Charisma Carpenter accuses Joss Whedon of creating 'hostile and toxic work environments' on Buffy and Angel
"Joss was the vampire," wrote the actress in a statement posted on social media.
Charisma Carpenter is speaking out against Joss Whedon.
On Wednesday, the actress who portrayed Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel, posted a statement on social media in which she accused the show's creator of creating "hostile and toxic work environments" on both sets. Carpenter wrote that after nearly two decades of staying quiet and making excuses for "traumatizing" events, she has finally mustered the courage to call out Whedon for allegedly abusing his power on numerous occasions while working together.
Representatives for Whedon did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
"While he found his misconduct amusing, it only severed to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers," wrote Carpenter on Twitter. "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."
In her statement, Carpenter claimed that Whedon continuously made passive-aggressive threats to fire her, called her fat when she was four months pregnant, and pitted cast members against one another. Carpenter also claims that, after accusing her of sabotaging the show, Whedon "unceremoniously" fired her the following season, after she'd given birth.
Carpenter goes on to say that despite the harassment, part of her still sought Whedon's validation and would make excuses for her behavior. It has only been recently, due in part to the Time's Up movement and years of therapy, that she has been fully able to understand the impact of his treatment towards her. "These memories and more have weighed on my soul like bricks for nearly half of my life," she wrote. "I wish I had said something sooner...I muted myself in shame and conditioned silence." She then goes on to share the sense of responsibility she feels toward Fisher and others for remaining private about her own experience with Whedon who has "persisted in his harmful actions."
The actress also shared that she felt obligated to speak her truth in the wake of Ray Fisher's accusations of misconduct on the set of Justice League in June 2020. "Last summer, when Ray Fisher publicly accused Joss of abusive and unprofessional behavior toward the cast and crew during reshoots on the Justice League set in 2017, it gutted me," she wrote. "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." (WarnerMedia said in December that it concluded its investigation into Fisher's claims and that "remedial action" had been taken, but did not provide further details.)
The actress, who added that she participated in WarnerMedia's Justice League investigation, says her hope is that by coming forward, she will help create a "space for the healing of others" who she knows have experienced similar serialized abuses of power. (Fisher later responded to Carpenter's post on Twitter, writing, "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.")
Following Carpenter's comments, her Buffy costar Amber Benson tweeted her support. "Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top," wrote the actress who played Tara Maclay on the show. "There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later."
The show's titular star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, also posted to Instagram on Tuesday in the wake of Carpenter's accusations, writing, "While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summer, I don't want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon. I am more focused on raising my family and surviving a pandemic currently, so I will not be making any further statements at this time. I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out."
Michelle Trachtenberg, who played Dawn Summers in later seasons of Buffy, also shared her thoughts on social media. Reposting Gellar's words, she added: "I 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."
On Tuesday, Trachtenberg updated her post, claiming that there was a rule on the Buffy set that Whedon could not be alone with her after an unnamed incident.
"The last. Comment I will make on this. Was. There was a rule. Saying. He's not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again," she wrote.
A rep for Whedon did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment regarding Trachtenberg's updated statement.
Carpenter ended her statement by saying it has taken her a long time to muster the courage to make this statement publicly, and that the gravity of making it is not lost on her as a single mother whose livelihood is dependent on her craft. "Despite my fear about its impact on my future, I can no longer remain silent," she said. "This is overdue and necessary. It is time."
This post has been updated with statements from Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ray Fisher, and Michelle Trachtenberg.