One of the stars of a major Hollywood TV series shot in Vancouver has been fired over past racist and misogynistic social-media posts.
Hartley Sawyer, who played Ralph Dibny in The Flash, will not be returning for its seventh season because of the posts, said a joint statement from those involved with the show. The Flash is one of seven TV shows in the Arrowverse franchise, six of which are made in B.C. and employ hundreds of workers.
“Concerning his social media tweets, they broke my heart and made me mad as hell. And they’re indicative of a larger problem in our country,” The Flash executive producer Eric Wallace, who is African-American, said Monday in a posting on his Instagram account.
“At present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment – unconscious or otherwise – terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and brown people, which is far too often brutal.”
A statement from Warner Bros. Television, The CW network, Berlanti Productions and Mr. Wallace said: “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 work force.”
Mr. Sawyer’s tweets, posted between 2012 and 2014 before he joined The Flash in 2017, include, according to media reports, racist comments such as, “The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist things is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me.” On another occasion, he referred to how one of his favourite activities as a lad was “kidnapping homeless women and cutting off their breasts.” The 35-year-old deactivated his Twitter account in May.
Grant Gustin, who plays Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash, reposted Mr. Wallace’s Instagram comments, adding: ”I was shocked, saddened and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter.”
In an Instagram post, Mr. Sawyer, previously featured in such series as NCIS: Los Angeles and The Young and the Restless, said he could not make any excuses for his conduct.
“My words matter and they carry profound consequences. And mine can and have caused pain and embarrassment, along with feelings I can only imagine, to supporters and fans, my cast mates, the crew, my colleagues and friends,” he wrote. “I am very sorry.”
Mr. Sawyer’s exit is the latest behind-the-scenes blow to the Arrowverse collection of shows, inspired by DC Comics characters, that have become key fixtures of British Columbia’s booming production sector.
This spring, Ruby Rose, the star of the Vancouver-shot series Batwoman, quit as the show completed its first season. Ms. Rose has yet to elaborate on her reasons for leaving the show, the first in the fictional universe featuring an LGBTQ lead. Her character is being replaced in the series in which she played the cousin of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman.
The Flash and Batwoman are among the seven comic book-inspired shows in the Arrowverse media franchise, six of which are shot in Vancouver. The Vancouver Arrowverse shows are Arrow, which aired its season finale this year, as well as Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Batwoman and the pending series Superman and Lois.
In 2017, Andrew Kreisberg, a producer and creator of The Flash, was suspended amid allegations of sexual harassment detailed in the magazine Variety. He denied them. Mr. Kreisberg was also involved in creating Arrow, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. He was also an executive producer.
Details on spending for the franchise is closely guarded but a 2017 study by the Motion Picture Association-Canada said a single season of Arrow, about a hooded vigilante in a fictional U.S. city, created jobs equivalent to the construction of 616 new homes in B.C.
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