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Sarah Michelle Gellar: ‘Buffy’ set was ‘extremely toxic’

Nearly a year after multiple cast members accused “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon of misconduct, Sarah Michelle Gellar opened up Wednesday about her experience working on the hit series.

At the Wrap’s Power of Women Summit in Los Angeles, the 45-year-old actor contrasted her time on the hit fantasy series with more empowering work environments she’s experienced on other projects. Gellar, who played the titular heroine in “Buffy,” briefly spoke out against series creator Joss Whedon last year but did not elaborate then on her decision to do so after multiple cast members had accused the series creator of misconduct.

“For so long, I was on a set that I think was known for being an extremely toxic male set, and so that was ingrained in my head that that was what all sets were like, and that women were pitted against each other — that if women became friends, then we became too powerful, so you had to keep that down,” Gellar said during the Power of Women event.

“And now that I’ve had this opportunity to work with so many more women and men that support women as well, I realized how easy an experience it can be, but … unfortunately we’re still in that place where all of those departments a lot of times need to be women for us to have a voice.”

In February 2021, Gellar released a statement on Instagram saying she was “proud” to have her name attached to Buffy Summers, but did not want “to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon.” Though she declined to make “any further statements at this time,” Gellar added, “I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.”

Around the same time Gellar came forward, her “Buffy” co-star Charisma Carpenter claimed in a statement that Whedon “abused his power on multiple occasions,” had “a history of being casually cruel” and “created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career.” Carpenter — who portrayed Buffy’s high-school frenemy Cordelia Chase — also voiced her support for “Justice League” actor Ray Fisher after he accused Whedon of exhibiting “gross, abusive, unprofessional” behavior behind the scenes of the DC film.

Days after Carpenter and Gellar called Whedon out on social media, fellow “Buffy” alum Michelle Trachtenberg detailed her own negative experience with the producer. Trachtenberg — who was a teenager when she portrayed Buffy’s younger sister Dawn — claimed that after subjecting her to “very bad,” inappropriate behavior, Whedon was not allowed to be alone with her on set.

Earlier this year, Whedon rejected his reputation as “an abusive monster” in response to the allegations leveled against him by both “Buffy” and “Justice League” cast members.

“Could I have been a better showrunner? Absolutely,” he told New York Magazine in January. “Should I have been nicer? … I think I’m one of the nicer showrunners that’s ever been.”

Representatives for Whedon did not immediately respond Thursday to The Times’ request for comment.

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