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SYFY WIRE Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy star Charisma Carpenter on Joss Whedon: He’s ‘unable to be accountable and just apologize’

In a wide-ranging interview, Whedon also admits he "regrets" affairs from his Buffy and Angel days.

By Benjamin Bullard
Charisma Carpenter

For nearly two years, director Joss Whedon has remained mostly out of the public eye, even as he became the focus of a publicity maelstrom that started with Cyborg actor Ray Fisher. Fisher’s 2020 allegations against Whedon of unprofessional conduct toward himself and other members of the Justice League cast eventually led to more former Whedon collaborators coming forward with allegations of their own — including members of the original cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff series Angel.

Whedon recently broke his long silence surrounding the controversy, speaking out for the first time since Fisher’s original accusations in an extended profile that appeared this week in New York Magazine. For at least one Buffy alum, though, Whedon’s current framing of past events doesn’t square with her own memories, and his vague but amiable remarks about their time together ring hollow.

In a series of tweets reacting to Whedon’s recent comments, Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on both Buffy and Angel, doubled down on her long-held support for Fisher — while describing Whedon as a “former tyrannical narcissistic boss who is still unable to be accountable and just apologize.”

Carpenter came forward early last year with accusations that Whedon had “abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.” She described an environment in which Whedon allegedly compelled actors to compete for his attention, and said he had made disparaging remarks about her own pregnancy at the time — including how pregnancy might adversely affect her appearance, as well as her future on the series.

Whedon’s present-day recollection of his interactions with Carpenter on the Buffy and Angel sets sounds far more benign. “That seems false. I don’t understand that story even a little bit,” he said of Carpenter’s accusations, while confessing that his conduct toward Carpenter about her pregnancy, at the time, “was not mannerly.”

“Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming,” he added. “She struggled sometimes with her lines, but nobody could hit a punch line harder than her.” But Whedon flatly denied to New York Magazine that he had ever called Carpenter “fat” during her pregnancy. “Of course I didn’t,” he claimed.

Whedon also addressed separate, longstanding allegations that he’d engaged in romantic affairs, while married, with people connected to the production of Buffy. “I feel f***ing terrible about them” now, he said, explaining that he felt that he “had” to sleep with various partners during the show’s late-1990s production run — lest he might “always regret” not doing so.

Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole, made major early accusations against the creator back in 2017, writing at The Wrap that he had couched his closeness to potential romantic interests under the guise of sympathetic feminism. “He always had a lot of female friends, but he told me it was because his mother raised him as a feminist, so he just liked women better,” Cole wrote. The two separated in 2012; Whedon has since remarried.

“I was made a target by my ex-wife, and people exploited that cynically,” Whedon told New York Magazine in admitting to some — but not all — of Cole’s accusations, which predated by nearly three years Fisher’s first Justice League bombshell. “She put out a letter saying some bad things I’d done and saying some untrue things about me, but I had done the bad things and so people knew I was gettable.”

Fisher and Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot each remain firm in their conviction that Whedon behaved unprofessionally during their time together on the Justice League set. Whedon’s denial that he ever threatened Gadot’s career — which he told New York Magazine was perhaps the result of a language barrier; a case of Gadot simply failing to grasp the nuances of a joke — essentially amounts to gaslighting, Gadot suggested in the same article. “I understood [him] perfectly,” she said.

On Twitter this week, Carpenter was more emphatic as she came to Gadot’s defense. “I believe Gal Gadot not only understands career threats in English but also in Hebrew and Arabic. Possibly French, Spanish, and Italian too,” she wrote.