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Joss Whedon accused of ‘vicious’ behavior on the set of ‘Firefly’

One of the writers on 2002's 'Firefly' is accusing director Joss Whedon of 'vicious' behavior while on set.

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Photo by Mike Windle via Getty Images

New details are emerging about director Joss Whedon’s behavior on the set of the cult classic Firefly.

Whedon’s behavior as a director and showrunner has become a talking point over the last several years, particularly in the wake of accusations made about his conduct on the set of 2017’s Justice League. Several actors from the superhero flick, including stars Gal Gadot and Ray Fisher, accused Whedon of displaying racist and abusive behavior while on the set of the 2017 film.

The conversation prompted a review of Whedon’s behavior while on the sets of previous projects. This reexamination has exposed a number of worrisome actions on Whedon’s part, stretching as far back as the set of 2002’s Firefly.

A recent interview shared by Vulture aimed to dig a bit deeper into the controversy that has come to surround Whedon in recent years. In it, interviewer Lila Shapiro discussed Whedon’s past projects, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and 2012’s Avengers. Whedon attempted to defend himself throughout the interview, calling accusations of abusive behavior “false,” but giving very little support for his claims. In the midst of numerous revelations, including Whedon’s claims that Fisher’s Justice League role was diminished because he is a “bad actor,” new details emerged about Whedon’s actions while on the set of Firefly.

A former Firefly writer recalled a meeting in which Whedon publicly belittled one of the show’s other writers. They said, rather than take the writer aside to discuss his issues privately, he shamed them in front of the entire writing staff. Issues with the script, which he saw as less-than-satisfactory, became an opportunity for mockery, according to the anonymous writer.

“It was basically 90 minutes of vicious mockery,” the writer said, according to Vulture. “Joss pretended to have a slide projector, and he read her dialogue out loud and pretended he was giving a lecture on terrible writing as he went through the ‘slides’ and made funny voices — funny for him. The guys were looking down at their pages, and this woman was fighting tears the entire time. I’ve had my share of shitty showrunners, but the intent to hurt — that’s the thing that stands out for me now.”

This behavior wasn’t exclusive to the Firefly set, either, according to the interview. Whedon had a habit, according to former colleagues and staff members, of “writing really nasty notes” while working on shows like Buffy as well. This behavior appears to have plagued him through more than 20 years of film and show making, as more and more details emerge about his interactions with members of various projects’ casts and crews.

Whedon’s star has already faded immensely in the eyes of the public, but the latest details exposed in the interview are bringing even more issues to light. Many fans assumed Whedon became difficult to work with as fame encroached, a common issue for stars on the rise. The interview appears to indicate that Whedon has long had issues regarding working well with others, however, and has resumed conversations about many of his most popular past projects.

We reached out to Whedon’s representatives for comment on this article.

Nahila Bonfiglio
About the author

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila carefully obsesses over all things geekdom and gaming, bringing her embarrassingly expansive expertise to the team at We Got This Covered. She is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor with a focus on comics, video games, and most importantly 'Lord of the Rings,' putting her Bachelors from the University of Texas at Austin to good use. Her work has been featured alongside the greats at NPR, the Daily Dot, and Nautilus Magazine.