Joss Whedon is not the beloved cultural icon he once was after spending the past few years getting criticized for his allegedly unprofessional behavior on sets in the past. The latest of these revelations comes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer actor James Marsters.
For those unfamiliar, James Marsters was brought on to Joss Whedon’s immensely popular teen drama in season 2 as the villainous vampire Spike. While he was meant to die after a multi-episode arc, the story goes that he was so charismatic and beloved by fans that he ended up sticking around, returning as an antagonist before morphing into a reluctant ally, then a hero, then a love interest to the title heroine.
While Buffy The Vampire Slayer solidified James Marsters place in fans’ hearts pretty quickly, it turns out it took a while for Joss Whedon to get over being told his initial plans to kill Spike off were a no-go. Speaking on Michael Rosenbaum’s Inside of You podcast, James Marsters elaborated on a story he previously told about Joss Whedon pushing him up against a wall. The actor explained that, early on before the show’s creator had figured out what to do with Spike beyond his previously planned death, he felt the fan love of the evil vampire was ruining his vision of the show.
James Marsters explained that Joss Whedon does not tolerate “evil” in his stories, viewing things like vampires as something to overcome, not befriend and fall in love with. So, every time he heard about Spike being the most popular character on the show at the time, he felt audiences simply weren’t getting his vision right. One day, this boiled over on set and he allegedly pushed the actor against a wall and berated him.
“I came along and I wasn’t designed to be a romantic character, but then the audience reacted that way to it. And I remember he backed me up against a wall one day and he was just like, ‘I don’t care how popular you are, kid, you’re dead. You hear me? Dead. Dead!’” James Marsters explained.
James Marsters stopped short of piling onto the slew of allegations against Joss Whedon that have come up in recent years, explaining that he saw the writer as a man who put a lot of pressure on himself and his work to live up to expectations. However, he also noted that he neither begrudges nor denies the experience that other people had with him. After all, he is hardly the first person from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to call Joss Whedon out for unprofessional behavior.
Before James Marsters made his remarks about him, Joss Whedon was accused of treating Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel actress Charisma Carpenter horribly in a variety of ways. She laid out several occasions over their working relationship in which he allegedly abused his power against her. This led to fellow cast member Michelle Trachtenberg admitting that she too had issues with Whedon on set, alleging that there was a rule on set that he was not allowed to be in a room alone with her after some kind of undisclosed incident.
The stories from Carpenter and Trachtenberg along with James Marsters’ initial comments came amid more heat on Joss Whedon brought on by his time on the 2017 movie Justice League. After he took over for Zack Snyder, who left post-production to deal with a family tragedy, Joss Whedon was brought in to finish out the film and was later called out by actors Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot for allegedly being a nightmare to work with on set. Fisher was perhaps the most outspoken against Whedon and things eventually got bad enough for Warner Bros. to launch an internal investigation that led to “remedial action” being taken.