Angel, the 1999 spin-off series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, remains a much beloved part of the Slayerverse. Over five seasons and 110 episodes, Angel is an urban fantasy take on the film noir genre and is just as beloved as the show that spawned it. In some ways, it even surpassed Buffy’s story with a darker, moodier dive into the world outside of the Hellmouth and into the very real Los Angeles.
However, much like its parent series, the cast and crew of Angel were not exempt from the drama that went on behind the scenes. Needless to say, almost 20 years after the show premiered, said drama is just as fascinating as watching the show’s characters wrestle with both their inner and outer demons.
As Whedon and his team points out from time to time, sometimes humanity can be even more monstrous than the supernatural entities that Angel is fighting. As Angel teaches us, sometimes those that live in the darkness can be kinder than those that walk in the light. Angel may have wanted to “help the helpless“, but some things just can’t be helped.
Here are the 15 Dark Behind-The-Scenes Secrets From Angel.
15. David Boreanaz’s Terrible Irish Accent
David Boreanaz is an actor of many talents. One talent that he lacks, however, is the ability to do a convincing Irish accent. Fans and critics alike have definitely poked fun at his attempts over the years. While the Irish accent only appears in very brief instances over the course of the series, it was notably missing in the season four episode “Spin the Bottle”.
In the episode, the team at Angel Investigations are mysteriously turned into their teenage selves. However, the transformation is strictly a mental one, as the characters bodies are unchanged. Angel is thus reverted back to the teenage mindset of his human self, Liam, who is supposed to speak with an Irish accent.
14. Charisma Carpenter vs Joss Whedon
Charisma Carpenter and Joss Whedon reportedly had some bad blood. According to Complex, the feud began when Carpenter didn’t tell the creatives about her pregnancy until the last minute in season four. This caused a frantic scramble to fix the season four story arc in order to accommodate her.
In turn, the haphazard story arc led to a decline in ratings. Whedon said of this, “Yeah, but that’s also stuff between us and not stuff that I would talk about in an interview.”
Carpenter pretty much left the series in season five. She did, however, agree to return for the 100th episode, “You’re Welcome”. Carpenter returned on the condition that Cordelia would not die in the show. Unfortunately, she later found out that her character was going to die in the episode. Yikes.
13. Glenn Quinn’s Drug Addiction
Mutant Enemy Productions, the production studio behind Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, maintains that Doyle’s death early on in the series was always planned. However, there were reportedly other factors that contributed to the character’s untimely end.
According to WhatCulture, writer David Fury said, “Joss has bandied about, ‘I love the idea of putting a character in the main credits as one of the stars of the show and then kill him right off the bat.’ But in the case of Doyle, he didn’t want to kill off Doyle. It just became a situation. The work situation became difficult… It’s hard enough to make a television show without the headaches.”
12. Alexis Denisof’s Bell’s Palsy
Going into the fifth and final season of the show, Alexis Denisof, who played Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. The condition is a type of facial paralysis which can be genetic or caused by a viral infection. Usually, the condition begins to correct itself within a few days.
However, a full recovery could take months. That’s not entirely ideal for a television show on a tight deadline. According to the DVD commentary of season five, Denisof was struck with the condition about three weeks before filming the season premiere.
11. Felicia Day was almost cast as “Fred” Burkle
It’s hard to imagine anyone else but the talented Amy Acker playing the kindhearted tech genius, Winifred “Fred” Burkle. However, the cast could have looked very different indeed. Felicia Day (The Guild, Supernatural) originally auditioned for the part of Fred.
Day would probably have made an interesting Fred, as both she and Acker bring similar qualities of geeky enthusiasm and spines of steel to the screen.
Obviously, Day didn’t receive the role. However, Whedon and his team liked Day so much that she was cast as Violet, one of the newly Awakened Slayers in season seven of Buffy. It’s a pity that Fred and Violet never met on screen. Ultimately, both women got the roles most suited for their talents.
10. Andy Hallett’s Death
Andy Hallett played fan favorite Lorne throughout the last four seasons of the series. Introduced as a recurring character in season two before receiving a promotion to a series regular in season four, Lorne’s effervescent personality was a regular bright spot for the dark series. Hallett proved to be a multi-talented performer.
Whedon originally discovered Hallett performing in a night club as a singer-songwriter. Hallett also regularly performed on the show. In an archived article from the Official UK Angel Magazine, the problems for Hallett began in 2005. What was thought to be a simple dental infection ended up spreading to his bloodstream and, subsequently, his heart.
This led to the actor developing advanced cardiomyopathy. Unfortunately, this damaged his heart muscle, which led to his death. Needless to say, Hallett’s death in 2009 from congestive heart failure was a huge blow to his fans, his family, and all those who knew him.
9. Joss Whedon’s Trouble With Angel
Writing original content is one of the hardest jobs in the world. When writing both creatively and on a deadline? It’s definitely not fun all the time. Especially when you start having trouble with a character that you created yourself.
Joss Whedon is definitely not exempt from this problem. In a Reddit AMA, when Whedon was asked who was the hardest character he ever had to write. Whedon said, “Angel. How to make a decent, handsome, stalwart hero interesting — tough. Angelus, on the other hand…”
Even though he had trouble writing the character, he clearly powered through these difficulties. Funnily enough, when Angel turned into Angelus in season four of Angel, Boreanaz was encouraged to improvise his lines rather than stick to a set script. Ironically, any lines that Whedon wrote for Angelus would have been for naught.
8. Summer Glau’s Pre-Firefly Audition
Before Summer Glau appeared as River Tam in the tragically short-lived series Firefly, she had her first television role on Angel. In the season three episode, “Waiting in the Wings”, Glau played the tragic Prima Ballerina, who had been trapped for centuries performing the ballet.
Not only was Glau’s role as the Ballerina her first acting job, it was also sort of a pre-audition for Firefly. According to the DVD commentary for the episode, Glau performed her monologue so powerfully that she received a standing ovation from everyone on the set that day.
7. Joss Whedon’s Return For Season 5
Following the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon returned to Angel full time for its fifth and final season. While it’s a move that makes sense to fans, it was also a caveat by the WB network for the show to be renewed for the fifth season.
Angel was a show that was constantly on the verge of being cancelled by the struggling network. It was always renewed at the last minute, which left the writer’s room scrambling to get storylines in place. More importantly, the lackluster fourth season led to a drop in both critical praise and overall viewership for the show.
6. Christian Kane was almost cast as Riley in Buffy
Christian Kane’s role as Wolfram and Hart lawyer Lindsey McDonald is considered by many to be his break-out role. Over the course of five seasons, the character went from being a reluctant ally to a legitimate threat to Angel Investigations.
It’s hard to imagine the show without Kane’s subtle menace, but similarly to Felicia Day, it almost didn’t happen. Kane originally auditioned for the role of Riley Finn on Buffy. Finn was Buffy’s boyfriend in the secret government group, The Initiative, that was run out of UC Sunnydale.
While Kane did not get the role on Buffy, Whedon immediately asked him to read for Lindsey McDonald on Angel. Needless to say, Kane read and scored the role, which also allowed him to work with his close friend David Boreanaz. The rest, as they say, was history.
5. Network Rivalry
While we live in the age of television crossovers, that wasn’t always the case for shows on different networks. In fact, it was actually a point of contention for the competing networks of UPN and WB, after the former acquired Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Angel and Buffy never had as many crossovers as the modern Arrowverse. However, they did cross paths when the opportunity presented itself. After all, one of the best early episodes of Angel, “I Will Remember You”, was a crossover with Buffy.
Unfortunately, UPN and the WB were competing for ratings. When Buffy made the network jump, UPN demanded that contact between the shows be cut way down. It was even joked about in Angel when Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) joked that they don’t really say the “B” word anymore.
4. Darla’s Death Record
This one is an interesting tidbit for fans to chew over. Darla (Julie Benz) was the vampire who originally sired Angelus (David Boreanaz). She made him into the monster whose actions present-day Angel still atones for in the series.
Darla also holds a very morbid record for both Buffy and Angel. She’s the character who holds the record for dying the most times on-screen. Over the course of both series, Darla died a total of four times.
The character was sired by the Master in 1609, staked by Angel in 1997, re-sired by Drusilla after being resurrected by Wolfram and Heart in 2000, and then she staked herself in 2001, in order to give birth to Conner. Thankfully, the character has since stayed dead.
3. David Boreanaz Got Cast While Walking His Dog
Unsurprisingly, one of the hardest roles to cast for Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the role of Angel. The character needed to be equal parts compelling, stalwart, and mysterious.
Needless to say, Whedon and crew saw a lot of actors for the part. So how was David Boreanaz discovered for the role? It turns out that one of Boreanaz’s neighbors, who was friends with the creative team, saw him walking his dog and thought he would be perfect for the part.
Boreanaz talked about the casting in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. The actor said “It happened so quickly, but in order for things to happen quickly when you recognize them, you have to be ready; when it hits, it’s quick. When Buffy hit, I was in the right spot at the right time, but I had been struggling for years just to get in the door.”
2. Mere Smith: Fan Fiction Success Story
Mere Smith worked as a script coordinator and writer for Angel. She also, according to Fame10, was an avid fan fiction writer long before she ever worked there.
Smith eventually wrote fan fiction stories for both Buffy and Angel. Eventually, her experience writing the characters led her to doing a spec script for the show. She eventually get her script to Joss Whedon, who liked it so much that it was used in the season two episode “Untouched”.
Smith went on to work as both a credited and uncredited writer for the series. Ultimately, she became an executive story editor for Angel. Smith has been a successful screenwriter ever since. Her other credits include Burn Notice, The Nine Lives of Chloe King, and Rome.
1. Joss Whedon May Have Got The Show Cancelled
You read that right. The man whose return contributed in a renewal for its fifth season, also contributed to the show’s cancellation. Angel almost always was renewed at the last minute, which led to people turning down other jobs in the hopes for another season.
Whedon refused to play the waiting game and pushed for an early renewal. Unfortunately, this push may have led to the show getting cancelled. As David Fury said in a 2004 interview, “Joss was feeling very confident and he just asked Jordan, ‘Like, make your decision now whether you’re going to pick us up or not,’ and Jordan, sort of with his hands tied, with his back up against the wall, called him the next day and said, ‘Okay, we’re canceling you.’”
While fans would have been sad to learn of the show’s cancellation regardless, it stings just a little bit more that we could have possibly had a season six.
Did we miss any behind-the-scenes secrets from Angel? Let us know in the comments!
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