In today's Sci-Fi Blast From The Past, actress Clare Kramer talks about playing the demon Glorificus a.k.a. Glory on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In season five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scooby Gang crossed paths with another in a long and nasty line of the program’s demonic baddies, Glorificus, or Glory. Also known as The Beast, The Abomination and That Which Cannot Be Named, Glory was one of three gods who ruled over a hell dimension, until her fellow deities declared war against her. Despite being the most powerful of the threesome, she lost against their combined abilities and was banished into the earthly dimension, where she was forced to share a body with a child named Ben. Poor Glory’s misfortune was, in fact, a blessing in disguise for actress Clare Kramer, who made her small screen debut playing the fallen god.
“Prior to this I’d done one pilot, but this was my first real TV experience,” says Kramer. “Like any other actor I got a call that they were casting the role on Buffy, but at the time they didn’t really have a name for the character or even a set script. There were just two pages of [audition] sides. I read those over, and I had a general idea of what the show was like in that it had to do with vampires, so I thought I’d take a few chances with the material. During my initial audition I met Joss Whedon [Buffy series creator/executive producer] for the first time and, fortunately, he responded to what I did, so my agent received a call asking me to return for a second audition.
“A few days later I went back and Charlie Weber was there as well. He, of course, was the actor who wound up playing Ben, Glory’s manly half. The two of us stood side-by-side, they [the producers] nodded their heads and said, ’Yes, this will work, we can do this,’ and Charlie and I ended up being hired. It was one of the only times I’ve been told more or less on the spot that I was getting the job, which was pretty amazing. Naturally, I then assumed that would happen every time, and as we all know that’s not the case,” chuckles the actress.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia and brought up from the age of four in Delaware, Ohio, Kramer planned from a young age to pursue an artistic career, but teetered between actor and dancer. “Once I graduated high school and began applying to colleges, I had to make a decision one way or the other,” she notes. “Eventually I came to the realization that I would probably be happier as an actress rather than a dancer. So I enrolled at NYU [New York University], which has a fabulous theatre department [the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts], and began studying there. That’s when I really fell in love with theatre as an art form.”
Graduating from NYU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, the actress began honing her craft onstage with performances in such productions as Helen Keller, Light Up The Sky and Beyond Therapy. She made her first appearance on Buffy in the fifth season episode No Place Like Home in a scene where Glory dukes it out with our heroine, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Geller). Despite her alter ego’s “showy” debut, Kramer was far more low-key during her early days on the Buffy set.
“Back then I was brand new to TV and, basically, film as well,” recalls the actress, “so when I began working on Buffy my whole MO [modus operandi] was to be as calm and quiet as I could and open to learning as much as possible from the professionals, like Sarah and the cast, who had been together for five years, as well as the crew. It was definitely a challenge for me during my first episode to know when to hit my marks, figure out where I was going to stand and what I had to do, and just in general get used to how a TV show is made. It was quite unlike what I was used to at that point, which was stage work.
“One of my fondest memories about my first time on the Buffy set was meeting Sarah, She’s an icon for our generation and I was thrilled to be able to work with her. On that first day I filmed the scenes where Glory bursts through a wall and is torturing that monk [Ravil Isyanov]. It was very intimidating, but I told myself, ‘I can do this. I’m an actor. I’m just going to do the best job possible and not worry about anything else.’”
In No Place Like Home, the monk reveals to Buffy that her younger sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) is, in fact, not human, but a mystical ball of energy made into human form by his ancestors. This energy, or “The Key,” can open the door to other dimensions, and if that happens, Earth will be destroyed. Dawn has been placed into Buffy’s care to protect her, but Glory needs The Key to return to her dimension.
“In Glory’s eyes, Buffy wasn’t as much a nemesis as a nuisance who stood in the way of what my character was after,” muses Kramer. “All Glory was interested in was The Key, which would open the portal and get her back to her own dimension. As such, I feel Glory posed a bigger threat to Buffy than vice versa, because she was intent on stealing Dawn and destroying her, which Buffy wasn’t about to let happen. Glory wanted what she wanted and whoever or whatever got in the way was just another obstacle to be eliminated, but she didn’t have any personal feelings one way or the other.”
While Buffy had the rest of the Scooby Gang to help her, Glory had her own demonic “peeps” to back her up. “Glory had a very good relationship with all her minions,” says Kramer, “and I loved those guys. They were just so sweet and real troupers as well as consummate professionals. I mean, it’s not fun having to go through such a heavy make-up process every morning for however long you happen to be filming. Because of Glory’s storyline, most of my scenes were with these guys and I enjoyed getting to know them. I also had fun seeing, for example, Kevin Weisman [who played Dreg on Buffy] go on to be one of the leads on Alias and watching him for five years on that show.”
Having captured Dawn in the penultimate fifth season Buffy story, The Weight of the World, Glory, with assistance from a demonic ally, Doc (Joel Grey), use The Key to open the portal to her dimension in the show’s 100th episode and fifth season finale The Gift. Buffy and her friends manage to defeat Glory, who in a weakened state, returns to the form of Ben. Buffy sacrifices her life to close the portal and save her sister Dawn, while Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) is forced to kill Ben in order to stop Glory from ever returning. For Kramer it was a more than worthy swan song for her character.
“The first episode I was in and this one are my favourites,” enthuses the actress. “While we were filming The Gift no one was really sure whether or not the series was going to continue, so there was a wonderful energy to doing the 100th episode. I was excited to be a part of it and that my character was the one who sort of put an end to Buffy should there not be a sixth season.
“The Gift was packed with physical stuff for Glory, which I love doing. It was also the culmination of my character’s story arc, which I felt ended perfectly, other than I maybe wish that instead of Ben being suffocated, that something would have happened to Glory. You never know, she may have escaped and be living on somewhere else.”
It’s no secret that Buffy, including the title character, returned for a sixth and, ultimately, seventh year, with Kramer briefly reprising her Glory role in the season seven opener Lessons. “There was something called a shape shifter in that episode, and he shifted into various villains from the show, including Glory,” she explains. “So yes, I came back, along with some other familiar faces. It was literally a five second appearance, but still great fun.”
As far as current projects, Kramer can be seen in two upcoming movies, The Fallen, a period piece, and a vampire-themed outing called The Thirst, also starring Jeremy Sisto and Adam Baldwin from Serenity. Although it has been five years since she last appeared on Buffy, its fans have not forgotten her or Glory. “I still get recognized, and it’s usually when I’m not wearing make-up and coming from the gym,” jokes the actress.
“No, seriously, it’s always a compliment. I’m extremely grateful that people are appreciative of that aspect of my work, and it’s always a thrill when they take the time to come up and tell me so."