Ankler Hot Seat: Joss Whedon and the Journalist
Lila Shapiro reveals the 2.5-year pursuit behind her bombshell profile of the exiled director, why she thinks he did an interview, and his description of himself as a "villain"
Until recently, investigative reporter Lila Shapiro largely covered mysteries from the publishing world in her job at Vulture, writing stories, as she describes them, that “revolved around Twitter controversies that turned out to be more complicated than they initially seemed to be.” That sort of counter-narrative approach, in addition to her Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom, led Shapiro to take an interest in Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy and writer and director of two Avengers movies. In addition, in 2017, Whedon’s ex-wife had thrown a hand-grenade into Whedon’s pristine image: she wrote a scathing piece about his infidelities, and disingenuous feminism, during their marriage. When Whedon’s new show for HBO, The Nevers, was announced, Shapiro, in 2019, decided it was time for a profile. The problem was, Whedon’s team didn’t say yes, but didn’t exactly say no either. The dialogue would continue between the two parties for years, and Shapiro’s ask evolved along with Whedon’s travails. Eventually, the story would become more complex, as actors Ray Fisher, Charisma Carpenter, and others came forth publicly and on social media to speak about their negative experiences with Whedon. Continuing to report without his participation, Shapiro and the director thus began a long dance that ended in an interview that was at times, tense, emotional and confessional over two days in his Santa Monica, Calif. home.
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