Starting out as a one-shot character in a poker game scene
on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Clem (a.k.a. "The Loose-skinned
Demon," according to his billing at Comic-Con) soon reappeared
as Spike's confidante and buddy. Over the last dark season
of Buffy, the character stood out as needed comic relief,
with a gentle demeanor belying his horrible appearance. If
Buffy has a goofy neighbor from a fifties sitcom, it's
The actor behind the make-up, James C. Leary, attended Comic-Con
and manned a table in Autograph Row with his charming wife
Stacie. On the first official day of the convention we stopped
by to talk with James about his career and burgeoning cult
status. Friendly and a bit more outgoing than his character,
Leary appears to be nothing but thrilled at being Clem. It
also turned out we'd met years before, but that was when we
were young and both in improv groups. But let's make this
an official shout out to the old gang from Freudian Slip at
Texas A&M, where Leary got his start.
And now, a few moments with James and Stacie…
Derek McCaw: How do you feel about your
claim to fame right now being known as "the loose-skinned
James C. Leary: Heyyyy, any port in the storm. No,
it's great. I love it. I was a huge fan of Buffy before I
got on the show, and it's been really fun. The character's
actually a lot of fun to play, so I love it.
DM: Any weird experiences off-set as a result?
Do people recognize you at all?
JCL: No. They don't recognize me at all. Which is
kind of nice.
DM: Have you had much experience with fandom?
Is this your first time at a convention?
JCL: This is my very first convention. Ever.
DM: How has it been so far?
JCL: So far it's been great. It's been really cool.
We came last night, walked around all downstairs. I was like
a big kid in a candy store. I'd always wanted to go to a convention
as a kid, I just never got the chance to, because I was a
huge comic book collector/fan when I was younger.
DM: Excellent segue.
JCL: My big titles were X-Men, Daredevil, and right
when I stopped all the Image had just started, so I did all
that -- Spawn.
DM: Tell me about your background. What did you
do before being Clem?
JCL: I've done a lot of commercials. A lot of theater.
I studied in Chicago at Improv-alympic and Second City. A
lot of improv theater. Tons and tons of theater.
I did a Spanish-language sitcom for two years, called Los
Beltran on Telemundo. I spoke Spanish and I don't speak
a word of Spanish, so I did it all phonetically. I played
the token gringo on the show. That was a weird experience.
DM: How does that compare to working on Buffy?
JCL: Night and day. Night and day. One, because the
first one was a sitcom, and it ran like a four-camera sitcom,
you know, rehearsed three four days a week and then shot it
all in one night. Buffy is twelve to fourteen hour days. It
takes eight days to shoot an episode, so it's a much longer,
more grueling shooting schedule for them than like a sitcom.
DM: Will you be back next season?
JCL: I certainly hope so. They've called for availability.
Other than that, I don't know. (laughs and shouts into
the recorder) I HONESTLY DON'T KNOW!
DM: I was going to ask what you could tell
me without Joss Whedon actually killing you off. Has this
given you a lot of new opportunities? Are you getting a lot
JCL: A few things here and there, but not really,
because nobody really knows it's me. But hopefully it will.
And it's been a great experience, which is sort of the most
DM: What's the coolest part about being Clem?
JCL: The ears. I'm telling you - Chicks. Love. The
DM: I believe that.
STACIE: He told me one day after working, "If I'd
just had these ears back in high school…"
JCL: That's a whole different story. Not so much
the flappy arms, though.
DM: Stacie, tell me about the ears. Are they a
SL: I like the ears, but I haven't seen them in person
yet. I haven't been onto the set when he was actually filming
it. But I've heard the stories about the other girls…
DM: Your appearance has made it easier to get
my three-year-old into the show. At first you're scary looking,
but then it's "…oh, he's a funny man."
SL: Our little boy says "DA DA!" Then he goes "hssst…scary
JCL: But Clem's harmless.
DM: He eats kittens, though.
JCL: That's never been determined. We've never seen
him eat a kitten. He plays poker with them. I suspect he's
more into Bugles and Country Time Lemonade.