In an open letter Monday signed by Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and five other main stars of the franchise, the cast said it fully supports the director and the character he showed both on the set of the first two movies and in the wake of his firing.
Gunn was let go from directing the third installment of the franchise by The Walt Disney Co. after old tweets resurfaced where he joked about subjects like rape and pedophilia.
The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy says they’ve waited 10 days to issue a statement to “think, pray, listen and discuss.”
WATCH BELOW: The latest on Guardians of the Galaxy
Various cast members, including Gunn’s brother Sean Gunn, have issued individual statements. Fan petitions were also started online to rehire Gunn.
Pratt shared the open letter on Instagram, writing, “Although I don’t support James Gunn’s inappropriate jokes from years ago, he is a good man. I’d personally love to see him reinstated as director of Volume 3. If you please, read the following statement— signed by our entire cast.”
“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,” the open letter reads.
The letter continues: “Being in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies has been a great honour 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 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. 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,” the nine actors wrote in the open letter.
“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 letter concludes.
Diesel shared the letter on Instagram, adding, “We are Groot!”
Saldana shared the letter on Twitter, writing, “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.”
Gunn issued a public apology shortly after Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn fired him. “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,” the director said in a statement.
He continued: “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.”
Announcing Gunn’s firing on July 20, Horn said, “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.”
Actress Selma Blair deleted her Twitter account in solidarity with Gunn.
Blair had previously tweeted why she didn’t agree with Disney’s decision: “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.”
Gunn has been writer and director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise from the beginning, taking an obscure Marvel Comics title about a group of multicoloured misfits and turning it into a space opera decked with comedy and retro music that made Pratt a major movie star.
Through two instalments the franchise has brought in more than $1.5 billion in global box office revenue, and much has been staked on the third film that would launch another decade, or more, of Marvel films.
—With files from the Associated Press