Sarah Michelle Gellar talks ‘Ringer’: Bye-bye Buffy, hello Shivette

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“Sarah used to say, ‘Who would want to be called Buffy for her whole life?’” says Joss Whedon. ''What kind of a name is that?’”

Nowadays, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s chair on the set of her new CW series, “Ringer,” says “Shivette.” That name is shorthand for the characters Gellar plays in the thriller, which premieres next Tuesday: Bridget, an ex-stripper on the run, and Siobahn, Bridget’s socialite twin sister, who’s in so much trouble she’s prepared to let Siobahn step into her own shoes.


‘The joke is that I’m playing five characters,’ Gellar explains. ‘I play Siobahn and Bridget present day, both women in flashback, and then ‘Shivette,’ which is when Bridget is pretending to be Siobahn.’

Taking on two (or five?) starring roles and executive-producing a prime-time show doesn’t exactly square with the new mom’s professed desire to make her work life more manageable than it was back in those all-consuming “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ days. “It’s a lot when you’re 18 years old, and the hours were so brutal on that show.”

Producing “Ringer” was crucial to her returning to series TV. ‘The good thing about this show is ... we’re not shooting at night. No graveyards. I’m telling you, you learn these things. Playing rich characters? Better clothing! ... Although Buffy had some great costumes and Cynthia Bergstrom from ‘Buffy’ is doing my costumes here, and David and Todd who did my makeup on ‘Buffy’ are doing it here,” she says. “It’s an extended support system.”

Whedon, speaking by phone while shooting the ‘Avengers’ movie, said that even as a teenager, Gellar was “enormously ambitious and focused. She always had her circle of people around her and the rest was the work.”

When asked if he had a paternal relationship with his star, he says bluntly, “No.” Gellar, a child actress, “had been in the business a lot longer than I had. She was the oldest pro I knew. ... Everybody who worked on the show went crazy at some point or other. But when the cameras rolled, it was always right there. Sarah never didn’t know her lines.” Whedon isn’t in communication with Gellar but says, “Absolutely I would work with her again. I tend to go project by project, and not thinking about what I could do with this person.”

Now that she has a year-old daughter, did she ever consider switching gears and doing a half-hour comedy? Gellar seems as quick with a quip as Buffy ever was. “I really did think about it, especially as a parent. Alyson Hannigan [‘How I Met Your Mother’] always says she is living the life now. Three weeks on, one week off! ... I told [CBS head] Les Moonves a couple of weeks ago that I was still angry that he didn’t offer me ‘Two and a Half Men,’ ‘cause I would’ve done it!”

So that would be ... ‘Two and a Half Men and a Small Lady?’

“Hmmm, maybe it would’ve just been ‘Two People,’ because the kid and me would equal one person? I’m sure there was a way to do it.”

For more on Sarah Michelle Gellar, check out the profile in our fall TV preview.


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-- Joy Press