Charisma Carpenter opens up about Joss Whedon's abuse on 'Buffy' sets, claims he called the pregnant actor fat
'While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers,' alleged Carpenter
American actor Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase in the supernatural drama series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and its spin-off series ‘Angel’, has come out with allegations of abuse against the shows’ creator Joss Whedon. She said that she stands with Ray Fisher.
In July 2020, Fisher who played the role of Cyborg in ‘Justice League’ criticized Whedon’s behavior as “gross”, “abusive”, and “unprofessional”. Whedon had taken over ‘Justice League’ after Zack Snyder stepped away from the project following the death of his daughter. Fisher wrote on Twitter: “Joss Wheadon’s [sic] on-set treatment of the cast and crew of ‘Justice League’ was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable. He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg,” but did not detail what the abusive behavior was.
Joss Wheadon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) July 1, 2020
He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg.
Taking to Twitter on February 10, Carpenter wrote that for nearly two decades, she had held her tongue and “even made excuses for certain events that” supposedly traumatized her to this day. She said that “Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions” while working on the sets of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’.
“While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers. 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 wrote.
She said that last year when Ray Fisher publicly accused Whedon of abusive and unprofessional behavior, “it gutted me. Joss has a history of being casually cruel. He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career. I know because I experienced it first-hand. Repeatedly.”
Carpenter said that Whedon made “ongoing, passive-aggressive threats to fire” her, which “wreaks havoc on a young actor's self-esteem”. She also said that he called her "fat" to colleagues when she was four months pregnant, weighing 126 lbs. In her words, “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.”
She also alleged that Whedon had berated her “regarding a rosary tattoo I got to help me feel more spiritually grounded”, and that the filmmaker “refused multiple calls from my agents making it impossible to connect with him to tell him the news that I was pregnant.”
When finally aware that she was pregnant, Whedon allegedly requested a meeting with Carpenter, and asked her if she was "going to keep it", and thereafter, allegedly “manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me.” As per the actor, Whedon attacked her “character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show, and then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth.”
She wrote, “At six months pregnant, I was asked to report to work at 1:00 AM after my doctor recommended shortening my work hours. Due to long and physically demanding days and the emotional stress of having to defend my needs as a working pregnant woman, I began to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. It was clear to me the 1:00 AM call was retaliatory.”
“Back then, I felt powerless and alone. With no other option, I swallowed the mistreatment and carried on,” wrote Carpenter. “After all, I had a baby on the way, and I was the primary breadwinner of my growing family. Unfortunately, all this was happening during one of the most wonderful time in new motherhood. All that promise and joy sucked right out. And Joss was the vampire.”
She said that despite the harassment, a part of her still sought his validation. “I made excuses for his behavior and repressed my own pain. I have even stated publicly at conventions that I'd work with him again,” adding that only after years of therapy and a wake-up call from the Time's Up movement, did she understand the complexities of this “demoralized thinking”.
“I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to Ray and others for remaining private about my experience with Joss and the suffering it has caused me,” she wrote. “It is abundantly evident that Joss has persisted in his harmful actions, continuing to create wreckage in his wake. My hope now, by finally coming forward about these experiences, is to create space for the healing of others who I know have experienced similar serialized abuses of power.”
Carpenter also revealed that she had participated In WarnerMedia's ‘Justice League’ investigation because “I believe Ray to be a person of integrity who is telling the truth. His firing as Cyborg in ‘The Flash’ was the last straw for me. Although I am not shocked, I am deeply pained by it.”