Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Charisma Carpenter is back as Cordelia Chase — and returning to the Buffyverse in Audible Original Slayers wasn’t a decision she made lightly.

“[I had] little bit of apprehension when I first was asked to join, but those emotions and feelings, open wound feelings were immediately massaged by Amber [Benson]’s pitch in that I heard her enthusiasm,” Carpenter exclusively told Us Weekly while at the Slayers activation at New York Comic Con on October 14.

Benson, who portrayed Tara Maclay, and Christopher Golden started working on Slayers in 2020 after learning Audible had rights to work on an original project set in the universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which aired from 1997 to 2003). They created a nine-episode audio story set in 2013 that introduces a new slayer, Indira (Laya DeLeon Hayes), who crosses paths with a different Cordelia from an alternate universe — one where she wasn’t the mean cheerleader in high school. She was instead destined to be the lone vampire slayer, and Buffy Summers doesn’t exist.

Buffy fans might be surprised to see Carpenter return to the Buffyverse after she opened up about her experiences behind the scenes. In 2021, Carpenter was the first of several stars who came forward to accuse Buffy showrunner Joss Whedon of abusing his power and exhibiting “hostile and toxic” behavior. It would’ve been understandable if she chose to leave Cordelia in the past, but Carpenter wanted to embrace Cordy’s strength instead.

“It’s personal for me. I have lived with Cordelia,” Carpenter told Us. “I performed her for about 10 years of my life, and I feel she, as a character, informed me, the woman that played her. It’s rich to me. The idea of coming into my own power as a young woman through a character that then I ended up using that power in a way to speak out against the creator of that power. … What I mean to say is that in a lot of ways, Cordelia gave birth to Charisma and really informed who I am today, and it was so powerful that I was able to do very hard things at a very critical time in my life. And I think that is the ultimate Buffyverse story — finding out what your purpose is and using it to make the world a better place.”

Ultimately, it was Benson and Golden who convinced Carpenter to join.

James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter on the set of ‘Angel’ in 2004.
Mark Sullivan/WireImage

“[Amber is] a nurturer, and so is Christopher,” Carpenter explained. “Knowing that I would be safe in that role again was really the thing that won me over. I knew I could trust them.”

Emma Caulfield, who returns as an alternate universe Anya, was a little more blunt when she told Us about her reaction to coming back: “I said, ‘F—k no.’”

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Benson’s pitch, however, had her hooked. “I love her. We’re friends, so we know our baggage. We know the history, we’ve lived it,” Caulfield, 50, shared. “And then she just gave me the full pitch and that was it. I was like, ‘Oh honey, I’m in. 100 percent. I’ll do whatever you do.’”

Fans watched Cordelia die on Buffy spinoff Angel while Anya met her demise in the original series finale. Benson wanted to use the Audible series to work with characters who didn’t have happy endings in the TV show universe.

From left: Christopher Golden, Laya DeLeon Hayes, Emma Caulfield Ford, Juliet Landau, James Charles Leary, James Marsters, Amber Benson and Charisma Carpenter.
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible

“For me, the inroad to being like, ‘OK, I really want to do this,’ is the idea of Charisma Carpenter, being Cordelia the Vampire Slayer. … Because of the way a lot of these characters didn’t quite have the endings that we would’ve wanted them to have, so we’re like, ‘Well, we need a multiverse.’”

Benson added, “We can live in this world. The fans get to have something that feels safe and wonderful.”

In addition to Benson, Carpenter and Caulfield, returning stars include James Marsters as Spike, James Charles Leary as Clem, Juliet Landau as Drusilla, Anthony Stewart Head as Giles, Phina Oruche as Olivia and Danny Strong as Ghost Jonathan.

The cast hopes that fans want to go back to their corner of the Buffyverse for Slayers season 2.

“After every day, we were like, ‘We’re going to do another one, right?’” Caulfield recalled to Us. “We have to do as many as we can. There’s so much to say in this space. … I’d like to start tomorrow.”

The first season of Slayers is available now on Audible.

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