Ten days ago the film world was rocked by the news that Walt Disney Studios had fired writer/director James Gunn from the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The decision came after transgressive Tweets by the director from 2009-2012 were unearthed, Tweets which previously stirred up controversy back in 2012.
Now the entire main Guardians cast, namely Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker, have written an open letter showing their support of having James Gunn reinstated as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
“To our fans and friends:
We fully support James Gunn. We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss. In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him.
Being in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movies has been a great honor in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart all know, trust, and love. In casting each of us to help him tell the story of misfits who find redemption, he changed our lives forever. We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.
Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future. His story isn’t over – not by a long shot.
There is little due process in the court of public opinion. James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial. Given the growing political divide in this country, it’s safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.
It is our hope that what has transpired can serve as an example for all of us to realize the enormous responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other regarding the use of our written words when we etch them in digital stone; that we as a society may learn from this experience and in the future will think twice before we decide what we want to express; and in so learning perhaps can harness this capability to help and heal instead of hurting each other. Thank you for taking the time to read our words.
The Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Meanwhile, a petition to rehire James Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has reached more than 348,000 signatures as of July 30 10pm EST.
This was James Gunn’s statement at the time of his firing from the upcoming Guardians sequel, saying:
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time. Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn justified the firing in a brief statement: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”
Earlier this year, director James Gunn revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would be released in 2020. Filming was scheduled to start this Fall in Atlanta, but it is unknown if the film will keep to this schedule. The third Guardians film was meant to be the final outing for the original team lineup, and set up future films in the cosmic arena of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.