Cover Story: The prinze and the slayer
by Clarissa Cruz
Michelle Gellar, the stake-wielding star of ''Buffy the Vampire
Slayer,'' and her fiancé, Freddie Prinze Jr., Mr. ''She's
All That,'' are as mismatched as grilled-eggplant-and-chocolate-syrup
sandwiches -- the favorite meal of Shaggy, the scruffy sidekick
in the couple's latest collaboration, ''Scooby-Doo.'' Gellar wakes
before 6:30 a.m.; Prinze can doze until noon. She reads Oprah's
Book Club selections; he devours comic books. She loves to travel;
he kissed the ground upon returning from the five-month-long ''Scooby-Doo''
shoot in Australia. Her series is humming along; after working
the teen-romance circuit, he's in search of a new thing.
we were doing 'I Know What You Did Last Summer,' I would have
never thought of those two together,'' says the film's producer
Neal H. Moritz. ''I just found them to be so different. But when
I see them out or at dinner, they just genuinely care so much
about each other.''
a town filled with celestial couplings -- and the tabloid tales
that seem to inevitably follow -- Gellar, 25, and Prinze, 26,
who became friends while costarring in the aforementioned 1997
horror flick, have a reputation for being sickeningly harmonious.
''He's completely in love with her,'' says Prinze's ''Down to
You'' costar Rosario Dawson. ''When they got together, he was
blown away.... He was thrown by how hard he fell.''
he still hasn't touched the ground. Over lunch at a dim L.A. restaurant,
Prinze recalls the filming of ''Scooby,'' most of which took place
in Queensland on Australia's Gold Coast. ''If Sarah wasn't there,
I would have cracked up,'' he says, hunched over his second cup
of coffee. ''If I don't see her for a day, that's not a very good
day.'' He straightens and reaches for a slice of goat-cheese pizza.
''That's my girl, so I gotta hang out with her.'' (Insert collective
''Awwwww'' here.) ''If we were lonely for home, at least we had
to be lonely together. It was a long, long shoot.''
was also a shoot Gellar would have endured alone, had she not
forced her significant other to read the script. Prinze -- who
was such a fan of the cartoon he had every episode on tape and
owned a Scooby bowling ball -- admits that at first he hated the
idea of a live-action version. ''I didn't want to have anything
to do with it,'' he says. ''But she was just like, 'Read the script,
Freddie. It's a genius script [by fledgling scribe James Gunn].'
I read it and laughed out loud so many times...I called my agent
and went in the very next day,'' says Prinze. The couple were
cast within days of each other as Daphne and Fred, joining Matthew
Lillard, Prinze's frequent partner in teen high jinks, as Shaggy,
and Linda Cardellini (''Freaks and Geeks'') as Velma.
was very attractive to us that they were a real-life couple,''
says ''Scooby'' director Raja Gosnell. ''They saw the opportunity
to play an on-screen couple but without playing it really seriously
or as a romantic comedy.''
''Scooby,'' Prinze and Gellar earned $2.25 million and $1.25 million
with back-end deals, respectively. But business matters aside,
there were fringe benefits during filming as well -- like the
couple's elaborate barbecues, Nerf-gun fights, and even a birthday
blowout for Gellar in Queensland's polar-themed entertainment
complex FrozenWorld. ''We'd play games at each other's houses,''
adds Cardellini. ''We had barbecues.... Freddie's a good cook.''
at home in L.A., the Gen-Y Ozzie and Harriet like to leave the
tabloid reports of table dancing and strippers to Britney and
Justin. The pair, who have yet to set a wedding date, can spend
a free day walking their dogs (Thor, a Maltese, and Tyson, an
Akita), taking a morning Pilates class, and stopping by a favorite
Ventura Boulevard sushi joint. ''They try to give us surprises,''
says dedicated foodie Prinze, who attended culinary school in
Pasadena before dropping out when he snagged his first film gig
in 1996's ''To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday.'' ''They make the
best ankimo, which is a marinated monkfish liver.'' (Note to ''Fear
Factor'' producers: We've found your next celebrity contestants.)
''Buffy'' contract expires at the end of next season, ostensibly
leaving her free for more film projects in the future, should
she choose not to renew. She sounds a bit ambivalent about the
series' move last year from The WB to UPN. ''It hasn't been as
easy as everyone makes it sound,'' she says. ''It's like anything
-- you're in some place for five years, and things are just done
differently [somewhere else].'' Eager to tackle new challenges,
she says she'd love to work with someone like ''Moulin Rouge'''s
Baz Luhrmann. ''It's not just about making $100 million at the
box office -- it's about a craft, a profession.''
what of Prinze, who followed the $63.4 million ''She's All That''
with a string of forgettable romantic comedies like ''Head Over
Heels''? Let's put it this way: Don't look for ''Summer Catch
2'' anytime soon. ''We're looking at some gritty independent films
for him,'' says Yablans, who adds that Prinze has written a screenplay
and is developing a couple of TV pilots based on a comic-book
world he conceived. (Speaking of which, Prinze is philosophical
about losing the role of Spider-Man to Tobey Maguire: ''I thought
I would get that movie based on what people told me and the delusion
that I created,'' he says. ''But I was happy to know that they
hired a very good actor instead of some bum.'') His next acting
project, the details of which haven't been finalized, should be
a departure. ''He did a lot of movies that were similarly themed,
where he plays the sweet, sensitive guy,'' says Yablans, ''and
Freddie is so much more than that.''
both Gellar and Prinze face the same task: to make the transition
from teen-oriented fare to adult careers. And though ''Scooby''
does dabble in some far-out innuendos (Shaggy and Scooby fire
up the grill to the tune of the ganja anthem remake ''Pass the
Dutchie''), the kid-friendly film doesn't exactly scream ''gritty.''
''The challenge for Sarah is how to transfer popularity from one
medium to another,'' says one high-level studio producer. ''The
problem with Freddie is sort of how you get your heat back.''
may be the one lighting that fire. ''I'm much more creative now
that I'm with Sarah,'' says Prinze. ''She's inspiring and encouraging
and very critical in a good way.... That's how you know you're
with a good person because they're able to bring you to the next
level.'' Gellar, on the other hand, ''went from reading Shakespeare
to comic books,'' she cracks. ''I now play videogames and don't
do my work ever because I'm too busy playing golf on the PlayStation.''
for this joint effort, both are hoping the film will help propel
their careers. ''Once 'Scooby' comes out, it's gonna be much easier
for someone to greenlight [future projects],'' says Prinze. ''Every
kid in America's gonna see it and they're gonna bring their parents.''
His better half is more diplomatic. ''This is not exactly the
movie that we read,'' says Gellar, adding that the naughtier bits
-- including a sexy Daphne and Fred story line -- were cut. ''That's
a little upsetting, but it's like any movie.... [It's] important
for me to stand behind this movie and be out there
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