Born: August 20, 1962
Birthplace: Greenville, California, U.S.
James Wesley Marsters (born August 20, 1962) is an American actor and musician. Marsters first came to the attention of the general public playing the popular character Spike, a platinum-blond English vampire in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series, Angel, from 1997 to 2004. Since then, he has gone on to play other science fiction roles, such as the alien supervillain Brainiac on the Superman-inspired series Smallville, the omnisexual time traveller Captain John Hart in British science-fiction show Torchwood, and terrorist Barnabas Greeley in Syfy's Caprica. Marsters appeared in a supporting role in the 2007 movie P.S. I Love You. He appeared as a recurring character in the first season of the revival of Hawaii Five-0. Marsters also plays Victor Stien in the 2017 Hulu adaptation of Marvel Comics The Runaways.
Marsters was born in Greenville, California, the son of a United Methodist minister and social worker. He grew up with his brother, Paul, and sister, Susan, in Modesto, California. Dreaming about becoming an actor since he played Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh in fourth grade, Marsters joined the theater group at Grace M. Davis High School and acted in many plays, including musicals. After graduation in 1980, Marsters studied at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California. In 1982 he moved to New York City to attend the Juilliard School, but left the program after two years.
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Marsters moved to Chicago, where his first professional acting role was Ferdinand in The Tempest at the Goodman Theatre in 1987. In this production, he was rolled onto the stage strapped naked to a wheel. He also appeared with well-known Chicago companies such as the Northlight and the Bailiwick and with his own group, the Genesis Theatre Company. Marsters was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for his performance of the lead role of Robespierre in the six-hour drama Incorruptible: The Life, Death and Dreams of Maximilian de Robespierre in 1989.
In 1990, Marsters moved to Seattle and, with Liane Davidson and Greg Musick, formed the New Mercury Theatre. In this and other companies, Marsters was involved in a wide range of plays, including Teechers (a British play by John Godber), Anouilh's Antigone, an original work based on the Dr. Seuss books, and Shaw's Misalliance.
In 1992, Marsters got his first acting job on TV—on Northern Exposure, in which he appeared for two episodes as a bellboy and a church minister. He has made guest appearances on television series such as Andromeda, as well as the independent films Chance (2002), Winding Roads (1999), and the 2005 USA Network movie Cool Money. In 1999, he had a small role in the remake of House on Haunted Hill as a TV cameraman.
It was his appearance as villain (and later anti-hero) Spike on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (first appearing in Season Two) that attracted the attention of the general public. For the role, he put on a London accent and he received informal coaching from English co-star Anthony Stewart Head.
Spike had been intended as a short role by creator Joss Whedon, who initially resisted Spike's popularity. "He made it very clear he did not want the show to be taken over by another romantic vampire," Marsters told 411Mania, adding "to Joss, vampires were supposed to be ugly, evil, and quick to be killed... when I was cast Joss did not imagine me to be popular; Spike was supposed to be dirty and evil, punk rock, and then dead." The massive fan response prevented his character from being killed off, however, allowing him a presence throughout the second season. There were no plans to bring him back as a regular until the character Cordelia Chase was moved to the spin-off show, Angel, and, as Marsters told 411Mania, "they needed someone to tell Buffy she was stupid and about to die, and they decided to bring me back". He thought he would not last as, being a vampire, he was restricted to night-time scenes and could not feasibly interact with the characters as often as Cordelia. Instead, Spike would last until the very end of the show and become a romantic partner for Buffy.
After the conclusion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marsters carried Spike over to the Buffy spin-off show, Angel, also in a regular role (second title billing after David Boreanaz), although only in the fifth and final season of the show. Marsters was asked to keep quiet about this, as his return was intended to be a surprise, but the network promoted Spike's return as soon as it could in order to attract advertising. In April 2004, following the end of Angel, Marsters had Spike's trademark bleached hair shaved off for charity live on television in On Air with Ryan Seacrest.
When the show was cancelled, there were plans for several TV movies. Talk of a Spike movie began in 2004 and Whedon still had plans into 2006, before it was formally abandoned. Marsters had said he would only return to play Spike if the project took place within five years, feeling he would become too old to play the character (an immortal) after that:
As long as I could do it within, say, the next four or five years; past that, I'm too old. Spike's a vampire, man, and I've got high standards.— James Marsters, TV Guide Interview, March 3, 2005
Aside from playing the character, Marsters co-wrote a comic book one-shot for Dark Horse Comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike and Dru. After both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel ended, Marsters became active with the canonical comic book series of both shows on stories centering around his character. A canonical graphic novel set during the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike: Into the Light, written by Marsters himself, was released by Dark Horse Comics on July 16, 2014.
Marsters has narrated the audiobooks for The Dresden Files, a series of detective novels with a supernatural bent and was also contracted to narrate the fourth in the series, Summer Knight, in 2006. He reprised his reading of the series, including "Proven Guilty", "White Night", "Small Favor", and "Turn Coat", produced by Penguin Audio and "Death Masks" audio book which was released in late 2009. "Blood Rites", "Dead Beat", "Turn Coat", "Changes" and the side short story collection in the same universe, "Side Jobs", were also recorded by Marsters. However, he did not do the Dresden book "Ghost Story" due to a scheduling conflict, leaving fellow Smallville alumnus John Glover to record it; this caused a fairly noteworthy public outcry by audiobook listeners. He returned for the book "Cold Days". On March 24, 2015, Jim Butcher announced that a new version of the "Ghost Story" audiobook is being released effective April 21, 2015 with Marsters returning as narrator in response to fan demands.
In 2005, Marsters filmed a thriller, Shadow Puppets, with Jolene Blalock. Late that year, Marsters appeared on the television series Smallville playing Dr. Milton Fine—the popular Superman villain "Brainiac"—in eight episodes throughout the show's fifth season. He reprised his role as Brainiac in a four-episode arc in the seventh season, and did a cameo voice-over in season eight. He returned for one episode in the show's final season. On October 29, 2005, Marsters presented two performances of his own abridged adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth with American actress Cheryl Puente as Lady Macbeth, followed by question and answer sessions with the audience and acoustic concerts in London.
In September 2006, Marsters' interpretation of Godber's Teechers was performed on the Queen Mary with two other actors in Los Angeles. This is a play he had received critical acclaim for as a stage actor prior to his television work. Marsters co-starred in the 2007 cinematic release of P.S. I Love You alongside Kathy Bates, Hilary Swank, and Gerard Butler. Released in September 2007, Marsters starred in the direct-to-DVD animated movie, Superman: Doomsday, providing the voice of iconic villain Lex Luthor. The film received mostly positive reviews.
In 2008, he guest-starred in Torchwood, a spin-off of the popular British science fiction television series Doctor Who, first appearing in the episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", as the nefarious omnisexual time traveller Captain John Hart. He reprised the role in the last two episodes of the second season.
He portrayed "Piccolo Daimao" in the live-action film adaptation of the popular Dragon Ball manga and anime, directed by James Wong and produced by Stephen Chow, which was released worldwide on April 10, 2009.
On July 20, 2009, the movie, Moonshot, aired on the History Channel in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the 1969 moon landing. In this film, Marsters portrays Buzz Aldrin. On August 19, 2009, it was announced that he signed on for a role in Caprica as the terrorist leader Barnabas Greeley.
Also in August 2009, Marsters' science fiction western, High Plains Invaders aired on the Syfy Channel. In this alien invasion flick, Marsters portrays Sam Danville. It was announced in August 2010 that Marsters would be joining the cast of Syfy Channel series Three Inches as a series regular portraying Troy Hamilton, a former government agent who now leads a team of superheroes.
On June 24, 2011, Marsters appeared in an L.A. Theatre Works radio production of The Importance of Being Earnest, in the part of Sir John Worthing, which aired on June 25, 2011.
He has also appeared on Supernatural in season 7 episode 5, "Shut Up, Dr. Phil", which aired October 21, 2011, alongside fellow Buffyverse costar Charisma Carpenter.
He appeared in Warehouse 13 season 4 (3 episodes) as Bennett Sutton, which aired in 2013.
Marsters had played in bands and solo in bars and clubs for many years and enjoyed several successful sell-out solo gigs at Los Angeles clubs before forming a band. For these solo gigs he mainly performed covers of classic folk and rock musicians such as Tom Waits, Neil Young, James Taylor, and Bruce Springsteen. He sang in "Once More, with Feeling", a musical episode of Buffy: solo parts in "Walk Through the Fire" and "Something To Sing About", and "Rest in Peace" completely on his own.
In 2003-04, Marsters was the lead singer for the rock band Ghost of the Robot. Their debut album Mad Brilliant was released on February 2, 2003. The band played its first gigs in Los Angeles and Paris. They went on to play successful dates in and around Los Angeles and two sold-out tours of Europe in 2003 and 2004. In addition to Mad Brilliant, they released three singles ("Valerie", "David Letterman" and "New Man") and one mid-length EP, It's Nothing. All these releases carried tracks written and co-written by Marsters. Several of Ghost of the Robot's earlier songs were loosely based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters Buffy, Dawn and Faith.
Marsters' solo musical career was launched in October 2004, in London. His solo acoustic tour of the United Kingdom in April 2005 sold out. A new solo album "Civilized Man" produced by Chris Rhyne and Andrew Rosenthal was released on April 15, 2005. It includes several new songs as well as the popular "Katie" and "Smile". He has played songs from the album live in Detroit, Houston, and Sacramento. Ten of the eleven songs are written by Marsters.
New solo songs not included on the album but sung at live solo concerts include "Birth of the Blues", "Finer than Gold", "Louise", and "London City". "Finer than Gold", "London City", and "Louise" were composed while on tour in the UK in April 2005. "Birth of the Blues" was composed by Marsters in Amsterdam in 2004 while touring with his now-defunct band. During his October 2005 mini-tour of the UK, Marsters introduced other new songs to his sets: "Button Down Vandals", "Up On Me", and "All That She Wanted". These songs were available only as part of his recently released Words and Music DVD, which has his abridged version of Macbeth as well as a full-length solo music performance.
During his September 2006 convention, James Marsters & Friends, he debuted several new songs including "The Truth Is Heavy", "Fall of Night", "Jealous Man", and "Not A Millionaire". All these songs reflect his new blues music and folk sound. He also performed a cover version of Keb Mo's classic "Baby Blue". In 2007, he performed live several times in the UK and debuted two new songs written in Cardiff. "Layabout" and "Looking at You" reflect a more upbeat light folk move in Marsters' music. These songs as well as some of his previously unrecorded work were released on Marsters' second solo album, formally launched in Los Angeles and Cardiff in October and November 2007 respectively. This album, Like A Waterfall, includes twelve songs, all written by Marsters. Most had been performed and recorded live but not in the studio. An exception is "When I Was A Baby", a song never previously performed in public.
Like A Waterfall was produced by Ryan Shore and features several other musicians including Blair Sinta, who has drummed for Alanis Morissette, and Five for Fighting bass player Curt Schneider. In 2008, Marsters' Waterfall Tour came to the UK. He played three dates across London and performed for three consecutive days in Milton Keynes. The concert at the packed Union Chapel in Islington was an acoustic set featuring material from his album—Like A Waterfall.
On May 1, 2009 he returned to the Union Chapel, followed by a "Marstersclass" event at The Drill Hall, in London on May 2. The sell-out event included a concert, Q&A session plus opportunities to get autographs and photos. On May 3, 2009, he performed at London's 100 Club.
In 2010 James' music career continued when the band Ghost of the Robot reformed: they have since released the album B-Sider which is available on iTunes. Afterwards, in 2011, the album Murphy's Law was released which is also available for download in iTunes. There are also multiple other EPs available on the iTunes Store.
Marsters is divorced from Liane Davidson, with whom he has one son, born May 1996. He is also raising his niece and regards her as his daughter. It was announced on May 21, 2010, that Marsters had proposed to girlfriend Patricia Rahman in Trier, Germany. On January 14, 2011, they married in a private civil ceremony in Los Angeles.
As a solo artist:
With Ghost of the Robot:
|1999||House on Haunted Hill||Channel 3 Cameraman|
|2007||Superman: Doomsday||Lex Luthor||Voice|
|2007||P.S. I Love You||John McCarthy|
|2009||Dragonball Evolution||Lord Piccolo|
|2015||Dudes & Dragons||Lord Tensley|
|Episode: "It Happened in Juneau"
Episode: "Grosse Pointe 48230"
|1995||Medicine Ball||Mickey Collins||Episode: "Heart and Sole"|
|1997||Moloney||Billy O'Hara||Episode: "Herniated Nick"|
|1997-2003||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Spike||96 episodes|
|1999||Millennium||Eric Swan||Episode: "Collateral Damage"|
|1999||Winding Roads||Billy Johnson||TV movie|
|2001||The Enforcers||Charles Haysbert||mini-series|
|2001||Strange Frequency||Mitch Brand||Segment: "Soul Man"|
|2001||Andromeda||Charlemagne Bolivar||Episode: "Into the Labyrinth"|
|2003||Spider-Man: The New Animated Series||Sergei||Voice; 2 episodes|
|2004||The Mountain||Ted Tunney||Episode: "A Piece of the Rock"|
|2005||Cool Money||Bobby Comfort||TV movie|
|2005-2010||Smallville||Professor Milton Fine/Brainiac/Brainiac 5||Season 5: 8 episodes
Season 7: 4 episodes
Season 8: Voice only, uncredited
Season 10 Episode: "Homecoming"
|2007-2008||Without a Trace||Det. Grant Mars||Episode: "Lost Boy"
Episode: "Clean Up"
Episode: "One Wrong Move"
Episode: "Article 32"
|2007||Saving Grace||Dudley Payne||Episode: "Bring It On, Earl"|
|2008||Torchwood||Captain John Hart||Episode: "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"
Episode: "Exit Wounds"
|2008||The Capture of the Green River Killer||Ted Bundy||Mini-series|
|2008||Star Wars: The Clone Wars||Captain Argyus||Episode: "Cloak of Darkness"|
|2009||Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11||Buzz Aldrin||TV movie|
|2009||High Plains Invaders||Sam Denville||TV movie|
|2009||Numb3rs||Damien Lake||Episode: "Guilt Trip"|
|2009||The Super Hero Squad Show||Mister Fantastic||Voice; 5 episodes|
|2009||Lie to Me||Pollack||Episode: "Truth or Consequences"|
|2010||Caprica||Barnabas Greeley||Episode: "Know Thy Enemy"
Episode: "End of Line"
|2010-2011, 2014||Hawaii Five-0||Victor Hesse||Episode: "Pilot"
Episode: "Hana 'a'a Makehewa"
Episode "Ina Paha"
|2011||Supernatural||Donald Stark||Episode: "Shut Up, Dr. Phil"|
|2011||Three Inches||Troy Hamilton||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2012||Metal Hurlant Chronicles||Brad Davis||Episode: "Shelter Me"|
|2013||Wedding Band||Declan Horn||Episode: "Personal Universe"|
|2013||Warehouse 13||Professor Bennett Sutton/The Count of St. Germain||3 episodes|
|2013||Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated||Dandy Highwayman, Librarian, Man 2 (Voice)||Episode: "Stand and Deliver"|
|2013||Ultimate Spider-Man||Korvac (voice)||Episode: "Guardians of the Galaxy"|
|2014||Witches of East End||Tarkoff||Season 2: 7 episodes|
|2015||The Devil You Know||Reverend George Burroughs||Pilot|
|2017-present||Runaways||Victor Stein||Main cast|
|2002||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Spike||Voice role|
|2003||Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds||Spike||Voice role|
|2009||Real Heroes: Firefighter||Jimmy "Match" Morris||Voice role|
|2010||DC Universe Online||Lex Luthor||Voice role|
|2015||15.5||Working for Bigfoot|
|2017||1||Lord of Shadows|
|2013||2||The Rift Walker|
|2012||1||Carnival of Secrets|
|2000||Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Sidekick||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Nominated|
|2002||Choice TV: Actor||Nominated|
|2000||Saturn Awards||Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Series||Nominated|
|2002||Cinescape Genre Face of the Future Award||Won|
|Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Series||Nominated|
|2004||Angel / Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Nominated|
|2003||Golden Satellite Awards||Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Series||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Nominated|
|2002||SFX Awards||Best Comedy Performance||Won|
|Best TV Actor||Won|
||Favourite TV Character—Male||Spike in Angel||Won|
|2011||S.E.T. Awards||The Documentary S.E.T. Award.||Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11||Won|