Casting Buffy's Gentlemen All Came Down To That Creepy Smile

Not a lot of villains on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" manage to make an impression in just one episode, but The Gentlemen were unforgettable. The Emmy-nominated episode, "Hush," features Camden Toy as one of four demons that capture the voices — and the beating hearts — of Sunnydale.

Since these monsters move in silence, their performance rested on their terrifying expressions. Some of the most iconic monsters of all time are silent, from Frankenstein to the shark in Jaws. When you can't hope to communicate with a threat, you feel even more frightened — this is the horrifying effect of the Gentlemen.

The makeup and practical effects team at "Buffy" were incredibly talented, but the casting department still had to give them a sufficiently spooky smile to work with. Two of the actors cast as the Gentlemen, Toy and Doug Jones, had such scary expressions that they were actually given less prosthetic makeup than their counterparts. "Four of [the Gentlemen] do have that plastered-on smile," Toy recalled. "Doug [Jones] and I have our actual smiles, we have full articulation of our mouths."

Jones and Toy were almost given the same prosthetics as the other Gentlemen before show creator Joss Whedon stepped in, Toy explained:

"Joss was like, 'Wait a minute. The reason we cast Camden and Doug was because those two scared me so much with just their smiles. Now you're hiding their smiles. No, you can't do that. You have to change this.' And this was days before we were shooting."

The makeup company didn't have time to change all the prosthetics, but Whedon insisted they make adjustments for Toy and Jones. "Which they did," Toy happily recounted.

But the makeup company almost plastered over it

The company working with "Buffy" was reluctant to change the Gentlemen's makeup, and not only because of time constraints. "They were concerned, the producers and the makeup people, that the actors just couldn't keep a smile for that long," Toy remembered. "Doug and I have no problem with that."

In some of the final moments of the episode, when the Gentlemen's evil plot is coming together, Toy and Jones open their mouths into wide grins. This shift from the stiff smile they wear for the rest of the episode is subtle, but their restrained range of motion makes subtle changes all the more powerful. This expressive moment was made possible by the makeup company's crafty choices, Toy recalled:

"They actually made these very, very thin veneers that clicked in over our teeth, so they didn't have to take time painting our teeth silver, which would have been extremely time-consuming. I've certainly been on sets where they've done that, but this was a much smarter way to go."

The veneers allowed them to move their mouths more than plaster would have, but it took significantly less time to prepare on set than paint. This compatible relationship between the actors, the producers, and the makeup company on the set of "Hush" created one of the best — and most terrifying — episodes in "Buffy" history. 

Toy would work with the "Buffy" crew again a few times, including in the Season 7 episode "Same Place, Same Time." The actor gives a bone-chilling performance as Gnarl, a skin-eating demon with a paralyzing scratch. His roles may have been short-lived, but Toy played some of the most memorable monsters of the series.