Updated July 30, 2018: The principal cast of Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy franchise have co-signed a joint open letter arguing for the re-instatement of James Gunn as writer/director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn was publicly "severed" by the Walt Disney Company as a result of renewed public attention into a series of offensive tweets Gunn made from 2009 to 2012.
The letter has been shared on social media by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Michael Rooker, and Vin Diesel. Though both signed the letter, neither Sean Gunn nor Bradley Cooper have shared the post on social media, with Cooper having no public social media accounts.
“Being in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies has been a great honor in each of our lives,” reads an excerpt from the statement. “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 onset making Guardians 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 the remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we 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.”
Here's a link to the statement in full, via Saldana's Twitter:
If you please, read the statement written and signed by The Guardians of the Galaxy cast in support of James Gunn’s reinstatement as director of GOTG Volume 3. pic.twitter.com/TjNA9RF6M8— Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) July 30, 2018
Gunn has said he completed the first draft of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's script prior to his exit.
Original Story: The principal cast of Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy franchise - along with a few other celebrities - have spoken out following the Walt Disney Company's decision to sever all ties with writer/director James Gunn over a series of pedophiliac comments and perjorative statements about people who are transgender sent out on Twitter from 2009 to 2012, which he has recently described as "totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative."
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”— chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) July 22, 2018
It’s been a challenging weekend I’m not gonna lie. I’m pausing myself to take everything in before I speak out of term. I just want everyone to know I love ALL members of my GOTG family. Always will.— Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) July 22, 2018
I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this..@JamesGunn is one of the most loving,caring,good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) July 21, 2018
What will you do when the #cybernazis attack you? Who will stand by you? Who will cowardly distance themselves from you? Who will punish you for horrible JOKES in the past instead of defending you for INSPIRING millions? MILLIONS!!! #Redemption #injustice @JamesGunn— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) July 22, 2018
Actor Sean Gunn, who is also James Gunn's brother, posted a series of tweets:
1. I hope it goes without saying that I love and support my brother James. And I'm quite proud of how kind, generous, and compassionate he is with the people in his life, whether they are friends, family, colleagues, fans, or strangers.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
2. Since he was a kid, it was clear he had a desire (maybe destiny) to be an artist, tell stories, find his voice through comics, films, his band. The struggle to find that voice was sometimes clunky, misguided, or downright stupid, and sometimes wonderful, moving, and hilarious.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
3. Since devoting his entire life to the Guardians movies and MCU six years ago, I've seen him channel that voice into his work on those movies and seen him transform from the guy who made up things to shock people.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
4. I saw firsthand as he went from worrying about "softening his edge" for a larger audience to realizing that his "edge" wasn't as useful of a tool as he thought it was. That his gift for storytelling was something better.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
5. I saw that he was more open-hearted than the guy who needed to get a rise out of people by making nasty or offensive jokes (or whatever you choose to call them--I don't think his bluer material was ever his funniest and neither does Mom).— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
6. In many respects this change in my brother was reflected in the change that the Guardians go through. I've heard my brother say many times that when Quill rallies the team with "this is our chance to give a shit"--to care--that it's the pep talk he himself needed to hear.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
7. It's part of what made working on the Guardians movies such a rewarding experience for the cast, myself included. We managed to find ourselves involved in a big-budget superhero movie that was, at its core, deeply personal. That's a gift. And that's why it's good.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
8. This isn't new information, by the way. It's all stuff that James has explained many times in interviews, in more detail and more eloquently. It's not some new spin. It's always been part of the story.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
9. So I guess my hope is that fans continue to watch and appreciate the Guardians movies, not despite the fact that the filmmaker used to be kind of a jackass, but because of it. They are, after all, movies about discovering your best self.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
10. Working on those movies made my brother a better person, and they made me one too. I'm proud of that. Peace.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018
James Gunn himself made a statement about the situation, and shared it with Deadline.
“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," Gunn wrote.
"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.”
A Change.org petition for Disney to re-hire Gunn was launched following this weekend's news, and currently has over 175,000 digital signatures - including that of actor Selma Blair.
Marvel: RE-HIRE JAMES GUNN - Sign the Petition! https://t.co/JeVbFZkQLL via @Change. Because if people are punished despite changing, then what does that teach people about owning mistakes and evolving? This man is one of the good ones.— Selma Blair (@SelmaBlair) July 22, 2018
United States senator Ted Cruz has commented on the situation, commenting that if Gunn's tweets are true then it "needs to be prosecuted."
Wow. These #JamesGunn tweets are just horrible. Child rape is no laughing matter. As Texas SG, I handled far too many child sexual assaults. Truly evil. I’m glad Disney fired him, but if these tweets are true, he needs to be prosecuted. pic.twitter.com/1IgHC18J4x— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 21, 2018