'Buffy' star Sarah Michelle Gellar addresses the show's complicated legacy

Sarah Michelle Gellar attends the 2022 People’s Choice Awards in December. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

For an entire generation of pop-culture addicts, the narratives of Buffy Summers and Sarah Michelle Gellar will forever be intertwined. But that relationship between actress and character has been difficult to manage in recent years, as fresh reports have pulled back the curtain about what went down on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer during its seven-season run as a cult TV favorite. Allegations of “toxic” behavior by the show’s controversial creator, Joss Whedon, have been documented by Buffy co-stars like Charisma Carpenter and Amber Benson. And while Gellar has publicly referred to Buffy as an “extremely toxic male set,” she’s avoided speaking at length about what she experienced during her years-long collaboration with Whedon.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gellar indicates that her silence will likely continue. “I’ll never tell my full story because I don’t get anything out of it,” says the 45-year-old actress, who is returning to the small screen this month as a cast member on the Paramount+ series, Wolf Pack. “I’ve said all I’m going to say because nobody wins. Everybody loses.”

Gellar hasn’t mentioned Whedon by name since a 2021 Instagram post that followed Carpenter’s public allegations. “While I am proud to have my named associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon,” she wrote at the time, adding, “I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.”

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) leads the charge against the forces of evil in the 2003 series finale of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (Photo: 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Buffy Summers (Gellar) leads the charge against the forces of evil in the 2003 series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Photo: 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Speaking with THR, Gellar reiterates her pride in creating a character that made a demonstrable impact on television. “I will always be proud of Buffy. 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.”

Still, she admits to have her own complicated feelings about the series after recently re-watching it with her two children with husband Freddie Prinze Jr. According to Gellar, the family watched the first five seasons in their entirety, but took a time out when they reached the divisive Season 6, which features an attempted rape and other mature subject matter. “I have trouble with [season] six,” she admits. “It wasn’t appropriate for them at the time, and I just don’t want to rewatch it.”

While Gellar declined to share her “full story,” Prinze provided a small window into what she ran up against. “She had to deal with a lot of bulls*** on that show for all seven years it was on,” the actor tells THR. “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.”

David Boreanaz, Alyson Hannigan and Sarah Michelle Gellar in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' which is getting a reboot (Photo: 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection)

David Boreanaz, Alyson Hannigan and Gellar in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Photo: 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Meanwhile, Gellar’s co-star, Emma Caulfield, suggests that Whedon was jealous of his star’s profile during the course of the show. “It was obvious that Sarah lacked the support to be the leader she needed and wanted to be,” says the actress, who recently appeared in the Disney+ hit, WandaVision. “There was a tremendous amount of resentment and animosity [toward her] from a certain someone — and I suppose now we can all guess who.”

Rather than look backwards, Gellar spends much of her THR profile looking forwards, pointing out how she turned her own negative experiences into positive change for the new generation of actors she’s working with on Wolf Pack. “I hope that I’ve set up an infrastructure, a safety net for these actors that I didn’t have,” she remarks. “My generation just didn’t have that.”

Wolf Pack premieres Jan. 26 on Paramount+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.