(Originally posted on DARKWORLDS.COM in 2003)
When Clem the demon first made his debut on UPN’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER in a scene where he and a group of other vile-looking creatures were playing poker for kittens, it was immediately clear that a floppy-eared, saggy-skinned star had just been born. Hideous though he was, Clem’s cheery, homespun personality immediately won the hearts of both the show’s characters and fans; he’s since become something of a regular on the series, frequently babysitting Buffy’s younger sister Dawn and advising the tortured vampire Spike on the mysterious ways of the human heart. Clem is a true stand-up guy, the kind of demon anybody would be glad to call a pal, even if they did have to keep a close eye on the cat whenever Clem dropped by.
Whatever Clem fans imagine the actor who portrays him looks like under all those pounds of rubber, they’re not imagining James C. Leary, a slim, young fellow who looks like he just stepped out of a toothpaste commercial (and possibly just did, given all the commercials on his resume). We sat down with Leary at the 2002 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in LA, and the actor proved to be every bit as charming as the character he portrays. (Interview for Darkworlds.com by Greg Stacy)
DW: Can you give us any spoilers for the coming season of BUFFY?
Leary: Nope. I would, but honestly, I don’t know anything! Right now they’re filming the second episode and they’re still writing the rest of the season.
DW: Can you say if we’ll we be seeing Clem again anytime soon?
Leary: I hope so! But honestly, I don’t know yet. I’m not even sure if (BUFFY’s creators) know, it’s still just too early in the season. They’ve told me that they’d like to use me again, though.
DW: Clem is such a great character. He’s been really popular with the fans.
Leary: Yeah, (BUFFY’s creators) originally only planned to use him for one episode, but apparently he was pretty well-liked, so they’ve kept bringing him back.
DW: Clem looks like a character who would require a lot of time in the makeup chair, with that saggy neck and the floppy arms and everything.
Leary: Ah, it’s about two and half hours, it’s not too bad. I’m a lot better off than some of the people who work on the show.
DW: I’ve heard that after a while under the hot studio lights, heavy prosthetics can really begin to stink. Is there any truth to that?
Cleary: Not so I’ve noticed, no. Although the rubbery smell can be pretty strong when I first put the makeup on.
DW: Looking up your bio, I didn’t see many credits besides Clem. Is he your first onscreen role?
Leary: I’ve done a lot of commercials and lots and lots of theater. My biggest part before this was on a Telemundo sit-com called LOS BELTRAN, I was on there for a couple of years as the gay neighbor.
DW: Oh, so you speak Spanish?
Leary: No! It was all completely phonetic for me. It worked out ok, because I was supposed to be kind of the token goofy gringo on the show anyway, so my language skills weren’t really a barrier.
DW: Would you prefer to continue working in genre projects like BUFFY, or do you hope to work on more mainstream fare eventually?
Leary: Oh, I’ve always been a big sci-fi and horror buff, I was a fan of BUFFY before I got on, so this has been great. Mainstream, genre, I’m fine with anything. Right now, I’m just happy to work on anything I can get paid for!