Sarah Michelle Gellar is finally coming back to TV — and a Hollywood Reporter profile published Wednesday makes it easy to see why she was away for so long.
The former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star is returning to her serialized horror/fantasy roots with the new Paramount+ show “Wolf Pack,” in which high schoolers fight monsters that serve as metaphors for modern teenage life.
And while Gellar said she’s happy to take part in what sounds like a spiritual successor to the show that made her famous, she also made it clear that she is not interested in experiencing another bad work environment.
“I’ve come to a good place with it, where it’s easier to talk about,” Gellar told the magazine, referring to the various accounts from her former “Buffy” cast mates about the show’s allegedly toxic set. “I’ll never tell my full story because I don’t get anything out of it. I’ve said all I’m going to say because nobody wins. Everybody loses.”
But her refusal to offer more details didn’t deter her husband, actor Freddie Prinze Jr. — or some of her fellow “Buffy” alums — from making more vivid allegations about what Gellar had to endure while working on the show.
“She had to deal with a lot of bullshit on that show for all seven years it was on,” Prinze told the Reporter. “The stuff they pressed upon her, without any credit or real salary, while she was often the only one doing 15-hour days … yet she was still able to get the message of that character out every single week and do it with pride and do it professionally.”
Gellar’s friend, former “Buffy” actor Seth Green, told the magazine that Gellar often leveraged her power as the top-billed star on the show in an attempt to protect herself and her colleagues.
“That show was just hard,” Green told the Reporter. “We were working crazy hours, and a lot of things that got pushed weren’t necessarily safe or under the best conditions. Sarah was always the first one to say, ‘We agreed this was a 13-hour day and it’s hour 15 — we’ve got to wrap,’ or, ‘Hey, this shot doesn’t seem safe,’ when nobody else would stick up for the cast and crew.”
Green said this resulted in negative consequences for Gellar.
“I saw her get called a bitch, a diva, all these things that she’s not,” he said. “Just because she was taking the mantle of saying and doing the right thing.”
Emma Caulfield, who also starred on “Buffy,” backed up Green’s allegations.
“It was obvious that Sarah lacked the support to be the leader she needed and wanted to be,” she said. “There was a tremendous amount of resentment and animosity [toward her] from a certain someone — and I suppose now we can all guess who.”
Presumably Caulfield is referring to Joss Whedon, the creator of “Buffy,” who has received backlash due to his former colleagues’ allegations of his harmful on-set behavior at “Buffy” and other productions.
In 2021, Charisma Carpenter, who worked with Whedon on “Buffy” and its spinoff series “Angel,” tweeted a two-part statement in which she accused Whedon of being emotionally abusive and creating “hostile and toxic work environments.”
“He was mean and biting, disparaging about others openly, and often played favorites, pitting people against one another to compete and vie for his attention and approval,” Carpenter wrote.
Shortly after Carpenter published her statement, Amber Benson, another “Buffy” alum, spoke out as well, tweeting that the set of the beloved teen drama was “a toxic environment.”
“There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later,” Benson wrote.
Perhaps the most startling allegation came from “Buffy” actor Michelle Trachtenberg, who followed up on Carpenter and Benson’s statements by saying there was a “rule” on set that Whedon was not allowed alone in a room with her. Trachtenberg was a teenager when she co-starred on “Buffy.”
Gellar has also spoken out about Whedon and the work environments he allegedly harbored, albeit in vague ways.
In 2021, Gellar issued a statement on Instagram in support of Carpenter, Benson and Trachtenberg.
“While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers,” she wrote, “I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon.”
She also recently told the audience at TheWrap’s “Power of Women” summit that she was on “an extremely toxic male set” for “for so long.”
Gellar told The Hollywood Reporter that due to her experiences, it was important to her that she serve as an executive producer on “Wolf Pack,” where the main cast members are between the ages of 19 and 21. She spoke to the outlet about an on-set incident on her new show in which a crew member allegedly made someone in the cast uncomfortable by offering them back rubs. Gellar said the crew member was let go as soon as she found out about it.
“I hope that I’ve set up an infrastructure, a safety net for these actors that I didn’t have,” Gellar told the magazine. “My generation just didn’t have that.”
To read Gellar’s profile in full, head over to The Hollywood Reporter.