On Wednesday, Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Charisma Carpenter accused creator Joss Whedon of recurring abusive behavior on the set of the series, which ran on The WB and UPN from 1997 to 2003. In a lengthy Twitter post, the actress recounted encounters with Whedon on Buffy and its spinoff, Angel, that she said that “traumatize me to this day.”
Hours after Carpenter posted her account to Twitter, costars Sarah Michelle Gellar, Amber Benson, and Michelle Trachtenberg voiced their solidarity.
“Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel,” Carpenter wrote. “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 goes on to describe passive-aggressive comments made about her weight during a time when she was pregnant, and an incident in which Whedon asked her whether she was going to “keep it” in reference to her baby.
Whedon “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,” she wrote.
Last summer, WarnerMedia launched an investigation into Whedon after actor Ray Fisher publicly accused the writer-director of misconduct on the set of Justice League’s reshoots. Entangled in news that HBO Max would release a director’s cut of Justice League, Fisher’s claims were ultimately investigated by WarnerMedia, and in December, the company announced that it had concluded the investigation “and remedial action has been taken.” A month before the company wrapped the probe, Whedon stepped down from his new HBO series The Nevers, with writer Philippa Goslett taking over the show.
In her Twitter message, Carpenter cited Fisher’s accusations as an inspiration for her to come forward with her story, which had been an open secret since at least 2009, despite little industry support for the actress. “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,” Carpenter said. “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 a space for healing of others who I know have experienced similar serialized abuses of power.”
Benson, who played Tara Maclay on Buffy, followed Carpenter’s tweet with her own show of support.
Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top. @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 https://t.co/WJAmDGm76C— Amber Benson (@amber_benson) February 10, 2021
On Instagram, Gellar, while not as direct with her condemnation, asked to not be “forever associated with the name Joss Whedon” and showed support for survivors. Trachtenberg took to the comments of the Instagram post to congratulate Gellar for speaking out, “This must. Be known. As a teenager. With his not appropriate behavior...” she wrote.