Less than a week after the — brace yourselves!!! — 25th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, we’re getting an unprecedented look behind the curtain courtesy of a new book.
This week, Evan Ross Katz released his book Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts. It’s part oral history, part re-examination of a series that was once thought of as a feminist masterpiece. In light of recent revelations of bad behavior behind the scenes, the book includes some truly tea-spilling interviews with the stars.
Yes, that includes the Slayer herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who got real about rumors of cast feuds. While she admitted there were certainly issues, she also had the wisdom that hindsight brings, meaning she could point to some of the larger causes.
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Alluding to the elephant in the room — accusations that Joss Whedon fostered a toxic work environment — SMG said:
“I think that unfortunately the set we were on and the world we were in was pitting us against each other. I think it would have been different if it was today. It would have been a very different relationship. But we have a great relationship now.”
The Cruel Intentions star referred to rumors of fights with David Boreanaz and Alyson Hannigan (neither of whom chose to be interviewed for the book), saying:
“Look, we worked really hard hours. We were young, we had ups and downs. Everybody had arguments. There were times where David could be a handful. He never really was to me, but I’m sure [he was]. And I’m sure I was the same way to people also, right? It wasn’t rosy. Nobody gets along all the time. And Alyson and I had moments. There’s no question. But you’re young.”
And yes, she heard the rumors that she was the source of a lot of the fighting on set — the real stuff, not the ones where vampires poofed into CGI dust. She noted how she “had a lot on my shoulders” as a 19-year-old first-time TV lead, but she took responsibility as well, saying:
“And I’m not excusing myself either. There are times where I wish I could have done things differently, but I didn’t know how to handle the stress that I was under. I was really young and I didn’t have any outside life. I was the one that was always working and sometimes I would be resentful of the fact that they didn’t have to work all the time. It ebbs and flows, and anyone that tells you that they get along with everyone all the time, it’s just not true.”
Most of SMG’s co-stars stood up for her, too, you’ll be glad to hear!
Danny Strong, who played nerdy Jonathan, said there was a lot of jealousy towards Sarah, going so far as to say it was “definitely pettier than other sets” he’s worked on. And he went on to co-create Empire, so that’s saying something!
Amber Benson, aka Willow’s girlfriend Tara, was more explicit in her blame of Joss Whedon. She said:
“It starts at the top — and I’m not talking about Sarah, I’m talking about Joss. And it creates the tone of the set. And I think because this was Joss’s first show, there were things that got dropped… You could just feel like people weren’t sure of their place. And I think it is the boss’s job to make everybody understand where they are in the hierarchy and how they fit in and that they are necessary, you know?”
Emma Caulfield, who played demon-turned-teen Anya, felt like some of the bad feelings weren’t even accidental:
“There are so many examples of what happened from the top down of, ‘This will really make the girls hate each other. This will make the men angry. This is going to stir some toxic s**t.’ And… and it did.”
Wow. BTW, you can read Joss Whedon’s rather underwhelming response to some of the accusations that he was a bully on set HERE.
One person who had his ups and downs with Sarah was Nicholas Brendon. As Buffy’s other BFF Xander, he thinks maybe he was just a little too close to it all to realize how “magical” that time really was. He said of his fights with his co-star:
“I did not give her the credit in my head that she deserved. And I wish that I had.”
Aw. It sounds like a lot of the Sunnydale gang really are in good places with one another these days. That’s no mean feat surviving a Hellmouth.
You can read more about the drama behind the drama in Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts now!
[Image via 20th Television/Hulu.]