Rick Porter, Lesley Goldberg
Actor Hartley Sawyer has been fired from The Flash after a host of his tweets containing misogynist and racist references were surfaced in the past week.
The tweets, all from before he joined The CW 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 have circulated online in the past two weeks. His firing also comes amid nationwide protests against systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.
“Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash,” reads 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 polices, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce.”
Showrunner Wallace tweeted a statement that reads in part, “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.” (See the full statement below.)
Lead actor Grant Gustin reposted Wallace’s statement, writing that he was “shocked, saddened and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter.”
Among the tweets users surfaced in the past two weeks are one from 2012 in which 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.”
Sawyer issued an apology on Instagram, saying in part, “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.”
Sawyer joined The Flash in 2017 as Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man. He recurred on the show initially and was upped to series regular in 2018.
In 2018, ABC canceled its Roseanne revival after star and executive producer Roseanne Barr posted a tweet comparing former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape. (The network greenlit spinoff The Conners after severing all ties with Barr.) Kevin Hart was dropped as host of the 2019 Oscars after a series of homophobic tweets from several years earlier surfaced. Last fall, Saturday Night Live hired comedian Shane Gillis as a recurring player, then fired him after racial and homophobic slurs he made on a podcast came to light.
More recently, producer Dick Wolf last week fired writer Craig Gore from a forthcoming Law & Order: SVU spinoff after Gore posted a photo of himself on social media holding a weapon and threatening to “light up” protesters if they came near his property.
Executive producer Eric Wallace’s full statement is below.
My statement regarding Hartley Sawyer and THE FLASH. pic.twitter.com/hni0MxOWZU
— Eric Wallace (@ewrote) June 8, 2020