Clare Kramer first gained notice in an eye-catching turn as the headstrong cheerleader Courtney opposite Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku in “Bring It On”, and then followed it up with a role that was declared by TV Guide as one of the best villains of all time in “Buffy”.
Landing in Melbourne to host this year’s Oz Comic Con, we were thrilled to sit down with the award-winning actress, entertainment correspondent and pop culture authority.
I’m a huge “Buffy” fan, from the very beginning. Do you find it interesting that it’s resonated so well over so long a period of time?
Clare: You know, it’s amazing. I never would have guessed that the show would have the longevity that it’s had, but it’s getting passed down from generation to generation, it’s passed to boyfriends and girlfriends, and new friends alike, and there’s just something about that early Joss Whedon voice, that obviously carried into all of his other work with “The Avengers” and every other show he’s been a part of, but it had never been seen or done before on television, and to have this teenage girl who was literally slaying her fears, the vampires were metaphors for all of the problems we all had in high school, it just really, it was unique and his writing style hadn’t been out there before. Like the cadence that he creates and the humor hiding the pain. So it’s not surprising, when you look at those facts, but it is surprising when you’re a part of it to it still has such lengths.
Your character, Glory, was the first female villain for the show, and certainly at the time, there were not many other female villains on television, did you feel a bit of responsibility coming into that?
Clare: I didn’t really know what the character was going to be to be honest. The character description that I was given when I auditioned for the role was just a woman, and I was like “well okay, I am a woman.” Which I wasn’t really even at that moment. I was in my very early 20s, and the writers, I think, were exploring the character as they wrote episode to episode and realised that the character was going to stay for the whole season.
Oh so they didn’t even know it was going to be a season long thing?
Clare: They probably hoped it would, but I think they wanted to make sure. I think they didn’t want to commit before they get the right actor or actress in place for something like that. So as the season progressed and more details about the character came out, I was constantly surprised myself. “Oh she’s a god…” literally I was reading the script and I was like “Oh. Oh! Okay!” So it was a pleasant surprise, needless to say.
As a viewer it always seemed like they had it all planned.
Clare: I used to say “You know, at the time I thought, they should have told me that at the beginning, I would have played the character differently”. But now, a little bit older, I realised that it was probably a gift that they didn’t tell me that, because I played her without any preconceived notions.
Did you get to keep any mementos, any of her incredible wardrobe?
I did not, but I will tell you a really great story. At the end of the series, after season seven, Warner Bros had an auction where they auctioned off many of the props and the set items and the wardrobe and things like that, and a fan bought the gown I wore in the hundredth episode, which was this custom-made gown, and sent it to me and said “You’re the only person that should have this.” And so now it’s hanging in my office. With the certificate of authenticity. Like I know it’s authentic, it was made for me [laughs].
So Buffy fans are officially the best fans.
That’s awesome. And another great role of yours was in “Bring It On”. I loved Roger Ebert’s film reviews and he once described “Bring It On” as the ‘“Citizen Kane” of cheerleading films’. I think he was completely right.
Clare: Oh my gosh, that is awesome. I have heard that before.
Do you have fond memories of that filming as well?
Clare: It was a total party. I mean, it’s funny because there were a couple of different Universal movies going on right then. They were also filming up in Los Angeles, “American Pie”, and so all the attention was kind of on that movie. We were down in San Diego, we had this little $10 million-dollar budget and first time director Peyton Reed, who obviously has gone on to do great things, and so we were just kind of left alone down there and we went to a month long training camp before, where we learned how to cheer and you know, did these fun stunts, and part of our job was going to the gym and working out and tanning, and you know, doing all these fun things. It was kind of like being in high school all over again, except we were getting paid to do it and there was a lot more freedom, so it was an incredible experience. We had so much fun making the movie. I think that part of the reason that the movie came across so lighthearted and was so enjoyable was because we truly all had a great time making it. And it was…between that and “Buffy”, which were my first basically two jobs, big jobs, notable jobs, I really was spoiled.
Like ‘this isn’t so bad’.
Clare: This is how every film is? Noooo.
And you have four children now, I understand?
Clare: I do.
I have an 18-month-old. And I find that high maintenance, so tell me, does it get any easier with four?
Clare: I think you just become a little, it’s like each child shuts down a different of your brain. I’m on autopilot all day. No, in a way it does, especially now my youngest is four years old, so they’re getting to the age where they are becoming human beings. They can talk and walk and do all those things and you know, it’s really, you find so many different sides of yourself through parenting. So much more empathy and patience than you ever thought you would have. It is the greatest gift and also the biggest challenge. Being a parent. I strive every day to do the right thing with my kids, and who knows, I’m sure they’ll end up hating me for at least a decade but hopefully they’ll like me again after that.
You are doing double duty as both guest and host of Oz Comic Con this year. Are there any particular panels or anything that you’re looking forward to?
Clare: Oh you know, I enjoy talking to all the actors. David Ramsey is one of my favorites. He’s so great. So gracious and he’s such an interesting career. Everyone of course knows him as Diggle in “Arrow” but he played Mohammed Ali in a biopic in 2000, so there are so many interesting things to talk to him about as an actor. So yeah, that’s a great line-up.
I actually just spoke with him. He was so lovely. You have interviewed a lot of incredible people over the years. Do you have any stand-out interviews that you really enjoyed?
Clare: I really enjoy anyone from “Game of Thrones”. Because I really like that show [laughs]. I think if I had one interview I would like to have in the next year, it would be George R. R. Martin. I’ve met him and I’ve talked to him, but I haven’t had an official hour with him to pick his brain.
I feel like he probably gets scared every time he comes out, because all the fans are like “get back in there and keep writing.”
Clare: Yeah I think so too, cause I’ve seen him at Comic Con the last two years and I feel like people are like “Do you have time for this? You really should be writing that next book”. You know, so I agree with you on that. Anyone from the “Game of Thrones” cast, of course anyone from “The Walking Dead” cast as well, I love to talk with. Alex Cooper I’ve interviewed a couple of times recently and he’s like such an amazing musician, he’s so interesting. He’s so talented and I just, absolutely what a lovely human being. Those are some of the stand-out ones, recently.
And you get to travel quite a bit with this work? I saw on your Instagram recently you’ve been in Europe with Charisma Carpenter.
Clare: I do. Yes, it’s wonderful. I am actually going to see her in a couple weeks in Sacramento.
That’s interesting because she was gone from “Buffy” and over to “Angel” when you joined.
Clare: Yes she was already gone, but you know all us girls, whether we’re from Buffy, Angel or Firefly, were all very close, because we’d been traveling together for years. And so really the “Women of Whedon” as someone has named us, we all stick together and we’re pretty tight.
Catch Clare at Oz Comic Con.