10 Actors Who Were on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Before They Became Famous



We all know how Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a little supernatural drama about a slayer and her gang fighting the dark forces and vampires in their small town of Sunnydale, became a phenomenon and altered the course of late ‘90s television forever. But beyond being a groundbreaking series, Buffy also served as a stepping stone for many talented actors who went on to become famous in the years after.




Back then, you may not have recognized the potential of these guest stars, or the fact that they were on the verge of extremely flourishing careers. But because Buffy has endured for decades on end, it is possible for us to revisit the brief but unforgettable roles of these actors and delight in their overlooked turns. This list is dedicated to going back in time to take a look at now-famous faces.

Under Joss Whedon’s clever direction, Buffy the Vampire Slayer explored themes of empowerment and friendship. The show’s loyal fan base appreciated its sublime mix of camp and courage, and also made it vital in paving the way for today’s fantasy adaptations. While still beloved for introducing the world to Sarah Michelle Gellar and the Buffyverse, the show also gave a boost to dozens of stars, and our countdown of ten such actors will shine a spotlight on their parts.



10 Wentworth Miller

In Season 2 of Buffy, Wentworth Miller made one of his earliest television appearances. He played a bad-boy jock and high school swim star named Gage Petronzi. He was one of those characters that had charming good looks, would deliberately slack off, but only ever cared about the swim team. His character added a much-needed intrigue to Buffy’s narrative. Especially when he, inevitably, turned into a gill monster.

An Eventual Golden Globe Winner

Miller’s talent for blending aggression with a terrific screen presence was evident in this small role. Since then, he has gained international fame for Underworld, Madam Secretary, and Resident Evil: Afterlife. But perhaps his most unforgettable turn was the leading performance in Prison Break, where he portrays a complex anti-hero with many layers. For the role, Miller received a Golden Globe nomination in the category of Best Actor – Television Series.


9 Shane West

Buffy fans will fondly remember the handsome teenager who appeared in the same episode as Miller in Season 2. One of the most memorable guest stars, he plays Sean Dwyer, another member of Sunnydale’s swim team. The scene Shane West is in is pivotal to Xander uncovering the truth about the steroids the coach is using on the swimmers, because he’s the one who informs Xander about the steam inside the sauna.

A Television Staple

West injected his character with various emotions, like desperation, mild rage, and earnestness. After this brief stint in Buffy, the actor starred in movies like A Walk to Remember opposite Mandy Moore, as well as the sci-fi adventure The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In the television landscape, West has established himself with roles that require emotional vulnerability, nuance, and intelligence. Some titles he is known for are ER and Nikita.


8 Ashanti

Ashanti is now known for her music talents and has established herself as an incredible actor and a R&B singer. But before she earned this fame, she made her television acting debut in Season 7 of Buffy. In it, Ashanti portrayed Lissa, a demon associated with the First Evil. As one would expect from an antagonist, Lissa stirs up some trouble when she seduces Xander but aims to sacrifice him the entire time.

A Successful Music Career

While kick-starting a successful music career soon after, Ashanti demonstrated her on-screen power through consistent appearances in music videos. She also took on more substantial acting projects in movies like Army Wives, Coach Carter, and John Tucker Must Die. While she keeps on evolving as an artist, her spark shone the brightest as Betty in Resident Evil: Extinction, where her death scene left an indelible mark on the audiences.


Related: 15 Great Comic Book Series Based on TV Shows

7 Rachel Bilson

Another one of Buffy’s early showcases of promising talent was Rachel Bilson. She came in Season 7, episode 18, which was titled “Dirty Girls.” Playing the role of one of the Potential Slayers who are seeking training before the Battle of the Hellmouth, Bilson was also integral to the overarching plot of the season. As Colleen, she even appears in an intimate dream that Xander has.

Moving forward, Bilson developed into a gifted actress and comedy genius. She showcased her range in the hit teen drama, The O.C., and How I Met Your Mother, as well as films like Jumper. With beauty and brains in equal measure, she owns her talents and proves how good first impressions can mark the beginning of a successful career in the industry.


6 Julie Benz

Julie Benz played Darla, a recurring character in Buffy, with the kind of sinuous intensity that made her completely unforgettable. As one of the earliest vampires in the hit supernatural drama, Darla also had a smooth and mysterious arc and a compelling backstory that dated back to the 16th century. She appeared in seasons one, two, and seven in Buffy and was one of the few antagonists to stay for three whole seasons in its spin-off series, Angel.

She Brings a Refined Talent

Her character’s lethal antics thrilled audiences to no end. Benz then went on to star in cult shows like Dexter, and Desperate Housewives. Starkly different, both shows showcased her ability to inhabit dark and charismatic women through her eyes and gestures. She also brings a refined complexity to every character she plays, which makes the end result quite flawless.


5 Kal Penn

In Season 4 of Buffy, Kal Penn made an interesting guest appearance as Hunt, a UC Sunnydale student with a profound love for beer. In the episode, Hunt and his friends are seen getting drunk on cursed Black Forest beers at the local watering hole, following which he turns into a caveman. The adventure that ensues is both enthralling and humorous. He also had a cameo in Angel.

From Actor to White House Staff Member

Penn later balanced his professional life and expanded his social perspectives. From starring in beloved comedies like the Harold & Kumar movies to transitioning into dramatic roles in Designated Survivor, House, and The Big Bang Theory, Penn has showcased his versatility in both Indian and American identities, authentically portraying soulful characters. Recently, as a former White House staff member, Penn has been out of the spotlight, but his range remains a highlight regardless.


4 Amy Adams

Sharp-eyed Buffy fans may have predicted that a young Amy Adams would go a long way, despite her one-episode presence on the show. Adams had a part in Season 5, where she played Beth Maclay, the cousin of Willow’s true love, Tara Maclay. Her irresistible charm and Wicca skills got her into the Scooby Gang, and she is seen in town in order to guilt-trip Tara to return home with her. When Tara chooses Buffy and her friends as her new family, Beth is hurt.


One of Hollywood’s Biggest Stars

Undoubtedly one of the most astonishing female stars of our time, Adams has entertained audiences with her emotional range and seamless ability to disappear into every role she plays. She is known for elevating the girl power in movies like American Hustle, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Vice, and Arrival, as well as the more popular turn as Lois Lane in the latest Superman movies. Adams also delivered a brilliant performance in the HBO thriller, Sharp Objects.

3 Nathan Fillion

Season 7 of Buffy featured one of the most devilish and extreme villains in a preacher known only as Caleb, played by Nathan Fillion. As a recurring character in five subsequent episodes, Caleb was a psychopath with a particular dislike towards women. Having organized attacks on Potential Slayers and Watchers worldwide, he now wanted to destroy Buffy and the other Slayers, and he even succeeded in hurting Xander by stabbing a thumb into his eye.


Went on to Lead His Own Shows

His roguish charm was taken notice of by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator, Joss Whedon, who then went on to star Fillion in the space Western drama, Firefly, as Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds. Easily juggling between humor and heroics, Fillion is also known for playing the titular author/cop in Castle. The actor is clearly a consummate storyteller who makes zany and dramatic characters more human. Buffy granted Fillion his most twisted role, but what came after defined him.

Related: The Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes, Ranked

2 Felicia Day


While every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was exceptional in its own right, it was Season 7 that was particularly ripe with cameos. A fresh-faced Felicia Day stole scenes as Violet (aka Vi), a Potential Slayer identified by the Watchers Council. Before Vi arrived in Sunnydale, she was quite sheltered, but by the end of the season, she had helped Buffy and the gang achieve the closure of Hellmouth. Vi then moved to New York to act as the leader of the Slayer Organization.

A Writer and Constant TV Actor

Day has since become a beloved figurehead of gaming and nerd culture. Despite first showing up in Bring It On: Again, and TV shows like Outlands and Supernatural, it was The Guild that showcased her skill for writing and performing. The show helped Day establish herself as an inspiration to countless creators and fans.

1 Pedro Pascal


Pedro Pascal, undoubtedly, has one of the most successful television careers right now. The Buffy alum only had a one-episode stint; it was in Season 4 as Buffy Summers’s college acquaintance Edward, or Eddie. Somewhere along the way, the UC Sunnydale was kidnapped and turned into a vampire, and he then tries to fight Buffy but is defeated.

A Current Mega Star

From the early days itself, Pascal has evolved into a skilled and promising actor across screens. Whether leading as Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones, or starring in The Mandalorian, he finds complex humanity in the most impatient personalities and brings a visceral portrayal to the screen. His latest appearance as Joel on HBO’s The Last of Us earned Pascal global fame as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor.



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