Actor Charisma Carpenter accused director and producer Joss Whedon of being emotionally abusive on set ― and said that while he “found his misconduct amusing,” his actions traumatized her.
Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on Whedon’s series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” from 1997 to 2004, tweeted a two-part statement on Wednesday captioned, “My truth.” She wrote that Whedon’s “casually cruel” behavior on set was particularly vile when she was pregnant and alleged that his abuse toward her triggered anxiety and an ongoing chronic physical condition.
“He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career. I know because I experienced it first-hand. Repeatedly,” Carpenter wrote.
She added: “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.”
HuffPost reached out to Whedon for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
Carpenter detailed Whedon’s especially vicious behavior when she became pregnant while working on “Angel.”
“He asked me if I was going to ‘keep it’ and manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me,” she wrote of a closed-door meeting they had. “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.”
When she was six months pregnant with her first child and her doctor “recommended shortening my work hours,” Carpenter said, Whedon gave her a 1 a.m. call time. She said this “retaliatory” move, which forced her to work “long and physically demanding” workdays, combined with emotional stress caused her to experience Braxton Hicks contractions.
Carpenter wrote that she had repressed her 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.”
Her initial post included the hashtag #IStandWithRayFisher, a reference to the “Justice League” star who spoke out about Whedon’s “abusive” and “unprofessional” behavior in July of last year.
“[Whedon’s] on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable,” tweeted Fisher, who played Cyborg in the 2017 superhero film. Whedon completed the movie after original director Zack Snyder left following the death of his daughter.
Carpenter wrote that she felt “gutted” after reading Fisher’s tweets last summer. She noted that she participated in Warner Media’s “Justice League” investigation because “I believe Ray to be a person of integrity who is telling the truth.”
When Fisher confirmed he had been dropped from the upcoming DC Universe film “The Flash” in January, Carpenter wrote it was “the last straw for me.”
“It troubles and saddens me that in 2021 professionals STILL have to choose between whistleblowing in the workplace and job security,” she added.
Shortly after Carpenter published her statement, Amber Benson, who played Tara Maclay on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” spoke out as well, tweeting that the set of the beloved teen drama was “a toxic environment.”
“There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later,” Benson wrote alongside the hashtags #IStandWithRayFisher and #IStandWithCharismaCarpenter.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played the titular role on “Buffy,” also released a statement Wednesday.
Although her statement makes no specific allegations, Gellar wrote, “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 said she stands with “all survivors of abuse” and is “proud of them for speaking out.”