What happened with Joss Whedon of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'? Why the show's stars are speaking out against the director

Sarah Michelle Gellar and other 'Buffy' actors have responded to abuse allegations made by Charisma Carpenter

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)
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While hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer was known for its on-screen violence, the toxic abuse that was allegedly taking place off the camera is only just being publicly discovered.

What happened with Joss Whedon and Charisma Carpenter?

Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase in Buffy and spin-off series Angel, posted on Twitter a lengthy statement accusing show creator Joss Whedon of abusive behaviour on set on Wednesday, February 10 .

"For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and even made excuses for certain events that traumatise me to this day," the actress wrote in a post that's been liked more than 150,000 times.

She alleged Whedon "abused his power on numerous occasions" while she worked on both TV series, and accuses him of "casually cruel" behaviour, which included threatening to fire her, calling her "fat" when she was four months pregnant, asking her if she was going to "keep" her baby, mocking her for her religious beliefs, and then "unceremoniously" firing her after she gave birth.

"Back then, I felt powerless and alone," she writes, while also admitting she still sought his validation and even publicly said she'd work with him again. "Only recently, after years of therapy and a wake-up call from the Time's Up movement, do I understand the complexities of this demoralised thinking."

The link with Ray Fisher and 'Justice League'

This comes after actor Ray Fisher accused the director last summer of "gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable" behaviour on the set of 2017 film Justice League. This was the subject of a lengthy investigation by WarnerMedia in 2020.

"When [Fisher] publicly accused Joss of abusive and unprofessional behaviour ... it gutted me," Carpenter continued. "Joss has a history of being casually cruel. He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career."

She used the hashtag #IStandbyRayFisher with her posts.

Carpenter said she participated in the WarnerMedia investigation and decided to come forward after Fisher announced he was no longer going to play Justice League character Cyborg in the coming movie The Flash.

"His firing ... was the last straw for me," she wrote. "It troubles and saddens me that in 2021 professionals STILL have to choose between whistleblowing in the workplace and job security."

Sarah Michelle Gellar and other 'Buffy' stars speak out

A number of Buffy stars have since spoken out in support of Carpenter, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played the titular character in the series.

"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," she wrote in a post on Instagram to her 3.5 million followers.

"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."

Actress Michelle Trachtenberg, who played Buffy's sister Dawn, reposted Gellar's statement, writing in the caption: "Thank you @sarahmgellar for saying this. I am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman....To repost this. Because. This must. Be known. As a teenager. With his not appropriate behaviour....very. Not. Appropriate. So now. People know. What Joss. Did."

Amber Benson, who played witch Tara, also spoke up. "Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top," she wrote in a post on Twitter. "@AllCharisma is speaking truth and I support her 100 per cent. There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later."

Clare Kramer, who took on the role of baddie Glory in season 5 of the show, wrote: "For what it’s worth, I believe and stand with @allcharisma, @ray8fisher, @amber_benson and others who have the strength to come forward with their truth. A lot of this industry needs a reset."

Fisher also commented on Carpenter's accusation, saying she is "one of the bravest people I know".

"I am forever grateful for her courage and for her lending her voice to the Justice League investigation. Read her truth. Share her truth. Protect her at all costs. 'It is time.'"

Whedon has yet to respond to the new allegations.