Clare Kramer is not just another blonde actress. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she has not only maintains a successful career on stage, television and film, but has also worked as a director, producer, writer and as the head of her own production company, Defiance Entertainment. From characters as diverse as the Wendy’s hamburger girl to Helen Keller, Clare Kramer has proven herself to be a diverse and professional woman who has found a following amongst both her fans and contemporaries. However, despite all of her successes, Clare Kramer has made her biggest impact on pop culture by being a bitch. Frankly, it couldn’t have happened to a better person.
Initially making her mark on the pop culture radar by playing hard nosed cheerleader Courtney in the hit 2000 film Bring It On, Clare secured her hold on cult fandom when she was cast in the role of Glory on the cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The primarily villain for the fifth season, Clare was a bit different from the monsters and demons that Buffy faced each week. Instead of the traditional vampire with its furrowed brow and glowing eyes, Glory had a head of golden ringlets, a form fitting wardrobe, a perfect manicure and was an all powerful Goddess.
Through the role of Glory, Clare was able to flex all of the muscles of bitchiness including being vain, arrogant, beautiful and pure evil. In the end, although she was ultimately defeated of course, Glory still managed to do the one thing that no other villain on the program ever did. In possibly the best season finale shocker the Slayer actually was killed stopping Glory from creating and apocalypse. As a result, Glory would not only increase Clare Kramer’s visibility and fan base, but be the villain responsible for one of the most important moments in Whedonverse history!
Yet, despite being famous for playing bitches, Clare Kramer is possibly one of the loveliest women I’ve ever interviewed. With two upcoming films to be released by the end of the year, Clare Kramer is currently appearing on the Wizard World convention circuit, which is where I had the pleasure of meeting her on it’s Toronto stop in March 2011. During our brief visit Clare spoke to me about her career as an actress and just what it takes to become a bitch.
CONFESSIONS OF A POP CULTURE ADDICT PRESENTS
A CONVERSATION WITH CLARE KRAMER
Sam Tweedle: So I read somewhere that you started your career as the Wendy’s Hamburger spokes girl. Is that absolutely true?
Clare Kramer: It’s absolutely true, but I started out, really, when I was about twelve. It wasn’t something that happened later in my career, but it was something that my parents let me audition for and I ended up getting the part.
Sam: I was trying to find a picture of you as Wendy but I couldn’t find any images.
Clare: I can’t say that I’m disappointed. (Laughs) It’s probably for the best.
Sam: So did you get free burgers? Did you get to meet Dave Thomas?
Clare: I did. Part of my contract was that I got free Wendy’s because I was the Wendy’s girl. I did commercials for them, and radio shows and charity events as the Wendy’s girl.
Sam: So how does the Wendy’s girl go on to become a pop culture icon?
Clare: The Wendy’s girl went to NYU and got her BFA in theater and after college I just was auditioning for whatever. I came to New York and did a lot of off-Broadway and national tours and then got recognized in one particular role and got flown out to LA and I’ve been there ever since.
Sam: Do you still do a lot of theater? I know that you’ve had an extensive career on the stage.
Clare: I do, and five years ago I wrote and produced a show that ran for twelve weeks in Los Angeles, but I haven’t done anything since. I just haven’t found the time. Maybe in the next year or two I’ll put something else together.
Sam: What are you working on right now?
Clare: I have a film coming out called Endure. It’s a kidnapping movie. I’m the one who’s kidnapped so it’s a bit different. I have a movie coming out in the fall called The Dead Ones which has a Sixth Sense sensibility, and then I’m on the web-series Good Night Burbank.
Sam: I first remember seeing you in Bring It On, and the cult status for that film has become huge, especially amongst female audiences! Did you think at the time that you were making it that it would be considered a cult film?
Clare: I actually thought nobody would ever see the movie! (Laughs) This shows how poor my judgment used to be when filming. I thought that while we were having a great time, and it was so much fun filming and I had a blast, that nobody would actually ever see it. It would be one of those movies that kind of slips under the radar. But then I got a call from my manager and he had gone to Universal for a screening and he said “Okay. This is going to be successful.” It was a pleasant surprise.
Sam: I am always astonished when I see that many female media critics put Bring It On on their top film lists.
Clare: That is so funny. It’s amazing.
Sam: So with Bring it On, and then later with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ve become famous for playing bitches.
Clare: I have. (Laughs)
Sam: You seem like a very nice lady. How do you get into the mindset to play a total bitch?
Clare: Well I never view my characters in a negative way. I always approach them by trying to find the truth in their ethics. When playing someone different then me like that, there is always a part of me, if not for social conditioning, that would say a few extra things or share a few emotions that I have repressed just to be a good standing member of society. But when you take on those types of characters you get to let all that stuff out, and it’s kind of a nice relief.
Sam: How did your gig on Buffy the Vampire Slayer come about?
Clare: Just like anything else. I went in and auditioned. It wasn’t any special kind of situation or anything.
Sam: As a villain, Glory was incredibly over the top, which was part of the strange appeal of the character. Were you doing the role as written, or were you able to put your own sort of input into the character? How much control over the character did you have?
Clare: There wasn’t a lot of verbal improvising necessarily, but there was a lot of room to play with the dialogue and to try different things, so in that regard I felt like I had a lot of control. But in terms of changing the words in the dialogue, I did that as it was written.
Sam: Did you get to know the rest of the cast at all, or was there a sort of separation between the regular cast and the villains?
Clare: Well, in my situation, a lot of my stuff was done with Michelle Trachtenberg or [Glory’s] minion, so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the main cast. When I did see them they were extremely welcoming. Of course now I’m “buddy-buddy” with everyone.
Sam: Your final episode on Buffy contained possibly the best cliffhanger of the entire series. Were you happy with the way that Glory’s story ended?
Clare: You know, I was, but I would have also been happy to have returned. I thought in the seventh season there was going to be a little more Glory, but it was very special to me that I culminated with the hundredth episode. Everything tied in together.
Sam: What was the fan reception to your character like?
Clare: You tell me? (Laughs)
Sam: Well you are definitely one of the more endearing villains, and you’re definitely the prettiest.
Clare: Well thank you!
Beyond being as beautiful in person as she is on the screen, Clare Kramer doesn’t seem to possess the qualities that made her famous in Bring it On and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During our visit Clare seemed to be nothing but genuine and pleasant. However, deep down she is able to bring out the worst in the characters that she plays. Perhaps Clare Kramer is right and it is really social conditioning that buries the mean streak down inside of all of us. Perhaps a Glory lives within us all, but Clare Kramer was given the job to harness the character and reveal a cruel side that lives somewhere in all of our souls. Thankfully Clare Kramer does it so well that we don’t need to go searching for it ourselves.
POP CULTURE ADDICT NOTE: I would like to thank a special note of thanks to Jerry Milani and the people at Wizard World for arranging the opportunity for PCA to talk with Clare Kramer. The best convention experience on the planet, Wizard World will be hosting shows across North America throughout 2011. Go to Wizard World’s web-site at http://www.wizardworld.com/ to for more details!