Things happen for a reason. In actor Nicholas Brendon’s case, the thing that happened to him was an arm injury. He had his sights set on being a professional baseball player, but his arm wouldn’t allow it, forcing Brendon to change tactics. And that is when he found acting.
Early on in his life, Nicholas Brendon struggled. The three-minute younger twin brother (to actor Kelly Donovan) Brendon began stuttering around the age of seven or eight. Unable to control it, the stutter forced Brendon into a shell, fearful of talking in front of people. He explained this to People, “My theory is that being a twin had a lot to do with it. My brother and I always got the same things at Christmas, and you wanted to be the first one to open the present so you would be surprised. It became the same with talking—the fear of not getting it out first. I started to talk really, really fast, so that didn’t help.”
He got help in sixth grade, but it wasn’t until junior high that he met a speech teacher whom he described as “awesome”. Brendon added, “He was the sweetest guy in the world. He taught me vocal exercises, but what I remember most is his incredibly calming presence. It was great to have someone patient enough to listen to you.”
While the speed teacher helped, high school was a different story. He hid in baseball for its isolation. He never dated because of fear for his stutter. An injury derailed his baseball dreams, so he needed to figure out his next move. He decided the challenge of acting could be helpful with his stutter. It did, which also led him to work with the Stuttering Foundation of America.
NICHOLAS BRENDON BECOMES AN ACTOR
Nicholas Brendon’s start in acting came a little later than some. He was 22-years old when he got his first role in the sitcom Married…with Children. But the road was still rough for him.
He did a couple of commercials and then abruptly quit acting for two years. As he explains he quit because “I would stutter on a job from time to time, and it was frustrating. It was just a little hesitation in my speech, the kind of thing no one else would notice, but I did.”
He kicked around for two years doing odd jobs and then at 25 Brendon told himself, “All right, I’ve had enough.” I went back into acting with a lot of pep talks to myself: “There’s no reason why you can’t do this.” Four months later I was at the right place at the right time, did the best audition I could and was hired for Buffy. I was stoked. I couldn’t believe I’d been hired to be a lead in a real TV show.”
NICHOLAS BRENDON ON BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is possibly be the highlight of Nicholas Brendon’s career. Other than series lead Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan, only Brendon was in each and every episode of the hit series. 145 in all. He played Xander Harris and it was a big role, one he filled admirably, one that his stutter had no effect on.
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, the slow decline in Nicholas Brendon’s career began.
FROM BUFFY TO B-MOVIES
It’s not that Nicholas Brendon didn’t get work after Buffy, because he did. He found himself on the short-lived but critically acclaimed TV series Kitchen Confidential, which was based on chef Anthony Bourdain’s novel of the same name. This is also when series co-star Bradley Cooper began to make a name for himself.
From there, Nicholas Brendon began to bounce around. His personal life was becoming a mess and his acting career reflected that chaos. He did some voice work on the animated series American Dragon: Jake Long and then a few TV movies.
Brendon’s feature film career was filled with “B” movies. They included Unholy, Blood on the Highway, Hard Love, Big Gay Love, Redwood, and The Nanny. Looking for more Buffy magic, Brendon found recurring roles on Private Practice, Hollywood Heights, and Criminal Minds. Things never reached the heights he found on Buffy.
BRENDON BATTLING ADDICTION
In 2010, Nicholas Brendon checked himself into the SOBA Recovery Center. He desperately needed to address the addiction he had to alcohol and sleeping pills.
Earlier that year, he was tased and arrested by the LA police after a call brought them to find an intoxicated Nicholas Brendon. The former Xander decided to take a few swings at the police and then run away from them.
2010 wasn’t Nicholas Brendon’s last run-in with the law. In 2014 he was arrested at the Tree City Comic Con on charges that included resisting arrest. 2015 saw Brendon arrested not once or even twice but three times. Two were for destroying hotel rooms and the third for attacking a woman in a hotel room. Obviously his first stint in rehab didn’t work, so he went back for a second time.
THERE WAS THAT FIVE-MONTH MARRIAGE
Not only were his demons real and quite active, but his love life was also suffering. Nicholas Brendon’s first marriage to actress Tressa DiFiglia lasted for almost five years, but it was his second one to Moonda Tee, a Vegas wedding, that lasted a whole five months. This one ended in February of 2015, shortly before Brendon began his string of legal troubles.
NICHOLAS BRENDON NOW
Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy. Sometimes we have no control over it. Nicholas Brendon seems to fall into the later category. While he continued to fight the good fight, trouble continued to haunt him.
In 2017, Nicholas Brendon was arrested once again, this time for assaulting his girlfriend at a hotel bar. Even with all his legal and abuse troubles, Brendon continues to work. How? Good question.
Nicholas has found roles in terrible “B” movies such as King of Crime, Judgement, and most recently Wanton Want and Christmas Slasher. It’s quite a drop in status from his Buffy days but it’s work. Hopefully Brendon continues to work on his personal issues and finds balance.