'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Star Sarah Michelle Gellar Shares How Working on 'Toxic Male' Set Affected Her

Sarah Michelle Gellar
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Sarah Michelle Gellar understands the importance of women sticking together. 

During an appearance on the Power of Storytelling: Producers Roundtable at The Wrap's Power of Women Summit on Wednesday, the longtime actress and Wolf Pack executive producer reflected on how working on an "extremely toxic male set" affected her view of overall set behavior. 

“For so long, I was on a set that I think was known for being an extremely toxic male set, 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,” she said, per The Wrap.  

Continued Gellar, “And 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, 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."

'Buffy' cast
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While she didn't name the set she was referring to, Gellar famously starred as the titular character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for seven seasons between 1997 and 2003. In 2021, Gellar's longtime Buffy co-star, Charisma Carpenter, spoke out against the show's creator, Joss Whedon, accusing him of abusing his power on "numerous occasions" while they worked together. Her comments came months after Ray Fisher publicly alleged Whedon's "on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable," which Whedon denied. Gal Gadot, who starred with Fisher in Justice League, claimed Whedon "kind of threatened" her career after she purportedly tried to make changes to her character. Whedon later told New York magazine, “English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech." He denied threatening her. Gadot rejected his comment, telling the magazine, "I understood perfectly."

As Carpenter alleged in part of a social media statement, "Joss has a history of being casually cruel. He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career. I know because I experienced it first-hand. Repeatedly. 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 4 months pregnant, weighing 126 lbs. He was mean and biting, disparaging about others openly, and often played favorites, pitting people against one another to compete and vie for his attention and approval."

At the time, Gellar also spoke out on Instagram, writing, "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. 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 am proud of them for speaking out."

In his interview with New York magazine, Whedon reflected on the Buffy days. “I was young,” he said. “I yelled, and sometimes you had to yell. This was a very young cast, and it was easy for everything to turn into a cocktail party."

Regarding Carpenter, “Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming," he said. "She struggled sometimes with her lines, but nobody could hit a punch line harder than her." 

While Whedon admitted he was "not mannerly" in how he spoke to her after learning the news of her pregnancy, "I did not call her fat,” he denied. “Of course I didn’t.”

ET has reached out to Whedon for comment. 


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