The REAL Reason Sarah Michelle Gellar Was Called 'Difficult' On Buffy Set

The legacy of Buffy The Vampire Slayer has taken a serious hit in the past couple years. The smart, original, genre-bending girl power hour is a classic for a reason — but as its creator faces accusations of bullying and the creation of a toxic environment on set, it’s getting harder to look back with rose-colored glasses.

Joss Whedon isn’t the only one with a bad reputation from that set, though. Early on, word got out that star Sarah Michelle Gellar was “difficult.” But what was that really about?

SMG is opening up about the perception of her backstage persona in a new profile for The Hollywood Reporter. But THR also spoke to co-star and lifelong show biz pro Seth Green. And he not only had good things to say, he could explain how that whole bad reputation got started, too! The actor, who played werewolf Oz on the hit show, explained she was actually being a hero offscreen, too!

“That show was just hard. We were working crazy hours, and a lot of things that got pushed weren’t necessarily safe or under the best conditions. 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.”

Damn! That defiance may have made her a thorn in the side of producers and directors looking to squeeze every penny out of a production day, but she was absolutely right. When cast and crew are overworked, that’s when vigilance drops and accidents happen.

But trying to make sure everything was professional and safe didn’t do her any favors, as Seth recalls:

“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.”

Wow. She really was a hero. Too bad that couldn’t have gotten out! But Sarah says it was actually fine:

“If people think you’re a bitch, it’s almost better. There’s less expectation that way.”

She explained:

“There was a time when I had a reputation of being … ‘difficult.’ 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 — I think because I got burned out.”

As we’ve learned over the past few years, the #MeToo era, quite a few of the women who were labeled as “difficult” were really just sticking up for themselves, something certain higher-ups didn’t like — sometimes for really nefarious reasons. To learn she was sticking up for the entire crew? That’s really impressive.

And she may have “mellowed” but she’s still looking out for everyone! She told THR that on the set of her upcoming show Wolf Pack, a spinoff of Teen Wolf, she gave out her personal phone number to all the young cast members — along with the message to contact her if they were ever made uncomfortable! Considering she’s acting as an executive producer on the Paramount+ show, she’s in a position to help this time.

In fact, she told one story about a crew member who offered back rubs to the cast, creeping at least one girl out. As soon as it was brought to her attention, that guy got fired. She explained:

“I hope that I’ve set up an infrastructure, a safety net for these actors that I didn’t have. My generation just didn’t have that.”

Well, you know what they say. Into every generation one is born, right? Sometimes they just have to grow into their power…

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