Joss Whedon has broken his silence on the many allegations, made almost a year ago, about his behavior as a showrunner on series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel.
It was last February when Buffyverse alumna Charisma Carpenter, in a series of Instagram posts she penned (in part to #StandWithRayFisher), elaborated on claims she had made over the years, including about what she called Whedon’s “history of being casually cruel,” his creation of “hostile and toxic work environments,” what the Angel boss allegedly said and did to Cordelia’s portrayer during her real-life pregnancy.
“Joss has a history of being casually cruel. He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career,” Carpenter wrote. “Like his ongoing, passive-aggressive threats to fire me…. 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.”
Carpenter also claimed that when discussing her pregnancy, which happened during Angel Season 4, Whedon “asked me if I was ‘going to keep it.'”
Amber Benson, who played Tara on Buffy, echoed Carpenter’s sentiment, saying on Twitter, “Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top…. There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later.”
Speaking for the first time since these claims (as well as allegations about his behavior as the Justice League superhero movie’s fill-in writer/director) were made, Whedon admitted to New York magazine that he was not “civilized” during his earliest days as a TV showrunner. “I yelled, and sometimes you had to yell,” he said. This was a very young cast [on Buffy], and it was easy for everything to turn into a cocktail party.”
Regarding the very specific claims laid out by Carpenter, Whedon admitted he was “not mannerly” but claimed he “did not call her fat” during her pregnancy.
“Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming,” he countered.
In the wake of Carpenter’s detailed account, and as multiple cast members from both shows shared their support online, Buffy vet Michelle Trachtenberg wrote on Instagram, “This must. Be known,” that as a teenage actress at the time, “There was a rule. Saying. [Joss is] not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again.”
New York reported that while Whedon “had no idea what [Trachtenberg] was talking about” in her cryptic missive, a Buffy insider claimed that “an informal rule did exist” stemming from a closed-door meeting between the two that had left Dawn’s 16-year-old portrayer “shaken.”
Again, the complete, detailed discussion with Whedon — including his suggestion that he is “one of the nicer showrunners that’s ever been” — can be found on New York magazine’s website.