Hartley Sawyer, who is popularly known for his role as Ralph Dibny on The CW series The Flash for the past three seasons, has been fired from the show after a bunch of Twitter threads containing misogynist and racist references 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 since the screenshots of his tweet went viral in the past two weeks. The sudden action against him comes amid nationwide protests against systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis. Earlier, Twitter also disabled U.S President’s Donald Trump’s campaign video as a tribute to Floyd.
“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 policies, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive, and productive environment for our workforce.”
Showrunner Wallace tweeted a statement, a part of which reads: “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.”
Among the tweets, that surfaced in the past two weeks are 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 b**b viewing at an audition today.” Several tweets refer to assaulting women, and one reads, “Date r*pe myself so I don’t have to masturbate.”
Lead actor Grant Gustin reposted Wallace’s statement, writing that he was “shocked, saddened, and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter.”
The whole controversial tweet thread led to Sawyer issuing an apology on Instagram, saying:
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.
News of Hartly Sawyer’s firing comes less than a week after a writer and producer on the upcoming Chris Meloni-centered Law & Order-spinoff Dick Wolf was fired for his offensive posts on social media.