Anthony Head: ‘It’s a wonderful job but it’s also insane’
The actor has always had a knack for landing roles that catch the public imagination
Anthony Head: ‘I usually get spotted for Little Britain. Or my brief appearances in Doctor Who.’ Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Dr Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Uther Pendragon in Merlin. Prime minister Michael Stevens in Little Britain. Captain Hook at Queen Elizabeth’s birthday party pantomime. Anthony Head, vocal star of the incoming foosball-themed animation The Unbeatables, certainly gets around.
Today he’s in Longford, visiting the Irish Horse Welfare Trust. Animal welfare is a big deal for the actor, and for animal therapist Sarah Fisher, his partner of some 30 years.
“They’re sentient beings,” says Head. “It’s up to us to look after them. It’s too easy for us to forget that, with everything else that’s going on.”
The Longford visit is part of a broader initiative. Since January, Head and the Cool to be Kind team have shifted some 80,000 wristbands, with proceeds going to smaller animal welfare charities.
A recent snap of the actor standing beside his former Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar can’t have hurt sales. “It went viral and it went everywhere,” says Head. “There are still a lot of people out there who love to see the Slayer and the Watcher together again.”
Catch-up with Buffy
He still keeps in touch with the old Buffy crew. Indeed, he has just returned from a catch-up at Comic-Con, the annual cult gathering in San Diego.
He rattles through an impromptu roll call with a fondness in his voice that brings Mr Chips to mind: “I didn’t see Nicky [Brendon] or Alyson [Hannigan] this time,” he says. “And Alexis [Denisof] has just started a new show [Finding Carter] for MTV. Joss [Whedon] couldn’t make it because he had done something to his leg. But I did get to stop over with Sarah Michelle in San Diego.”
Buffy will always be with us. After the movie and the seven television seasons, it continues in reruns, comic books, mostly fawning academic papers and best-of polls. Some five years after the final episode was first shown, Buffy finished second only to The Simpsons in Empire’s “50 greatest TV shows of all time”.
Does Head pine after the show as much as everyone else seems to, I wonder?
“Well, it was such a big chunk of my life,” he says. “And Giles [his character in the show] was a sweetie. The thing that was really great about Buffy was that you had Joss Whedon writing. So the characters evolved. The story arcs evolved. Buffy grew. As did Giles. There were repercussions and consequences. That made it fun to play. So being the same character wasn’t limiting in any way.”
Throughout his career, Head has demonstrated a talent for landing roles that get one recognised in the street. He is the son of actress Helen Shingler and documentarian Seafield Head, and he went straight from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art to LWT’s Enemy at the Door.
“Because I was raised around acting, it was already part of my life,” he says. “I didn’t have to look far to realise what I wanted to do.”
By the late 1980s, he was the chap in the Nescafé Gold Blend commercials, a 12-part sequence opposite Sharon Maughan. A stint in ITV’s wildly popular children’s show Woof! cemented his popularity.