Emma Caulfield is the second Buffy alum to guest star on Leap Year season two, but she's no stranger to the wonderful web world having just wrapped up Bandwagon, a beyond brilliant online series where Emma played a wickedly warped version of "herself."
Leap Year provides the always exciting actress another opportunity to bring to life a character that is not only 180 degrees from her last role, but unlike anything you've seen before. And if Emma has her way, episode two of Leap Year won't be the last time you see Smiley in action -- or the last time Emma's unique creations take over your desktop!
TheInsider.com: How did you get involved with Leap Year?
Emma Caulfield: I got involved via Wilson [Cleveland, star/producer], who is a force to be reckoned with. He makes me feel lazy, and I'm about one of the most tenacious pitbulls that I know. He makes me feel like I'm failing [laughs]. He was a fan of Bandwagon, the webseries I did, and our mutual admiration happened over Twitter after he reached out. I was a fan of Leap Year and that was it. He asked me to come play and created this amazing character a few weeks later. I kid you not, I think she's my favorite character I've ever played. I'm obsessed with Smiley!
Insider.com: How do you describe Smiley?
Emma: Smiley is a throwback to a 1940s gumshoe. Very noir-ish, but in a totally self-referential way. [The writers were] very aware of what they're doing for this particular episode with her in this tan trenchcoat, beautifully lit with a cigarette in her mouth while saying ridiculous things. Wilson was a Buffy fan, so he just loved that Anya always said ridiculous things and he let me have so much fun with her. I'm seriously in love with the results. I want to play her over and over.
Insider.com: Are we having any spinoff discussions?
Emma: Wilson mentioned that. I would do it in a minute. She's so great.
Insider.com: It used to be said that the walls between film and television had come down, but now it seems that the walls between those and online have also dropped a lot. Do you agree?
Emma: I definitely agree. And thank God because I have a vested interest in those walls coming down. We need people to look at this space as its own unique medium and not the bastard stepchild of television. But at the same time, I'm also really protective of the space because I've seen certain shows become very glossy. By no means am I saying that webshows should or do look unprofessional, but it's like how indie films had a certain feel around the Sex, Lies and Videotape time, but quickly became its own unique beast. I still know when I'm watching a legitimate indie film versus a studio that's releasing an indie film. You know what I'm saying?
Insider.com: Absolutely. That's why I think it's great to get actors with cult followings, like you and Eliza, on projects like this. Because it draws in whole new audiences. Although, I am once again gutted you don't share a scene. I was talking about this with Eliza...
Emma: I know! I read your story! I can't remember if I ever worked with her either! [laughs] I want to say that we had one big group scene when Faith came back in the last season. I'm sure during one of those "This is our game plan" scenes. But like she said, my memories of her are more social than professional.
Insider.com: Looking ahead, are you working on another webseries for yourself?
Emma: My writing partner and I have a lot more projects in the works. Comedies that deal with very different subject matters [from Bandwagon], but funny enough, nothing I write is envisioned with myself acting in it. Bandwagon was a fluke. That was born out of a few friends joking about "Emma Caulfield: Asshole Celebrity." That had its life already set out for it because there was no one else to play that. I'm not trying to write vanity pieces – I'm much happier thinking of a crazy idea and imagining who I could possibly get to play that role. I don't need to be a part of my own creations.
Insider.com: So you're thinking more showrunner than show star?
Emma: I know I'm meant to act. It's such a part of who I am, but I've worked with some incredible creators – Joss [Whedon], Jac Schaeffer [who did Timer] and Jane Espenson -- who breathe life into this body of work that really speaks to me. And I know it speaks to so many other people as well. My spirit wants to do is try to be like these people who’ve affected me. When I see the devotion people have for Joss, it's not a devotion because of Buffy or Dollhouse or Angel, but because of the brand he's created. He puts his stamp on something and you know it’s going to fit into the Whedonverse. Same with Jane – there's a voice there. I can pick a script she's written out of a pile. I'm so excited by what Girls has done on HBO. What a voice Lena [Dunham] has. That's really what intrigues me. That's the empire I'm aiming to build if I have any luck at all.
Insider.com: Although you know I'm mad at Jane for killing your Once Upon A Time character after one episode...
Emma: [laughs] Yea, but you know how that show works – I'm dead in the fairytale world, but I can always show up in Storybrooke!
Insider.com: Have there been discussions about you coming back?!?
Emma: I'm not saying anything … I'm just saying, who dies on a fantasy show for real?
Insider.com: OK good, I'm going to need you back on that and to finally show up on Community!
Emma: Thank you! Can you make that happen? I can't be more shameless about it! I feel like they’re going to get a restraining order! If I'm not on that show before it ends, I'm going to lose it!
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- Emma Caulfield