After Ray Fisher called out Joss Whedon on Twitter for “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior on the Justice League set, allegations of Whedon’s toxic behavior began pouring in. Charisma Carpenter shared her story about the alleged traumatizing treatment she experienced from the Buffy and Angel showrunner, and many of Carpenter’s co-stars backed her claims. Gal Gadot has said numerous times that the Justice League director threatened her career due to a disagreement on set, and Variety published an exposé in which former crew members detailed Whedon’s problematic behavior behind the scenes.
To fans, Whedon went from “feminist hero” to “persona non grata.” But Whedon has now broken his silence to tell his side of the story in a profile with Vulture.
When asked about Carpenter’s detailed account of mistreatment on set, Whedon admits he was “not mannerly” at the time, but remembers their dynamic differently. “Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming. She struggled sometimes with her lines, but nobody could hit a punch line harder than her,” he says.
He also denies calling then-pregnant Carpenter “fat.” However, Angel writer Rebecca Rand Kirshner—who now goes by Rebecca X—tells reporter Lila Shapiro that Whedon once said, “Oh, you’re fat” after bumping into her at a photoshoot while she was pregnant.
As for Gal Gadot, Whedon denies ever threatening the actor. “I don’t threaten people. Who does that?” he says. He also blames a language barrier for their misunderstanding, “English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech.” Allegedly, he’d jokingly told her that “If she wanted to get rid of him, she would have to tie him to a railroad track and do it over his dead body.” When the reporter reached out for comment, Gadot wrote in an email “I understood perfectly.”
Whedon also addresses Ray Fisher’s claims, asserting that Cyborg’s role was cut down because the storyline “logically made no sense,” not because he’s the only Black hero in the movie. As for what he believed to be Fisher’s motivations by calling out the alleged racism experienced on set, Whedon says, “We’re talking about a malevolent force. We’re talking about a bad actor in both senses.”
The profile features accounts from anonymous crew members and actors who’ve worked with Whedon that give more of a nuanced view at what went on behind the scenes. However, there are also alarming stories told throughout this profile, including a situation where Whedon allegedly grabbed Buffy costume designer Cynthia Bergstrom’s arm and dug his fingernails into her skin after a disagreement over Buffybot’s outfit.
Whedon does admit his behavior has not always been great, but he also says, “People had been using every weaponizable word of the modern era to make it seem like I was an abusive monster. I think I’m one of the nicer showrunners that’s ever been.”