Amber Benson, who played Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has opened up about her exit from the ’90s show. In a new interview, she states that it was a particular relationship behind-the-scenes that depleted her desire to continue.
The comments, transcribed by Comicbook, come from the book, Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts by Evan Ross Katz, featuring a partial oral history of production on the series. “I had had some issues with somebody on the show, and it had kind of come to a head as I was getting ready to leave,” Benson states. “Leaving the show was sad because there are some of the crew and the writers and some of the cast that I just adore, but I had made my peace with that person and the show and I was done: ‘I’m leaving everything in a good place. I don’t need to come back’.”
Tara’s death was a controversial twist, not least behind-the-scenes, but Benson doesn’t believe series creator Joss Whedon was being malicious. “I think it hit Joss that he had made a mistake, that he had been short-sighted. I truly, for all of his faults and for all of the things about him that are frustrating, I don’t think he ever meant to hurt the LGBTQ+ community,” she says. “He just wasn’t thinking. I can truly, from the bottom of my heart, say [that] this was nothing intentional. This was a thoughtless error.”
Eventually, Benson was invited to come back during the final season. By that point, though, she’d moved on. “I didn’t want to come back. [Joss] really wanted me to come back and we just couldn’t come to an agreement on it,” she recalls. “Most of that was my schedule. I was going to miss going to England, not being able to direct The Ghosts of Albion if I had said yes.”
Benson was weary of Whedon’s plans anyway, due to other negative feelings people who worked on the show had. “I didn’t really trust what was going to happen to the character,” she explained. “I think that’s something if you’ve talked to some other cast, people are like ‘Yeah, I came back… and then he just did what he wanted. Even though he told me that he wasn’t going to kill me in this way, he killed me in that way.’ I just didn’t feel super trusting of the situation.”
Benson starred as Tara, girlfriend to Alyson Hannigan’s Willow, in seasons 4 through 6. Tara’s demise, and the fallout, remains a contentious aspect off the show’s legacy. Buffy celebrated 25 years since it first premiered this year, hence the trips down memory lane.
You can watch all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer now on Disney Plus.