Robin Sachs, a British actor best known for playing the slippery, mercenary mage Ethan Rayne on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, has died, according to the BBC. Sachs’ death is described as “sudden and unexpected” on his official website, though no cause is given. He was 61.
Though two of his earliest roles were in the miniseries Brideshead Revisited and Dynasty: The Reunion (where he replaced Gordon Thomson as Adam Carrington), Sachs was far more suited to science-fiction and horror stories than lavish costume dramas, beginning with his screen debut in the Hammer-produced Vampire Circus. Over the years he had numerous appearances on shows such as Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager, and Torchwood: Miracle Day, in addition to small parts in movies such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park and providing voices for video games such as Resident Evil: Damnation and the Mass Effect series.
In 1999’s Galaxy Quest, Sachs gave one of his most memorable performances—albeit buried under mounds of latex that made him entirely unrecognizable—as Sarris, the alien warlord who terrorizes the universe, while also being unusually media-savvy for an extraterrestrial.
Sachs was first introduced to the Buffyverse in the seminal episode “Halloween,” initially appearing as the kindly owner of a costume shop who helps Buffy realize her princess dreams, only to be revealed as a sinister worshipper of chaos who makes it so everyone turns into their costumes. Subsequent appearances fleshed out Ethan’s background as a former associate of Giles, back in his wilder “Ripper” days, with Ethan’s fascination with black magic and love of disorder leading him down a far darker path.
Ethan Rayne returned several times to terrorize Sunnydale for his own amusement in some of Buffy’s best episodes, whether he was cursing the titular chocolate bars in “Band Candy” or turning Giles into a Fyarl demon. As an ordinary human—and a weak one, at that, given how easily Giles always kicked his ass—Ethan was an unusual yet effective villain, embodying the show’s down-to-earth, sardonic approach to the supernatural in Sachs' underplayed smirk.