James Marsters is an American actor and musician best known for his role as Spike, an English yob of a vampire, in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff series Angel.
He was born in Greenville, California, and grew up with his brother and sister in Modesto, California. Dreaming about becoming an actor since he played Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh in fourth grade, James joined the theatre group at Davis High School, acting in many plays including musicals.
After graduation, Marsters studied at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, 1980–1982, and Juilliard Drama School, 1982–1984.
Marsters moved to Chicago where his first professional acting role was Ferdinand in The Tempest at the Goodman Theatre in 1987. In this production, he was rolled onto the stage strapped naked to a wheel.
He also appeared with well known Chicago companies such as the Northlight and the Bailiwick and with his own group, the Genesis Theatre Company.
Marsters was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for his performance of the lead role of Robespierre in the six hour drama Incorruptible: The Life, Death and Dreams of Maximilian de Robespierre in 1989.
In 1990, Marsters moved to Seattle and, with Liane Davidson and Greg Musick, formed the New Mercury Theatre, named after Orson Welles' own theatre group.
In this and other companies, Marsters was involved in a wide range of plays, including Teechers (a British play by John Godber), Anouilh's Antigone, an original work based on the Dr. Seuss books, and Shaw's Misalliance.
In 1992, Marsters got his first acting job on television in Northern Exposure, a show that was shot near Seattle, in which he appeared for a single episode as a bellhop and the following season as a church minister.
He has made guest appearances on television series such as Andromeda, as well as the independent films Chance (2002), Winding Roads (1999), and the 2005 USA Network movie Cool Money.
During November 2005, Marsters filmed a thriller, Shadow Puppets, with Jolene Blalock.
It was James' notable and acclaimed appearance as Spike on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (first appearing in Season Two) that attracted the attention of the general public.
The immediate fan response prevented his character from being killed off, instead allowing him to enjoy a pivotal presence throughout the series. Spike became a regular in Season Four, and remained so until the show's finale.
After the conclusion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marsters carried the infamous Spike over to the Buffy spinoff show, Angel, also in a regular role (second title billing after David Boreanaz, the titular Angel).
Marsters has also narrated the audiobooks for The Dresden Files produced by Buzzy Multimedia, a series of detective novels with a supernatural bent.
Marsters was also the voice of Lex Luthor in the animated direct-to-video movie Superman: Doomsday, in 2007.
In late 2005, Marsters appeared on the television series Smallville playing Dr. Milton Fine (a.k.a. Brainiac).
On October 29, 2005, Marsters presented two performances of his own abridged adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth with American actress Cheryl Puente as Lady Macbeth, followed by question and answer sessions with the audience and acoustic concerts in London.
In September 2006, Marsters' own interpretation of John Godber's play Teechers was performed on stage with two other actors in Los Angeles. This is a play he had received critical acclaim for as a stage actor prior to his television work.
Marsters is contracted to co-star in the 2008 cinematic release of P.S. I Love You alongside Kathy Bates, Hilary Swank, and Gerard Butler.
Marsters had played in bands and solo in bars and clubs for many years and enjoyed several successful sell-out solo gigs at Los Angeles clubs before forming a band. For these solo gigs he mainly performed covers of classic folk and rock musicians such as Tom Waits, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen.
He sang several songs in Once More, with Feeling, a musical episode of Buffy. Rest in Peace, Walk Through the Fire, and Something To Sing About; all featured Marsters singing in a solo capacity, and he participated in most of the full cast songs.
In 2003–2004, Marsters was lead singer for the rock band Ghost of the Robot. Their debut album Mad Brilliant was released on February 2, 2003. The band played its first gigs in Los Angeles and Paris.
They went on to play successful dates in and around Los Angeles and two sold-out tours of Europe in 2003 and 2004.
They released one CD album, Mad Brilliant; three singles, Valerie, David Letterman and New Man; and one mid-length EP, It's Nothing. All these releases carried tracks written and co-written by Marsters.
Marsters' solo musical career was launched in October 2004, in London. His solo acoustic tour of the United Kingdom in April 2005 sold out. His solo album Civilized Man was released on April 15, 2005. It included several new songs as well as the popular Katie and Smile.