Joss Whedon is a third-generation TV writer who followed his father and grandfather’s footsteps into TV writing (via IMDb). He’s the creative mind behind cult classic TV shows including Firefly and Angel, but its Buffy The Vampire Slayer that earned him a reputation as a feminist TV writer in the ’90s. In 2006, he was honored by Equality Now, an organization that envisions “a world in which women and men have equal rights under the law, and full enjoyment of their human rights.” He even spoke at a benefit dinner for the organization in 2013, declaring, “If you’re someone who genuinely believes that women don’t deserve or aren’t as much as men, you’re like the plague.”
In recent years, allegations have surfaced that suggest Whedon should put himself in “the plague” category and a few other unpleasant categories along with it. He’s been accused of antifeminist and abusive behavior on more than one set — and the allegations stretch back for decades. After one former collaborator came forward, a cascade of claims followed like a waterfall. So, we’re looking into all of the celebs that can’t stand Joss Whedon.
Ray Fisher accused Joss Whedon of 'abusive' on-set behavior
Joss Whedon took over as director of the DC film Justice League when the original director Zack Snyder’s daughter died. According to actor Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg in the film, the vibe on Whedon’s set was far from pleasant. In June 2020, Fisher officially retracted a glowing statement he’s made about the director years earlier, claiming he only did so at the behest of the studio.
Fisher followed that up with and even more direct tweet: “Joss Wheadon’s 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. Accountability>Entertainment.” The actor then told Forbes that Whedon, Snyder, and studio executives engaged in the racist “erasure” of characters of color from the film, a claim the outlet determined to be “primarily based on third-person information” and was later amended. Whedon’s only response to Fisher’s allegations, as of this writing, has been a statement to Forbes through representation, calling the claims “false” and stating that the color mixing on a film of this scale is not only “standard,” but also a huge group effort.
Former Warner Bros. co-president of production Jon Berg responded to the allegations against him and former DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer Geoff Johns via Variety, saying it was “categorically untrue that we enabled any unprofessional behavior.”
Jason Momoa stands with Ray Fisher
Ray Fisher announced via Twitter on Aug. 20, 2020 that a third-party investigation into his allegations of a “toxic and abusive work environment” had begun. The situation quickly escalated in September 2020 when Warner Brothers released a statement alleging Fisher had been uncooperative. “This investigator has attempted multiple times to meet with Mr. Fisher to discuss his concerns but, to date, Mr. Fisher has declined to speak to the investigator,” the statement read in-part (via IndieWire). ” [Warner Bros.] also remains committed to investigating any specific and credible allegation of misconduct, which thus far Mr. Fisher has failed to provide.
Fisher then provided documentation of his cooperation on Twitter. A screenshot of an email to his team revealed he asked for third-party representative in conversations for his protection because findings were being reported to Warner Bros. Pictures legal department. On September 14, 2020 Justice League actor Jason Momoa released a statement on Instagram supporting Fisher. “[Warner Brothers Pictures] NEEDS PROPER INVESTIGATION,” the actor wrote, before alleging that the studio attempted to promote a project with which he was linked “to try to distract from Ray Fisher speaking up about the s****y way we were treated on Justice League reshoots.”
Joss Whedon has not responded to Momoa as of this writing. Fisher, who also publicly stated that he would no longer work with DC Films President Walter Hamada, was fired from his role as Cyborg in the film The Flash, in January 2021.
Gal Gadot 'took care of' her own incident with Joss Whedon
Ray Fisher and Jason Momoa aren’t the only members of the Justice League cast to have problems with Joss Whedon. Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman in DC’s film franchise, also expressed support for Fisher via Los Angeles Times. “I’m happy for Ray to go out and speak his truth,” the star said. “I wasn’t there with the guys when they shot with Joss Whedon — I had my own experience with [him], which wasn’t the best one, but I took care of it there and when it happened. I took it to the higher-ups and they took care of it. But I’m happy for Ray to go up and say his truth.”
We can only speculate about the incident, but YouTube film reviewer Grace Randolph has a theory. Randolph tweeted that Gadot took issue with a scene in which Ezra Miller’s character, The Flash, had to fall on Wonder Woman. “Gal Gadot didn’t want to film this scene, so Whedon did it w/ a stunt double. That’s why you can’t see her face,” Randolph tweeted, along with a picture of the scene.
Gadot also told the Los Angeles Times, “I’m very happy for Zack [Snyder] to have this opportunity of having his version of the movie out there.” At the behest of an unrelenting online fandom, Snyder returned to the film for a $70 million re-shoot, known as the “Snyder Cut,” which will be released on HBO Max.
Charisma Carpenter called Joss Whedon a 'vampire'
Ray Fisher’s accusations against Joss Whedon empowered actors from Whedon’s other projects with their own stories of the alleged abuse to come forward. Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on the hit teen drama Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the spinoff Angel, provided a detailed account of the alleged abuse she suffered because of Whedon.
“Joss has a history of being casually cruel,” Carpenter wrote in a lengthy statement posted to Twitter. “He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career. I know because I experienced it first-hand. Repeatedly,” the statement read, in part. Carpenter also claimed Whedon called her “‘fat’ to colleagues” when she was pregnant. “He asked me if I was ‘going to keep it’ and manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me,” she alleged. Carpenter also described abusive work conditions in her statement. Whedon allegedly marred Carpenter’s pregnancy experience. “All of that promise and joy sucked right out. And Joss was the vampire,” she claimed. She said Whedon fired her after the baby was born. Whedon has yet to respond to Carpenter’s allegations, per NBC News.
Actor David Boreanaz, who played Angel on both of Whedon’s vampire series, supported Carpenter on Twitter (via New York Post). “I am here for you to listen and support you. Proud of your strength,” Boreanaz, whose Twitter account is now locked, tweeted. Carpenter tweeted gratitude for his public and private support.
Michelle Trachtenberg said Joss Wheedon was 'not to be alone' with her
Charisma Carpenter’s story of alleged abuse and toxic conditions in Joss Whedon’s work environments encouraged other actors from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer franchise to come forward with their own stories. Michelle Trachtenberg got the role of Buffy Summers’ sister, Dawn Summers, when she was just a teenager. She appeared on Buffy The Vampire Slayer from 2000-2003.
After actress Sarah Michelle Gellar posted a statement of support on Instagram for those sharing their experiences with Whedon, Trachtenberg reposted Gellar’s words with a statement of her own on Instagram. “I am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman….To repost this. Because. This must. Be known,” Trachtenberg’s Instagram post read. She doesn’t go into detail but says that Whedon’s behavior toward her as a teenager was “very. Not. Appropriate.” She concluded, “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.” Whedon did not responded to People‘s request for comment on Trachtenberg’s statement.
Joss Whedon 'terrified' James Marsters
James Marsters joined the Buffyverse in Season 2 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, playing villainous vampire Spike. Despite playing the “bad guy,” Spike was a fan favorite, so Marsters eventually became a regular on the show and moved on to appear on the spinoff Angel from 1999-2004.
Marsters told Michael Rosenbaum on the Inside Of You podcast in 2020 that Joss Whedon had an allegedly violent reaction to the character Spike’s popularity. “I was terrified of Joss,” he said. The Marvel’s Runaways actor said Whedon had to be talked into creating Angel as a “romantic interest” and that Angel was meant to be the one exception to his rule that vampires were bad. Whedon was surprised that the audience liked Spike. “I remember he backed me up against a wall one day and he was just like ‘I don’t care how popular you are, kid, you’re dead, you hear me? You’re dead!” Marsters remembered. “I was just like, ‘Uh you know, it’s your football, man.'”
Marsters was sympathetic to Whedon’s creative frustrations with Spike at the time, however, and even called the director “such a nice guy.” He later posted a statement on Instagram in February 2021, which read, in part, “I do not support abuse of any kind and am heartbroken to learn of the experiences of some of the cast. I send my love and support to all involved.”
The Buffyverse cast and crew support actors alleging abuse against Joss Whedon
The cast and crew of Joss Whedon’s shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel have taken to social media to support the actors who have alleged abuse. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy Summers posted a statement on Instagram: “While I’m proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, 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. But I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.” It’s unknown if Gellar has her own stories to tell.
Marti Nixon, who was a writer, director, and executive producer on Buffy (via Us Weekly) tweeted, “I would like to validate what the women of Buffy are saying and support them in telling their story. They deserve to be heard. I understand where [Charisma], Amber, Michelle and all the women who have spoken out are coming from. She also shared an article she co-wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, titled “How the TV Industry Can Better Protect Writers From the Next Toxic Showrunner.”
Anthony Head, who played Giles on Buffy, told ITV’s This Morning (via Daily Mail) that he’s frustrated with his memories of the show, thinking about signs he missed that his co-stars were suffering. “I’m seriously gutted … because my fondest memory of Buffy is the fact that it was so empowering.”
Joss Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole wrote an essay about their marriage
Joss Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole (above), warned the world about him three years before Ray Fisher made his allegations. Cole wrote a column for The Wrap in 2017 following her divorce from the writer. Whedon allegedly cheated on her regularly. “On the set of ‘Buffy’ Joss decided to have his first secret affair,” Cole wrote. She said he admitted to her, “‘I lived two lives.'”
Whedon tried to make amends to Cole by telling her the truth when their marriage ended. “Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth,” she wrote.
“I was eventually diagnosed with Complex PTSD and for the last five years, I have worked hard to make sense of everything that happened and find my balance again.” Since the truth of her marriage became public, Cole said, “I want the people who worship him to know he is human, and the organizations giving him awards for his feminist work, to think twice in the future about honoring a man who does not practice what he preaches.” A spokesperson for Whedon told The Wrap that Cole’s writing “includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations which can be harmful to their family” but did not comment further. Cole ended her column, “I am free.”
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