'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' 's Sarah Michelle Gellar Recalls 'Extremely Toxic Male Set' Earlier in Her Career

“If women became friends, then we became too powerful,” Gellar said at the TheWrap’s Power of Women Summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday

Sarah Michelle Geller speaks onstage during TheWrap's 5th Annual Power Women Summit
Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who rose to fame playing Buffy Summers on Joss Whedon's TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is opening up about her time working on a "toxic" set earlier in her career.

Though she did not specifically call out Whedon or the popular television series by name, the 45-year-old actress described her experience on a male-dominated set at the Power of Storytelling: Producers Roundtable at the TheWrap's Power of Women Summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

"For so long, I was on a set that I think was known for being an extremely toxic male set," Gellar shared, per The Wrap. "And so that was ingrained in my head that that was what all sets were like, and that women were pitted against each other — that if women became friends, then we became too powerful, so you had to keep that down."

The Cruel Intentions star explained how this informed the rest of her career and what it means for the future of women in film.

"Now that I've had this opportunity to work with so many more women and men that support women as well, I realized how easy an experience it can be, but… unfortunately we're still in that place where all of those departments a lot of times need to be women for us to have a voice," Gellar said.

Representatives for Whedon did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Sarah Michelle Gellar. 20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

In February 2021, Buffy star Charisma Carpenter also spoke out against Buffy and Angel creator Whedon.

In a lengthy, emotional statement posted on social media, the actress accused Whedon of abusing his power during their time working together on the supernatural series, including making repeated threats to fire her and efforts to "alienate" her from her peers, as well as placing added work stress on her while she was pregnant — leaving her with what she called a "chronic physical condition" triggered by the trauma.

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"For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and made excuses for certain events that traumatize me to this day," began Carpenter. "Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. 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. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively."

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Carpenter starred as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1997 to 1999 and its spin-off series Angel until 2004.

The actress said she felt empowered to speak out after actor Ray Fisher came forward with allegations against Whedon in 2020, claiming the director "was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable" while they worked together on Justice League in 2017.

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