Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wesley Returns To My Blog

I've noticed that for someone who has a blog called "I Heart Wesley W-P", I've been neglecting the poor boy of late. Luckily, I'm working on a series of blog posts where I'm trying to examine what led up to his tragic decision to kidnap baby Connor in Season 3's "Sleep Tight".

I quickly realized that I cannot analyze Wesley's decision without examining his overall personality and character development throughout the series. Fortunately, actor Alexis Denisof, through various interviews, has provided us with a treasure trove of information on Wesley Wyndam-Price and how the character evolved over the five seasons of Angel. Denisof is intelligent and well-spoken, and had obviously put a lot of thought into his portrayal of Wesley. A few months ago I read a fan's review of the 2004 Vulkon Slayercon in Oakland, California, and the consensus was that Alexis had stolen the show. He impressed audience members with the completeness of his answers to their questions, which indicated to many that he not only simply collected a paycheck for acting in Angel, he was also a true fan of the show!

I have to admit that some interviews I've read of other Buffy/Angelverse actors have left me scratching my head somewhat. I don't want to accuse anyone of making ignorant statements. I just think that they were perhaps more of the "come in and just say the lines" types of actors, who perhaps never analyzed their performances within the larger context of the series. I also have a distinct impression that some of them also had a tendency to oversimplify their statements since it was obvious that a lot of territory needed to be covered in the interviews.

With Alexis, I feel like I have to really pay attention to what he said about his character. If he said something startling or something I disagree with, I feel the onus is on me to do the research to try to prove him wrong. So far, I don't think I've been able to catch him in any "gotcha" moments. Of late, I've been starting to take the lazy way out, dispense with the research, and say to myself, "If that's what Alexis said, then it must be true."

It's quite gratifying to me that I've been able to find out that Alexis Denisof the man is just as fascinating as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce the character. I've even found a few parallels in their lives. Wesley attended the exclusive Watcher's Academy as a schoolboy, and Alexis Denisof attended a prestigious Ivy League boarding school in New Hampshire starting at age 13.

As far as we know, Wesley did not attend a university, but he presumably received some outstanding continuing education through the Watchers Council. Alexis Denisof didn't attend Harvard or Yale, but he did receive some pretty decent training at the (there's that word again) prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. (He may have been awarded some sort of degree at the end of his training.) I'm sure publications edit out the occasional "ah's" and "umms" that he probably utters once in a while. But, assuming journalists aren't doing massive rewrites, Alexis' printed interviews are of extremely high quality. It would take me a week of editing to come up with a blog post that would come close to what comes trippingly off his tongue. His spoken interviews I've seen on YouTube confirm how effortlessly he can speak at consistently high levels.

In what I think is the highest tribute to his interviewing talents, Nikki Stafford, the author of Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel wrote that:
I conducted several interviews for this book....but when I spoke to Alexis Denisof, he gave me such thorough answers I didn't want to break up the interview. Wesley is one of the most complicated characters on television, and the best way to explore the character is to start at the beginning and interpret the entire series through his eyes. Denisof has done just that in this interview, so I decided to run it in its entirety to give readers a sense of one actor's interpretation of his character.
What I don't think this paragraph fully conveys is that Stafford couldn't possibly improve on Denisof's narrative. Instead, she decided to simply publish his entire interview in full rather than write this particular chapter on her own with snippets from his interview interspersed throughout. (Update: the last paragraph on this page gives another outstanding description of how Stafford decided to use his interview in its entirety.)

With the season premiere of Dollhouse coming up soon, I'm happy to say that I'm hoping to start a transition from "I Heart Wesley" to "I Heart Alexis". I don't pass along a lot of buzz-worthy news about his personal life or his upcoming episode appearances since a lot of other people can do that a lot better than me. Besides, I know in general a lot of inaccurate information gets leaked out, and my built-in bullshit detector for celebrity and entertainment industry news needs some calibration. I am curious about one thing. I've said before that I stopped watching Dollhouse after two episodes last season. Will I become hooked on the series this fall and finally run out of ideas for Angel blog posts?

Speaking of his personal life, I feel somewhat guilty about enjoying online pictures of Alexis, Alyson and Satyana. They are such an adorable family! Looking at their pictures almost acts like an antidote du jour for me a la Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism site.

I hate to think of Satyana not being able to live a "normal" life while she's growing up. I want her to be able to throw tantrums, learn how to ride her bike and skin her knees in privacy. Do photogs focus mostly on babies and tend to leave toddlers and older kids alone? I sure hope so.

There's a lot of snarky speculation in comments sections as to whether the Denisofs (and other celebrity parents) call the photographers every time they go out for a family stroll. This world is so beyond me I can't even speculate in good conscience. My best guess is that there are just as many barely employed photographers wandering the streets of LA as there are actors. Even if it is true, (and I'm not saying it is), we have to keep in mind that this is all part of the game that's been played ever since Mary Pickford's heyday. There's no guaranteed employment in Hollywood, and careers can be brutally short. Actors need to keep their names and faces out in the public so that people (fans and producers) will remember them. This would just be one necessary piece in a well-oiled publicity machine.

Epilogue. Could we please have a moratorium on fan reactions to Satyana's name? If I read one more "I don't like S-a-t-y-a-n-a because it reminds me of S-a-t-a-n", I'll scream!!!

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