crashed the Pylea party to save Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), they brought the relieved but still terrified and disoriented Fred back with them.
Season three kicked off in late September in the US (and is now screening on Sky One in the UK) with Heartthrob, and it did so with Fred living in the hotel and spending a lot of time around Angel, on whom she seems to have developed a pretty strong crush.
“Fred is really smart and sweet and she’s dealing with getting back in the real world,” Acker says. “She’s been in this demon dimension for five years, so she’s going to have to deal with all sorts of problems. She’s been alone for so long and now she’s got to face people and situations that she hasn’t been in for a long time. She’s also around Angel and Cordelia and Gunn and Wesley a lot now, and she has to deal with their reality, which isn’t a normal reality. They’re trying to solve strange cases and they’re coming face to face with demons and other creatures all the time. But they like her. They’re all pretty worried about her and try to get her out of her shell whenever they can.”
Acker is clear about the development of her character. “She’s trying to figure out what her place is, how she can fit into society, if she can lead a normal life. She’s getting over the shock of being in a cave for five years, with no food. So I think that she’s going to eat lots of tacos and other fast food. She’s getting to know Angel and Cordelia, Gunn and Wesley. I think that she’ll become a part of the group, helping them solve cases. She’s smart and she wants to help, so I think we’ll see a lot of that. Some of her past, who she was before she ended up in Pylea, will start to come into play as the season goes on.”
Speaking of the past, just how much did Acker know about Angel before joining the show’s cast? “I knew the basic storyline,” replies the actress, who was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and who counts among her non-genre credits several stage plays, a role in the PBS children’s series Wishbone (which was filmed in Dallas) and the mini-series To Serve and Protect. “I’d seen a couple of episodes. I knew that Angel has come from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that he and Buffy [Sarah Michelle Gellar] were meant to be together. I knew the general details about why he’s in L.A. and about what he is doing here now. I knew more about Angel than about any other character on the show, but as we’ve gone through the season so far I’ve learned more about everyone else, too. I know a lot of people who are big fans of the show. My roommates know the show. So I had a lot of people giving me details about what was going on.”
Acker should be around for all of season three and she’s more than open to the idea of sticking around even longer than that if the stories remain interesting and if Whedon and David Greenwalt (the latter of whom is now the show runner) want to keep her aboard.
It’s mentioned to Acker that joining the world of Angel is not unlike stepping into the Buffy, Star Trek, Xena or Babylon 5 universes, which are populated by millions of die-hard fans and generate such spin-offs as conventions, action figures, cards, comics and novels, as well as posters, mugs and even mouse pads bearing the faces of the shows’ actors. “It sounds great,” Acker enthuses as the conversation comes to an end. “Andy Hallett was telling me about how cool the conventions are. He’s like, ‘you have to go on these things. They’re just amazing.’ He’d just done a couple of conventions in England and in San Diego and he said that thousands of people attended them. The fans are so into Angel and that carries over into the other things, to the comics and action figures. If I get to be a part of that, too, great.”
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