'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation': Former 'Buffy' Star Adam Busch Goes Back to High School

Today's cuppa: coffeeshop coffee

Adam-Busch-CSI.jpgAbout to be seen again as Neal in the TBS comedy series "Men at Work" -- returning for a second season on April 4 -- 34-year-old Adam Busch came to prominence in 2001 in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," playing Warren, a technologically adept former Sunnydale High School student who squared off with vampire hunter Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar).

In tonight's (Wednesday, March 20) episode of CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," called "Dead of the Class," Busch guest stars as Max Dinello, a former classmate of assistant medical examiner David Phillips (David Berman). When a prom queen turns up dead at Phillips' high-school reunion, the past comes to light.

"It's an episode about bullying," says Busch, "about the residual effects it has on a person. It's a high-school reunion, and we knew each other a little bit. Now, I'm a teacher, but I was a very upset, miserable kid in high school, much like Phillips.

"There was heavy bullying at the school. One of the kids committed suicide over it, and I took it very, very hard. So, all these people are reunited at this reunion. We become who we were back then. Everybody reverts to their own personalities."

That's something Busch -- a native of East Meadow, Long Island, N.Y. -- understands very well.

"I just know," he says, "when I see my buddies from Long Island, the accent comes out." Adam-Busch-Max-Dinello.jpg

Speaking of crime, Busch went to the same high school in East Meadow as famed serial killer Joel Rifkin -- but not at the same time, since Rifkin is a almost 20 years older than Busch.

Upon discovering this, while working on his first film, "Leon: The Professional," which came out in 1994, Busch did some research.

"He lived a couple of blocks over," says Busch. "He said, 'The first homicidal thoughts I ever had were for my high-school Spanish teacher.' So I looked up the class records, and it was the same teacher (as I had)."

According to Busch, conjugating verbs was the least of his problems in high-school Spanish -- and his experience there led him to relate to the episode's subject of bullying.

"My freshman year," he says, "I had a Spanish teacher who was very aggressive, very mean, would find your flaw."

Apparently the teacher mocked Busch's ambitions to become an actor and a musician -- he's now an actor and director, and member of a band called Common Rotation -- and that left an impression.

"She was my high-school bully," says Busch. "I said, 'I can understand now -- if you're unstable or mentally unbalanced or whatever it is, and you have a teacher who is picking at your flaws and needling, how could you handle that?'"

One day in class, Busch mentioned Rifkin's comment to the teacher in question.

"She burst out crying and left the room," he recalls. "The principal took me out. I was punished and probably rightly so. It was mean; she was mean to me. It's a cycle of meanness, and (what I said) is on me. You learn that if you do something out of self-defense, out of being hurt, and it's something you regret, you're fulfilling a pattern that you need to stop. All it really needs is the opposite.

"The episode is about all that stuff that I really like."