buffy

Charisma Carpenter Accuses Joss Whedon of Creating a Toxic Work Environment

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on the Joss Whedon series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel from 1997 to 2004, has come forward with allegations of Whedon’s emotionally abusive and unprofessional behavior as a director and producer. In a two-part statement posted to Twitter on February 10 captioned “My truth,” Carpenter states that Whedon’s inappropriate and cruel behavior on set, particularly when she was pregnant, triggered an ongoing chronic physical condition and anxiety. She writes about his “ongoing, passive-aggressive threats,” and that he was “mean and biting, disparaging about others openly, and often played favorites, pitting people against one another to compete and vie for his attention and approval.” This statement also has the hashtag #IStandWithRayFisher.

Carpenter also describes a particular incident of emotionally abusive behavior during her pregnancy during the filming of Angel: “He asked me if I was going to ‘keep it’ and manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me. He proceeded to attack my character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show, and then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth.” Carpenter says that Whedon then gave her a 1 a.m. call time after her doctor “recommended shortening my work hours,” and that due to the stress and long hours, she experienced Braxton Hicks contractions. Carpenter admits she repressed her own pain for years, but that the Time’s Up movement motivated her to come forward because “[o]ur society and industry vilify the victims and glorify the abusers for their accomplishments. The onus is on the abused with an expectation to accept and adapt to be employable. No accountability on the transgressor who sails on unscathed. Unrepentant. Remorseless.”

Carpenter published this statement in solidarity with actor Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg in Justice League. Fisher accused Whedon of abusive behavior and racism on the set of that film’s reshoots, which prompted WarnerMedia to launch an internal investigation into Fisher’s claims. In her statement, Carpenter says she participated in Warner’s Justice League investigation “because I believe Ray to be a person of integrity who is telling the truth,” and it “troubles and saddens me that in 2021 professionals STILL have to choose between whistleblowing in the workplace and job security.” In January 2021, Warner Bros. cut Fisher from the cast of the upcoming DC film The Flash, in which he was supposed to reprise his role as Cyborg. Carpenter calls this firing “the last straw.”

Updated February 10, 1:10 p.m.: Amber Benson, who played Tara on Buffy, has shared her support for Charisma Carpenter on Twitter, writing, “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.”

Charisma Carpenter Accuses Joss Whedon of ‘Toxic’ Behavior