By Tim Nasson
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — One thing is certain: “Buffy” rules. In an Entertainment Weekly poll that was taken recently, readers picked actor Sarah Michelle Gellar as the second most popular television dramatic actress ever, and her show, “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” as their second most favorite dramatic television show of all time.
Granted, the majority of voters were most probably teens and gay men.
“I don’t know why,” says an extremely tanned yet gorgeous and charismatic Gellar, who just recently returned from a weekend trip to Mexico’s coast, “But, my show ‘Buffy’ and I seem to have a huge gay following.”
At the Beverly Hills Four Seasons a couple of weeks ago to promote her latest film, (no, not the hardly seen, yet thoroughly entertaining “Simply Irresistible”), “Cruel Intentions,” Gellar was happy to talk about both “Cruel Intentions” and “Buffy.”
In “Cruel Intentions,” a modern-day retelling of the classic “Dangerous Liaisons,” Gellar plays Kathryn, a conniving vixen. She co-stars with hot, young stud Ryan Phillippe (see interview, page one) in the psychological/sexual thriller.
For those who never saw the other “Dangerous Liaisons” films, (there have been three previous versions) here’s the skinny.
Kathryn and Sebastian (Phillippe), two very wealthy, manipulative teenage siblings from Manhattan’s upper crust, conspire in “Cruel Intentions,” a wickedly entertaining yet devious and duplicitous tale of seduction and betrayal. The stakes are high when the duo agrees upon a diabolical wager of sexual conquest without consequences. The pawns are the naive Cecile (Selma Blair, who steals the film) and the virginal Anette (Reese Witherspoon, real-life girlfriend of Phillippe).
On summer break, Kathryn gets dumped by her boyfriend, Court Reynolds, for the innocent Cecille. Desperate to get even, Kathryn challenges Sebastian to ruin Cecile by helping her lose her virtue and turning her into a tramp — thus humiliating Court by delivering Cecile as damaged goods. Sebastian has pretty much been with all of the girls in Manhattan up to this point, and he’s gotten a bit bored with it all. Though this seems to be an all to easy conquest for him, he obliges.
He sets his sights on a greater challenge: the new headmaster’s daughter, Annette, who recently wrote an article in “Seventeen Magazine” about how she intends to remain a virgin until she marries.
Sebastian bets Kathryn that he can seduce the chaste and pristine Annette before school begins in the fall. Kathryn thinks this feat impossible and quickly agrees to the wager. The stakes: if Sebastian succeeds, Kathryn must give him a night of no-holds-barred pleasure — something he has wanted since they became stepsiblings. If he fails, he must forfeit his priceless 1956 Jaguar to her and suffer the shame of defeat.
Many of Gellar’s fans, gay and straight alike, will be surprised to see her kissing a girl in “Cruel Intentions.” The hot and sexy scene in “Cruel Intentions” in which Gellar French’s co-star Selma Blair, will certainly get many people talking.
“Selma was afraid that she would suck at kissing me,” says Gellar, smiling, “But she didn’t.”
Blair agrees with Gellar regarding the soon-to-be infamous kissing scene.
“Besides kissing my sister years ago in a game of truth or dare, I had never kissed a girl up to the point where I had to kiss Sarah,” she says. “We shot our kissing scene on the last day of filming. And, it actually felt great. On our way from LA to NYC to film the scene in Central Park, I said to Sarah, ‘Tomorrow we get to make out.’ She was like, ‘Shhhh. Don’t speak.’
“She was nervous the day we actually shot the scene. Of course she is such a huge star and here we are, sitting on a blanket in [the park]. There was nothing we could do to close the set because we needed the background. So, there seemed to be hundreds of her fans watching, so it was kind of daunting. It’s so different with girls, at least with us. We seemed to be more concerned about our makeup getting ruined and our bad sides being shot for the film than kissing each other. The best thing about kissing Sarah was that she had no whiskers,” says Blair, laughing.
“The next week, we picked up a bunch of tabloids and saw headlines that said something like, ‘Sarah spends a day in Central Park with a friend,'” adds Blair. “I guess they all had their telescopic lenses ready that day.”
“But really, to have a girlfriend teach you how to kiss, seems like the best thing,” she adds.
Gellar, (who was raised on the Upper East Side, but in a rent-controlled apartment) was asked if she had any idea why her show “Buffy” was so popular with gay men and if she saw any gay parallels to Vampire Slayer ‘coming-out’ episode that aired recently.
“What?” she asks, “I’m lost. I am not gay on the show. We did have a character on the show come out recently though.”
When she collected her thoughts and realized that what I was asking about was the correlation between a gay person coming out and the ‘Vampire Slayer’ coming-out episode, she was a little less confused.
“Oh,” Gellar says, laughing hysterically. “I guess I am not awake yet.”
“I am quite honored to think that kids or anyone who is perceived as being different by mainstream society can relate to or be uplifted by anything that is seen on ‘Buffy.’ The parallels in the coming-out episode were certainly not accidental and hopefully were able to help a lot of kids in one way or another.”
As for her role in “Cruel Intentions?”
“I don’t think that a coke-snorting, sexually deviant, duplicitous character is going to be a role model for anyone,” she says.
“However, it was kind of fun to play that type of role. It was a far cry from the character I play on ‘Buffy,'” she adds. “Although, the ground-up chamomile, the substitute I used for coke was not fun. I have allergies and since chamomile is kind of pollen-like, my nose and throat had it rough for a while.”
While it may not be easy for Gellar to cope with all of the fame, (she has fans hounding her constantly), she takes it in stride.
“I’m very lucky that ‘Buffy’ became a hit. No one knew going into the series that it would become one of the most watched TV shows by teenagers the year it premiered, let alone two years later,” Gellar recounts.
While Gellar now has a potential hit film on her hands in addition to her hit TV show, she is already making plans to take a much deserved break at the end of the year for a trip to Australia to bring in the new millennium.
Sarah Michelle Gellar Interview with Tim Nasson for Cruel Intentions