Supporting Fisher, Charisma Carpenter Speaks Out Again
Yet again, the entertainment world is rocked by allegations of abuse by Charisma Carpenter against director Joss Whedon. So yet again, it’s time to say that kind of behavior is not okay: not on set, not behind the scenes, and for that matter, not any where.
But this isn’t Whedon’s story. And it’s time we stopped focusing on the abuser instead of the victim, so instead, this is the story of his alleged victims. In a tweet posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021, Carpenter accused Whedon of “abusing his power” during her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel.
Charisma Carpenter Speaks Out, Citing Hostile Work Environment
In the tweet, Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on Buffy and Angel from 1997 to 2004, said in a public statement that the director was often “casually cruel,” detailing a hostile work environment on set. She said the filmmaker continually derided her appearance and religion, and that he was especially cruel when he found out she was pregnant, even calling her “fat.”
Furthermore, she said that he repeatedly threatened to fire her, wreaking havoc on her self-esteem. Then, Carpenter details the impact of the abuse, saying that Whedon’s behavior alienated her from her peers, charging half way through the statement, “Whedon was the vampire,” before discussing her participation in the WarnerMedia’s Justice League investigation.
— charisma carpenter (@AllCharisma) February 10, 2021
Carpenter joins a growing number of people in the entertainment industry speaking out against Whedon’s misconduct.
Ray Fisher, Grateful for the Support of His Peers
Actor Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg in the Justice League franchise recently decided not to return to the role in the forthcoming The Flash (a move that Carpenter said “was the last straw” and prompted her to make her allegations public), has already spoken out in support of the actress.
Back in 2020, Fisher accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior on the set of 2017’s Justice League, the movie the director took over for Zack Snyder. In the tweet, he also claimed that former Warner Bros. Co-President of Production Jon Berg, and former DC Entertainment President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, both enabled the director’s alleged behavior.
Charisma Carpenter 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.”
— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) February 10, 2021
According to an official statement posted on The Warp in January 2021, which was updated on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021, WarnerMedia said it’s still standing by DC Films President Walter Hamada‘s decision to push Fisher out of the The Flash, following an investigation into the actor’s claims about misconduct during re-shoots for Justice League, saying:
As has been previously stated, an extensive investigation was conducted by an outside law firm, led by a former federal judge who has assured WarnerMedia that there were no impediments to the investigation. Last summer, Mr. Fisher was offered the opportunity to reprise his role as Cyborg in The Flash. Given his statement that he will not participate in any film associated with Mr. Hamada, our production is now moving on.
In a lengthy statement tweeted on January 13th, 2021, Fisher voiced his frustration with the studio’s decision to not include Cyborg in The Flash.
— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) January 13, 2021
It’s still not definitive what happened on set and behind-the-scenes of Justice League, and the subsequent investigation, but the studio’s response smacks of the abuses of power that likely allowed the misconduct and harassment on Buffy to go unchecked, as well.
Buffy and Angel Co-Stars Share Messages of Support for Carpenter
Shortly after Carpenter made her allegations public, Sarah Michelle Gellar (who played Buff Summers) addressed her former co-star’s statement on Instagram, saying that she “stands with survivors” and is “proud of them for speaking out.”
After Fisher and Carpenter went public with their allegations, other stars who appeared with Carpenter in Buffy and Angel came out in support of the actors, including Clare Kramer (who played Glory). She said she believes the actors who came forward, and added “a lot of this industry needs a reset.”
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….. #IStandWithCharismaCarpenter #IStandWithRayFisher
— Clare Kramer (@ClareKramer) February 10, 2021
Kramer is likely referring to the widespread misconduct problem in the Hollywood. According to a 2018 study, about 41% of women in media and entertainment – although some reports are as high as 94% of women in entertainment – say they’ve been sexually harassed by a colleague or boss at some point in their careers, which is the highest rate among any of the white-collar industries, confirming that the problem is unusually rampant in the media biz.
In addition to the showing of support, some of Carpenter’s co-stars chimed in about the “toxic” work environment that Whedon created on set, including Amber Benson (who played Tara). Benson said “many of [the Buffy cast] are still processing [damage] twenty plus years later.”
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 https://t.co/WJAmDGm76C
— Amber Benson (@amber_benson) February 10, 2021
Supporting Carpenter’s story, another actress who shared her own upsetting experiences on Whedon’s set is Michelle Trachtenberg. She was 14 years old when she started playing Dawn, and she has alleged that while on Buffy she was “subjected to, a lot.”
And this is not the first time we’ve heard accounts of similar disturbing and aggressive sexual behaviors from the director. In November 2017, the architect Kai Cole published a personal essay about her experience being married to Whedon for 16 years in The Wrap.
Kai Cole Speaks About Whedon’s Behavior on Buffy in 2017
For your convenience, the most relevant portions (to the most recent controversy) of Cole’s essay are included here:
There were times in our relationship that I was uncomfortable with the attention Joss paid other women. He always had a lot of female friends, but he told me it was because his mother raised him as a feminist, so he just liked women better. He said he admired and respected females, he didn’t lust after them. I believed him and trusted him. On the set of Buffy, Joss decided to have his first secret affair.
Fifteen years later, when he was done with our marriage and finally ready to tell the truth, he wrote me, “When I was running Buffy, I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.” But he did touch it…hoping that first affair, “would be ENOUGH, that THEN we could move on and outlast it.”
Joss admitted that for the next decade and a half, he hid multiple affairs and a number of inappropriate emotional ones that he had with his actresses, co-workers, fans and friends, while he stayed married to me.
By the time he finally confessed the truth, 15 years after his first affair on the set of Buffy, I was broken…My entire reality changed overnight, and I went from being a strong, confident woman, to a confused, frightened mess. I was eventually diagnosed with Complex PTSD and for the last five years, I have worked hard to make sense of everything that happened and find my balance again.
Despite Carpenter’s statement and other allegations, some notable members of the cast have remained silent, include David Boreanaz (who played Angel, and inappropriately got naked on set); Eliza Dushku (who played Faith, and was infamously fired from the CBS series Bull for reporting sexual harassment, despite the incident being caught on tape, in secret settlement to save her career); and James Marsters (who played Spike, and already went on record recalling a situation that made him uncomfortable on the Buffy set).
Buffy Stunt Team Calls Director Out for Abusive Behavior, in July 2020
When re-telling the history of Whedon’s behavior on the Buffy set, there are also the allegations made by the stunt team to Metro UK in July 2020. Stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt and stunt double Sophia Crawford called the director an “ego manic who believed his own hype,” and said that no one would hire them after they had a disagreement on set.
The couple, who got engaged while working on Buffy and who are now married, alleged that Whedon demanded they break up if Crawford wanted to continue working on the show and, after they refused, they found other directors reluctant to work with them. Crawford told Metro UK:
I really loved Buffy, but honestly Joss and Jeff had a bit of a falling out. And I’m sure it should have been resolved, could have been resolved, if they’d have just talked it over. But I was called into the office and I was given an ultimatum. And they said to me, “Come back to the show, but you need to leave Jeff, or don’t come back.” And so I basically started crying. And I said “F you. That’s horrible, bye.”
Afterwards, the couple were told they would be blacklisted from entertainment, but eventually, they were still able to work.
However, Whedon’s behavior towards the stunt team shows a pattern of behavior similar to how he behaved on Justice League (claims backed by Kevin Smith and Jason Momoa), and as Momoa said: “people need to be held accountable.”
Whedon’s MANY Other Controversies, But In Brief
Just so we don’t forget the many other controversies, besides Fisher and Carpenter, that have plagued the The Avengers director, here is a quick list.
First, Whedon was blasted for his sexist first attempt at a Wonder Woman script. Although he used to be known for writing strong female characters, he recently came under fire because those characters typically fit one beauty standard. Whedon was routinely blasted for his behavior (and writing) on the blog, “Joss Whedon Is Not Feminist,” which included a previous reference to Carpenter’s pregnancy story.
Second, he was also criticized for that line about Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron – you know, the one where Natasha was sterilized so that nothing would get in the way of her killing. And then, she’s finally able to start a relationship with the Hulk because they’re both “monsters.” (Maybe Marvel Studios will retcon this part of the story in the upcoming Black Widow film…)
This is a developing story on Carpenter’s allegations.