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Mark Metcalf Beyond

The Animal House

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The Actor Who Played The Immortally Evil Neidermeyer In The 1970s Classic Also Made A Mark Decades Later As The First Real Baddy To Go Up Against Joss Whedon’s Buffy Summers


By David Fantle and Tom Johnson
Reel to Real Special for Modern Times  Magazine

Jan. 5, 2015 — You might remember him as Doug Neidermeyer, the sadistic ROTC officer who got his comeuppance in Animal House and who later was killed by his own troops in Vietnam. But to legions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV fans, Mark Metcalf was Buffy Summers’ (Sarah Michelle Gellar) first “Big Bad” – a fangtastic vamp with a genius for sidesplitting one-liners and one heckuva hellish overbite.

Well, Mark, who dwells in Missoula, Mont., these days (he finally made it out of the Sunnydale, Calif., underground) took a few minutes to answer a few questions (in his “Master” persona, of course) about why a perky, height-challenged Valley Girl transplant with a great roundhouse kick (or was that a stunt double?) got the drop on him …

RR: You actually killed the Buffster by drowning her in a fetid puddle of water in the show’s first season (“Prophecy Girl”), but that meddlesome friend of hers, Xander, resuscitated her with some timely mouth-to-mouth and then she kicked your butt, impaling you on the leg of a library table. What’s your excuse?

MM: Wasn’t he lucky with that mouth-to-mouth stuff. I got to drain her blood and bite her neck but he gets the mouth-to-mouth. Apparently there were some who thought The Master was unattractive. When Joss (Joss Whedon, the show’s creator) hired me, I asked him what the arc for the character was. He said that at the end of the season I got to kill Buffy. I said, “Does that mean that the second season will be called ‘Master: The Buffy Slayer?’ As to falling through the skylight and landing on the table leg, that table had no business being there. Giles (Buffy’s watcher and the high school librarian) was a messy man and, if I had known, it never would have happened.

RR: Incidentally, you fed on Buffy before throwing her in the puddle. How’d she taste? And don’t say this question … sucks!

MM: Sarah Michelle Gellar has delicious skin. Much of her was delicious. Blood is blood but skin is everything.

RR: What did you think of the fact that Julie Benz, who played one of your favorite vamp minions, Darla, landed a big role as the girlfriend-then-wife of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) on Dexter, a show about another serial killer?

MM: I’m happy for her. Obviously, she still has a taste for blood or at least a taste for men who have a taste for blood.

RR: Hindsight’s 20/20 as we all know, but if you had it to do all over again, what would you do to put that irksome blonde in her place?

MM: I should never have stopped feasting on her neck. I should have drained her dry and then eaten the shriveled pieces lightly sautéed with garlic and oil and a nice Merlot. Or a beer.

RR: During your limited reign as The Master, your complexion was whiter than the sheet of paper we’re typing on. Any tan in your future?

MM: The tan is fine; it’s the punch-bowl mouth that the plastic surgeons are having trouble with. With the work they do down here in Brazil, I can almost pass for one of you … human.

David Fantle & Tom Johnson have been entertainment journalists for more than 30 years and co-authored the 2004 book, Reel to Real: 25 Years Of Celebrity Profiles From Vaudeville To Movies To TV. Fantle teaches film and television at Marquette University in Milwaukee and Johnson is a former senior editor for Netflix. They can be reached at
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