Joss Whedon has been accused of running the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel, like a high school mean girl. Pictured: Whedon attends the premiere of Bad Times At The El Royal, September 2018
Joss Whedon has been accused of running the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer like a high school mean girl.
Whedon was the creator of the supernatural drama, which ran on The WB from 1997 to 2003, and its spinoff Angel, which was also a huge success.
But 11 former staffers, all of whom spoke to Variety on the condition of anonymity, claim that although Whedon was a major talent, he also had a history of unprofessional and disparaging behavior towards his employees.
This included making inappropriate jokes in front of underage cast members, calling women ‘fat,’ making writers cry and having affairs with actresses and female production members working on the shows.
It comes on the heels of several cast members of the shows, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Charsima Carpenter, Amber Benson and Michelle Trachtenberg, describing Whedon’s behavior on set as ‘toxic’ and ‘cruel.’
Whedon’s behavior first came under attention when Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on three seasons of Buffy and four seasons of Angel, spoke out in a Twitter post on February 10.
‘For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and even made excuses for certain events that traumatize me to this day,’ she wrote.
‘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.’
Carpenter claims Whedon would regularly make ‘passive-aggressive’ threats and asked her if she was going to keep her baby when she became pregnant.
Eleven former staffers spoke to Variety, on the condition of anonymity, about Whedon’s alleged unprofessional and disparaging behavior on the set of the supernatural drama. Pictured (left to right): Buffy cast members Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Head, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Charisma Carpenter and Alyson Hannigan, circa 1997
He is accused of making inappropriate jokes in front of underage cast members, such as Michelle Trachtenberg, who was 15 when she joined the show. Pictured: Trachtenberg (left) and Gellar on the set of Buffy, 2001
His comments were described by one former staffer as ‘very, very bad, mean-spirited, and verbal abuse.’ Pictured: Whedon talks with Buffy cast member James Marsters on the set of the show, 2003
Carpenter also alleges that Whedon called her ‘fat’ to other members of the cast and crew when she was four months pregnant, despite weighing just 126 lbs, and then fired her after she gave birth.
One of the former staffers, who worked with Carpenter on both the Buffy and Angel sets, verified the actress’s story with Variety.
It was ‘very, very bad, mean-spirited, and verbal abuse,’ the unnamed person said.
They added that this behavior made it clear to Carpenter that Whedon had favorites and she was not among them.
One source told Variety that Whedon was pushed to cast Carpenter by the network and, as a result, he would often pick on her.
He or she also said that some writers emulated Whedon’s behavior and would disparage Carpenter’s acting ability.
Several actors and actresses, as well as writers and producers, stood behind Carpenter’s claim, including Trachtenberg.
Trachtenberg, who played Buffy’s younger sister, Dawn, for three seasons beginning at age 15 said in an Instagram post than Whedon’s behavior as ‘not appropriate’ and claimed that there was a ‘rule’ on the set that forbade him from being alone in a room with her.
Most former staffers told Variety they did not know about this rule, but one ex-employee did say that efforts were made on set to make sure Trachtenberg was never around Whedon by herself.
One staffer alleged Trachtenberg’s mother complained that Whedon’s off-color jokes were making the set inappropriate for her teenage daughter.
The former staffers claim Whedon had several affairs with actresses and female production members, and exhibited a power dynamic over them when the affairs ended. Pictured: Whedon attends the LA Art Show 2019 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, January 2019
One staffer backed up Trachtenberg’s (left) claims that she was not allowed to be left alone with Whedon in a room while another backed up actress Charisma Carpenter’s (right) claims of Whedon of calling her ‘fat’ while pregnant
Many reiterate that his jokes were not just improper but also mean
He allegedly called Nell Scovell, creator of Sabrina the Teenage Witch ‘fat’ when she was two weeks from her due date and would make female writers cry during notes sessions.
Another reason his nature was described as being like high school was due to Whedon reportedly having affairs with several women working on the show, causing his profession and personal lives to intersect, the staffers told Variety.
However, because Whedon was the show-runner, he was also the boss of these women, and therefore exhibied an unequal power dynamic that continued even after the alleged affairs were over.
The staffers also told Variety that complaints about Whedon never reached the studio level and they are not aware of any monetary settlements made due to his alleged behavior.
All of the stars of Buffy and Angel, including Gellar, Benson, Trachtenburg, Eliza Dushku, David Boreanaz and Alyson Hannigan, declined Variety’s requests for comment.
Whedon declined to comment on the allegations when contacted by Variety.