Allegations of Abusive Behavior Plague ‘Buffy’ Creator Joss Whedon

After Charisma Carpenter went public with accusations, other actors chimed in about the ”toxic” environment Whedon created
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In a tweet posted Wednesday, Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Charisma Carpenter accused show creator Joss Whedon of abuse of power, saying the director created a hostile work environment, derided her appearance and religion—and that he was especially cruel when he found out she was pregnant.

“Whedon was the vampire,” Carpenter—who played Buffy frienemy Cordelia Chase on the show and its spinoff Angel from 1997 to 2004—charged in the damning statement.

“For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and even made excuses for certain events that traumatize me to this day,” Carpenter’s post, titled “My truth,” begins. “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.”

Carpenter says Whedon turned particularly nasty in 1999, shortly after she moved to Angel and he found out she was pregnant.

In the statement, Carpenter refers to Whedon’s “ongoing, passive-aggressive threats to fire me […] And callously calling me ‘fat’ to colleagues when I was 4 months pregnant, weighing 126 pounds.”

According to Carpenter, Whedon thought her pregnancy could harm the show.

“Joss intentionally refused multiple calls from my agents making it impossible to connect with him to tell him the news that I was pregnant,” she continues. “Finally, once Joss was apprised of the situation, he requested meeting with me. In that closed-door meeting, he asked me if I was ‘going to keep it’ and manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me. He 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.”

Carpenter’s dismissal was about as welcome among fans as killing off Cordelia at the end of Angel’s fourth season, which went over so well that Carpenter had to be brought back for a guest spot in season five to explain it.

Despite feeling “powerless and alone,” Carpenter writes that she put up with Whedon because she had “no other option” as the “primary breadwinner” for her family.

“Unfortunately,” she says, “all this was happening during one of the most wonderful time[s] in new motherhood. All that promise and joy sucked right out. And Joss was the vampire.”

The post is hashtagged #IStandWithRayFisher, for the actor who accused Whedon of abusive behavior on the set of Justice League last summer and was then fired before he could reprise his role as Cyborg in The Flash.

Carpenter says she recently participated in the investigation into Fisher’s charges “because I believe Ray to be a person of integrity who is telling the truth.”

Shorty after Carpenter made her feelings known, Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, addressed her former co-star’s allegations on her Instagram, saying:

“While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with 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 I am proud of them for speaking out.”

Michelle Trachtenberg, who played Buffy’s little sister Dawn, also came out against Whedon on Instagram, with an even more disturbing accusation.

“Thank you @sarahmgellar for saying this. I am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman….To repost this. Because. This must. Be known. As a teenager. With his not appropriate behavior….very. Not. Appropriate.”

Amber Benson, who played Willow’s girlfriend and fellow witch, Tara Maclay, spoke out more plainly on Twitter Wednesday.

“Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top,” she wrote. “@AllCharisma

is speaking truth and I support her 100%. There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later. #IStandWithRayFisher #IStandWithCharismaCarpenter”

Parker also stood with Carpenter, posting, “Charisma Carpenter is one of the bravest people I know. I am forever grateful for her courage and for her lending her voice to the Justice League investigation. Read her truth. Share her truth. Protect her at all costs. ‘It is time.’”

Meanwhile, Seth Green, who played werewolf and Willow boyfriend Oz early on, may or may not have been commenting on the situation about 45 minutes after Carpenter’s post went up.

“A healthy release of emotion, positive or negative, has always helped me process and move on.”

Reps for Whedon have declined media requests for comment.


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