"Guardians of the Galaxy" stars rally to James Gunn's defense after Disney fires director for tweets

The controversy ignited a debate about how a person's past social media posts should impact their ability to work

Published July 23, 2018 11:23PM (EDT)

Zoe Saldana; Chris Pratt; James Gunn; Dave Bautista (AP/Jordan Strauss)
Zoe Saldana; Chris Pratt; James Gunn; Dave Bautista (AP/Jordan Strauss)

After Disney abruptly fired James Gunn from "Guardians of the Galaxy 3" for "offensive attitudes" expressed in newly re-surfaced tweets from a decade ago, stars of the upcoming film, including Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, have publicly rallied to the writer-director's defense. The controversy has ignited a debate across the country about what role an individual's past social media posts should play in his or her ability to work moving forward.

"It’s been a challenging weekend I’m not gonna lie," Saldana, who portrays Gamora, tweeted on Sunday. "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".

Pratt was similarly diplomatic, citing a Bible verse in his tweet: "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger."

But Dave Bautista, who plays Drax, was among Gunn's fiercest defenders, describing him as "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," Bautista continued on Twitter on Friday. "He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him."

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The writer-director was fired from the Disney franchise after controversial tweets from 2008 and 2009 were re-surfaced by the right-wing website The Daily Caller. He had been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.

Gunn subsequently apologized for the posts, which included what he called "jokes" about rape and pedophilia. In a Twitter thread late Thursday night, he further elaborated on his evolution from that time:

Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor. It's not to say I'm better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it's shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.

But Friday, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a 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."

Beyond the film's cast, in Hollywood, Selma Blair has also urged Disney to re-hire Gunn. The actress also signed and shared a change.org petition with that mission.

The cast of "The View" discussed the controversy and the ramifications of social media use during a "Hot Topics" segment on Monday's broadcast. Co-host Meghan McCain stressed the importance of recognizing and accepting an individual's personal growth. "I've been on Twitter 10 years –starting in my early 20s," she reflected. "And, I don't even want to know some of the stuff that I used to tweet and put up.

Co-host Sunny Hostin echoed McCain's sentiments. She said she was unsure if Gunn should be fired for tweets from a decade ago, especially given his apology and declaration that it is not reflective of who he is anymore.

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