In a little over a month, on September 13, The CW premieres Ringer, a new drama with Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame playing a dual role as two very different sisters, with one taking over the other’s life after what seems to be her death, unaware that the other sister had a great set of problems of her own.
It’s a return to TV for Gellar, and a sophisticated addition to The CW schedule.
Sarah appeared with the cast and producers of Ringer at the TCA Summer 2011 Press Tour in Beverly Hills, CA this past Thursday. There, she answered questions about her new series, talked a bit about her past playing the iconic role of Buffy, and more. But first, she revealed the true secret behind her dual role: “They actually cloned me,” she joked. “We thought we’d take advantage of modern technology and Dolly will be playing the other twin.”
Becoming serious, Gellar explained that technology has come a long way since her popular WB/UPN series was on the air. “At the end of Buffy, I did play three characters, and it was just old-school split screen. It was, you know, you stand there and we split the screen. There’s so much more that’s available now between face replacement and the stop motion cameras. So during the pilot, we played with all of them. It’s kind of like kids with new toys, to figure out what works best. Ultimately what you find is, even though there is all this technology, you want the heart of the scene, and the heart of the scene is two people talking to each other, so we try, each time the twins are together now, and do one shot where they touch each other or they cross over each other, but on the whole it’s more about the communication,” she said.
“It’s actually less complicated in this very odd way, and it actually moves fairly quickly considering because you pare it down to its simplest form,” she added.
And does Ms. Gellar have a favorite character to play on Ringer, she again began with a joke. “Whoever has the best wardrobe at the time,” she laughed, before giving a serious answer. “It’s interesting. I think it’s like children. You have to – when you’re [playing] each one, you have to love each one individually and understand that one. So when I’m Bridget, I feel that all of Bridget’s motivations are hers and Siobhan is wrong. And when I’m Siobhan, everything Bridget does is wrong. I try to get into the head of each of them. And then for some reason when we do the flashbacks, even though it’s only in the ’90s, I like to think they’re in the ’80s. So I’ve been pushing for the blue eye shadow and the high bangs. No one is listening to that one…”
Compared to Buffy, Ringer has a significantly smaller amount of stunts, although there is a crash through a wall in the pilot. “So far, the trickiest stunt I’ve had is standing next to the very tall Kristoffer Polaha and Mike Colter and trying to look like I’m not seven,” Gellar joked. “So far, it’s only been kind of running and chasing. She’s not saving the world. She’s just trying to save herself. But I do get to hold a gun a lot which is cool because Buffy never got a gun,” she added.
Gellar’s decision to return to TV came from a lot of international travel doing movies, where she found herself watching DVD box sets and realizing that many of the more amazing roles for women were on television. “I was spoiled by Buffy because I thought that’s the way it was everywhere, and it’s not. I started to watch Damages, just all these kind of amazing female driven shows, and it was something that was always in the back of my mind. And then once I had my daughter, I realized that I was done living the romantic lifestyle, and although it works for some actors, I want to be home. I want to put her to bed and get up with her in the morning, and I want to be there for her first day of school. Nothing offers that more than television, and what’s been so interesting for me getting back into it was I didn’t realize how much I missed it, how much I missed the excitement of getting the new episode and doing something different and seeing the same people and the family environment. I think if I hadn’t had the time away, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the experience that I’m appreciating now,” she said.
The TCA panel also offered Gellar a chance to reflect on her acting past – starting with confirmation that she will be appearing on All My Children before the series’ end. “When I heard that the show was canceled, I didn’t understand. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And I called Judy Blye Wilson, who is the casting director and has been since I was there, and I said, ‘I want to do something.’ And I was very specific. I don’t want to be Kendall. That’s Alicia’s role, but I just wanted to be a part of it. I have no idea what I’m going to be doing. So we can take suggestions, but I will be doing one day. Yeah, I’m excited,” she said.
And as for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show that made a generation know the name “Sarah Michelle Gellar,” Gellar says she is proud of the show and its legacy. “I’m proud of the show. I’m proud of the work we did and I’m proud of its legacy, and so that’s nothing but good things. Sure, as an actor you want to play different things, but I was also really fortunate. I think a lot of times when you start a show at a young age, you get stuck. You get six years of high school. And I didn’t have that. Buffy grew. She was a student. She went to college, and then essentially she became a mother. She was a mother to all the slayers. So I didn’t feel that I was trapped because I got to do so much. And then, I went and I played all these other characters for a while. And, you know, how many times in any actor’s life do you get to be a part of something that has a legacy like that? So I think it’s only fortunate. I don’t see the negative. And if people think that I can save the world and kick butt, like, I’m okay with that,” she said.
Ringer premieres September 13 on The CW. Read more of our Ringer coverage!