Hartley Sawyer won’t be back on ‘The Flash’ when it returns for its seventh season next year. He has been fired after old tweets surfaced which included sexist and racist jokes. If that sounds familiar, it was the same reason that James Gunn was fired from the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ franchise by Disney in 2018. (They later rehired him.) Sawyer’s old tweets have surfaced at a time when people continue to participate in public demonstrations following the killing of African American man George Floyd by a police officer, as well as the shooting death of African American woman Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her sleep when police accidentally broke into the wrong residence. Sawyer’s Twitter account has been deleted.
The CW, producers Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions, and executive producer Eric Wallace issued a joint statement which read:
“Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash. In regards to Mr. Sawyer’s posts on social media, we do not tolerate derogatory remarks that target any race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. Such remarks are antithetical to our values and policies, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive, and productive environment for our workforce.”
Wallace then released his own statement:
My statement regarding Hartley Sawyer and THE FLASH. pic.twitter.com/hni0MxOWZU
— Eric Wallace (@ewrote) June 8, 2020
Star Grant Gustin shared Wallace’s tweet, adding that he was “shocked, saddened, and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter.”
Sawyer himself took to Instagram to offer his apology:
View this post on Instagram
My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply. This was not acceptable behavior. These were words I threw out at the time with no thought or recognition of the harm my words could do, and now have done today. I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now. Years ago, thanks to friends and experiences who helped me to open my eyes, I began my journey into becoming a more responsible adult – in terms of what I say, what I do, and beyond. I’ve largely kept that journey private, and this is another way that I have let so many down. I still have more work to do. But how I define myself now does not take away the impact of my words, or my responsibility for them. I am very sorry.
As was the case with James Gunn’s firing, some question why Sawyer wasn’t more heavily vetted before being cast. The offensive tweets were posted as far back as 2012 and as recently as 2014.
Sawyer recurred on ‘The Flash’ S4 before being upped to a series regular for seasons 5 and 6. He portrayed former police officer-turned-private eye-turned superhero, Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. the Elongated Man. Recently, Natalie Dreyfuss joined the series as Ralph’s love interest, Sue Dearborn.
The next season of ‘The Flash’ and every other series on The CW has been postponed until January due to COVID-19-caused shutdowns. ‘The Flash’ debuted in 2014 and has consistently placed as The CW’s #1-rated series.