Sarah Michelle Gellar is “grateful” that the NBC TV reboot of Cruel Intentions never got off the ground, sharing that she believes it’s better suited for streaming than a broadcast network.
In an interview with The New York Times to promote her new film, Netflix’s Do Revenge, Gellar spoke about dipping her toe back into acting, how her character in the movie is a grown-up version of her Cruel Intentions character Kathryn Merteuil and why she hasn’t spoken about negative experiences she had as a young woman in Hollywood.
Speaking about her time on the NBC series, which got a pilot order in February 2016 before being shelved in October of that same year, Gellar said the network and concept weren’t a good fit.
“I don’t know. That was a whole crazy time,” the actress and Wolf Pack executive producer said. “Nothing against NBC, but Cruel Intentions is straight streaming. On the first day, I was like, ‘This isn’t working.’ It’s just not a network show. And if it is a network show, it’s not my Cruel Intentions. So, I was actually grateful.”
The series was supposed to be set over 15 years after the events of the 1999 movie, following Kathryn as she vied for control of the family business Valmont International and Bash Casey, the soul of her step-brother, the late Sebastian Valmont, who was played by Ryan Phillippe.
During the interview, she also spoke about her experiences as a younger actress in Hollywood. Gellar had been acting since the 80s but rose to TV fame as the titular character in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After the show’s creator faced allegations of abusive and unprofessional behavior, some of which Whedon has denied, Gellar shared a statement in support of “all survivors of abuse,” and stated she was “proud of them for speaking out.”
Gellar, however, has remained largely quiet about her own experiences. While speaking to the Times, she says that’s an active choice and one she makes because talking publicly about them isn’t a winning situation for her in a victim-blaming and shaming culture.
“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,” she said of her experiences being a young woman in the industry. “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.”
However, Gellar does note that those experiences have impacted how she comes to and operates on set with her cast and crew for Wolf Pack, the upcoming Paramount+ Teen Wolf spinoff.
“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,” she said. “But also, I always try to come in with a smile on my face and set a tone on a set. We’re all equals. It doesn’t matter what job someone does, they get treated exactly the same.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar Explains Why She’s “Grateful” NBC’s ‘Cruel Intentions’ TV Series Didn’t Happen