After being accused in July 2020 by Justice League actor Ray Fisher for “gross, abusive, unprofessional” conduct during the production of the 2017 Warner Bros movie, filmmaker Joss Whedon has finally responded to that accusation in a New York profile, as well as to the string of allegations that followed from Gal Gadot and former Buffy the Vampire colleagues.
The profile “The Undoing of Joss Whedon,” published Monday morning, also contained new misconduct claims against Whedon, which he also fields.
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The loud social media slam by Fisher, who played Cyborg in the film, against Whedon back in 2020 resulted in WarnerMedia conducting an internal investigation into what went sideways on Justice League, resulting in the media conglom vaguely stating in December of that year that “remedial action has been taken,” with fanboy genre creator Whedon exiting the HBO series he created, The Nevers, a month prior.
In regards to Fisher’s claims that Whedon lightened the actor’s skin complexion and cut down Cyborg’s storyline, the Justice League co-scribe and director of additional scenes (he stepped in to complete the movie after Zack Snyder stepped back due to a personal family tragedy), tells New York‘s Lila Shapiro that he was brightening the entire movie in postproduction, including all faces. Whedon said he cut down Cyborg’s role (which was restored and expanded on in last year’s Snyder cut of the film on HBO Max) because it “logically made no sense,” and felt the acting was bad — something sources familiar with the project back up in the profile, with test-screening viewers seeing Cyborg as “the worst of all the characters in the film.”
Whedon says he spent hours discussing the changes with Fisher and that their discourse was friendly. Whedon says about Fisher: “We’re talking about a malevolent force…We’re talking about a bad actor in both senses.”
Fisher was quick to respond to the New York piece today, writing on Twitter, “Looks like Joss Whedon got to direct an endgame after all…Rather than address all of the lies and buffoonery today—I will be celebrating the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tomorrow the work continues. #MLKDay. A>E.”
Looks like Joss Whedon got to direct an endgame after all…
Rather than address all of the lies and buffoonery today—I will be celebrating the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Tomorrow the work continues.#MLKDay
— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) January 17, 2022
Whedon says in the wide-ranging interview that his ex-wife didn’t make his life any easier in the press. “I was made a target by my ex-wife, and people exploited that cynically…She put out a letter saying some bad things I’d done and saying some untrue things about me, but I had done the bad things and so people knew I was gettable.”
As far as Gadot’s claim to the press that Whedon “threatened” her career, the filmmaker told New York, “I don’t threaten people. Who does that?” and says it was all a misunderstanding. “English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech, he said.
In response to a scene which Gadot wanted cut, Whedon, per the article, told the actress jokingly that if she wanted to get rid of it, she would have to tie him to a railroad track and do it over his dead body. “Then I was told that I had said something about her dead body and tying her to the railroad track,” says Whedon. In an email to New York, Gadot disagreed with Whedon’s sense of events, responding “I understood perfectly.”
The New York feature also spoke with an Angel actress who said that Whedon had threatened her, telling her agent after she asked for a raise that the series co-creator called her at home and said she was “never going to work for him, or 20th Century Fox, again.”
In February 2021, actress Charisma Carpenter said that Whedon was “casually cruel” to her while making Buffy and Angel, calling her fat after she became pregnant, and asking if she was “going to keep it.” Carpenter also claimed that Whedon made fun of her religious beliefs, accused her of sabotaging the show, and fired her a season later after she gave birth. Whedon tells New York about the whole Carpenter situation: “I was not mannerly,” and that he was bewildered by her account. “Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming. She struggled sometimes with her lines, but nobody could hit a punch line harder than her,” said Whedon, who also said that “I did not call her fat.”
Buffy actress Michelle Trachtenberg also took to social last year, saying she couldn’t be alone in a room with Whedon on set. Whedon told New York he had no idea what the actress was talking about; Shapiro in the article today said “Trachtenberg didn’t want to elaborate.”
A high-level member of the Buffy production team tells New York that Whedon was rolling around on the floor with another actress, making out, banging against her chair. Whedon’s retort: “That seems false. I don’t understand that story even a little bit” adding he “lived in terror” of his affairs being discovered.
Whedon also brushed off a story that he got physical with Buffy costume designer Cynthia Bergstrom during Season 5, her claim being that he grabbed her arm and dug his fingernails into her skin over a costume dispute. Whedon told New York, “I know I would get angry, but I was never physical with people.”
Separately, the New York profile reports that Whedon engaged Erin Shade, who was a showrunner’s assistant on Whedon’s co-created ABC series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a secret relationship, when he was 49 and she was 23. This entailed paying her $2,500 to watch him write at his home over the weekend, as long as she remained quiet about the affair to their superiors. Whedon told New York that he “should have handled the situation better.”
Deadline reached out to Whedon’s reps. We’ll update should a reaction be issued regarding the New York article.
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