Charisma Carpenter Said Director Joss Whedon "Abused His Power" on Set

What happened between Joss Whedon and Charisma Carpenter? The actress spoke about her experience with the director, and she called him abusive.

Gina Vaynshteyn - Author

Feb. 10 2021, Updated 1:57 p.m. ET

Joss Whedon and Charisma Carpenter
Source: Getty Images

Accusations of director Joss Whedon's abusive behavior began circulating in July of 2020. Actor Ray Fisher (who played Cyborg in Justice League and Batman vs. Superman) took to Twitter on July 1, 2020 to share what it was really like working with Joss on set. 

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"Joss [Whedon's] on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable. He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Accountability>Entertainment," Ray wrote.

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Ray wasn't the only one who’s had to deal with Joss's inexcusable behavior, though. Back in 2003, Joss seemingly wrote off Charisma Carpenter’s character (Cordelia Chase) from Angel because he was upset that she was pregnant. 

The actress told her side of the story several months later, in February of 2021, and her post has gone viral. Keep reading to find out the background of the story, and to learn what Charisma had to say.

What happened between Joss Whedon and Charisma Carpenter?

During Season 4, Joss had Cordelia turn "evil." She eventually ended up in a coma and never came back. Fans had no idea whether or not Cordelia was coming back — and this included Charisma herself. 

"I actually got a phone call from somebody in the press, which really sucked," Charisma explained.

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She also stated, "I think Joss was, honestly, mad. I think he was mad at me and I say that in a loving way, which is — it's a very complicated dynamic working for somebody so many years, and expectations, and also being on a show for eight years, you gotta live your life. And sometimes living your life gets in the way of maybe the creator's vision for the future. And that becomes a conflict, and that was my experience."

Source: The WB
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Joss’s explanation? He claimed it was time for that character's story to end. "We felt like we had taken that story...about as far as it could go. It just seemed like it was time because we were revamping the show, and then pairing it just seemed like a good time for certain people to move on," he told TV Guide

Although Charisma has publicly stated she'd work with Joss again, a tweet from 2019 doesn’t exactly mirror that statement. In response to an article claiming Charisma "hid" her pregnancy, Charisma fired back saying she was always transparent about her pregnancy with the Angel crew.

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A fan replied, "This is so gross. I always *hated* the way that you were written out and seeing my favorite character get such a bulls--t send off sucked. It felt like the show was punishing you for being pregnant and all this article does is perpetuate the idea that you deserved it."

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To that, Charisma wrote back, "There's so much 2 this tweet. Man! Finding out I was not invited back for S5 will always be a deep wound. It would have been a g8 honor/joy 2see Cordy thru to the very end. She should have been there 2 fight alongside the only family she had. Even if she was only there in spirit."

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She added, "It was hard. One of the hardest realities in my career to face. So scary too -post baby. A terrible time to be out of work. Which I think is not unique to me. Many of us have found ourselves out of work when we are most vulnerable. But this cut. Deep."

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When asked about whether he and Charisma were on good terms, Joss stated, "Yeah, but that's also stuff between us and not stuff that I would talk about in an interview," according to Telegraph. The director has never publicly acknowledged the accusation that he may have punitively written off an actress because she wanted to become a mother. 

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Charisma Carpenter opened up about working for Joss Whedon at length in February of 2021.

While loyal fans of Charisma have long understood what went down between her and Joss during Angel, many are first learning about the matter after the actress posted a statement on her socials about her experience.

In her statement, Charisma shared that she stood with Ray Fisher, and that she was still "traumatized" nearly two decades after. 

"Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel," she wrote, in part. 

"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 continued. "It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively."

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charisma son
Source: Instagram

Charisma added that Joss called her "'fat" to colleagues when she was four months pregnant, weighing 126 pounds. "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."

She stated that Joss "berated" her after she got a tattoo of rosary beads, and his team dodged her calls when she was informing him of her pregnancy.

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Once he learned, Charisma said, he asked her if she was "'going to keep it' and manipulatively weaponized [her] womanhood and faith" against her. She added that he "unceremoniously fired [her] the following season" after she had given birth. At the time, she felt "powerless and alone" to come forward, and she called the director a "vampire."

Afraid of the repercussions of going against him, Charisma said she continued to publicly express a desire to work with Joss again.

She was empowered by therapy and the Time's Up movement. 

"With tears welling, I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to Ray and others for remaining private about my experience with Joss and the suffering it has caused me," she wrote. "It is abundantly evident that Joss has persisted in his harmful actions, continuing to create wreckage in his wake."

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The screen star said that she was hopeful that others would feel empowered to speak out against their abusers. But, she was "scared" because she is a single mom "whose family's livelihood is dependent" on her acting. 

"I can no longer remain silent," she concluded. "This is overdue and necessary. It is time." 

Aside from Ray and Charisma's accounts, many fans have feel that Joss has done a poor job representing women in his shows and movies. From having Black Widow think of herself as a "monster" because she was forced to be sterilized during her training, to using rape as a plot device to encourage his male characters to "progress," Joss has been majorly problematic for a while now.

Joss has yet to publicly comment on Charisma's recent statement.

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