Reflecting on the past. Sarah Michelle Gellar opened up about a “toxic” set she worked on earlier in her career, leading observers to think she was referencing her work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
“For so long, I was on a set that I think was known for being an extremely toxic male set,” the Cruel Intentions actress, 45, said during the Power of Storytelling: Producers Roundtable at the The Wrap’s Power of Women Summit on Wednesday, December 14. “And so that was ingrained in my head that that was what all sets were like, and that women were pitted against each other — that if women became friends, then we became too powerful, so you had to keep that down.”
The Daytime Emmy winner didn’t reference Buffy or creator Joss Whedon by name, but last year, Gellar’s costar Charisma Carpenter claimed that the Avengers director, 58, “abused his power” during the series, which aired from 1997 to 2003.
“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,” the Veronica Mars alum, 52, tweeted in February 2021. “He was mean and biting, disparaging about others openly, and often played favorites, putting people against one another to compete and vie for his attention and approval.”
After Carpenter’s allegations made headlines, Gellar took to social media to stand with her former costar. “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,” the Grudge actress wrote via Instagram at the time. “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’m proud of them for speaking out.”
Amber Benson, who played Tara Maclay on the beloved series, also shared her support for Carpenter, tweeting: “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.”
Earlier this year, Whedon denied the numerous misconduct claims against him in an interview with New York magazine. In regard to Carpenter specifically, he said he was “not mannerly” but admitted that he did sometimes “yell” at the actors. “I was young. I yelled, and sometimes you had to yell,” he said in January. “This was a very young cast, and it was easy for everything to turn into a cocktail party.”
On Wednesday, Gellar said that she thinks progress has been made since Buffy ended nearly 20 years ago, but there’s still work to do behind the camera. “Now that I’ve had this opportunity to work with so many more women and men that support women as well, I realized how easy an experience it can be,” she explained. “But … unfortunately we’re still in that place where all of those departments a lot of times need to be women for us to have a voice.”
Us Weekly has reached out for comment.