Angel’s Charisma Carpenter Reflects on the Series 20 Years After Premiere

Charisma Carpenter is best known for playing Cordelia Chase, the egocentric teen turned selfless champion who was a series regular during the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before transitioning to the show's spin-off, Angel. October 5th marks 20 years since Angel first premiered, and was lucky enough to chat with Carpenter about her time on the beloved series. During the interview, the actor opened up about Cordelia's arc and the unexpected turn her story took during the show's fourth season. She also discussed Cordy's death, relationships, and how much the Buffyverse has meant to fans.

"That was sweet, but I think it would've been a fun thing to really explore and chew the fat on had I not been so pregnant at the time," she explained of playing the villain in season four. "I think it was a very interesting choice to make a somewhat sympathetic pregnant person... You always think of a pregnant person as being vulnerable and sweet, and oh my God, a giver of life. That was great, and I think an interesting story to tell, for me to watch someone else do, not necessarily for me to do."

While the fourth season arc wasn't Carpenter's favorite, she did admit that despite not wanting to be killed off in season five, she recognizes that her final episode, "You're Welcome," was beautifully written.

"I knew it was good once I got past the fact that I realized that she was going to go, and I heard the storyline. I did say, 'Oh wow, that is beautiful, that left a lump in my throat.' Well another lump in my throat, there was already that, 'Oh, she's dying,' and feeling betrayed as an actress, and feeling like I got hoodwinked into doing it and then they told me I was going to die, and I had all of these emotions happening in a 30-second span of time."

"Joss [Whedon] is a wonderful storyteller, there is just no denying that," she added.

We can't talk about shows like Buffy and Angel without discussing the romantic ships, so we asked Carpenter who Cordy's ideal match would be.

"Yeah, Angel," she said without hesitation. "But only because it didn't happen with Doyle. I think that could've been really special, but I think Cordy and Angel were inevitable."

"I think that was more interesting anyway, in the sense that Angel was so repelled by her. It was so inevitable too... They were touchstones for each other in friendship, and in life, and in the business, and they knew each other so well, and they grew so close. And we accepted each other for our terrible sides... I think he loved her preoccupation with the superficial, and that became endearing and loving to him. There were things that we both loved and accepted of one another, which made it more real and universal, and themed, and identifiable."

"Also, I feel like there is always that Cinderella story for all of us, which is, you want to marry your best friend. Like that's what love is, you've got to really make sure that you like the person that you marry, so much so that when they do break out in Angelus, or want to talk about shoes till you bore yourself to tears, that you can tolerate it," she explained.

Last but not least, Carpenter opened up about the vast Buffyverse fan base, recalling many people who have struck a chord with her over the years. She talked about servicemen, persons with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, families, and all the people who were inspired by Cordelia's confidence.

"I just get emotional," she shared. "It is just a really unique position to be in. And I'm grateful because of the cons for being able to have those conversations, and to realize… Not to toot my own horn in any way, clearly I'm not curing cancer and I'm not helping people walk again, but the emotional support that people got from the show, and from those performances, helped people in a way that I never knew or imagined just by getting the opportunity to do what I love, and knowing that that helped people make a huge difference in terms of knowing you're on your right path for your purpose."

During the chat, Carpenter also shared stories about the late, great Andy Hallett (Lorne).

This week, Carpenter will be a guest at New York Comic Con where she'll be taking part in the Angel Anniversary panel as well as doing signings and photo ops. She also has a podcast called The Opposite Sex Show, which she records alongside web developer, Christian Majewski. You can follow them on Twitter here.


Carpenter is also involved with The Thirst Project, a water charity bringing safe clean drinking water to the world as well as the Ronan Thompson Foundation, which deals with pediatric cancer.

You can catch Charisma Carpenter next on The CW's Pandora.