Sarah Michelle Gellar says being a young woman in the entertainment industry "was not easy," but "victim blaming and shaming" keeps her from opening up about those stories publicly.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum, 45, has resumed acting after a multi-year break in the wake of The Crazy Ones co-star Robin Williams's death to be present for her family with Freddie Prinze Jr. She has a role playing a headmaster in the high school dark comedy Do Revenge, out now on Netflix, and is in production acting in and executive producing Teen Wolf spin-off Wolf Pack for Paramount+. She tells the New York Times she feels she's now in her "adult career" — and it's worlds away from where she started.
As for where she started — and what she experienced along the way — it's been a journey. Asked by the outlet if she had generally good experiences as a teen and young woman in the industry, Gellar — who won a Daytime Emmy at age 18 for All My Children — replied, "No. It was really hard. There weren't great female roles when I came up. It was the girlfriend role, the wife role. That’s why Buffy was so spectacular, because she really had something to do, and then we had I Know What You Did, where it was the women figuring things out. That was all a new turn of events."
That was just one part. The other was inappropriate behavior behind the scenes, which she spoke about but made clear she wasn't going to detail.
"There's the other side of being a young girl in the business," she continued. "Growing up in New York, I had a little bit of street sense going into it, which is helpful. But no, it was not easy. And I've had my fair share of experiences, I have just chosen not — I don't win by telling my stories, emotionally, for me. I look at people that tell their stories, and I'm so impressed. But in this world where people get torn apart, and victim blaming and shaming, I just keep my stories in here."
Of course, while Buffy – which ran from 1997 to 2003 — was spectacular as far as her role, we now know that some of the women on the set felt threatened by show creator and EP Joss Whedon. Whedon was accused of on-set misconduct by alums Charisma Carpenter, Michelle Trachtenberg and Amber Benson in 2021. Gellar stood with the victims at the time saying she was "proud of them for speaking out."
Whedon broke his silence about the Buffy set claims — and other misconduct allegations — earlier this year. Two days later, Gellar shared a social media post that said, "I can't take back the past, but I can fight for the future." In her NYT interview, she was asked if she wanted to elaborate and she spoke about her efforts to create "a safe space" for young performers on the sets she is on in the wake of what she's learned and experienced.
"Especially now, I go into my projects as an executive producer," she said. "Wolf Pack, for example. I have these two young girls and two young boys [acting] on it. I have made it very clear from Day 1 that if there are things the production wants to talk to them about, I want them to go through me. Because I've been there. And I want [the performers] to always have a safe space."
Gellar also spoke about marriage to Prinze with the couple recently marking their 20th wedding anniversary.
"I think we live in a very disposable world right now," she said. "When I was a kid, if your TV broke, you carried it to the repair shop and got your TV fixed. Now, if your TV breaks, you go get a new one. I think sometimes we look at relationships like that. You have to be willing to put in the work. That's something we've always been willing to do. You have ups and downs, but you don't walk away."
Gellar also talked about her role in Do Revenge and how her character in the comedy film is modeled after her famous Cruel Intentions character, Kathryn Merteuil. While she was the young star in so many aughts projects, she's the advice-giving headmaster for the teens played by stars including Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke.
"I wouldn't want to be 17 again for anything," Gellar said. "Thirty two maybe, but not 17."
This week, Gellar brought her 12-year-old daughter Charlotte Prinze with her to a Hollywood screening of the film. The couple's children — also including son Rocky, 10 — are rarely seen, with Gellar typically hiding their faces when she posts photos of them on social media.