Sarah Michelle Gellar, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, has lent her substantial talents to many horror movies throughout her successful career, which has spanned decades.
Gellar started as a child actress who first did Burger King commercials, but then ended up landing larger roles, such as that of Kendall Hart in the popular, long-running soap opera, All My Children. Hart was the daughter of Susan Lucci’s character, Erica Kane, and was praised for having the fortitude and skill to go against a veteran actress like Lucci even in her pre-teen and teen years. When she was 18, Gellar won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress In A Drama Series for the role. Gellar went on to pursue other projects, and landed the title role of Buffy Summers in Joss Whedon’s mega-hit series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ran for seven seasons from 1997-2003.
However, Gellar has always seemed to have a fondness for acting in horror films, and has delivered major and minor roles to the genre in multiple films throughout the years.
Though she read the script for Buffy in 1996, Gellar took on two roles in feature films during the same time period; both were slasher films, and both saw a great deal of success. First, Gellar got the role of Helen Shivers in 1997’s teen blockbuster, I Know What You Did Last Summer, which also starred Ryan Phillippe, Jennifer Love Hewett, and Gellar’s now-husband, Freddie Prinze Jr. Though Gellar was not the final girl, and ended up being slain more than halfway through the film, her role was part of a small ensemble cast of other fresh-faced young actors that allowed her talent to shine on the big screen. I Know What You Did Last Summer turned a $17 million budget into $125.2 million worldwide. Gellar had a smaller role in Scream 2, Wes Craven’s sequel to his 1996 smash hit, Scream, and played Sorority girl Cici Cooper, who had about as much screen time as Drew Barrymore did in the first, and was extinguished quickly by Ghostface.
The majority of her time was occupied by Buffy for the rest of the 90s and into the early 2000s, but Gellar took the lead role in Takashi Shimizu’s first American remake of his hit Japanese horror franchise, Ju-On, in The Grudge (2004). Her role, Karen Davis, was one of the highest-praised aspects of the film, which acted somewhat as a redemption project for Shimizu, who took his opportunity to remake the film for an American audience as an attempt to improve on the mistakes he saw in the first. Shimizu returned to direct the sequel to The Grudge in America, The Grudge 2, which saw Gellar reprising her role as Karen for a brief stint before she succumbed to Kayako’s curse. Just before The Grudge, Gellar also stepped into the ‘kid-friendly’ horror space, where she took on the role of Daphne Blake in the 2002 live action version of Scooby Doo.
In 2008, Gellar starred in the psychological thriller, Possession, with Michael Landes and Lee Pace. Possession explores the strange events that surround a woman whose husband and brother-in-law get into a car crash, end up in comas, and then lead her down a harrowing road of mistaken identity and body swaps. This film didn’t see anywhere near the success of Gellar’s other horror projects, and was panned by critics and audiences alike. After Possession, Gellar’s work was largely focused on television, though she has certainly contributed a great deal to the horror genre with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and beyond.
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