Home » Camden Toy Looks Back on Buffy [Exclusive]

Camden Toy Looks Back on Buffy [Exclusive]

Camden Toy only made a handful of appearances on the massive cult television show Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, but each of those roles are ones that fans will probably never forget. His first appearance, and perhaps best known role, was as one of the nightmare-inducing, fairy tale monsters known as The Gentlemen in the Emmy-nominated season four episode “Hush.” Toy returned to Buffy in season seven to portray the demon Gnarl in the episode “Same Time, Same Place,” and also appeared in four subsequent episodes of the same season as the main Ubervamp, the Turok-Han. Toy then returned on Joss Whedon’s Buffy spin-off show Angel in the season five episode “Why We Fight” as the ancient vampire The Prince of Lies. In addition to his work on Buffy, Toy has been in numerous independent movies, showing off his skills as an impressive character actor.

Wicked Horror’s Michele Eggen had the pleasure of talking with Toy recently, where they explored each of his roles on Buffy and Angel in depth, along with his experiences with fans at conventions and the new projects he has coming up. Toy is an incredibly kind man with an infectious laugh and attitude that underscores the passion he still has for the work he did on the iconic television show. Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, Toy was introduced to the entertainment industry at a young age by his father, who was an actor and makeup artist. Toy discovered his father’s makeup kit one day and together the two of them started practicing doing monster makeup effects on themselves. From then on, Toy spent his summers at a theater camp, learning the ins and outs of theater and building his skills as an actor.

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Wicked Horror: How did you end up getting that first role on Buffy [as one of the Gentlemen in “Hush”]?

Camden Toy: “Hush” was interesting because I get the feeling that, for some reason they waited quite a bit of time before they were casting that. They ended up casting it kind of last minute, I think there was a lot of problems because Joss [Whedon] was dividing his time between Angel and Buffy, and of course on “Hush” he was writing and directing, so there wasn’t even a full script when we were starting to shoot that episode, just because he was so busy. So for whatever reason, I think they were stalling on the casting because I’m sure there were parts of the network or the studio, I’m not sure who, who were going, “Well, you know, since these guys don’t say anything, you could probably just get extras to do this, right?” Fortunately, either Joss or somebody said, “No, you probably need to get somebody that has some physical background in physical theater to bring these [characters] to life.” So there was this call that went out, like last minute, I mean literally my agent called me and said “Hi, Buffy the Vampire Slayer wants to see you TONIGHT at six o’clock!” So it was a last minute call for physical actors like mimes, and people that had commedia dell’arte backgrounds. I grew up in a time, and I think Doug Jones [the  actor who also played a Gentleman in the episode] also grew up in a time where if you went through any kind of theater training, you also got clowning training, mime training, and commedia training, and it was just part of your training. I think nowadays they don’t do that as much, unfortunately. So I had extensive background in a number of martial arts, European clowning, physical clowning, vaudeville, mime. But yeah, I got this call and I had to be there [that night] so I went, and there was no script, and the original character was called The Laughing Man. So I get there and Lonnie Hammerman, one of the casting people, is like, “We’re probably going to change this name because there is no dialogue in the episode, so there is no laughing! Don’t laugh! Don’t do any laughing! It’s a silent episode!” And of course, the actors were so crazy. I’m hearing people in the next room doing their audition and they’re laughing like [imitates laugh], and you’re going, “Didn’t she just tell us not to do that?” Lonnie explained to us that it’s like an improv: “So what you’re going to do is, you’re going to float in, and then you take a doctor’s bag, and out of the doctor’s bag, you take a scalpel, and you take the scalpel and you cut out this young boy’s heart, and you take the heart and you float back out again – ­ all the time smiling.” So I float in, I take the scalpel out, I cut the heart out, all the while smiling, take the heart and then float back out again, and Joss literally goes, “Uh, thank you!”, you know he starts waving me off, going “Okay, thank you, thank you ­- oh god, I’m going to have nightmares now!”

WH: You got [Joss] in the room like that?! That’s great!

Camden Toy: Yeah, it was so funny. Actually later in the DVD commentary, he actually says that Doug and I both scared him so much in the room, with just our smiles. He said, “I knew these two guys could bring so much to each role.” So in a way, I was just kind of in the right place at the right time when I got the call and was able to show up, and I scared the bejesus out of him. You know, I’m a very physical performer so I can channel that sort of stuff and that’s what I did that day.

WH: Well, that’s good because The Gentlemen are known on the show as being the creepiest monsters of the entire series because of their appearance and their movements. Did you and Doug coordinate your creepy little Gentlemanly movements together?

Camden Toy: We did to a point but a certain amount of it was intuitive. Doug and I met very briefly during the audition, but we finally officially met when we went in for the wardrobe fitting, we both went in there at the same time. And there was just something, I don’t know, we had this connection and we kind of clicked. Then of course we’d sit in the makeup chairs for 4 or 5 hours every day, so by the time we got on set, we had somehow, even though yes, we had discussed a little bit of what we were doing and Joss had given us a little bit of what he wanted, a lot of it came very intuitively. We worked off of each other very intuitively. Joss would occasionally give us a minor adjustment, but I think what we did in the audition ended up showing up in our performances later. I think that happens a lot in television. On movies where you have time to develop the role and really delve deeply, what you bring into the audition, if you don’t bring really what they want, you don’t get cast. Because television is shot so quickly ­- they cast it, you get into makeup, they shoot it, they edit it, it gets on television. It happens very, very fast. They don’t have time to coddle the actor. So yeah, Doug and I did coordinate certainly, but I think because we had similar backgrounds in physical theater, we just clicked. I love what happened. The very first take we did was where we float in to take out the young co­ed’s heart, that’s the first scene we shot, and after the first take, they yelled “Cut!”, and I think it was the propmaster that said, “I can’t believe the dialogue you guys are having and you haven’t said a word.” And Doug and I both looked at each other and thought, “Okay, it’s working!”

Camden Toy and Doug Jones as The Gentlemen in the Buffy episode "Hush."

WH: Oh yeah, it totally looks like you two are talking to each other with just your movements.

Camden Toy: We definitely are, but you’re not sure that’s working until you get the cameras rolling and have the cast and crew there. And also, it’s very funny because the cast really did not hang out with us. I think Marc Blucas [actor who played Riley Finn] was the only one who was really like “Hey, how’s it going, guys!” Everybody else, after the takes, would just sort of move away. It turns out, Amber Benson [actress who played Tara Maclay] actually admitted later that she was really scared of us.

WH: Was that part of the makeup on The Gentlemen to have that permanent smile or was that actually you?

Camden Toy: Well, that is actually an interesting story because the original way they conceived the makeup was that it was going to be a permanent smile, and not movable. And I remember thinking, “This is so wrong. We got cast because we scared Joss with our smiles and now you’re covering our smiles over?” But I thought, Camden shut up, you’re the actor here. It’s not your job to tell them what to do or how to do it, so I didn’t say anything. But Joss, a couple days later when the makeup guys came to him because he had to sign off on it and give it final approval, he went, “Wait a minute. No, no, no, no. I hired Camden and Doug because they literally scared me in the room with no makeup and their smiles, and now you’re covering their smiles up? No, you have to have their real mouths.” So they actually adjusted the makeup for Doug and I, so that is indeed our smiles. We do have full articulation and, it’s pretty subtle because we don’t change it a lot, but if you look, if it was just plastered on like the rest of those guys, it would not be nearly as scary. It just wouldn’t be, because it’s not really us, it’s just a piece of rubber that’s frozen in time, and that’s not scary. I’m sorry it’s just not.

WH: It can’t act, it can’t emote.

Camden Toy: I was talking to Todd McIntosh [Buffy‘s makeup supervisor] just recently, and I said “What is the scoop on that, why’d we do that?” And he said, “Well actually, they were concerned that the actors wouldn’t be able to keep the smile for the length of time that they would need to for takes, so they decided just to plaster them on.” It’s certainly to Joss’ credit, too – and Joss did that all the time, where actors would bring a certain thing to their performance and he would adjust the lighting or he would adjust the makeup, he would adjust things accordingly. You know I think that’s one of the reasons James Marsters, with playing Spike, that was originally supposed to be just a couple episodes, and they loved what he was doing so much, they kept writing more and kept writing more, and he eventually became a regular on the show. But that wasn’t planned originally. So Joss was very much was willing to sort of roll with the punches when an actor would bring something special or unusual to a role. He would embrace it, and he really and truly did that with Doug and I.

Camden Toy, Joss Whedon, and Doug JonesWH: Would you say that the makeup hurts your performance at all or helps it?

Camden Toy: It’s a chicken or the egg kind of thing for me. I bring a certain thing to the makeup, the makeup brings a certain thing to me, and you sort of meet in the middle and you adjust accordingly. I think you’re always adjusting when you have unusual makeup, and I’ve been very lucky that I’ve worked with such amazing makeup artists and amazing designers that they’ve made the makeup thin enough and so much like a second skin that I’m actually able to fully act through it. If it’s really thick, it’s hard to fully get your character through that. All that makeup I’ve done on Buffy and Angel has been brilliantly done. Amazing teeth, amazing makeup, the prosthetic pieces were very, very thin so it really became a part of my skin and a part of my personality. But yeah, it’s hard to know because I always begin with the script and the words and that kind of informs my performance and I play with that, and that develops and things reveal themselves – it’s kind of a birthing process, really. Then the makeup is added, and you’re like “Oh, this is a new dimension. Oh, these shoes are different. This wardrobe adds a certain thing,” and you’re moving different and there’s all these things that add to it and you just sort of have to embrace each little step along the way.

WH: So then with your next role on Buffy in season seven, the episode “Same Time, Same Place,” you played the Gnarl demon, and that kind of gave you a chance to perform a little bit more because you actually had lines, and you were, again, a very creepy, very icky demon who eats skin. What was that like? How do you give personality like that to a monster?

Camden Toy: Well, that’s a good question. I had not worked on Buffy since season four when I did “Hush,” and I’m also a film editor and I was in the middle of cutting a feature film called Zen Noir, when I got a call from Lonnie Hammerman, one of the casting people over at Buffy. And she was like “Hey, I haven’t talked to you in a while.” And I was like, “Yeah, been a while” [laughs]. And they were like, “Look we’re having trouble casting this role and we were wondering, you’re still fairly fit, right?” And I go, “Well, yeah.” “And you’re short?” “Well, I’m not tall but I’m not short either, you know I’m 5’8, 5’9.” She said, “Here’s the scoop: Considering this character, he’s kind of Gollum-­esque,” – that’s the word they used. [He’s] very small, so they were looking at smaller actors, possibly smaller women, and for whatever reason, the people they were auditioning just weren’t connecting with the role, they were having trouble. So I don’t know if it was she that remembered me, or Joss, or somebody in the writer’s room who said, “Why don’t you call Camden? He’s done those creepy roles.” And Lonnie said, “Would you mind coming in and auditioning for this?” I said, “Sure, I don’t mind.” I got the script on a Friday, had the entire weekend to play with the role and, you know Jane Espenson just wrote such an amazing character in Gnarl, and like I said it’s a birthing process, I just really played with the dialogue all weekend long. I just kept discovering all these little gems, like all these little things about it, like maybe here he’s kind of taunting her with the singing. By the time I walked in to audition, it was pretty creepy. I did it like down on the ground, kneeling, and I really made myself physically small, and I got the role. The role developed from the script and from the makeup that was added, and the eyes that were added, and the teeth. The tooth artist over at Almost Human, Robert Hall’s company, was just so brilliant. Then there’s the finger extensions with the long fingernails, so they added those, and fortunately they gave me an extra pair of teeth to rehearse with and an extra pair of finger extensions. Because these are things where you think, how would I use these? I wanted to be able to play with them ahead of time to discover how would this fit in with this role. And that was a mouthful of teeth! I had to really, really practice and rehearse the dialogue with this mouthful of teeth so that it didn’t sound like I had a ball or something in my mouth. It was a very unusual circumstance, I was told later by one of the producers that usually when they have actors on the show with teeth, they almost always ADR [additional dialogue recording] or add the dialogue later because it just sounds so bad with the teeth in. And they didn’t end up doing any ADR for me on that episode. I got that dialogue down with the teeth in so it didn’t sound like I had a mouthful of teeth, it sounded natural. In the case of Gnarl, by the time I walked on set, I think the character had become so fully realized, even the cast and crew and producers were like, “Holy shit, what have we created here?” Because he was such a fully developed character, and that doesn’t always happen with television, like I said, it’s a very quick process and I was just very lucky that all of those elements so perfectly came together.

Camden Toy as the demon Gnarl in the season seven Buffy episode "Same Time, Same Place."WH: It was a great performance. With the Buffy demons, some of them don’t get to talk that much, so when there’s a demon like Gnarl, who really has personality, it’s very cool to see how someone brings that to life.

Camden Toy: Yeah, that was such a fully realized character -­ so verbal and so maniacal, so playful, and very physical, too.

WH: Yeah, you had a full body suit for that character. Was that difficult?

Camden Toy: Oh, that was crazy, yeah. I was sealed in. I had these little booties on my feet, hands, everything was covered. I mean, I was literally sealed in that suit. And I did not have a stunt double in that episode. I did all my fighting, all my stunts, there was some wire work where I’m being pulled out of frame, and I ended up doing all that.

WH: Did you have experience with stunts before?

Camden Toy: I had some stunt experience but that was my first wire work experience. Well, we did some wire with The Gentlemen but not the same kind. They were basically floating us with the wires, so Gnarl was the first experience where I’m being manipulated with the wire physically, which is a totally different experience!

WH: Was it harder to move around in the suit?

Camden Toy: No, here again Almost Human actually took a mold of my entire body ­- my feet, my hands, my teeth, my head, my face, everything. They then made a form of my body and created that suit so it fit like a second skin. So no, it was not restricting. What it was, though, was hot. I had to be very careful and judicious with how I moved, how much movement I did, because basically it’s like walking around in a wetsuit on land. There’s no place for your sweat to go. I think it was the second day when we were doing some of the stunts and the fighting, and I overheated so quickly under that, my core temperature went up, and I had to really stop. Because once again, you’re sealed in there so there’s no place for the heat to go, so that was tricky.

WH:  Well, once again, that was a great performance, as was your next role on Buffy as the Ubervamp in season seven.

Camden Toy: Yeah, the original Ubervamp, the very first one that comes through.

WH: And that was another makeup process. I remember the teeth on that one. Those were some very interesting teeth.

Camden Toy: That was an amazing set of teeth, that was fun.

WH: Was the makeup process different each time you had a new character?

Camden Toy: Each makeup was slightly different, and the materials were slightly different. The Gentlemen, who was designed and built by Optic Nerve and applied by Douglas Noe – Doug Jones’s makeup was applied by Todd McIntosh – the key makeup on the show, that makeup was all foam, a very, very thin foam latex appliance. Gnarl was a combination of foam and gelatin, and gelatin, by the way, melts, so when I got overheated some parts of me were starting to melt. And that was Robert Hall’s company Almost Human. Robert was on set repairing that gelatin every time it started to melt, he would be there repairing it. And then the Ubervamp was a combination of foam, latex, and silicone, and that again was also Robert Hall’s company. The makeup department usually tries to fit the specific materials to what will work best for that specific design. Sometimes it has to do with budget because a certain material is more expensive, because I know Robert wanted to use silicone for the Ubervamp, and he was very adamant about that, and also adamant about using a new piece every morning for me. Which I appreciated because the old pieces would just get really skuzzy after a while! Also, you have to use a specific solvent to get the pieces off so you can reuse them, and the type of solvents that won’t destroy the actual appliance are very hard on your skin. The types that are softer on your skin, like isopropyl myristate which I prefer because it’s very oily, unfortunately, it will destroy the appliance as well as take off the glue, so the producers didn’t like it, but my skin liked it a lot better. Because with the Ubervamp, we were doing a lot of long hours and many, many, many weeks of shooting, I really appreciated the fact that Rob insisted on using those materials.

Camden Toy as the Ubervamp, the Turok-Han, in season seven of Buffy the Vampire SlayerWH: How did you create the Ubervamp?

Camden Toy: That was a tough one. I have extensive background in several different martial arts. I did have a stunt double on that show for that character. Ryan Watson was my stunt double and John Medlen, who was the stunt coordinator, the three of us would get together and we would sort of plan and chat and play with different ideas, [trying to figure out] how was this character going to move? And I was very adamant about the fact that I didn’t want it to be sort of this typical chop and kick vampire that had been on the show for many seasons, because remember they talked about him being, he’s like to vampires what Neanderthals are to us? He’s very primitive, old, he’s a killing machine. And eventually I came up with the idea that he’s like Taz, he’s like the Tasmanian Devil on the Warner Brothers cartoons. He’s like constantly moving, constantly spinning. So I wanted to do this spinning technique where he’s just swiping and spinning, and John and Ryan could have been like, “You’re the actor, shut up, we’re doing this,” but they were very generous in allowing me to give input into that. Because once the way your character moves is taken out of your hands, you’re not truly creating a role anymore. And Ryan, you know I have training in martial arts but I don’t consider myself a martial artist, he’s truly a martial artist so there were certain things he could do that I could not do, like run along a wall. He would literally take flight and run along a wall. But there were a lot of things I was able to do and I did have to learn all the choreography because we had to shoot it from many different angles, you know sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s him.

WH: The Ubervamp and Buffy get into some big fight scenes.

Camden Toy: Yeah, and some of the stuff with Sarah [Michelle Gellar] is me and Sarah, and some of it is Ryan and Sarah. If it’s really a complicated piece where a non-­experienced actor like myself who has done some stunts but is not really a stunt man, if it’s something that might be dangerous and might harm the actor, they would put Ryan in, for instance. But that last scene where we’re really duking it out and she finally takes my head off, actually Sarah and I did a lot of our own stunts on that one.

WH: You’re the only actor on Buffy that has played four different villains. Some of the other ones have played like one or two. Did you know any of the other actors? The guys like Mark Metcalf, Brian Thompson, Jeff Kober ­- was there like a camaraderie of Buffy villains?

Camden Toy: Mark and I have certainly done some conventions together, although unfortunately it’s been a number of years, but I’ve always enjoyed hanging out with those guys, absolutely. I’ve spent a lot of time at conventions with Mark, and what a lovely man, very talented actor, so yeah there’s a bit of a camaraderie there, sure.

WH: So after Buffy, Joss brought you back on Angel for an episode, “Why We Fight” [from season five], which is a great episode by the way, no one really talks about that one.

Camden Toy: It was really fun, not a typical episode of Angel, it being a flashback episode. I actually have to credit Robert Hall for having me come in for that role [as The Prince of Lies], because, again, for whatever reason they were having trouble casting the role. Rob was saying, “The date’s coming soon, I need to get the actor in here so we can get the life cast of their head and their face and start working on the makeup.” He said to Jeff Bell, the showrunner on Angel, “BUT, I already have Camden Toy’s life cast. He would be great in the role and we could start on the makeup right now.” And Jeff goes, “Oh, we love Camden, he’s so creepy -­ but can he do comedy?”

WH: Exactly, that’s what I love about that character, he’s so funny!

Camden Toy: Exactly. He’s creepy, but he’s also funny, and their concern was, Camden has got that wonderful creepiness, but here again, it’s television. You don’t have time to develop it. Their concern was that they were going to get me in full makeup, get me on the set, and that I wasn’t going to fully understand that it was a comedic role, it’s really the comedy relief for the episode. I said, “Well let me come in and audition for it,” and they were like, “Oh, you don’t mind?” I said, “No, I’ll audition sure,” because you know once you’ve worked on a show a few times, they’re reluctant to ask you because actors are like “What?! You need to audition me again?” but I understood that this was a totally different role and was happy to go in to read. So I went in to read for the director and for Jeff, and of course I got them laughing, I got to show them that, yes, indeed I do understand that this is a comedic role. And that’s how I got that role. I do have to credit Robert Hall for recommending me because I think they wouldn’t have thought of me. I have a very unusual circumstance where I did play so many different roles in the Buffyverse, and once you’ve been on the show so many times, I think they just don’t keep thinking of you. And I am a character actor, plus I’m under so much makeup, and I can bring each specific makeup and each specific character to life in such a different way, that people aren’t going, “Oh, that’s the same guy!”

WH: I honestly did not know that was you for all of those characters.

Camden Toy: There are a lot of people that don’t. It’s funny, I love it when it happens at a convention.

WH: I was amazed, because you’re so different in each one and it’s such a wonderful performance for each one. So, the Prince of Lies, which by the way is a hilarious name for a vampire [laughs] ­

Camden Toy: I know, it is funny. Drew Goddard and Steve DeKnight wrote that episode and I think it was Drew that created that name. I think he was going to use it in some earlier episode on something but they never got a chance to use it, so he just said, “Oh, this is a time when we can use that name!”

WH: It doesn’t really make any sense!

Camden Toy: Oh I know, people ask “What’s the origin?” And I have to go, “I don’t know!”

Camden Toy as The Prince of Lies in Angel's season five episode "Why We Fight."WH: But his [the Prince of Lies] look, you obviously based him off of Count Orlock, probably, Nosferatu?

Camden Toy: It’s interesting, when I got the script on that, they describe him as old, decrepit, blah blah blah, and then in parantheses, “Nosferatu.” And I thought, Well I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. They’re thinking this guy is the old Nosferatu, so I went back and watched every single film that Nosferatu is portrayed in ­- the original Nosferatu, then Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu with Klaus Kinski, and then of course Willem Dafoe in Shadow of a Vampire. Each one is slightly different and I kind of took little bits from each one with a nice dollop of my own work and kind of made it my own. I kind of think of the Prince of Lies as my tribute to all those actors who’ve played Nosferatu over the years.

WH: Which character on Buffy or Angel would you say was your favorite to do?

Camden Toy: It’s so hard to talk about that because it’s like saying what’s your favorite child? I loved doing them all, but I have to say, as an actor, Gnarl was one of my favorites because there was such rich depth to him, and so much to do. Also, the birthing process of that, where I just kept discovering new things, it was one of those rare roles where all these wonderful things kept appearing and presenting themselves to me over the course of rehearsals and when I got the script, and that’s just magic for an actor to be able to discover all that wonderful stuff.

WH: Even the little things you would do with the character… I remember at the beginning of the episode when you were stalking that one kid, and there’s just a shot of your hand, and you do that thing where you clap your fingers together and there’s that sound with it.

Camden Toy: I came up with that because I was rehearsing with those finger extensions, but it was James Contner, the director of that episode, that said that we need a closeup of that for the first scene. And also, here’s another thing we just loved, she [writer Jane Espenson] did describe that screeching that I do, that [makes screeching sound], she described it as a sort of tea kettle whistling kind of sound. I remember thinking when I saw it in the script, Well if I don’t come up with a sound for that, then they’re going to come up with some goofy sound in the sound mix and that will be totally out of my hands. So I came up with that screech that I do when I’m attacking, and that’s actually me. When I first did it on set, they were all like, “What the fuck is that?!” [laughs] And there’s no guarantee. I mean, I could have done it on set and they could have gotten the sound department, and said, “You know, that’s fine but we need something different.” I was pleased that they chose to keep it.

Actor Camden ToyWH: Buffy and Angel have both been off the air for over a decade now, and we’re still talking about them. What’s it like to be a part of something that’s such a huge cultural phenomenon like that?

Camden Toy: It is one of those rare, wonderful things, I mean, because there’s certainly numerous shows that were popular when they were on, but as soon as they disappeared, or were cancelled, suddenly people stopped talking about them and the fandom stopped. Buffy has not been one of those. Buffy and Angel have continued on, and I think a big part of that’s because there’s always new fans that are discovering it. And it helps that it’s now on Hulu; it helps that it’s now on Netflix; it helps that ABC Family has picked it up and is now playing reruns; it’s helped that four or five years ago that Logo and I think Chiller and other networks started to run reruns. So it’s not unusual now when I’m at a convention signing autographs that there will be three, sometimes four, generations of women standing in front of me going, “We love your work.” There will be like the great­-grandmother, the grandmother, the mother, and the daughter and you’re like “Holy shit, really?!” And usually it’s one of them that’s sort of like, “I told so­-and­-so about it, and then they told so-­and-­so…” and it’s like this chain of command, and that’s very funny the way it gets passed on. I love it when that happens. It’s helped that for instance, not all the episodes but some of the episodes like “Hush” have a following outside the Buffy fandom. It has a huge horror following. There are tons of horror fans that that’s the only episode of Buffy they’ve watched. They’ll say, “I’m not really interested in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, I’m really a horror fan, so a friend of mine made me watch that episode and I was blown away.” Because it’s a true horror episode. Yet, there’s no blood, there’s nothing shown, there’s nothing specific, there’s nothing really in it other than allowing a lot of that stuff to happen in your imagination. So it is an amazing phenomenon to have it continue like this, certainly.

WH: Like you were saying before, you’ve been making the convention rounds for a couple of years now. How do you like that experience?

Camden Toy: I like it! I love the fact that I can get a chance to talk to fans up close and personal, and I always say this: without the fans, honestly, I wouldn’t have a job. So to me, it’s kind of giving back, allowing them to have access to me. The conventions really allow the fans to have access to their favorite characters, not just Buffy, but many other shows. And fans that are loyal to whatever show love being able to get to know their favorite actor as a person in that brief few minutes or whatever that they have the chance to talk with us, so I try to make myself available to them. And it is an amazing experience because it’s people from all walks of life. That’s the amazing thing, you know, people you wouldn’t expect to be fans. It’s also amazing to see how it has touched people’s lives, and I don’t mean to give more importance to it than it is, because in some ways it is just a TV show -­ but the fact is, all of us on the show who do the conventions occasionally do hear life­-changing experiences that fans have had from watching the show. Amber Benson had a young lesbian fan who lived in a small Midwestern town, and she went to her friends and family [to tell them] and she was disowned, and shunned by her friends and she felt like she had no place to go, no place to turn. And she was going to kill herself. That was her plan, she had a plan. Then she turned on the TV and there was a character on television who had a girlfriend­ and that lightbulb went off, that “I am not alone, I am not alone.” Or I had a fan that shared with me that she was so depressed, that she was retired from her job so she was in her late 50s or early 60s, and she suffered a lot of abuse from her ex-­husband. I think she was in a lot of ways damaged, and I think she was slowly killing herself by eating herself to death. She was huge when I first met her, you know, she couldn’t even walk, she used a scooter. And she said one night she was watching Buffy, and I as the Ubervamp was just knocking the tar out of Spike, and she had a visceral experience, [thinking] ­”Oh my god, he’s hurting Spike!”­ And then suddenly she had a moment of clarity where she thought, Wait, if I can have love and caring in regard for a fictitious character on television, maybe I can have love for myself. And she totally changed her diet, her lifestyle, her activities, she lost all that weight, she started doing belly­-dancing and yoga, and she’s now happily married in her 70s living down south.

WH: That’s really amazing.

Camden Toy: She would’ve been dead within a year or two, you know from blood pressure or diabetes, and God knows what else. I think every actor on the show has heard stories like this, these life-­changing experiences that fans have shared. It chokes me up every time I talk about it, because it is so… it’s an amazing gift to have been involved with something that touched so many people in so many different ways.

As for his more recent projects, you can see Toy in A Blood Story, a gothic horror film about Elizabeth Bathory, which was just released last month on VOD and DVD; and Now Hiring, a “comedy-romance-superhero” movie where Toy plays a supervillian named Lord Menace. It should see a DVD release later this year. Wicked Horror would like to thank Camden for this amazing look back at his career on one of genre’s most beloved television shows!

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Written by Michele Eggen
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Michele Eggen has been writing about all things horror at her blog, The Girl Who Loves Horror, since 2010. She loves anything having to do with ghosts or the supernatural realm. Her favorite films are Poltergeist and Child's Play.
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