It’s been eight years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air, but tonight Sarah Michelle Gellar is back on the tube playing twins in the new CW series Ringer. The former slayer laughs as she informs us that the new show will not have any vampires, werewolves or other supernatural creatures. But it will have a lot of mysterious storylines.
In Ringer, which also stars Ioan Gruffudd as her husband and Kristoffer Polaha as a mysterious man in her life, Sarah plays a woman on the run who assumes her twin sister’s identity, only to discover that her sister’s life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she’s trying to escape.
In this interview, Sarah talks about why the time was right to return to TV, creating a family on the set and a few secrets from the new series.
Why was now the right time to come back to TV? Is it because your daughter is at a good age for you to return to work?
Sarah: I think it was a combination of things. I think you wait for the right opportunity. I had been looking for what that was. I am not going to lie, being in Los Angeles [filming] and being able to get home to put my daughter to bed at night is a really nice feeling.
I started to miss the family experience you get on a television show. I missed really getting to know the people. Once I had a child, I realized that I was done with the nomadic lifestyle. I loved it for a period of time, being able to go and travel and work in exotic places, but that is not the life that I want for my child. Not to say that it is not a great life and amazing experiences and I know so many actors that do it really well. It just wasn’t the way I wanted my family to be.
On this show you play two characters, which sounds like a big work load. Do you go in and say, “Who am I playing today?”
Sarah: It is funny because my old job on Buffy, my hours were so long and I was in every scene and my joke used to be, “Am I Buffy in this scene, too?” I can’t use it anymore. The funny thing is when we were doing the pilot, the shortest days I had was when we were doing the twin days. Obviously, because it is specific and once you have it, you have it. You don’t cross like 65 times and there are usually no stunts when you are playing opposite yourself.
This seems to be the season of the doppelganger. We are seeing it on Fringe and Vampire Diaries. I know you are not playing a doppelganger, but playing twins, are you concerned the audience may have some fatigue with that story?
Sarah: Let’s be honest. People credit Buffy as bringing vampires back, but there were vampires long before Buffy and there are going to be vampires long after. All stories can be traced back to the Bible. There are like five stories: Romeo & Juliet, Cain & Abel, David & Goliath…. If you tell stories well and they are different … I hope not.
Are you getting a new generation of fans with this?
Sarah: I hope so. It will be interesting to see. I think the way people watch television is so different now. There are so many channels and you really have to make a great show for people to tune in, but as we move to a time when movies are so expensive and gas is so expensive, I think a lot of people are staying home to watch television now. It gives you more liberties and opportunities to do different things.
When you were creating the twins, did wardrobe play a big part?
Sarah: Wardrobe played a part, but I just boil it down to its simplest form, which is Bridget’s story is a story of redemption and Siobhan’s is a story of revenge. As long as they are constantly in the back of my mind, it is pretty easy to be any character. It is what is your character doing, what is his purpose why is he here, what is he doing? Any actor preparing for any role pretty much does the same thing.
Do you have input into characters and the storyline?
Sarah: I wouldn’t want it. I am not a writer. I have never fancied myself one. They do a really good job.
How are you finding this experience different working as both a producer and an actress?
Sarah: It is different. There is no question. I get a lot of answers ahead of time, it actually in that way lightens my load. My show isn’t as complicated as my other show, so the hours are… I really wanted a show where everybody enjoys their life because that is what makes a better show. We put together a great crew. We have lunch together every day and on the weekends, we have playdates with the kids. It is a different experience than being in your 20s and working crazy hours. These people all have marriages and families and we are trying to honor that as well.
Will Freddie come on as a guest star?
Sarah: That is my running joke: We will do a new storyline and Freddie will come on with two girlfriends played by Julianne and Alice. That is Kris and Ioan’s wives.
Ringer premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.