Sarah Michelle Gellar has opened up about the legacy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer following the various allegations of abusive behaviour from creator J*ss W*edon.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the pop icon said she’s “not the only person” who has to wrestle with the consequences of the aforementioned individual, who was accused of misconduct on several film and TV sets, from Buffy to DC’s Justice League.
“I hope the legacy hasn’t changed,” said Gellar.
“I hope that it gives the success back to the people that put in all of the work. 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.”
Gellar has previously avoided the subject, although she initially said she doesn’t “want to be forever associated” with the Buffy creator’s name after several of her co-stars, such as Charisma Carpenter, Amber Benson and Michelle Trachtenberg, spoke out against him.
“I’ve come to a good place with it, where it’s easier to talk about,” she continued to tell the publication. “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.”
During the show’s initial run, Gellar was accused of being “difficult” on set for using her voice and power to speak out against unsafe working conditions.
Acknowledging her “reputation”, Gellar explained: “Anyone that knows me knows it came from the fact that I always put in 100 percent. I never understood people who don’t. I’ve mellowed a bit in [my expectations of others] — I think because I got burned out.”
Her husband and Scooby Doo co-star, Freddie Prinze Junior, told The Hollywood Reporter that she “had to deal with a lot of bullshit” for Buffy’s entire seven-year duration.
“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,” he revealed.
WandaVision star Emma Caulfield, who played Anya on the groundbreaking series, said: “It was obvious that Sarah lacked the support to be the leader she needed and wanted to be.
“There was a tremendous amount of resentment and animosity [toward her] from a certain someone — and I suppose now we can all guess who.”
Seth Green, Gellar’s close friend and the actor behind Oz on Buffy, described it as a “hard” show that required the cast and crew to work “crazy hours” under conditions that “weren’t necessarily safe”.
“Sarah was always the first one to say, ‘We agreed this was a 13-hour day and it’s hour 15 — we’ve got to wrap,’ or, ‘Hey, this shot doesn’t seem safe,’ when nobody else would stick up for the cast and crew,” he said.
“I saw her get called a bitch, a diva, all these things that she’s not — just because she was taking the mantle of saying and doing the right thing.”
Despite the downfall of W*edon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s legacy will continue to endure.
Although it was snubbed by major awards ceremonies during its run, Buffy has continued to receive universal critical acclaim 26 years on – with many individual episodes hailed as some of the finest in television history (Hush, The Body, Once More, with Feeling).
The fantasy drama has also been credited with influencing other series in the same genre, such as Charmed, Doctor Who, Lost and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (among others).
Buffy made history for queer representation, with its resident witches Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) blazing a trail as the first long-term lesbian relationship on American television. In addition, season seven included television’s first-ever lesbian sex scene.
“Kids come up to me in this day and age and say, ‘That show means something to me,’” said Gellar. “That’s crazy. Who has that?”
Gellar is gearing up for her television comeback with Paramount+’s upcoming horror series, Wolf Pack, based on Edo Van Belkom’s book series of the same name.
The official synopsis reads: “The show focuses on two teenagers who are caught in a wildfire and are wounded by a supernatural creature. In the aftermath, they discover they’re werewolves, and develop an intense bond together.
“The two team up, and encounter two other teenagers, the adoptive children of a park ranger, who went through a similar strange wildfire sixteen years ago.”
Gellar plays Kristen Ramsey, an arson investigator who is “a highly regarded expert in her field and no stranger to personal loss, brought in by authorities to catch the teenage arsonist who started a massive wildfire which may have also led to the reawakening of a supernatural predator terrorizing Los Angeles.”
Although she was a fan of the creator and showrunner, Jeff Davis, Gellar said she “wasn’t even going to read the script” because she didn’t want to “do a werewolf show”.
“But they convinced me to give it a look, and I loved what he was doing in the pilot. It reminds me of Buffy, not the show itself, but the way it addresses the horrors we’re facing today: anxiety, the stress of daily life, feeling isolated.”
Gellar added: “To come back, to get projects made, you have to pay homage to what you’re known for. If I do things that speak to the fan base — which I think these will — and gather some new people along the way, maybe I branch out again. It’s not a next act for me, but it’s certainly a new chapter.”
Davis, who is best known for creating the procedural drama Criminal Minds and the supernatural series Teen Wolf, said of the series and Gellar’s inclusion: “I didn’t understand what we had until we were cutting the first trailer, and I watched a scene of her breaking through a fence with a gun.
“Oh, shit. We didn’t just get Sarah Michelle Gellar, we got the one everybody’s been waiting to see for years: the ass-kicking Sarah Michelle Gellar.”
Wolf Pack also stars Rodrigo Santoro, Armani Jackson, Bella Shepard, Chloe Rose Robertson and Tyler Lawrence Gray.
Recurring actors include Bailey Stender, Chase Liefeld, Hollie Bahar, Lanny Joon, Rio Mangini, Stella Smith, Zack Nelson, James Martinez, Amy Pietz, Bria Brimmer, John L. Adams and Sean Philip Glasgow.
The series premieres 26 January in the US and Canada on Paramount+ and the day after in the UK, Australia and Latin America.
Watch the first full-length trailer for Wolf Pack here or below.