Back in the Eighties, Anthony Head, 49, was best known as "the Gold Blend man" from the famous coffee ads. These days, he is widely recognised for his role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In a varied career, he has starred in The Rocky Horror Show, recorded an album and, most recently, featured in the TV sketch show Little Britain. This Christmas you can catch him as both Captain Hook and the Pirate King at London's Savoy Theatre
How is your dastardly laugh coming along and can you use it for both parts?
There are elements of my Frank'n'Furter in Hook and certainly part of Frank's laugh is there - it's very sort of huh huh huh. But it's not dastardly. Because I see Hook as mad basically. He was sent to boarding school at a very early age and never recovered from that, so he has this whole hang-up about mothers. And he's had Peter Pan buzzing around his head forever - so he loses it occasionally. But he also finds things extremely funny that really aren't funny at all. I haven't actually found a laugh for the Pirate King and that's a very good thought.
What's been the silliest moment in rehearsals so far?
Tinkerbell (Lorraine Chappell) makes me laugh enormously. Half way through Pan rehearsals they asked one of the girls if she'd do the voice of Tinkerbell. It's usually a naff bell or something and they were thinking of doing an electronic effect, but then Lorraine just took the brief and ran with it. She makes me scream. And me having my first flying lesson [was pretty silly]. They said "Do I want to spin?" and I said "Why would I want to do that?" Then we did the flying gag in Pirates and of course I went straight into a forward roll and couldn't get out of it. So I was basically hanging there upside down saying "And what do I do now, boys?"
Now we know that you can carry a tune, but has it been a challenge getting your chops round Gilbert and Sullivan's famous numbers?
They're fantastic tunes. The only problem being, whereas generally you can busk - if there's a lyric you're not quite sure of you can feel your way round it - but with Gilbert and Sullivan, every lyric is on the beat, there's a beat for every word and every word is carefully chosen so if you get one wrong word, you're screwed for the rest of the line. So I'm having to really focus on the words, which is a really good discipline but needless to say causing me some chagrin.
How are you coping without Buffy in your life?
Obviously I miss it, I miss the company, they're lovely people, but I'm not missing the fact that I was away from my family for eight and a half months of the year. I still number the cast as my friends - I just went out for Alyson [Hannigan]'s wedding. But in terms of the actual show, it felt right. I mean, I'd already made that decision two years ago. And then Joss [Whedon, the creator] said well don't leave, become a regular returner, which meant I was able to do many less shows in the year and still keep my hand in.
Can you tell us a favourite memory from your time on the show?
Sunday nights at Joss's house, doing Shakespeare readings and then all standing round the piano singing, that was pretty cool.
Has Nescafé ever asked you to reprise your role in their famous coffee ad series? Would you ever consider it or has it become a bit of an albatross?
It changed the landscape a bit. It was very high-profile for a commercial. The ads gave me both the opportunity and the reason to go to LA. So it's like thank you very, very much! I wouldn't have changed it for anything. It is a necessary part of who I am, but at the same time I don't necessarily want to keep going [with it]. It wouldn't make an enormous amount of sense to jump back into those shoes right now. For me it's as exciting that I'm now known for Buffy and things like Little Britain. All these things are giving me a more multi-faceted profile. But who knows? Never say never again... If it was a good script, I'd do it. And if I thought it was groundbreaking, I'd do it. As it indeed was at the time.
What's your plan after these two shows?
I've got an offer of a sitcom which I'm looking at and I've got a couple of movies which I was talking about before Peter Pan, so it's extremely healthy and very very nice.
'Peter Pan': Savoy, London WC2 (020 7836 8888), previews from tomorrow, opens Wed. In rep with 'The Pirates of Penzance', previews from 5 Jan, opens 8 Jan, both to 20 MarchReuse content