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Amber Benson - Interview at Madame Tussaud's - 10th December, 2003
What's it been like being a role model for young girls who are exploring their sexuality?
I've gotten the most amazing letters from young women who have come out because of the relationship that Tara and Willow had on Buffy. If you can make an impact on society in a positive way, it's the most amazing experience.
Because I'm not doing anything other than what I would do as an actor or as a normal person, it's just that people respond to it. I'm not out there pandering for it.
People became embroiled in the relationship and it made them realise that it was okay to be what they were. It doesn't matter who you sleep with, it's how you treat other people in this world.
Biting the bullet
Did the fan reaction change after Tara died?
It was really tough. The way she died was awful, it was really, really horrible and I wish that it hadn't happened, but I understood from a story standpoint why it had to go in that direction.
The only way that Joss could get Willow's character to that level of desperation was to take the one thing away from her that she loved which was Tara. As awful as it was, he was really trying to put the message out that Willow's problem with magic was a allegory for drug abuse.
[It was an allegory for] anything where it's an addictive, obsessive thing, when you drink too much or you do drugs, you sleep around and have no care for yourself. That's what Willow was going through, this mad obsession, this addiction, and the only way she could go back to reality was to bottom out. Then she could return to the Willow that we all know and love.
Did you like the way season six became about the horror of real people?
I thought season six depressing as a cast member and as an audience member, because everybody was going through these awful experiences. I think it was a really dark season. It was a lot of fun to do, acting-wise, but I thought it was emotionally very unsettling.
You have the Troika, the three guys running around doing all these horrible things for God knows what reason. It was interesting to have humanoid villains that were rooted in our three-dimensional reality... or four dimensional reality, I'm not sure which!
Can you tell us why you chose not to return for season seven?
I wish that we could have worked it out but there were extenuating circumstances that I don't really want to go into.
I would love to have come back but sometimes there are things in your life that you have to stand up for and to tell you the God's honest truth, I really didn't want Tara to be bad, and that would have been a component of me coming back.
As much as I wanted to come back - and I almost did - that was something that was dogging my not wanting to come back. I just felt like people really loved that character and for her to be bad would just destroy people. So that was one of the reasons I didn't go back.
Before Once More, With Feeling, what sort of musical background did you have?
I actually started out doing theatre when I was a kid, so I did a lot of musicals, but nothing professional with the singing until Buffy, which was kind of fun.
I gather you and your sister sang a song at one of Joss Whedon's Shakespeare readings, which became a catalyst for him to write the musical?
Yeah totally. We would all go to Joss's and we would read Shakespeare and afterwards it would kind of regress into musical theatre craziness.
We would all be singing around the piano while Joss played, and because Tony was an amazing singer, and I could sing and Emma sings, it was kind of a natural progression toward doing a musical.
In season six, Willow famously made Tara forget about an argument they had. Anything you'd actually like to forget?
Right now, no. I think we're the sum of our experiences, so I wouldn't change anything, I wouldn't want to forget anything, even the weird stuff and the bad stuff. It makes you who you are.