Sarah Michelle Gellar responds to abuse claims against Buffy creator Joss Whedon

Laura Harding and Keiran Southern, PA
·4-min read

Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar has responded to the allegations against show creator Joss Whedon and said “I stand with all survivors of abuse”.

Actress Charisma Carpenter alleged on social media Whedon created “hostile and toxic work environments”, and was responsible “ongoing, passive-aggressive threats” to fire her.

Watch: Film, TV maker Joss Whedon faces 'Buffy' actor abuse claims

Carpenter, 50, who played Cordelia Chase in supernatural drama series Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, said Whedon called her “fat” when she was four months pregnant.

Carpenter said she was prompted to speak out after actor Ray Fisher was removed from the cast of upcoming superhero film The Flash after he had publicly criticised the filmmaker, who had directed the reshoots of Justice League after original director Zack Snyder stepped down following a family tragedy.

A representative for Whedon said they had no comment when approached by the PA news agency.

Gellar, who played the titular role on Buffy, has now issued a statement on Instagram and said “I don’t want to be forever associated” with Whedon.

She said: “While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon.

“I am more focused on raising my family and surviving a pandemic currently, so I will not be making any further statements at this time.

“But I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.”

It came after Carpenter shared a lengthy statement on Twitter captioned “My truth. #IStandWithRayFisher.”

She wrote: “For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and even made excuses for certain events that traumatise me to this day.

“Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel.

“While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers.

“The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer.

“It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively.

“Last summer, when Ray Fisher publicly accused Joss of abusive and unprofessional behaviour toward the cast and crew during reshoots on the Justice League set in 2017, it gutted me.

Joss Whedon
Acclaimed filmmaker Joss Whedon has been accused of creating a hostile work environment (Ian West/PA)

“Joss has a history of being casually cruel.

“He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career.

“I know because I experienced it first-hand.

“Repeatedly.

“Like his ongoing, passive-aggressive threats to fire me, which wreaks havoc on a young actor’s self-esteem.

“And callously calling me ‘fat’ to colleagues when I was four months pregnant, weighing 126 lbs.

“He was mean and biting, disparaging about others openly, and often played favourites, pitting people against one another to compete and vie for his attention and approval.”

After learning she was pregnant, Carpenter claimed Whedon “proceeded to attack my character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show, and then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth”.

Watch: Charisma Carpenter reveals details of Joss Whedon's 'abusive' behavior on the set of 'Buffy' and 'Angel'

Carpenter said Whedon was a “vampire” who sucked the “promise and joy” out of her new motherhood.

She added: “Only recently, after years of therapy and a wake-up call from the Time’s Up movement, do I understand the complexities of this demoralised thinking.

“It is impossible to understand the psyche without enduring the abuse.

“Our society and industry vilify the victims and glorify the abusers for their accomplishments.

“The onus is on the abused with an expectation to accept and adapt to be employable.

“No accountability on the transgressor who sails on unscathed.

“Unrepentant.

“Remorseless.

“These memories and more have weighed on my soul like bricks for nearly half of my life.

“I wish I said something sooner.

“I wish I had the composure and courage all those years ago.

“But I muted myself in shame and conditioned silence.

“With tears welling, I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to Ray and others for remaining private about my experience with Joss and the suffering it has caused me.

“It is abundantly evident that Joss has persisted in his harmful actions, continuing to create wreckage in his wake.

“My hope now, by finally coming forward about these experiences, is to create space for the healing of others who I know have experienced similar serialised abuses of power.”

Carpenter said Fisher’s firing was “the last straw” and added: “Although I am not shocked, I am deeply pained by it.

“It troubles and saddens me that in 2021 professionals still have to choose between whistleblowing in the workplace and job security.”

Fisher, who played Cyborg in Justice League, had accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” treatment of cast and crew on the set of the 2017 film.

Whedon is also known as the writer and director of two of the Avengers films as well as the creator of TV series Firefly.