You Can Thank Dolly Parton for Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

by Louisa Mellor

In 1997, the year Buffy the Vampire Slayer made its television debut, Dolly Parton was asked by Paper Magazine about the extent of her fortune. “With all my companies and all the businesses,” Parton answered, “I’m not quite sure how much I’m worth, but all told I guess it’s quite a bit.”

Parton guessed right. Savvy investments have amassed the singer/actress/entrepreneur a tidy sum. (Today, Parton is estimated to be worth an even tidier $500 million). One such investment was in Sandollar, a television and film production company Parton founded in 1986 with Sandy Gallin, her former manager, roommate, and business partner.

In the early 1990s, Sandollar president and CEO Gail Berman read Joss Whedon’s screenplay for the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie when Sandollar became its distributor. She immediately saw its potential as a TV show and set about acquiring its television rights.

Because the film wasn't a hit, it took the success of 1995's Clueless, which Berman thought shared tonal similarities with Whedon’s original movie script, for her to start pursuing the idea of a Buffy TV show in earnest. Berman contacted Whedon, who was by then writing movies—including Toy Story and Alien: Resurrection—but agreed to come back to television to run the show. Seven seasons and one spinoff later, the rest was TV history.

Writing the checks all the while was Sandollar Television, the small-screen arm of Parton and Gallin’s production company. Sandollar co-produced Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel, with Whedon’s company, Mutant Enemy. Berman and Gallin were listed as executive producers on both shows, while Parton’s name stayed out of the credits.

Without Parton’s cash though, Buffy Summers may never have made it to television. For that, fans will always be grateful. Perhaps that gratitude also explains why the fictional vampire slayer shares a birthday—January 19—with the world-famous country singer?

Game of Thrones's Kristian Nairn Didn't Learn the Meaning of Hodor's Name Until the Very End

Isaac Hempstead Wright with Kristian Nairn in Game of Thrones
Isaac Hempstead Wright with Kristian Nairn in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Actor Kristian Nairn officially left the Game of Thrones universe in 2016, but viewers have hardly forgotten about him. Nairn’s character, Hodor, was Bran Stark’s loyal servant for six seasons before tragically dying while holding the door shut to hold off the Army of the Undead, allowing Bran to escape.

Nairn recently reflected on the role, admitting that though he only ever repeated one line, Hodor was a difficult character to portray.

“The key to playing Hodor is just being real—you really have to put yourself into the situation because you don’t have words to express yourself,” Nairn told Star 2. “You really had to immerse yourself into the reality of the scene and put in your body language with having just one word.”

Most surprising about Nairn’s portrayal of Hodor is the fact that not even the actor knew the meaning of his character's name. In his final moments, fans finally find out that “Hodor” came about from Bran warging into Hodor as a youth at Winterfell at the same time they were being pursued by the undead. As Meera yelled at Hodor to "hold the door," a young Hodor seemed to see Bran at Winterfell. Then it seems that Bran also wargs into young Hodor, who suffers a seizure, which leaves him unable to say anything but the shortened version of his dying words.

Fans were shocked by this revelation, and it turns out that Nairn was, too.

“I remember over the years, I have asked the showrunners and George RR Martin what Hodor meant, but they would never tell me,” Nairn said. So he created his own theory for where the name came from, guessing that Hodor was a Clegane due to his unusually large size—but obviously that theory didn’t pan out.

“I was surprised just like everyone else when I found out what Hodor meant. But I never expected the reaction that came from all over the world,” Nairn said, commenting on the collective depression that fans fell into after his character’s death.

While a character who only ever utters one line over six seasons might not be an enticing role to every actor, Nairn said that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss assured him the part would be worth it.

“It was challenging in some ways but David and Dan told me, ‘You’re gonna be one of the fan favorites of the show,' and this was before we even started. I didn’t really understand; I was like ‘Really? But he just says one word, guys.’ But they turned out to be right,” Nairn shared.

Nairn has taken a break from acting in order to focus on his DJ career, but he knows he’ll return to television eventually. “I love fantasy roles, sci-fi stuff. But I am up for anything. I will never do a part like Hodor again … I definitely have too much to say,” he said.

Stranger Things Season 3's Release Date Might Have Been Foreshadowed in Season 2

Netflix
Netflix

Though we recently learned that Stranger Things season 3 will return to Netflix on July 4, 2019, that still gives us nearly six months to wait to be re-immersed in the topsy-turvy world of Hawkins, Indiana and its residents. For many viewers, the best way to while away the months until the series returns is by rewatching old episodes—and looking for tiny details that they didn't notice the first time around.

Eagle-eyed Redditor msophiac recently took to the platform to share a screenshot from the final episode of season 2, which they believe intentionally revealed the date that the series would return. The image is of a date and time displayed on a video camera. While the date, December 15, 1984, might not mean anything (or at least not yet), the time is 7:04 p.m. As in 7/4, or July 4th—the official premiere date of Stranger Things season 3. There’s obviously no confirmation that this was done on purpose, but the fact that it foreshadows season 3’s release date doesn’t seem like an accident or a coincidence to the Redditor.

A few fans took to the comments section to agree it might be more than just a coincidence, while another pointed out that “7+4=11,” of course referring to Millie Bobby Brown’s character Eleven.

It’s possible that the Duffer Brothers, who created the series, will address the possible foreshadowing at some point, as they have been open to discussing fan theories in the past. In the meantime, we’ll keep searching for tiny details to analyze until Stranger Things season 3 premieres.

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