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'Buffy' at 20: Felicia Day on Joss Whedon's creative world

As "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" turns 20, the actor talks about her role as Vi, her friendship with Joss Whedon and her sense of the show's originality.

Felicia Day plays a potential slayer named Vi in the last season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Long before Felicia Day created the scripted-webseries revolution with her award-winning comedy "The Guild," or before she was the love interest in "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," and even before she was saving the Winchester brothers in the paranormal drama "Supernatural," she was training alongside other girls hoping to rid the world of bloodsuckers in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

As the character Violet, or Vi for short, Felicia played the Potential Slayer who gradually transformed from a nervous, shy girl to an impressive fighter in battle. Her character even reappears in the "Buffy Season 8" comics as part of the Slayer Organization.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," I chatted with Felicia about her favorite moments being on the hit show, meeting showrunner Joss Whedon for the first time and why the series was so groundbreaking.

Full disclosure: I'm very good friends with Felicia. I've known her for years and I'm even a co-host on her weird romance book club show, "Vaginal Fantasy Book Club." which started on her Geek & Sundry network.

Q: Why do you think "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has resonated with fans for so many years?
Day: There's heart and wit and more than a touch of self-awareness in it that really reflects contemporary sensibilities. To this day, it has a fresher take on genre tropes than anything on TV now. The characters were all memorable and together created a family. It's an iconic show that will never go out of style.

"Buffy" also featured things like feminism and same-sex relationships, and it addressed other issues ignored by mainstream TV...
"Buffy" broke so many tropes, laid so much groundwork for future genre and relationship drama-comedies. So much of what it did is a given now in TV, but at the time no one had seen it before.

Felicia Day as Vi -- a shy Potential Slayer who doesn't seem to appreciate training tips from vampire Spike (James Marsters).

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

What was it about your character, Vi, that made you excited to play her?
I loved being a part of the cadre of Potentials that were introduced in Season 7. We were fast friends, and there were a lot of great actresses from many different backgrounds. Vi in particular was terrified of everything, and yet being a part of Buffy's world, having responsibilities thrust on her, she rose to the occasion. I think her grit, despite her anxiety and fear, made her easy to relate to for me.

Do you remember what it was like meeting showrunner Joss Whedon for the first time?
I think the first time I met him was at lunch during the first episode I was hired on. I snottily informed him that I had a math degree. Then I found out who he was. He didn't fire me or kill me off because I was a smart-ass, though. I think that's why I lived, actually.

Which episodes do you love watching?
As a viewer, "Hush" is breathtaking, as well as the musical episode, "Once More, With Feeling." For me personally, the finale episode, "Chosen," because Vi got bad-ass. It was bittersweet on set for that last episode, but that's what made it even more memorable.


Vi (Felicia Day) was one of many Potential Slayers who had a lot to learn about teamwork.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

How was being a part of the "Buffy" cast a special experience for you?
The family [on and off set] will always stick with me. I'm still friends with so many people. And Joss Whedon pretty much made my career. His inspiration as a creator, his continuing to involve me in his projects, and the family of friends he created will always be incredibly important to me, for the rest of my life.

Where can "Buffy" fans find you now?
My latest project, "Mystery Science Theatre 3000, will be out on Netflix on April 14. I think my character is someone Vi would have slain. Which is pretty cool.

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