When a star has a new show, they makes the rounds of interviews and appearances. And the stories come out. Such is the case with Sarah Michelle Gellar, to an extent.
Gellar gave a cover interview to The Hollywood Reporter, in support of her upcoming Paramount+ series "Wolf Pack," in which she both stars and serves as executive producer. That creative control is essential to Gellar, something she didn't have on the set of the show she is most known for, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And as she told the magazine, she hopes being a woman in charge can help the younger cast members on her new show, in ways that no one helped her.
In the years since "Buffy," which made the already experienced young actor Gellar not only a star, but a cultural icon, stories have continued to pile up about abuse from the show's creator, Joss Whedon. Many actors have spoken out about the treatment they and others received from Whedon, including Charisma Carpenter and Michelle Trachtenberg, who revealed there was a rule on set that Whedon could never be alone in a room with her. Trachtenberg was under 18 at the time.
Gellar spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about difficult working conditions on the set of "Buffy," including 15-hour days, which co-star Seth Green said Gellar tried to fight against, trying to advocate for her fellow actors, to little effect.
"I saw her get called a b****, a diva, all these things that she's not — just because she was taking the mantle of saying and doing the right thing," Green said.
On the pressure of being a woman in Hollywood, Gellar said, "If people think you're a b****, it's almost better. There's less expectation that way." She acknowledged a past reputation she had shouldered of being so-called "difficult" due to going above and beyond, and thinking others would do the same. "I've mellowed a bit," she said.
Gellar also revealed that the residuals from "Buffy" were "nothing anybody could live off of." She's more business-savvy now, and she's also an advocate for young actors like the teen she was, insisting on an intimacy coordinator for "Wolf Pack," maintaining shorter working hours and giving the actors her personal phone number, in case they have any issues. She was also responsible for terminating a crew member who kept offering backrubs, making a cast member feel uncomfortable.
Such actions seem to indicate prior experience navigating a difficult workplace, something Gellar has not been completely forthcoming about. She said, "I hope that I've set up an infrastructure, a safety net for these actors that I didn't have." Without naming Whedon — something she did not do during the interview — she admitted, "My generation just didn't have that."
Gellar won't let her daughter, who wants to be an actor, perform before a camera until the child graduates high school. Recently, Gellar rewatched "Buffy" with her family, including both her children with actor Freddie Prinze Jr, but told The Hollywood Reporter, they skipped many episodes in the two final seasons of the show, which included a beloved character, Spike (James Marsters), attempting to rape her character. "I have trouble with [season] six . . . I just don't want to rewatch it."
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Gellar may not call out Whedon by name, but the experience working with a powerful man accused of so much abuse underscored her words to the magazine, "I've come to a good place with it, where it's easier to talk about," she said. "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.
"I will always be proud of 'Buffy,'" Gellar said. "I will always be proud of what my castmates did, what I did. Was it an ideal working situation? Absolutely not. But it's OK to love 'Buffy' for what we created because I think it's pretty spectacular."
"Wolf Pack" premieres on Thursday, Jan. 26 on Paramount+.