Two cast members of Buffy the Vampire Slayer have hit out at the toxic environment they were put in while working on the hit TV series.
Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chases on the series, before moving over to the spinoff, Angel, has taken a stand against Joss Whedon on social media, while also noting that she stands with Ray Fisher, the Justice League actor who spoke out against Whedon last year.
Fisher, who played Cyborg in the superhero movie, accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable” behavior upon taking over from Zack Snyder.
WarnerMedia subsequently ordered an internal investigation conducted by an outside law firm that led to “remedial action."
Carpenter released a lengthy statement about her time working under Whedon on both Buffy and Angel, in which she details her time on the franchise.
The actress alleges that Whedon’s “casually cruel” behavior included threatening to fire her, calling her “fat” when she was four months pregnant, asking her if she was going to “keep” her baby, and firing her after she gave birth.
Her full statement is below:
For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and even made excuses for certain events that traumatize me to this day. . Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working 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.
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.
Last summer, when Ray Fisher publicly accused Joss of abusive and unprofessional behavior toward the cast and crew during reshoots on the Justice League set in 2017, it gutted me.
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 four months pregnant, weighing 126 lbs. 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.
He called me in for a sit-down meeting to interrogate and berate me regarding a rosary tattoo I got to help me feel more spiritually grounded in an increasingly volatile work climate that affected me physically.
Joss intentionally refused multiple calls form my agents making it impossible to connect with him to tell him the news that I was pregnant.
Finally, once Joss was apprised of the situation, he requested a meeting with me.
In that closed-door meeting, he asked me if I was ‘going to keep it’ and 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.
At six months pregnant, I was asked to report to work at 1 am after my doctor recommended shortening my work hours.
Our to long and physically demanding days and the emotional stress of having to defend my needs as a working pregnant woman, I began to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. It was clear to me that 1 am call was retaliatory.
Back then, I felt powerless and alone. With norther option, I swallowed the mistreatment and carried on. After all, I had a baby on the way, and I was the primary breadwinner of my growing family.
Unfortunately, all this was happening during one of the most wonderful time in new motherhood. All that promise and joy sucked right out.
And Joss was the vampire.
Despite the harassment, a part of me still sought his validation. I made excuses for his behavior and repressed my own pain. I have even stated publicly at conventions that I’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 demoralized thinking. It is impossible to understand the psyche without enduring the abuse.
Our society and industry vilify the victims and glorify the abusers for their accomplishments. The onus is on the abused with an expectation to accept and adapt to be employable. No accountability on the transgressor who sails on unscathed. Unrepentant. Remorseless.
These memories and more have weighed on my soul like bricks for nearly half of my life. I wish I said something sooner. I wish I had the composure and courage all those years ago. But I muted myself in shame and conditioned silence.
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.
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 space for the healing of others who I know have experienced similar serialized abused of power.
Recently, I participated in WarnerMedia’s Justice League investigation because I believe Ray to be a person of integrity who is telling the truth.
His firing as Cyborg in The Flash was the last straw for me. Although I am not shocked, I am deeply pained by it.
It troubles and saddens me that in 2021 professionals STILL have to choose between whistleblowing in the workplace and job security.
It has taken me so long to muster the courage to make this statement publicly.
The gravity of it is not lost on me. As a single mother whose family’s livelihood is dependent on my craft, I’m scared.
Despite my dear about its impact on my future, I can no longer remain silent. This is overdue and necessary. It is time.
Amber Benson, who played Tara on the series, quote-tweeted Carpenter's statement, alongside the following response:
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
Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired from 1997-2004, and its spinoff, Angel, aired from 1999-2004.
A reboot of Buffy was announced in July 2018.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.