Sarah Michelle Gellar Talks About 'Extremely Toxic Male Set' Early in Her Career

It’s been more than a year since allegations of a “hostile and toxic” work environments on the sets of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” were first raised, and this is the closest Sarah Michelle Gellar has come to confirming them.

During her appearance at TheWrap’s Power of Women Summit, Gellar talked about how impactful it’s been for her working with supportive women throughout her career, contrasting that with a far more negative experience earlier in her career.

“For so long, I was on a set that I think was known for being an extremely toxic male set, and so that was ingrained in my head that that was what all sets were like, and that women were pitted against each other — that if women became friends, then we became too powerful, so you had to keep that down,” she said, per TheWrap, without specifying which set she was talking about.

“And now that I’ve had this opportunity to work with so many more women and men that support women as well, I realized how easy an experience it can be,” she continued. “But … unfortunately we’re still in that place where all of those departments a lot of times need to be women for us to have a voice.”

Gellar didn’t name any names in her comments, but it’s possible she was referring to Joss Whedon, the creator and showrunner of the longest single job she’s held in the industry, starring as Buffy Summers from 1997 to 2003.

If so, she wouldn’t be the first from that set to call it “toxic.” TooFab has reached out to representatives for Whedon for comment.

The initial allegations came in February 2021 from Charisma Carpenter, who ultimately starred as Cordelia Chase on both “Buffy” and “Angel” across their respective television runs. They also came on the heels of Whedon facing additional allegations stemming from “Justice League.”

At the time, Whedon was under investigation by WarnerMedia for his alleged actions on the set of “Justice League. He was called out by Ray Fisher, who called his behavior “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” and Gal Gadot, who said he threatened her career.

In an interview with Vulture in January 2022, Whedon denied these allegations, saying, “I don’t threaten people. Who does that?”

In the wake of those allegations, Carpenter came forward with accusations of her own via social media, claiming that Whedon “abused his power on numerous occasions” during their time working together. Several other “Buffy” actors, including Amber Benson and Clare Kramer, spoke in support of Carpenter’s words.

“While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me and alienate me from my peers,” Carpenter wrote. “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.”

She accused Whedon of threatening to fire her, calling her fat when she was pregnant and ultimately doing just that once she gave birth. Whedon admitted to Vulture he was “not mannerly” toward her, but denied calling her fat: “Of course I didn’t.”

He did however admit to getting aggressive. “I was young. I yelled, and sometimes you had to yell,” he told the outlet. “This was a very young cast, and it was easy for everything to turn into a cocktail party.”

Gellar hinted at the discord herself at the time, writing on Instagram in February 2021, “While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon.”

She went on to say that her focus is her family and the ongoing Covid pandemic, “But I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.”

Gellar again declined to elaborate on her own negative experiences in September 2021, telling The New York Times that while she’s had her “fair share” of them, “I don’t win by telling my stories, emotionally, for me.”

She then offered an explanation, at least in part, for why she chooses to keep them private, adding, “I look at people that tell their stories, and I’m so impressed. But in this world where people get torn apart, and victim blaming and shaming, I just keep my stories in here.”

In response to Gellar’s original post, Michelle Trachtenberg, who played her younger sister Dawn on “Buffy,” thanked Gellar for her comments and added, “am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman…. To repost this. Because. This must. Be known. As a teenager. With his not appropriate behavior….very. Not. Appropriate. So now. People know. What Joss. Did.”

The last. Comment I will make on this,” she continued. “Was. There was a rule. Saying. He’s not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again.”

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