Film, TV maker Joss Whedon faces ‘Buffy’ actor abuse claims

Entertainment
Charisma Carpenter, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Joss Whedon

In this combination photo, Charisma Carpenter, from left, attends the 6th annual Thirst Gala on June 30, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif., Sarah Michelle Gellar arrives at Jingle Ball on Dec. 6, 2019, in Inglewood, Calif., and Joss Whedon arrives at the premiere of “Bad Times at the El Royale” on Sept. 22, 2018, in Los Angeles. Whedon, the prominent film and TV creator who faced a claim of abusive behavior on the set of “Justice League,” drew criticism Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, from actors who worked with him on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” including Gellar and Carpenter. Whedon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prominent film and TV creator Joss Whedon, who faced a claim of abusive behavior on the set of “Justice League,” drew criticism Wednesday from actors who worked with him on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

The first and most direct allegations came from Charisma Carpenter, who said in a social media post that Whedon has a “history of creating toxic and hostile work environments,” including the one she experienced on “Buffy” and while she was pregnant.

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who starred as the title character on the 1997 to 2003 series, responded to Carpenter’s post with a supportive if opaque online message of her own.

“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,” Gellar wrote. She is focused on her family and the pandemic and planned no further statements at this time, she said, adding, “I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.”

Representatives for Whedon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the writer, director and producer.

Among Carpenter’s allegations: During her pregnancy, Whedon called her “fat,” joked about firing her and, at one point, called her into a meeting during which he allegedly asked if she was “going to keep it,” apparently a reference to her pregnancy, and attacked her character and religion. She said she was “unceremoniously fired” from the role of Cordelia the following season.

Michelle Trachtenberg, who played Gellar’s sister, went on social media to thank Gellar. “I am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman….To repost this,” she wrote, and alluded to “his not appropriate behavior” she experienced as a teenage actor.

Amber Benson, who appeared as Tara on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” also responded to the allegations, saying in a post that the show had a “toxic environment” that started “from the top.”

In her post, Carpenter said she was prompted to come forward after actor Ray Fisher, who was in 2017’s “Justice League” as the character Cyborg, alleged last July that Whedon’s behavior toward the cast and crew was “abusive, unprofessional and unacceptable.”

Whedon, known for his writing and directing on the first two Marvel “Avengers” movies, was brought in during post-production on “Justice League.” He oversaw extensive reshoots, editing and visual effects on the film for director Zack Snyder, who had stepped aside after the death of his daughter.

Fisher said Whedon’s behavior was enabled by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg two producers on the film who were executives running DC Films for Warner Bros. at the time. Berg left the studio in 2017.

Parent company WarnerMedia launched investigations into the accusations, which concluded in December. The company said then that “remedial action” had been taken, but did not go into specifics.

Fisher has continued tweeting about the matter, turning his focus to DC Films President Walter Hamada, who he accused of undermining the investigation and not taking his claims seriously. Last month his character Cyborg was removed from appearing in the upcoming “Flash” film, which Carpenter said was the last straw for her.

In its January statement, WarnerMedia said Fisher was offered the chance to return as Cyborg, but given his statement “that he will not participate in any film associated with Mr. Hamada, our production is now moving on.”

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AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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