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Ringer – Sarah Michelle Gellar on coming back to TV

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Ringer, Season 1 - Ioan Gruffudd, Sarah Michelle Geller, Kris Polaha, Tara Summers, Nestor Carbonell and Mike Colter
Season 1 - Andrew Martin (Ioan Gruffudd), Siobhan Martin/Bridget Kelly (Sarah Michelle Geller), Henry (Kris Polaha), Gemma (Tara Summers), Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell) and Malcolm Ward (Mike Colter) © 2011 The CW Network

After an eight year absence from TV, Sarah Michelle Gellar, aka Buffy the Vampire Slayer, returns to the small screen in the series Ringer. How does a former vampire butt-kicker top herself? She plays twins!

In Ringer Sarah portrays Bridget Kelly, a recovering addict struggling to turn her life around. She’s six months sober when she witnesses a professional hit and is placed in federal protection under the watch of Agent Victor Machsado (Nestor Carbonell).

Believing that he can’t keep her safe, Bridget contacts her identical twin, Siobhan (also Geller) whom she hasn’t seen in six years. She is wealthy and unhappily married to business man, Andrew Martin (Ioan Gruffudd), who has no idea that Bridget exists.

When Siobhan mysteriously disappears, seemingly taking her own life, Bridget decides to take on her sister’s identity

What brought you back to TV after all these years?

Ringer - Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Geller on the TCA Summer 2011 panel © 2011 The CW Network

I was very burned out after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was exhausting. I was 18 on the pilot, and I was 24 and married when we finished. I never had time. That show was my life. I was doing movies on the hiatuses, weekends, and I needed to explore and live that gypsy lifestyle, and I traveled, and worked with amazing actors.

I started watching a lot of television, and I started to realize that all of the amazing roles for women were on TV. I started to watch all these amazing female-driven shows like Damages, and it was something that was always in the back of my mind.

I didn’t realize how much I missed the excitement of getting the new episode and seeing the same people and the family environment. I think if I hadn’t had the time away, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the experience that I’m appreciating now.

What are the technical aspects now of playing opposite yourself?

It’s really interesting because technology has come a long way. At the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I did play three characters, and it was just old-school split screen. There’s so much more available now between face replacement and the stop-motion cameras. So during the pilot, we played with all of them to figure out what works best. But ultimately what you find is, even though there is all this technology, you want the heart of the scene, and the heart of the scene is two people talking to each other.

How often do you do scenes ‘together’ as the series goes forward?

Ringer - Sarah Michelle Gellar
Episode 1.01 Pilot - Siobhan Martin/Bridget Kelly (Sarah Michelle Geller) © 2011 The CW Network

Right now what we’re aiming for is there’s usually two to three flashbacks per episode, usually they’re all me. Sometimes we do have a younger set of girls. I don’t know why. I said I could do the 12-year-olds. I thought I looked young enough (she laughs). So we do have that as well.

Every once in awhile, the flashbacks will be other parts of the story, meaning maybe how Andrew and Siobhan met, because basically the flashbacks are a great way to give answers to the story.

You’re sort of playing three characters, you’re playing Siobhan, you’re playing Bridget and you’re playing Bridget pretending to be Siobhan. Do you have a favorite among them?

Ringer - Sarah Michelle Gellar
Season 1 - Siobhan Martin/Bridget Kelly (Sarah Michelle Geller) © 2011 The CW Network

Whoever has the best wardrobe at the time! When you’re each [character] you have to love each one individually and understand that [person]. So when I’m Bridget, I feel that all of Bridget’s motivations are hers, and Siobhan is wrong. And when I’m Siobhan, everything Bridget does is wrong. I try to get into the head of each of them. And then for some reason when we do the flashbacks, even though it’s only in the ‘90s, I like to think they’re in the ‘80s. So I’ve been pushing for the blue eye shadow and the high bangs.

You did a lot of stunts on Buffy, do you have many in this?

It’s interesting, we don’t have a ton of stunts in the sense of Buffy. There were a few stunts in the pilot. There was the crash through the wall, which they would not let me do, which I still don’t understand why I couldn’t do it, something about insurance!

So far it’s only been running and chasing. She’s not saving the world. She’s just trying to save herself. But I do get to hold a gun a lot which is cool because Buffy never got a gun.

The identification with Buffy is kind of a double-edged sword. Was there ever a point where you just said, ‘God, I’m so fed up with this, I really need to re-identify myself,’ or have you always been comfortable with that association?

Ringer - Ioan Gruffudd and Sarah Michelle Gellar
Episode 1.02 "She's Running Everything" - Andrew Martin (Ioan Gruffudd) and Siobhan Martin/Bridget Kelly (Sarah Michelle Geller) © 2011 The CW Network

I’m proud of the show. I’m proud of the work we did and I’m proud of its legacy, and so that’s nothing but good things. Sure, as an actor you want to play different [roles], but I was also really fortunate. I think a lot of times when you start a show at a young age, you get stuck. Buffy grew. She was a student. She went to college, and then essentially she became a mother. She was a mother to all the slayers. So I didn’t feel that I was trapped because I got to do so much. And then I went and played all these other characters for a while.

How many times in any actor’s life do you get to be a part of something that has a legacy like that? So I think it’s only fortunate. I don’t see the negative. And if people think that I can save the world and kick butt, I’m okay with that!