Sarah Michelle Gellar Wants To Steal Super Bowl Ads Back From Men

Photo: MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.
There's a lot about the '90s we can't ever possibly forget, like Rachel Green's layered bob, the rise and fall of Furbies, and Crystal Pepsi. Still, out of all the defining pop culture moments of the decade, one of our favorites didn't come until 1996 with the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and by association, our introduction to Sarah Michelle Gellar.
These days, Gellar spends most of her time co-running Foodstirs, a line of sustainable and fair-trade baking mixes, but in the '90s, she was a teen icon for her role as Buffy Summers. Eventually, Gellar went on to become a household name with her roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, and Cruel Intentions. Now, two decades later, the 41-year-old actress is prepping for her return to the thriller genre — but there's a catch: It's for one night only, and during the Super Bowl.
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Starring in Olay's first-ever Super Bowl commercial (airing on Sunday, February 3), Gellar is revisiting the kind of character she knows best: a monster-slaying icon. We talked to her about her newest horror role, what it's like being a woman in a male-dominated space, and of course, her creepiest beauty habits. Check out her answers, ahead.
How do you feel about starring in your first Super Bowl commercial?
"When they first called, [I got] super excited. [The Super Bowl] is up there with hosting Saturday Night Live. Then, I sat down and really thought about [my] responsibility. You're talking about a male-dominated sporting event where the commercials are aimed at men, but 45% of the viewers are women and 80% of household goods are bought by women — yet people aren't making ads for us. I thought, This is a responsibility to be in a female-led commercial, for a female product, during the Super Bowl. I got super excited because my whole career has been about breaking down those stereotypes and being a woman in a male-dominated genre."
What was it like breaking into the horror/thriller genre, which is known for objectifying women?
"It's something I was always conscious of: I represented a demographic of women fighting for themselves and protecting themselves. I take a lot of pride in that. When Buffy started, there weren't a lot of female-led TV shows, but now a lot of our favorite TV shows are led by women. But that was a barrier we had to break through and that was the fun of this commercial, too. It's not the woman in jeopardy, [it's about] the woman who is going to save the day."
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That reminds me of your character Kathryn in Cruel Intentions. She made questionable decisions, but always dominated whatever space she occupied.
"My agents didn't want me to take [that role]. I was like, 'I will fire everybody who works for me if they don't get the fact that I want to be a part of this so much.' I was so passionate. I legitimately went after it because that was something I wanted to do."
Photo: Columbia Pictures/Getty Images.
After being in the business for so long, you must have picked up a lot of beauty habits. Which one is your weirdest?
"Makeup artists definitely get freaked out when they work with me on sets because I like to wash my face at lunch. I'll leave all the eye makeup on, but wash under my eyes, my cheeks, and around my nose. I like to let my skin breathe. We work long hours so I think it's really important."
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