In his heyday, actor Anthony Head was known as the “Watcher”. He was part of the “Watchers’ Council” and was in charge of training and guiding Slayers. It was a fine life, one full of action and adventure, even if completely made up.
Anthony Head had a career before and after becoming the Watcher, though. This year marks the sixth decade that Head has worked as an actor and while the Buffy star got a relatively late start in show business (24-years-old) since that time he has reeled off many TV series, TV movies, feature films and even the occasional voice gig to a lengthy and impressive resume.
ANTHONY HEAD’S SHOWBIZ FAMILY
Anthony Head comes from a show business family. His father, Seafield Laurence Stewart Murray Head was a documentary filmmaker and also a founder of Verity Films which is a British documentary film company. Head’s mother, Helen Shingler, was an actress. His older brother, Murray Head (Heartbeat, Holby City, Doctors), is an actor and singer.
Head spoke to The Guardian about coming from a show business family saying, “My father was a documentary film director and producer, and my mother was an actress. People think that must have made it easier for me to become an actor, but actually, that’s nonsense. My mother said, well, if you must, and my father said I needed to have a second string to my bow, so if I didn’t succeed at acting, I’d have something else I could do. Bless his heart, he was fairly controlling.”
According to Anthony, the relationship with his older brother probably didn’t start the way his older brother would have wished. “My relationship with my brother didn’t start well. My parents brought me home from hospital on his birthday, 13 days after my own birth. I’d had to stay in hospital because I got whooping cough. Needless to say, I didn’t go down that well with my brother. I was not the best birthday present.”
Anthony Head did go on to explain how the household taught him “real acting” and not anything over the top. “When my brother was quite young, my mother would go off doing films and acting in the theatre, but by the time I was born, she was at home much more and would do more TV. We’d talk a lot about acting and when we watched drama on TV, we’d analyze it deeply afterwards as a family, ad nauseum.”
Growing up in London meant that Anthony Head got his start on British TV. In fact, the bulk of his career revolves around British TV, so some of the movies or series he has starred in are pretty much unheard of here in the United States. His early career was all about British TV series that included Enemy at the Door, Accident, Jackanory Playhouse, and Secret Army. That was just a start. He was also seen in C.A.T.S Eyes, Howards’ Way, Pulaski: The TV Detective, and Rockliffe’s Babies. Like we said, names that are quite unrecognizable to most Americans.
As Anthony Head’s early career rolled on, he continued to stick with British TV for the most part. His first jump onto the American side of the business was when he guest-starred on the police drama NYPD Blue. He also starred in the short-lived American TV series VR.5. It wasn’t long after that when Rupert Giles walked into his life.
As Rupert Giles, the Watcher, in the monster hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anthony Head took on the role of Buffy’s guide. Giles also turned out to be more than just her guide, he turned into more of a father figure to Buffy. Giles is part of the Watchers Council, the institution that maintains Slayers across the globe in their fight against vampires and demons.
When Anthony Head first got the role, he had to move to Los Angeles. He left his long-time partner and their two kids behind in England. “I’d try to go home to them every three or four weeks. The production team would work dates around me, and every time I got the chance to have six days clear, I’d get on a plane. Anything less than six days was disruptive – I’d have to leave as soon as they were getting used to having me around. I’d hit the ground running, take over from Sarah, take the girls to school and do as much as I could before I had to go back. I spent quite a lot of money on airfares, but we made it work.” They did make it work.
When Anthony Head first told his parents about his Buffy gig, he described it to them as brilliant and funny. His father’s take, at the time, on funny was, “…ah, the problem with comedy is that all your best bits will end up on the cutting-room floor.” Head’s guess was that his father was trying to protect him from disappointment. Thankfully it never came to that.
ANTHONY HEAD’S BUFFY SPINOFF?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer enjoyed a seven-year run of 145 episodes, 123 in which Anthony Head made an appearance. For the longest time after Buffy ended, even to this day, there has been talk by Buffy creator Joss Whedon of a spin-off called Ripper.
The name, as Buffy-ites may know, was the nickname given to Rupert Giles in his bad-boy days. The series was to revolve around Ripper, focusing on his lonely life in England as he continued to find adventure after adventure. The talk was of a series, or perhaps a mini-series, then a TV movie, but so far, even though the BBC had given it a green light, nothing has come to fruition.
Both Whedon and Anthony Head say the idea is still alive, but Head ain’t getting any younger. Let’s move on this!
Of course, Anthony Head has heard talk of the Buffy reboot. And he is all in. The New York Post asked him point-blank, would he be up for starring in it. Simply put, “Yes.” He then added, “I wouldn’t know what as, because Giles has aged a little bit. Maybe I’m the head of the Watchers Council now. But to be honest, of course I would. It was so formative.”
Sounds like Head is ready to be a father figure to a new Slayer. But will the reboot have him?
Like many actors and actresses, they can be multi-talented. Same goes for Anthony Head. He is a singer on the side, having performed in musicals on the West End.
His one performance as Frank N. Furter in the musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show saw his rendition of “Sweet Transvestite” released as a single. He was also part of a band in the early ‘80s, Two Way, that released an album, as well as his own work on Music for Elevators, Once More, With Feeling from the Buffy album, and his solo album Staring at the Sun.
ANTHONY HEAD NOW
Now 66-years-old Anthony Head lives in Bath with his long time partner Sarah. They have two grown daughters, Emily and Daisy. Both are actresses, continuing the Head family showbiz tradition. Emily Head is well known in British soaps while her younger sibling Daisy Head can currently be seen on the Hulu series Harlots.
Meanwhile Anthony Head continues to work. His fifth decade was a busy one with appearances in shows that included Guilt, Still Star-Crossed, Girlfriends, The Split, Motherland, and The Stranger. He already has completed projects here in his sixth decade so don’t look for Anthony Head to be going anywhere anytime soon. Fingers crossed; we just may see Ripper at some point.