Actor Hartley Sawyer has been fired from popular show “The Flash” after a collection of racist and misogynistic past tweets by him started circulating online, leading to widespread backlash.
The tweets, all from before he joined series, make references to sexual assault and contain racist and homophobic language. Sawyer’s Twitter account has been deleted, but screenshots of the old posts were circulating online over the past two weeks.
Through a statement, the network announced Sawyer’s removal from the series, in which he featured as Ralph Dibny since 2017, reports hollywoodreporter.com.
“Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of ‘The Flash’,” read a statement from The CW, producers Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions and executive producer Eric Wallace.
“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 police, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce,” it added.
The news of his firing comes as the people in the US continue to protest against systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Showrunner Eric Wallace also tweeted: “This morning, many of you learned that Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of ‘The Flash’. Concerning his social media tweets, they broke my heart and made me mad as hell. And they’re indicative of the larger problem in our country.”
Lead actor Grant Gustin reposted Wallace’s statement, writing that he was “shocked, saddened and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter”.
In a 2012 tweet, which recently surfaced, Sawyer wrote: “The only thing keeping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me.”
In 2014, he wrote: “Enjoyed a secret boob viewing at an audition today.”
Several tweets refer to assaulting women, and one reads, “Date rape myself so I don’t have to masturbate”.
After facing flak, Sawyer also issued an apology 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 behaviour. 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,” he said.