IT was cult viewing for teens and 20-somethings in the ‘90s, featuring a kick-ass woman determined to battle the forces of darkness.
Now though, there are suggestions there was a real life enemy on set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as three cast members accuse the show's writer, Joss Whedon, of inappropriate behaviour – and its leading star distances herself from him.
On Wednesday, Charisma Carpenter – who played Cordelia Chase – posted a lengthy Tweet in which she accused Whedon of “abusing his power” and being “callously cruel.”
It read: “While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me and alienate me from my peers.
“The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer.”
She also dubbed him the real “vampire” of the show, who “sucked out joy and promise.” Whedon has not commented on these recent allegations.
For an innocent teen drama, Buffy has been cursed by troubles, from a star who spiralled into drug and alcohol abuse and narrowly avoided jail for assault to the actress who later claimed she had been sexually assaulted as a child.
This latest episode started on Wednesday, when Charisma fired off a lengthy essay on Twitter.
She wrote that Whedon had repeatedly threatened to fire her and called her “fat” to her colleagues, when she was four months pregnant and weighed only nine stone.
When he was informed of her pregnancy, she alleges Whedon asked if she was “going to keep it” and pulled her in for 1am filming despite her doctor’s advice to shorten her hours.
Charisma, 50, says that Whedon's alleged behaviour caused her to experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are often brought on by stress.
She wrote: "I had a baby on the way, and I was the primary breadwinner of my growing family.
"Unfortunately, all this was happening during one of the most wonderful time in new motherhood. All that promise and joy sucked right out. And Joss was the vampire."
She also wrote that Whedon would "attack my character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show," and that she was fired after giving birth.
Charisma appeared on the show from 1997 to 2002 as well as the spin-off, Angel, from 1999 to 2004. She was named Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 2004.
She said she had kept quiet about her experiences for 20 years but felt compelled to speak out after Justice League actor Ray Fisher publicly hit out at Whedon’s behaviour last July.
The 33-year-old accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable” behaviour towards cast and crew on set of the 2017 superhero movie.
In October, he fired another accusation at Whedon, claiming that he had been told the writer had asked for his skin tone to be digitally altered.
Whedon's lawyers denied this, saying: "The individual who offered this statement acknowledged that this was just something that he had heard from someone else and accepted as truth, when in fact simple research would prove that it was false."
Ray’s previous accusations led to an internal investigation at WarnerMedia, and in December, the company announced it had taken “remedial action.”
In January, Ray revealed he had been dismissed from the upcoming superhero film, The Flash.
Charisma labelled her posts #IStandWithRayFisher and said she had an “overwhelming responsibility to Ray” to come forward.
Ray, 33, retweeted Charisma’s post and wrote: “Charisma Carpenter is one of the bravest people I know.
“I am forever grateful for her courage and for her lending her voice to the Justice League investigation.”
Charisma’s post also prompted Sarah Michelle Gellar to issue a statement, which read: “While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon … I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.”
Other Buffy stars have also spoken out.
Amber Benson, who played Tara Maclay, wrote: “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.”
Emma Caulfield, who played Anya, left a series of heart emojis in response to Charisma’s posts.
The popular show, all episodes of which are currently available on Channel 4’s streaming service, All4, regularly pulled around three million viewers per episode in the UK when it originally aired on BBCTwo.
He went from a humble writer to a real egomaniac
The series followed the popular 1992 film of the same name, and revolved around 16-year-old ex-cheerleader Buff Summers, who has been nominated The Slayer. It was her destiny to battle vampires, demons and all sorts of supernatural beings around Sunnydale Hellmouth.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, 43, was already a familiar face, thanks to her appearances in teen horrors I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2. She went on to star in the 1999 hit, Cruel Intentions, as well as the Scooby-Doo movies.
She is one of those rare Hollywood stars who has managed to have a stable marriage, to actor Freddie Prinze Jr.
However, her life hasn't been completely rosy. The mum-of-two previously revealed she has body dysmorphia and battled post-natal depression.
Buffy launched the career of Alyson Hannigan, who played Buffy’s pal, Willow Rosenberg. She went on to feature on the American Pie comedy films and the long-running sitcom, How I Met Your Mother.
Seth Green, played Willow’s boyfriend, Oz from 1997 to 2000, and fans will recognise him from the Austin Powers movies. He has also been in Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series and reunited with Sarah Michelle Gellar for Scooby-Doo 2.
Homegrown talent, Anthony Head, played Buffy’s Watcher, Giles. He was a familiar face on British telly, thanks to Howards’ Way and those iconic Gold Blend tv adverts. He has been in Monarch of the Glen, Doctor Who and Little Britain.
Not all cast members came out well though.
Nicholas Brendan – who played Xander Harris – was charged with domestic violence. He was arrested in Palm Springs, California, in October 2017 after police alleged he "drunkenly attacked his girlfriend at a hotel bar."
According to TMZ, the actor was accused of "pulling his girlfriend's hair and yanking her arm" when she tried to leave the table.
Last February, it was reported he struck a plea deal and would serve three years of probation and complete a 52-week domestic violence course as well as 20 hours of community service.
The 49-year-old, who has married and divorced twice, had previously spoken openly about his troubles with alcohol and substance misuse.
He first checked into rehab in 2004, a year after Buffy ended.
People magazine reported that he said at the time: "After realising that I had a disease that was taking control of my life, I decided that the best way for me to regain my health was to enter a treatment facility."
It wasn't his first attempt at rehab. He went in again six years later after he was charged with vandalism, resisting arrest and battery against a police officer. He was sentenced to community service.
In 2015, he was charged with third-degree robbery, criminal mischief and obstruction of breathing for choking a different girlfriend. He avoided a sentence for those charges by agreeing to drug and alcohol counselling and one year probation.
He also revealed he was sexually abused as a child.
He told TMZ: "The man who molested me went to jail for five years when I was a kid. I've never really wrapped my mind around that and I think it's time to start.
"I've been battling a lot of depression during all my life and I've been handling it the wrong way."
Another cast member, Eliza Dushku, who played Faith, revealed in 2018 that she had been sexually assaulted on set of a Hollywood film when she was a child.
She said the harrowing incident occurred when she was 12 and working on True Lies, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In a Facebook post, she said the co-worker in his 30s had charmed her parents and "lured me to his Miami hotel room with a promise to my parents that he would take me for a swim at the crew's hotel pool."
Instead, he took her to his room, where he assaulted her.
Prior to creating the Buffy series, Joss Whedon earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the Pixar movie, Toy Story.
After Buffy, he wrote and directed the Marvel superhero films, The Avengers and its sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as co-writing Justice League, which starred Ben Affleck and Jason Momoa.
Last year, married couple Sophia Crawford and Jeff Pruitt, who met while working on the Buffy stunt team, said Whedon had demanded they break up if they wanted to carry on working on the show.
Jeff also told Metro: “He changed as the show took off.
“He went from the humble writer into a real egomaniac who believed his own hype. Then again, maybe he was always that way and I was simply too naive to see it as he never showed that side to me before.”
On a podcast last year, James Marsters, who played fan-favorite Spike, alleged Whedon became aggressive towards him when his character became too popular.
He said: “I wasn’t designed to be a romantic character. But then the audience reacted that way to it.
“And 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!" And I was just like, "Uh, you know, it’s your football, man. OK.”
In August 2018, Whedon’s ex wife Kai Cole accused him of cheating during their 21-year marriage while he was working on Buffy.
The Los Angeles actress-turned-architect accused him of being a hypocrite for preaching feminist ideals while hiding “multiple affairs and a number of inappropriate emotional ones he had with actresses, co-workers, fans and friends, while he stayed married to me.”
At the time, a spokesperson for Whedon said Kai’s account contained “inaccuracies and misrepresentations” but that he wouldn’t respond out of concern for their two children.
The Sun has contacted Mr Whedon’s representative for comment on the claims by the Buffy stars.
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