Leading the pack. Sarah Michelle Gellar is not only a star and executive producer on the new Paramount+ series, Wolf Pack — she’s using her power to make sets better for the next generation of young actors.
“I think our experience is wasteful if we can’t impart what we’ve learned and create a better world,” the actress, 45, exclusively told Us Weekly. “It’s what we try to do as a parent for our kids, and it’s the same thing that I would want from a set.”
Gellar started acting in commercials as a child and landed her role as the scheming Kendall Hart on the soap opera All My Children when she was 15 and filmed the pilot for her career-defining role, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, at age 18. In recent years, the New York native has expressed that her experience on the Joss Whedon hit, which ran for seven seasons from 1997 to 2003, was not ideal.
Amid toxic workplace and abuse allegations from Buffy and Angel alums — including Charisma Carpenter — against Whedon in early 2021, Gellar supported those who were speaking out while remaining mum on her own experience.
“While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon,” Gellar wrote via Instagram at the time. She told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month that she’ll “never” share details about her experience on that set because it wouldn’t benefit anybody.
Instead, she’s focusing on the future. That means working to ensure that the young Wolf Pack actors work in a safe professional environment.
“I think it’s really just about being collaborative and hearing their voices. Everybody has a voice and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it. It should be listened to,” the Do Revenge star explained to Us. “Fears may not be fact, but they are feelings — and you have to take that into consideration. I think so often, especially as a young actor, you’re taught, you’re replaceable and [told to], ‘Stand there, be pretty, say your lines.’ That’s really not how it should be, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”
The Paramount+ TV show, which is based on the book series by Edo Van Belkom, follows teens Everett (Armani Jackson) and Blake (Bella Shepard) who are turned into werewolves during a chaotic evacuation amid California wildfires. They are inexplicably drawn to each other and to two other teenagers (Chloe Rose Robertson and Tyler Lawrence Gray) who were adopted 16 years earlier by a park ranger (Rodrigo Santoro) after another mysterious fire. Meanwhile, Gellar’s arson investigator has some questions for all of them.
The I Know What You Did Last Summer actress encouraged her young colleagues — the core cast includes four actors between ages 19 and 21 — to bring any problems to her. “From the get go, I said to the kids, like, ‘I’m not here all the time. I’m commuting, but I’m always on my phone. So if something feels wrong, you’re not comfortable, something’s bothering [you], just call me and we will get into it. But never be afraid.’ A lot of the jobs that I was on when I was young, there was nobody I could go to. So I really wanted to create that both myself and Rodrigo, and not just for the cast, I think, for the crew as well,” Gellar explained.
Meanwhile, the Ringer alum hopes viewers relate to the characters despite their otherworldly circumstances. She noted that, much like Buffy, Wolf Pack uses supernatural lore to explore issues that are very real.
“The credit really goes to [showrunner] Jeff Davis, both onscreen and off. The world that he wanted to create was so intriguing to me,” Gellar gushed. “Rodrigo and I have been talking a lot about how we manifest horrors and the things that scare us. They come from our mind and we use these lores of werewolves or whatever in the supernatural world to explain what we don’t have the answers for. And the idea that Jeff really wanted to tackle anxiety and specifically isolation and finding your pack and what it means to have those people, I think that’s something that maybe before the pandemic, not everybody would’ve felt. But I think at some point through this time, we have all felt that isolation and how needed it is to have that pack supporting you.”
Wolf Pack premieres on Paramount+ Thursday, January 26.