Ten days after Disney fired director James Gunn over some old and offensive tweets, the cast of his Guardians of the Galaxy movies has joined together to co-sign a letter in support of reinstating him as director of the third film. From the Hollywood Reporter:
“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,” began the letter, signed by Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and Pom Klementieff. “In that time we have 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 who were so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories around him.”…
“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 American from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality,” the letter continued.
The letter says the cast won’t “defend his jokes of many years ago” but that having worked with him on two films they believe his apologies were genuine and from the heart. The letter also appears to reference a Change.org petition which was started a week ago to pressure Disney to re-hire Gunn as director of the third film. That petition is aiming for 500,000 signatures and currently has close to 340,000.
Probably the best thing Gunn has going for him right now is Chris Pratt who is not only a huge star but is also decidedly not part of the usual Hollywood crowd. This is a guy who has impressed many people on the right with his patriotism, his gun ownership, and his willingness to turn an award speech into a semi-sincere Gospel presentation. He even offered a funny pre-apology for the inevitable moment he would run afoul of the PC police himself. Pratt is really not the usual Hollywood type. The fact that he’s willing to go to bat for Gunn can’t hurt.
Is it possible Disney could reverse course itself here? I don’t believe Gunn is a pedophile or that he should have been fired for jokes he made before he was even hired by Disney. That said, the jokes really are offensive and Disney has already pulled the trigger here. Reversing course would guarantee they wind up having to defend his comments, probably at the next shareholder’s meeting. I think Disney will want to let their decision stand if possible.
However, that could change if the cast decides to take this to the next level. I’m not sure how much leeway their contracts give them to speak out about issues like this without risking being fired, but what if they all do it at once. Disney can’t fire them all, especially not Chris Pratt. At a minimum, the cast could make things very uncomfortable for the studio if they take an adversarial stance. I’m sure there are a lot of worried people at Disney today who are hoping their string of billion-dollar superhero films hasn’t just hit a PR landmine.