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Kristine Sutherland - Live Online chat - January 10th, 2002
Dying to return
Planning ahead for Joyce's demise
Stephen Lett: Were you shocked when you found out that your character was going to be killed off?
Kristine: Good question. I actually knew that I was going to be killed off about two years before we shot it, so I had a lot of time to digest it. I suppose it's always sad that one of us was going to die.
Kali Freely: Was that the way you wanted your character to leave the show?
Kristine: I thought that it was a brilliant move on Joss's part, although personally I would have liked to live forever.
In terms of the journey of Buffy, in the end that is one of the final transitions of maturation is when you lose a parent.
I thought in terms of the storyline that it was really terrific to explore that issue of losing a parent, of death itself, and coming to terms with. I liked the fact that in the midst of people dying from vampires and demons, here was a death that was completely beyond control, even with super powers. You can save the world but you can't save your parents.
A good snog
More on The Body and kissing Giles
Billy: How did it feel wearing dead makeup?
Kristine: Absolutely horrid. It was one of the most difficult things emotionally I've ever had to do. Particularly in the morgue scenes where I had been dead for some time. It was very eerie, not only for me but the rest of the cast and crew too. It was a very sombre time during the shooting of that episode.
Paul Davies: Were you asked to leave the show to fit in with Joss’s story, or did you decide to leave yourself?
Kristine: It was part of Joss's plan. I was not around much in the fourth season, which was my choice, and when I let them know that he said, "Please, you must be around for the fifth season because I need to kill you".
Buffy Fan: What was your favourite episode(s) of Buffy?
Kristine: The episode I had the most fun with [was] Band Candy. I would say the episode that I enjoyed most as a fan would have been Innocence, the two parter.
Willowtree: Was Antony Stewart Head a good snog or what?
Kristine: Oh definitely!
Fame and photos
Current plans and being TV's sexiest Mum
Laura Tough: So now that you've left Buffy, what are you planning to do next?
Kristine: I look forward to future work and I'm also taking time to go back to school to explore photography actually.
Andrew Barnes: Would you really like to have Buffy as your daughter?
Kristine: It always felt that she was my real daughter. I had really close feelings for Sarah and there was a very special chemistry. It always felt much like she was.
Darren Phillips: I hear you are now living in Europe. May I take this opportunity to welcome TV's Sexiest Mom to our side of the globe.
Kristine: Thank you! I appreciate the vote.
Sarah: If you could be any member of the cast of Buffy, who would it be?
Kristine: Good question. I've never thought about that before, but I'd have to honestly say in my wildest dreams it would be hard not to identify as an audience member with Buffy. There's something awfully intriguing with being a superhero. I have no complaints with being Buffy's mother, though.
Ian O'Donnell: Do you think Joyce and Spike would have made a lovely couple?
Kristine: I don't know, but they could have had an outrageous affair.
Sex and the single mum
Developing Joyce and her relationships
Andrew: Were you disappointed that the Joyce/Giles relationship wasn't allowed to develop, or did it work better as a one-off?
Kristine: Yes, I wish it had developed further. I don't think it would have ever worked for the storyline for them to be together but I would have liked to have seen more done with the complications of the situation.
I would have liked to have seen more exploration of the tensions and actually more of them coming together sometimes, given the fact that Giles was Buffy's father figure. I would have liked to have seen more of our connection explored.
Julia: Were there any frustrations in the way the character developed?
Kristine: I would have liked to have seen more of Joyce as a working woman. It was terrific that she was a single mom, and the relationship with Buffy was reflected as a single mom. I grew up with a single mother, so I really appreciated that relationship.
You just saw me at home most of the time, so I would have liked to have seen more of her out working.
How to be a be a corpse and playing the mother from hell
Louise Cryten: How do you actors manage to keep still in death scenes? Whenever I have to act dead I wriggle and breath too hard.
Kristine: It was a real challenge. Trying not to breathe was actually easier than I thought it was going to be.
The part that was so difficult was not blinking. Keeping my eyes open for the longer periods of time was tough. The shot of when she walks in and discovers the body, it was hard not to react emotionally.
The scene was so powerful that there was a number of takes. It was difficult to not have my eyes tearing up.
Alex Wilkinson: You work on a show based around children and teenagers, what was it like working with them, and not many adults?
Kristine: It was very refreshing to be with an age group that I don't necessarily work with most of the time. I was never really familiar with that age group in my everyday life, but there was a nice balance as the crew were mostly my age. The world that you don't see when you see the show, is filled with adults.
Ryan Simms: Did you ever feel like you wanted to be one of the baddies in the programme?
Kristine: Yes, they actually talked about doing an episode with Joyce becoming possessed by demons and becoming the mother from hell. I thought that would have been really interesting to explore.
There's always that point in your life for a lot of teenagers, [that] you feel like your mother is your enemy and is keeping you from what you want to do and embarrassing you in public. It's a metaphor for that. In the early seasons, that would have been a good episode and fun to do.
Dealing with Dawn
Getting a new daughter and the best man for Buffy
Sarah: How did you react when you first heard that Buffy was going to be getting a new sister and that Joyce would be a mother of two at the beginning of season five?
Kristine: The initial idea, when I first found about it, was that it was going to be a much smaller daughter, about six or seven years old.
I knew that things could change. When we began this season and I discovered that it was Michelle, it was a very different dynamic because now I was going to have two teenage daughters. I actually loved having two daughters, it was really great.
In life I have one daughter, so I had no idea what it would be like to have two, and it was a very different feeling. Michelle and I had a different relationship to what I had with Sarah and it was really lovely.
Susan: As Buffys mum, who was better for Buffy - Angel or Riley?
Kristine: Oh gosh. As Buffy's Mom, Riley, although as an audience member [and a] great romantic, I loved the relationship between Buffy and Angel. As her mom I would say Riley was the healthier choice.
Denial, thy name is Joyce
Turning a blind eye to the Slayer
Naz Golland: What do you think of the Buffy musical episode and would you have liked to have been part of that?
Kristine: I haven't seen it yet so I can't really say - sorry!
Joe: Was there anything that being Buffy's mum taught you as a parent?
Kristine: Good question. That I think a healthy amount of denial is important in giving your children space to be who they are.
I felt that in the first and second seasons [it] was a time in a teenager's life when she wasn't ready to share with me what her struggles were and a lot about her life.
People used to say to me, how can you be so dumb as not to notice that your daughter was a superhero. My answer was no because as a parent, there is a certain amount of denial and certain times you just have to trust your child.
Elaine Nicholson: Will you be making any ghostly returns in future?
Kristine: One can only hope so!
Vlad Munch: Is your real daughter jealous of your on-screen relationship with Buffy?
Kristine: No. I think she was really tickled that I went to work and had this other daughter.
I didn't allow her to watch the show as I didn't think she was old enough for the material, but she did enjoy coming to the set. Her favourite character was a zombie cheerleader from the third season.
Kristine's heros and closing thoughts
Laura Barnes: Did you ever have an idol or hero/heroine, if so who?
Kristine: That is a toughie. In a strange way, I have had different idols at different times of my life.
When I was a teenager, I did love comic books and I loved Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman - In the same way that as an audience member now, I love Buffy.