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Years removed from the confines of Sunnydale, Sarah Michelle Gellar introduced her upcoming television series to a crowd of psyched fans at Comic-Con International in San Diego last Thursday. The new CW drama Ringer marks Gellar’s first return to television since her career-making role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
“I knew I wanted to go back to television,” Gellar said. “I wanted to be in one place and have that normalcy that I’ve been missing.”
In the drama, Gellar pulls double duty as identical twins Bridget and Siobhan. On the run after witnessing a murder, Bridget visits her estranged sister Siobhan. The reunion takes a dramatic turn when high-society Siobhan fakes her own death. As Bridget takes the opportunity to assume her sister’s identity, she finds herself in the middle of a web of secrets and betrayals.
“I think as an actor you go in and just want to make the characters believable,” Gellar said. “You approach all the characters in your own way. I’m just doing it at the same time.”
Gellar isn’t only playing dual roles in the show — she’s also doubling up as one of the executive producers. She was joined at the panel by fellow executive producer Pam Veasey and co-executive producers Nicole Snyder and Eric Charmelo.
Also joining Gellar were the show’s three leading men, each with his own connection to the Comic-Con crowd.
Ioan Gruffudd, who plays Siobhan’s suspicious husband Andrew, may be best known to comic fans for his portrayal of Reed Richards in the two Fantastic Four films. His said his favorite thing about Comic-Con has been watching other people wear the blue Spandex suit.
Nestor Carbonell, who portrays FBI agent Victor Machado, is no stranger to Spandex, either. Although best known for his roles in Lost and The Dark Knight, Carbonell donned the outfit of Batmanuel in The Tick live-action series.
Kristoffer Polaha completes Gellar’s trifecta of hunks as Henry, Siobhan’s secret lover. Polaha previously appeared opposite another former Slayer, Eliza Dushku, in Tru Calling, but was also nearly chosen to share screen time with Gellar in Buffy when he auditioned to play Riley Finn.
Such opportunities rarely come around twice, and Polaha said he’s glad to have made the cut this time around. “I get paid to kiss Sarah Michelle Gellar at work,” he said. “It’s an amazing job.”
Gellar isn’t only returning to television, but she’s also returning to a familiar network. While Ringer was originally made for CBS, it was instead picked up by The CW, formed by the merger of The WB and UPN, on which Buffy began and ended its seven-season run.
“It’s really hard when you have a show like Buffy that you love so much and was so perfect. You’re not really looking to top it,” she said. “I wanted to come back and do a show that I would love and the fans would love and would be different and exciting.”
The move agrees with Gellar, who thinks the show will be more appealing to the network’s demographic. “I think we have a little more freedom on The CW,” she said.
“I think the biggest difference is that we’ll have a lot more youthful, hip music,” Veasey joked.
Something that’s changed for Gellar since the last time she worked in television is the level of concern the network has for its new leading lady. Gellar had to convince The CW to allow her to perform even minor stunts for Ringer. The network that had once allowed her to be thrown around on a regular basis was now reluctant to allow her to fall on her own.
“They were all so paranoid,” she said. “I thought it was funny they wouldn’t let me do it.”
Equal paranoia revolves around keeping the show’s plot twists secret. The thriller promises another question surfacing for every one answered as Bridget discovers the true intent behind her sister’s plot. “The show is built on secrets and lies,” Veasey said.
“We will give you some answers,” Snyder added. “We’ll lead you on a path, and when you think you know what’s going to happen, we’ll throw a wrench in it.”
The twists of the script were what drew Gellar to the show when she was seeking to return to television. “It was the first time in a really long time that I had been surprised by something,” she said. “Usually I feel like I know where things are going, and this really caught me by surprise.”
Although they’re only now working the second episode, Ringer has been plotted for three seasons of twists and turns. Those are kept a tightly guarded secret, even from the cast. Gellar, however, enjoys a bit of executive privilege.
“I do know where it’s going,” she joked, “so I can hold it over everyone’s head.”
Ringer premieres Sept. 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.