OTHER 'BUFFY' BABE
by Bruce Fretts
Can we not mention that I was a San Diego Chargers cheerleader?" Charisma Carpenter pleads. "If I hear that one more time, I'm going to toss my cookies. It's just so not the highlight of my life." You didn't hear it from us. Instead, we'll focus on Carpenter's other cheerleader role, as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The actress first read for the lead role, but producers saw her as the tart-tongued Cordelia. "She took over the room," creator Joss Whedon recalls of her audition, which happened while Carpenter was costarring on NBC's flop soap Malibu Shores. "She had the right 'tude." Unfortunately, she didn't have a lot of lines at first. "My [ex] agent failed to mention that to me," says Carpenter, 28. "Boy, I let her have it." Explains Whedon: "When she was just a stock villain, there was only so much she could do. But the idea was always that she'd gradually become more integrated into the group."
Last season, Cordelia became a full-fledged member of "the Scooby gang" (in Carpenter's words), kicking undead butt alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy and even engaging in a love-hate affair with Nicholas Brendon's dorky Xander. What's the basis of their attraction? Says Carpenter, "It's just that he's-so-wrong-for-me-oh-I-love-him-because-of-it thing." Brendon's take is more succinct: "Have you seen her?"
Yup, and we'll see a lot more of her next fall: There are plans to add Cordy to the Buffy spin-off Angel (based around David Boreanaz's brooding bloodsucker). Says Whedon, "She's the [worst] person to deal with Angel's angst-ridden world--therefore, she's the perfect foil." Carpenter knows from angst, thanks to her taunt-inducing first name (which her mother took from a bottle of perfume). Growing up in Las Vegas, "it was a curse--it sounded like a disease," remembers Carpenter, who lives in L.A. with her golden retrievers, Sydney and Hobie. Now, she says, "I love my name. It's who I am."