I recently discovered several interviews I did a number of years ago that, for one reason or another, were never published. Rather than have them continue to gather "dust" in my computer, I thought I would share them with you. In this interview - actor/musician Adam Busch talks about playing Warren Meers on the hit TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Whether he’s performing in front of a camera or onstage with his band Common Rotation, Adam Busch gives 150% to his audiences. During the fifth, sixth and seventh seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the gifted actor and musician gained a brand new legion of fans with his portrayal of Warren Meers, leader of The Trioka. The nerdy Warren joined forces with fellow geeks Jonathan Levinson and Andrew Wells and delighted in causing problems for the Slayer and the rest of the Scooby Gang. Many of their comedic-like attempts at evildoing were right up Busch’s alley, whose love of comedy eventually sparked his interest in an acting career.
“When I was 12 years old I became obsessed with old-time radio,” recalls Busch. “I used to collect and listen to tapes of The Jack Benny Show, The Jack Parr Show, Amos and Andy, George Burns and Grace Allen, you name it. So I started out wanting to be a comedian, but my focus then turned to acting when I enrolled at the Lee Strassberg Acting Studio in New York City. I hooked up with a great group of people there who showed me what real [acting] work is all about and how to express myself as a performer.
“I was a miserable kid. I really hated school, probably because I came from a family of elementary and junior high school teachers,” he jokes. “I didn’t have time for things that didn’t interest me. However, at Lee Strassberg’s I met other kids who felt the same way I did. Suddenly, it was like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not just me.’ I made friends with people who I’m still friends with today and we’re all still working in the business. What could be better than that?”
Busch made his debut in front of the cameras in a TV commercial for Teddy Grahams cookies. During his high school years, he played Noah in the Nickelodeon children’s series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. “I moved to Orlando, Florida and worked at Universal Studios where the show was filmed,” says the actor. “I had a tutor and for the first time in my life I discovered how to absorb real concepts and ideas. I was so much happier and ever since then I’ve never looked back.”
While working on Shelby Woo, Busch was also a panelist on the series Figure it Out. He went on to guest-star on such shows as Law & Order and The Fugitive. His feature film credits include Leon, Alien Vacation, Sugar & Spice and Magic Rock. Busch’s association with Buffy actually began with an audition for the pilot episode of Angel.
“All I can remember about that audition was that I felt fairly awkward and uncomfortable and it didn’t go well at all. I just wasn’t right for the part,” he says. “Much to my surprise, though, I got a callback to try out for the role of Warren. I read two or three times and at my last audition Joss Whedon [Buffy creator and executive producer] was in the room. Unfortunately, he was ill and slumped down in a chair. I walked into the room and went over to him to introduce myself but he said, ‘No, don’t shake my hand. I’m really sick.’ I started reading the sides and after two lines I spied out of the corner of my eye Joss nodding his head. It wasn’t clear whether or not he liked what I was doing but he must have approved of something because before I knew it I had the job.”
For some guys it’s tough enough to find a girlfriend, let alone two. In the fifth season Buffy episode I Was Made To Love You, Spike (James Marsters) shows up at a party and ends up being thrown through a window by a girl named April (Shonda Farr). Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) discovers that April is, in fact, a robot created by Warren to be the perfect girlfriend. Unfortunately for April, Warren has fallen for a flesh-and-blood girl and is trying to hide from her. Busch’s debut as Warren remains memorable for him even two years later.
“I’d worked with the show’s assistant director on another project, so just having him there made me feel more comfortable,” notes Busch. “He brought me right over to meet Sarah. She immediately struck me as being a brilliant director, or should I say someone with the potential to be one. I was amazed by her knowledge of the camera and angles. Some actors think only about what they can do to make their performance the best. Sarah, on the other hand, thinks about what’s going to make the story the best it can be. The choices she makes with you and for herself are those that will help make the show better.
“So it was a pleasure to work with her. James and I hit it off right away, too. It was great to make a friend on the first day. The two of us have the same taste in music, and it was fun to have someone to sing Bob Dylan tunes with on the set.”
Later that season, Busch reprised his role of Warren in Intervention. He had no idea that the show’s producers were planning to team him up with Buffy semi-regular Danny Strong (Jonathan Levinson) and Tom Lenk, who played Cyrus in the episode Real Meand make them “the big bad” for season six. “I was at a supermarket in Los Angeles and a fan came over to me and said, ‘You play Warren on Buffy.’ And then he went on to say, ‘Are you excited that you’re going to be working with Danny Strong?’ I said, ‘Who?’ And he said, ‘He plays Jonathan. You’re going to team up with him and somebody else and you’re going to be these three evil guys.’ I hadn’t a clue. No one had told me. In fact, I was making plans to go on vacation. It was that same afternoon when I got a phone call telling me that they were going to need me for a bunch of episodes and that I’d be working with Danny and Tom. The actor is always the last to know,” he laughs.
The Troika came on the scene as Buffy’s new nemesis in the season six story Flooded. Although he had never met either of his two co-stars, it didn’t take long for Busch to realize that they made the perfect team. “Things could not have worked out better,” enthuses the actor. “Danny, Tom and I became good friends and we hang out with each other away from the set. Regardless of us being on a TV show, we often get some funny looks when we’re out together. We make an odd threesome, I must admit. Have you ever looked at a group of people and thought, 'How did they ever get together? They don’t look like they have anything in common.’ I think we fall into that category.”
Warren and his cohorts hatched all sorts of plots in an effort to get rid of Buffy and take over Sunnydale. Their constant scheming gave audiences greater insight into the trio and allowed Busch to further flesh out his character. “Warren doesn’t like himself very much,” he explains. “He’s scared of communicating in a relationship and getting to know people. My character would rather resort to skullduggery in order to get a date instead of simply asking a girl out. As a result he gets hurt and ends up blinded by that hurt. One of the neat things about playing Warren was that as the series went on and his personality progressively became darker, there was always a chance for redemption. However, he’d either try to do what’s right and fail or would be presented with the right choice, consider it, and then immediately do the wrong thing because he was scared.
“When it comes to his relationships with Jonathan and Andrew, he doesn’t want to feel out of control even for a second. Warren will coerce people and play on their weaknesses. Oddly enough, the three of them are like parts of one great guy. Warren is confident in his follow-through – for lack of a better word – and the ability to get the job done. Jonathan is the one with heart and then there’s Andrew’s innocence and trust. If you put the pieces together you wind up with someone I bet even the Slayer would fall in love with. It’s when you split them up and give them different heights and hair colours that you’ve got a mess,” chuckles Busch. ”You end up with three needy egos running around trying to find love and acceptance and having no idea how to go about it.”
The Troika’s darkest hour comes in Dead Thingswhen their plans go awry and Warren’s ex-girlfriend Katrina (Amelinda Embry) is killed. A few episodes later in Seeing Red, Willow’s (Alyson Hannigan) lover Tara (Amber Benson) is accidentally shot and dies, again as a result of the trio’s scheming. In Villains, Willow decides to extract revenge on the threesome, beginning with Warren. She casts a spell that literally rips the skin from his bones.
“We shot my character’s death scene over two or three nights in Griffith Park [Los Angeles’ largest city park] and boy, was it freezing,” says Busch. “If you remember, there’s a point where Warren is strung up by vines. It was such a complicated process to get me down in-between takes that it was easier to just hang there. So in that regard it was a rather torturous few evenings, but the final result was well worth it. Alyson was amazing to work with. She and the rest of the show’s cast have been doing this for so long that you basically just look them in the eyes and let them take you wherever you need to go."
When he’s not acting, Busch keeps busy singing with the folk rock band Common Rotation, which he formed at age 17 along with his friend and business partner Eric Kufs (singer/guitarist). The group also includes Mike Uhler (bassist) and Ken Beck (drummer). They released their second album, The Big Fear, in February, and have plans to tour Europe in June.
‘It’s a lot of fun. We’ve played a number of shows here in LA and we’ve even performed with James Marsters [Spike]. He sat in with us and did Sunday, Bloody Sunday by U2, which I thought was appropriate for him. Then, ironically, we sang that song in Belfast, which was remarkable. There we were a bunch of American kids from Hollywood singing an Irish protest song. I wondered if we might be lynched,” he jokes,” but instead it turned into a drunken sing-a-long.”
Although his character died last year, Warren’s spirit has returned to the Buffy fold this seventh season in no less than five episodes. With the show coming to an end this May, Busch will likely be saying good-bye to Warren forever. It’s with a heavy heart that the actor does so.
“I got to be a good guy and a bad guy. I got to do love scenes and fight scenes. I got to be an insecure little boy and then a super villain and battle Buffy. I even got to fly. There aren’t many TV shows where an actor is allowed to play so many different things. I’m going to miss that.”