With less than a month to go until HBO and showrunner Philippa Goslett's (Little Ashes, Mary Magdalene) sci-fi, fantasy, action/drama The Nevers graces our screens (and less than a day after the official trailer and poster were released), series stars Laura Donnelly (Amalia True) and Ann Skelly (Penance Adair) are offering their thoughts on what it was like working for series creator and executive producer Joss Whedon. In November 2020, Whedon announced that he was departing the series citing "the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic." In February 2021, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Charisma Carpenter publically accused Whedon of years of unprofessional and abusive behavior on the set of the popular series and its spinoff- accusations that some affiliated with Whedon's series would corroborate or reveal their own claims of abuse.
During an exclusive interview with EW, The Nevers stars were asked what their personal experiences were like working with Whedon. "I loved working with Joss. I found him to be a lovely boss and director, he was very open. I felt he cared a lot for the actors and the crew. It was definitely one of my favorite on-set experiences for sure," Skelly explained. "Everyone would show up to work happy to be there, ready to go. That is a very contagious feeling. It was a very positive energy." For Donnelly, the feeling was the same. "From my personal experience, it was the best screen, film or TV, experience that I've had on any set. From my point of view, he always felt very supportive and protective of the artistic integrity and what we as actors needed in order to be able to do our job. One of the great things was the way that trickled down," the actor explained. "I've never worked on a show that has a cast and a crew that all seem to be so at the top of their game and who are all so lovely and I say that without a single exception. They have just been such a joy to work with and I'm so thrilled that the vast majority we'll be back with later this year doing the rest of the series because it's been one of the best experiences of my career."
Donnelly also revealed a talk that the cable network had with the cast at the start of production. "One of the first talks that we got from HBO, and I think this speaks to the culture as it has been learned about over the years and the progress that we've managed to make within the industry, was an HR talk about what you can do if you do ever feel uncomfortable on a set in any capacity at all," Donnelly explained. 'So we all knew that there were very clear lines of communication there if we ever felt that we were in any way uncomfortable. Certainly, from my point of view, I always felt like I was being very looked after in that capacity. I'd like to think that everybody else on set did too. I think that's brilliant of HBO. I'll always be grateful to them for providing that for us."
Both Donnelly and Skelly found out the news of Whedon's leaving The Nevers at the same time everyone else did- when it was first announced. "I was certainly gutted," Donnelly explained. "I was going to miss him a lot — he was our captain. But at the same time, he left for personal reasons and you can't argue with that. People have to look after themselves, they gotta look after their families, they gotta look after their mental well-being. These are all the conversations that we're having at the moment and it's really important that that happens. I wouldn't want it to be any other way for him." Skelly was also shocked but she also has faith in the team that in place moving forward. "I found out the same way and I was really sad. I'll miss him going back to work, but I am very trusting in who we have leading the show now, Philippa Goslett," she explained. "I've had a couple of Zoom meetings at this point and she's really made me feel very comforted that the show is in her hands and HBO trusts her immensely. I think she'll continue on [in] that really positive atmosphere. She does have creative control, so it's going to be her spin on things. Though the tone has been set and the world has been created, I think it will make a lovely impact for a woman to continue that on."
For Donnelly, it's about remembering that in television especially, the work is never about just one person- especially with a series such as The Nevers. "It's really easy to forget as well that TV, out of all of the arts, is probably the most collaborative one that there is, so there are so many people that go into making the show what it is," she explained. 'We've got producers that we've come to trust so much, multiple writers… and then, of course, the vast majority of our crew and all of our cast, so it won't feel like a different thing. It will feel like a lovely continuation I think."