Anthony Head: The Buffy spinoff Ripper may still be possible

Anthony Stewart Head, who played Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, told reporters that he is still discussing a possible British spinoff series or film centering on his character with creator Joss Whedon.

Just as news is breaking that a new Buffy movie is in the works, Head said that he was talking about the proposed spinoff, to be called Ripper, with Whedon just before Whedon began to conceive Fox's Dollhouse.

"I actually introduced Joss to Julie Gardner, who was the executive producer on [Merlin] with the BBC," Head said in a conference call on Monday during which he was promoting Merlin. "She has long wanted to do something with the project. There are obviously complications with Ripper, because there are lots of tie-ins. There's Fox, there's the Kuzuis [who own the rights to Buffy], there's all sorts of stuff. Basically, it isn't just the simple question of Joss making a series that he wants to make. As far as anything concerned with Buffy, there are a lot of people down the line that would have a say. That's part of the equation, but we were sort of talking about what we might do with it. Pretty much at that point he had this conversation with Eliza [Dushku about Dollhouse], and the rest is history, for the moment."

Whedon announced plans for a Ripper series as soon as Head left Buffy in 2001 to return to his home in England. Over the past eight years, the idea has evolved, he said.

"Originally, when he pitched it to me, it was a series, and it was Giles as this sad, lonely man in England without a real reason to be," Head said. "It was pretty much ghost stories. Week by week, some ghost story would somehow affect him. Then he said he didn't want to. By that time, I think he had been affected by Angel, the need to write a weekly story. I think he found at that point the drive was different, so he suggested this one film that we were going to make. He told me this story that he had written, and it's absolutely beautiful, and I hope that one day it gets made, whether it's in the guise of Ripper or whether we just tell it as a one-off TV movie. It's a lovely, lovely story. It's kind of a ghost story. It's also about a man investigating his own soul, and it's fascinating, lovely, sad, and it's classic Joss Whedon. I hope we get to make it one day. From there on in, if it was successful, maybe he could have been convinced to do a series. As I say, now he's back in the seat of doing a weekly series with Dollhouse; maybe he can be convinced otherwise. Never say never, but at the same time, I think it's on a shelf for a while."

Just in case Ripper remains on Whedon's shelf, Head offered hints as to what Giles' nickname means after all. "I don't think we'll ever really know," he said. "I think Ripper just means it's the darker side of someone that you suddenly see that you never ever knew existed. It's a very dark side, and we got to see some of it in Buffy. He's the only guy who's killed an innocent man in Buffy, although Faith did, but Faith was bad. He smothered somebody who ultimately was an innocent bystander. That takes some darkness. That's Ripper."

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