Joss Whedon Had ‘No Excuse’ to ‘Lash Out’ at ‘Buffy’ Female Stars, Cast Details in New Book

"Give me a f*cking break that you’re still talking about being the high school nerd that didn’t get the girls," Danny Strong said.
Joss Whedon arrives at the world premiere of "Avengers: Infinity War" on Monday, April 23, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Joss Whedon
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Recent headline-making allegations against Joss Whedon are getting another look in a new book about the making of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

In Evan Ross Katz’s “Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How ‘Buffy’ Staked Our Hearts,” just published by Hachette Books to coincide with the series’ 25th anniversary, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” cast and crew members spoke out about working with showrunner Joss Whedon, who has since faced toxic workplace allegations.

While Whedon has maintained that he was “never physical” with actresses or crew members, “Buffy” alums Charisma Carpenter, Danny Strong, Emma Caulfield, and costume designer Cynthia Bergstrom addressed the numerous allegations against the writer-director in Katz’s book.

“Joss always talked to me about how the show was about a young girl becoming an empowered woman and how — and this is what really gets me — how he didn’t want to see the pretty blonde victimized, how he wanted to see her as the hero of the story,” Bergstrom said. “And now in light of everything that’s come out, I’m just thinking, then why the fuck did you victimize everybody? Why did you traumatize? What is wrong with you?”

The series stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as vampire-hunting teen Buffy, who slays not only the souls of blood-sucking demons but also juggles two brooding vampire love interests, played by David Boreanaz and James Marsters. In its original run, “Buffy” aired from 1997 to 2003 on The WB and UPN. On March 10, Fuse announced the series will return to cable in reruns in October 2022.

“Buffy” actor Strong admitted that the accusations against Whedon were “far beyond” what he realized at the time. “Look, my experience on the set was a very positive experience, including my interactions with Joss. And so I wasn’t aware of how toxic the set was for some,” Strong said. “And it seems like who it was toxic for was the really attractive women. That was who he was creating really unpleasant working experiences for. And it’s not in your typical sexual-harasser way, even. These stories, they’re sort of atypical in creating this petty, almost high-school-like environment in pitting the pretty girls all against each other. I’m sure there’s a lot of psychological depth about what that says about Joss.”

Or, as actress Caulfield recalled thinking when the social media allegations came out in 2017, “Well, that’s out finally…I don’t know why it took people so long to have an understanding that this person who fanboys put on a pedestal and think can do no wrong finally got dethroned.”

Charisma Carpenter, who went on to star in “Buffy” spin-off “Angel,” previously alleged that Whedon was verbally abusive and discriminated against her when she was pregnant, ultimately leading to her firing.

“I was let know how it was fucking everything up for the season,” Carpenter said of the time she announced she was pregnant during the show.

The cycle of abuse “starts at the top,” co-star Amber Benson added.

“I think because this was Joss’s first show, there were things that got dropped,” Benson continued. “I think sometimes it made the set feel tense because people were like, ‘I don’t know that I’m important. Like, I know Sarah [Michelle Gellar] is important because she’s the name of the show, but am I important?’ And I think that that made it hard. And I think it puts a lot of pressure on relationships with Sarah and other actors and then other actors with each other. I think there was a lot of tension in that way.”

Yet, fellow actor Strong pointed out that Whedon’s personality wouldn’t have been different with more experience or not.

“I think that this mentality that we’re seeing in him is kind of like this high school nerd who’s angry that the pretty girls didn’t like him and he gets older and he’s gonna lash out at the pretty girls or hook up with some of the pretty girls, and the pretty girls that don’t want to hook up with him he’s going to lash out at them in some way or turn other girls against them,” Strong stated.

The “Dopesick” creator added, “I just want to say if you’re in your mid-thirties, fuck you. That’s not an excuse. You should know better by then. You’re very rich. You’re very successful. Give me a fucking break that you’re still talking about being the high school nerd that didn’t get the girls. It’s not an excuse to mistreat people.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed book excerpt quotes to Charisma Carpenter. They were spoken by Amber Benson.

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