“I’ve obviously had a lot more time to digest this. She was forced to come out with this information, and I think that what makes it really hard is the way everyone looks at you now. And I think that’s why for so long she didn’t want people to know,” Gellar, 42, told Us Weekly exclusively while promoting Cascade’s “Do It Every Night” campaign on Tuesday, February 11. “Now everywhere she goes, she sort of, she gets that look — and it’s not anyone’s fault, you can’t help it because you love her and you feel sympathy.”
The Charmed alum, 48, and the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer star have been pals since the late 1990s, when they both starred on series on The WB at the same time.
“This girl has had this diagnosis — she shot an entire season of a television show. She looked beautiful. She worked 16 hour days. I think people have to remember that life is tough, but Shannen’s a lot tougher,” Gellar added. “Cancer is not something that defines her. It’s an experience that’s certainly changed her — and changed all of us. It has its ups and its downs, but I think that it’s made the world see the side of Shannen that I’ve always known.”
On February 4, the Beverly Hills: 90210 alum revealed her cancer had returned. In an interview, she explained that she still wanted to shoot BH90210 to honor the late Luke Perry, who passed away before the reboot began filming. “One of the reasons, along with Luke, that I did 90210 and didn’t really tell anybody [was] because I thought, ‘People can look at that [and see] other people with stage IV can work too,'” she said at the time. “Like, you know, our life doesn’t end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do.”
Additionally, she knew the news was going to come out due to a lawsuit she was involved in with State Farm; she sued the insurance company after her California home was damaged in the 2018 Woolsey Fire and claimed her losses should have been covered. In the documents, she stated that she had terminal cancer and hoped to live her “remaining years peacefully in her home.”
Knowing that the diagnosis would be revealed, she had to come out with it on her own terms — something the Cruel Intentions star doesn’t think is fair.
“She’s a tough chick on the outside, but she’s not necessarily on the inside,” Gellar told Us. “And now I think people know that. So just remember that she’s been dealing with this for a long time and I think it’s unfortunate how in this world we’re forced to be able to say truths that maybe we’re not ready for other people, that we’re still digesting ourselves.”
For more from Gellar and her campaign with husband Freddie Prinze Jr., watch the interview above.