Starting with Ray Fisher’s allegations of misconduct on the set of Justice League (2017) back in July of 2020, the past few months in particular have seen waves of Hollywood insiders backing Fisher’s claims of Joss Whedon’s abusive behaviour.
Whedon is known for his work on cult classic TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and spin-off Angel as well as the short lived sci-fi/western Firefly, following up his small screen success with extensive work on numerous massive Hollywood endeavours such as 2012’s The Avengers and 2015 sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Numerous accounts of historical abuse are now surfacing as more and more stars are speaking of their experiences with Whedon, with countless more stars voicing their support of the alleged victims.
We’ve broken down all of the allegations made against Whedon so far, some of which date back to over two decades ago.
Kai Cole’s Essay
Cracks started appearing in Whedon’s male feminist image when his script for Age of Ultron faced criticism due to its insensitive handling of Natasha Romanoff’s infertility (using words like “monster” were particular low points), but the allegations truly began when Whedon’s ex-wife Kai Cole wrote an essay for The Wrap in August 2017.
In Cole’s essay, she accuses Whedon of being a “hypocrite preaching feminist ideals”, and that “he hid multiple affairs and a number of inappropriate emotional ones that he had with his actresses, co-workers, fans and friends” during their marriage. Cole alleged that Whedon used their marriage as protection, “so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist”.
Whedon neglected to comment on the allegations, citing concern for his children and respect for his ex-wife.
Justice League Allegations
Three months after the essay was published, Whedon oversaw extensive reshoots on Justice League after Zack Snyder left the project. Whedon and Snyder’s incompatible styles were blamed for the movie’s severe underperformance at the box office, but in July of 2020, another issue with Whedon’s time on Justice League came to light.
It’s been made incredibly public that Cyborg actor Ray Fisher called out Warner Bros. on the unprofessional working conditions on set (more on that here), but much of the initial vitriol was aimed directly at Whedon. Fisher tweeted that Whedon’s behaviour on set was “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable”, citing that a Non-Disclosure Agreement was behind the vague nature of his accusations. Kevin Smith (among others) have lent added credibility to Fisher’s claims, including a number of his Justice League co-stars. Warner Bros. denied enabling any unprofessional behaviour, but Whedon himself has made no comment about the allegations and has yet to respond to them publicly.
Problems in the Buffy Era
Jeff Pruitt and Sophia Crawford
After hearing Fisher’s allegations, Jeff Pruitt and Sophia Crawford, – the show’s stunt co-ordinator for its first four seasons and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stunt double, respectively – have since spoken out about their experiences with Whedon on set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Pruitt claimed in an interview with Metro that while he shared a “great” working relationship with Whedon to begin with, which soured as the writer/director achieved more success and exerted more creative control. Pruitt planned to leave to work on other projects due to the mounting tension, something which allegedly causing Whedon to “act as though [Pruitt] was having an affair or something behind his back”.
Pruitt’s partner, Sophia Crawford was then approached by Whedon. Crawford said,
“I was called into the office and I was given an ultimatum. And they said to me, “Come back to the show, but you need to leave Jeff, or don’t come back.” And so I basically started crying. And I said “F you. That’s horrible, bye.”
Shortly after, Pruitt left the show after further tensions between himself and Whedon, alleging that:
“Joss told both Sophia and I that ‘no one will ever hire you again after this’. He never says to anyone that he’ll see to it you never work in this town again. He is very careful. He only insinuates that no one will ever hire you again if you don’t please him.”
Again, Whedon has yet to comment on these allegations.
Marsters was introduced to Buffy during season 2 as punk vampire Spike, who quickly became a fan favourite, and, in spite of Whedon’s original plans for the character being that of a short-term villain, he was able to secure a lasting role on both Buffy and its spin-off, Angel.
On an episode of the Inside of You Podcast with Michael Rosenbaum, Marsters spoke of Whedon’s bizarre reaction to Spike’s popularity, saying,
“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? Dead. Dead!'”
Marsters felt that Whedon was absolutely serious, claiming that he “was angry at the situation”. He went on to explain that he found it understandable at the time, but acknowledged that it takes on new meaning in light of recent allegations.
Charisma Carpenter had a major role in early seasons of Buffy as well as in Angel, and as a result spent many years working closely with Whedon. Having talked about being mistreated by Whedon in the past, Carpenter seemingly endeavoured to excuse Whedon’s behaviours. This changed with a series of tweets on February 10, in which Carpenter bravely shared her story in detail and the effect it has had on her life and career, as well as lending Ray Fisher her full support in his pursuit of justice against Whedon, including explaining her co-operation with WarnerMedia’s Justice League investigation.
A number of Carpenter’s co-stars have since voiced their support, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eliza Dushku, David Boreanaz, Michelle Trachtenberg and Anthony Stewart Head. Co-star Nicholas Brendon has neglected to comment as yet, citing an injury that has paralysed his anus and penis as taking a priority, but has promised that his statement is forthcoming – and no, that’s not a joke, check it out here. Former co-star Amber Benson retweeted Carpenter’s statement, adding:
“Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top. @AllCharisma is speaking truth and I support her 100%. There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later. #IStandWithRayFisher #IstandWithCharismaCarpenter”
It’s also worth noting that Michelle Trachtenberg hinted at even more misconduct on Instagram, reposting Sarah Michelle Gellar’s statement of support with the caption:
“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. So now. People know. What Joss. Did. 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.”
Not-so-much serenity on the set of Firefly
After hearing Carpenter’s allegations, Jose Molina, credited with writing two episodes of Whedon’s cult classic sci-fi/Western Firefly, also spoke out about the toxic working environment created by Whedon.
Referencing Carpenter’s statement while sharing Benson’s tweet, Molina added:
“Casually cruel” is a perfect way of describing Joss. He thought being mean was funny. Making female writers cry during a notes session was especially hysterical. He actually liked to boast about the time he made one writer cry twice in one meeting. #IStandWithCharismaCarpenter”
With the sheer amount of allegations made against Whedon, as well as his silence on the matter, this situation is clearly far from over. But with more support pouring in for the victims with each passing day, as well as new accusations coming out as more and more victims are willing to speak up, it seems that a thorough investigation of Whedon’s historical on-set conduct is imminent.