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Film and TV

Buffy the Vampire Slayer stars Charisma Carpenter and Amber Benson accuse Joss Whedon of ‘toxic’ abuse

Josh Milton February 10, 2021
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Headshots of Charisma Carpenter and Amber Benson smiling to the camera on the red carpet

Buffy the Vampire Slayer stars Charisma Carpenter and Amber Benson. (Getty Images)

Charisma Carpenter has accused Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon of “repeated” abuse against her in an explosive set of allegations Wednesday afternoon (10 February).

Carpenter, who played self-absorbed but whip-smart debutante Cordelia Chase on the beloved show, posted a lengthy statement detailing the years of reported hostility on Twitter.

In the wake of an investigation into Whedon’s on-set behaviour on the Justice League prompted by Ray Fisher, Carpenter joined the growing chorus of those criticising the 56-year-old producer.

She accused Whedon of “abusing his power” across her stints on Buffy and spin-off Angel. Haunting incidents which as much as Whedon shrugged aside as “amusing” only stoked the actor’s “performance anxiety”.

It also “disempowered” her and “alienated” her “from my peers”.

“The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition which I still suffer. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively.”

Co-star Amber Benson threw her support to Carpenter, seeking to amplify her claims of Whedon’s “toxicity”.

“Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top,” Benson, who played Tara Maclay on Buffy, tweeted.

“Charisma Carpenter 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 20-plus years.

“#IStandWithRayFisher. #IStandWithCharismaCarpenter.”

Joss Whedon was a ‘vampire’ that ‘sucked the joy’ out of Charisma Carpenter’s life, star alleges

Charisma Carpenter, 50, went onto accuse Joss Whedon of making “passive-aggressive threats to fire her”, being “casually cruel”, “pitting people” against one another and making “mean and disparaging about others”.

This tinderbox workplace that Whedon fanned was ignited, Carpenter continued, when she became pregnant in 2002 while working on Angel.

Whedon called her “fat” when she was four months pregnant, she alleged, and, upon receiving the news of her pregnancy, “requested a meeting” with her and asked “me if I was ‘going to keep it’ and manipulatively weaponised my womanhood and faith against me”, as well as dealing broadsides against her character.

He also, on one occasion, allegedly had a meeting with her to “interrogate and berate me regarding a rosary tattoo”.

(L-R) Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Head, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Charisma Carpenter and Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty Images)

A tattoo, she added, that she got to “help me feel more spiritually grounded in an increasingly volatile work climate that affected me physically”.

Six months pregnant, Carpenter was asked to “report to work at 1am” after she asked, on her doctor’s behest, to work shorter hours. The call, which she described as “retaliatory”, reportedly caused her to experience Braxton Hicks contractions.

“I felt powerless and alone,” she said. “With no other option, I swallowed the mistreatment and carried on.” The “promise and joy of motherhood”, she said, was “sucked right out”.

“And Joss was the vampire.”

It’s a slew of accusations certain to further shake Whedon’s once-celebrated reputation as one of Hollywood’s most influential, albeit grouchy, creators of cult classics.

Fisher last year accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behaviour on the set of the 2017 film JusticeLeague in a tweet last year. Him going public against Whedon both emboldened Carpenter to speak out – “#IStandWithRayFisher”, she wrote – but also “gutted” her.

PinkNews contacted representatives of Joss Whedon for comment.

Related topics: Amber Benson, buffy the vampire slayer, Charisma Carpenter, Joss Whedon, TV

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