It seems life on the set of Charmed was far from magic.
Reports suggest the show’s stars Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and later Rose McGowan — who played witches and sisters Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige, respectively — didn’t get along during its eight-year run.
Over the years, talk of feuds, firings and mean-girl behaviour circled the cast, with a few harsh words exchanged off-set long after the series ended in 2006. The rivalry between Milano and McGowan was reignited after their war of words on Twitter last August, and now it seems producer Krista Vernoff has weighed in about the show becoming “bad for the world”.
So what really went down on the set? Let’s take a look…
Why did Charmed producer Krista Vernoff say the show was “bad for the world”?
A new feud may be brewing between Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs and former Charmed producer Krista Vernoff.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Vernoff revealed she left the show after it went in a creative direction that was “bad for the world”.
“I signed on because Charmed was a girl-power show, and about halfway through there was an episode where Alyssa Milano comes out in mermaid pasties and there was a huge spike in male viewership, and then every episode after, the question would come from the network, ‘How are we getting the girls naked this week?'” Vernoff told the outlet.
“And they were throwing money at me, and the number keeps going up, and there’s all this pressure, and all I can think is, ‘I’m creating something that’s now bad for the world, and I’ve had enough bad for the world in my life.'”
But Vernoff’s recent comments did not sit well with Milano and Combs.
“Well, this absolutely broke my heart,” Milano tweeted in response to Vernoff’s comments. “I hope we didn’t make something that was ‘bad for the world’ for eight years. I think we gave permission to a generation of women to be themselves and to be strong and own their sexuality. I’m so proud of what this show meant to so many.”
Combs was just as disappointed with Vernoff’s interview.
“I can attest 1000% Charmed was not bad for the world. The reasons and people are too long to list. Maybe it was bad for Krista’s world at the time. End story,” she tweeted.
Why were Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty feuding on Charmed?
When Charmed premiered in October 1998, the cast thought they had lucked out with everyone getting along so well.
“I feel that we’re incredibly lucky that the three of us found each other,” Milano told E! News at the time. “We all have horses so we all have things that are in common. Holly and I keep our horses at the same ranch so we go riding all the time together and we’re very similar and, um, very close, we’re blessed in that way. It’s like a big slumber party every day. We giggle a lot.”
So close were the castmates that when Milano married musician Cinjun Tate in 1999, she asked Doherty and Combs to be her bridesmaids. But the magic didn’t last (and neither did Milano’s marriage) and soon there was tension on set between the actress and Doherty.
“There were times when I’d come in and say, ‘Good morning, Shannen,’ and she didn’t say anything to me,” Milano would later admit. “And there were times when she’d come in and say, ‘Good morning, Alyssa,’ and I wouldn’t say anything to her.”
In another interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2001, Milano acknowledged the tension on set and explained that she and Doherty simply clashed.
“I think it’s hard when you put… two very different people together,” she said. “I’m very laid-back and passive… [Doherty’s] got a lot of energy, she’s very headstrong, she wants to get the job done.”
Was Shannen Doherty fired from Charmed?
It was speculated that Milano gave producers an ultimatum: fire Doherty or she would walk — a rumour she has vehemently denied. There was also talk Doherty was jealous of her co-star’s growing popularity. But perhaps the most feasible explanation was that Doherty just didn’t like the direction the show was moving in.
Confirmation came in 2001 when she announced she was leaving at the conclusion of Season 3 because she had basically outgrown the show.
“I have certainly enjoyed my time with Charmed, in particular the dedicated cast, crew and staff. I had the opportunity to create a character, learn and perform my own stunt work and direct three episodes of the show. At this time, I feel that I have accomplished everything I set out to do when I returned to series television,” Doherty said in a statement.
The actress was more forthright during an interview with Entertainment Tonight later that year.
“There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work. You know, I’m 30 years old and I don’t have time for drama in my life anymore,” she said. “I want to work with actors who really, really care and that want to be there every single day.
“I don’t want to work with people who b—h about their job and complain about it and say that they hate it or anything else.”
How did Shannen Doherty exit Charmed?
The character of Prue Halliwell was killed off in the Season 3 finale of Charmed. Prue’s demise came at the hands of a demon, which was hard for fans to digest, given she was the strongest witch among the trio.
Later, Combs would say that the fate of Doherty’s character was too abrupt and could’ve been handled better.
“It was done very poorly, in my opinion,” she admitted to Entertainment Weekly. “We should have had an opportunity to have her character, Prue, make a graceful exit and have our story writers properly plan for that.”
In 2013, Milano also weighed in on the departure, telling Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that the cast weren’t told of the circumstances of Doherty’s exit.
“I don’t know if she got fired, we never really found out what happened. We were told there were creative differences,” she said.
Are Shannen Doherty and Holly Marie Combs still friends?
Doherty and Combs knew each other long before Charmed. The women had a close friendship before they played sisters on the series. This seemed to be an issue for Milano, who reportedly felt like a third wheel on set and likened her experience to being an outsider among the popular girls in school.
“Holly and Shannen were best friends for like 10 years before the show started, so it was very much sort of like high school,” the former child star said on Watch What Happens Live.
“I would hope that in our thirties it wouldn’t be like that anymore… I never went to a high school because I was tutored on the set [of Who’s The Boss?], but I imagine it would have been a lot like that.”
Combs hit back at Milano’s remark during an appearance on US radio program Sway’s Universe in 2013, in which she wondered how the child star could compare the set to high school when she never went.
“She didn’t go to high school, [so] what are we talking about here?” Combs reiterated. “We were all friends and, at times, we weren’t.”
Combs also tweeted at the time, “Working on Charmed was nothing like high school. I went to high school. It was a very important job to me and always will be.”
Combs and Doherty still consider each other close friends to this day. They attend Hollywood events together and often meet up for drinks.
“Just here. In Pittsburg. Hanging out. Just relaxing,” Doherty captioned on outing in 2016.
What happened between Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano?
When Doherty’s character was killed off in 2001, producers needed another actress to play a third sister to maintain the show’s Power of 3 premise. Enter Rose McGowan.
The actress effortlessly slotted into the newly created role of Paige Matthews, the half-sister of the Halliwell sisters who discovers she also has powers. McGowan put on a brave face for the cameras, but it was a different story behind the scenes.
“I wasn’t going to be playing Shannen’s role, but it was still someone new for the fans to bond with… I knew that I had a slim chance at success here. People had to fall in love with my character as quickly as possible or Charmed would die,” she wrote in her 2018 memoir, Brave.
“I thought about how big the crew was and how they would all be out of a job if I failed. So I made myself look super nonthreatening. I gained weight, about 10 pounds [5kg], for the role.”
As much as McGowan tried to be unlike Doherty, she found herself walking the same path and butting heads with Milano during filming.
Their feud continued well beyond the show, and in 2017 McGowan called her out for supporting Harvey Weinstein‘s then-wife Georgia Chapman — McGowan accused the Hollywood producer of sexually assaulting her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997.
“You make me want to vomit. You actually gave me a body flashback. Well done, fake one,” tweeted McGowan, who later admitted she doesn’t like Milano “cause I think she’s a lie”.
Their feud was reignited last week after McGowan criticised the US Democratic party for achieving “nothing” in recent years.
Staunch Democrat Milano hit back at the remarks, tweeting, “Rose and anyone bleating the same ‘dEmOcRaTs DoNt HeLp PeOpLe’ nonsense, your lies are going to hurt people less privileged than you. It’s the kind of thing an ACTUAL fraud would do. Thousands of people are dying a day but you go on with your hyperbolic attention-seeking tweets.”
From here, their war of words became personal, touching on their time filming Charmed when Milano was apparently paid US$250,000 (approx. $345,000) per week but was allegedly miserable on set.
“You threw a fit in front of the crew, yelling, ‘They don’t pay me enough to do this s–t!’ Appalling behaviour on the daily,” McGowan tweeted. “I cried every time we got renewed because you made that set toxic AF. Now, get off my coattails you f—ing fraud.”
Milano’s comeback? “Hurt people hurt people. Empowered people empower people. Loved people love people.”
Are Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano still feuding?
While it’s safe to say Milano and McGowan will never be friends, it appears Milano and Doherty have put the past behind them.
“Shannen and I talk a lot on Twitter via [direct message]. And I spoke to her maybe two or three days ago, and we decided that we’re going to get together.” Milano told E! News in 2017.
Milano said Doherty’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2015 helped them heal their rift because life was too short. Doherty went into remission in 2017, but earlier this year announced her cancer has returned.
“I think we’re just at ages now that what happens 15 years ago, or however long ago that was, it’s irrelevant,” Milano said. “I think that what she has gone through, [and] motherhood in my life, I think it just changes people.”