Kurt Russell Thinks James Gunn Firing Is ‘Sad,’ Dave Bautista Threatens to Quit ‘Guardians 3’
Just days after the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy signed an open letter urging Marvel and Disney to reconsider the firing of James Gunn, another co-star has come out in support of the director: Kurt Russell. The iconic veteran actor says it’s “sad” that Gunn was dismissed after an alt-right media personality dug up offensive (and kind of dumb, honestly) jokes tweeted by the director several years ago. Meanwhile, co-star Dave Bautista is upping the ante on his outspoken support of Gunn, threatening to leave the MCU behind if Disney doesn’t rehire the Guardians filmmaker.
First up, Kurt Russell spoke with Variety during Netflix’s Emmy nomination celebration for Wild Wild Country, where the actor was asked to comment on the firing of Gunn. Russell cited the “sensitive” social climate that has risen from the outing of multiple sexual abusers in powerful positions in Hollywood. That may seem like a misguided comment, but Russell isn’t really wrong with regards to this particular situation. By firing Gunn for making offensive jokes (which were clearly jokes not intended to be taken literally or directed at any specific person) while allowing serial alleged harasser and abuser John Lasseter to remain with Pixar through the end of the year, Disney has placed itself in a hypocritical position — one that says that physically harming women is OK, but making bad jokes is not.
Russell went on to describe Gunn as someone with a “wonderful heart and a wonderful mind,” adding that he hopes the filmmaker will be forgiven:
You have to realize that when you are in that world as a comedian, a writer, whatever you’re always stretching the boundaries and trying to find something which lead him to something that the world loves, which is Guardians of the Galaxy. He has a wonderful heart and a wonderful mind. I hope he is forgiven.
It’s also worth noting that Gunn’s firing isn’t comparable to that of Roseanne Barr, who was axed by Disney-owned ABC for making racist comments — which she absurdly claimed were “jokes” — on Twitter. However, the two do have one thing in common: Disney was almost certainly aware of their public personas before they were hired for their respective projects. Barr often tweeted racist remarks and pushed insane conspiracy theories, while Gunn made a name for himself with B-movie house Troma — purveyors of crass, grotesque and provocative genre films. Their whole schtick is just trying to get a rise out of people with outlandish, gross content. Juvenile, yes, but trying to say Gunn’s old jokes are on par with Roseanne’s tweets creates a glaringly false equivalency.
Following yesterday’s tweet, in which he said that Guardians isn’t the same without Gunn, Dave Bautista doubled down on his support for the director. Speaking with Shortlist, Bautista threatened to exit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 if Marvel doesn’t at least use Gunn’s script — which he was in the middle of writing when he was fired:
Where I’m at right now is that if [Marvel] don’t use that script, then I’m going to ask them to release me from my contract, cut me out or recast me. I’d be doing James a disservice if I didn’t.
Bautista, who plays hulking alien Drax the Destroyer, also acknowledges that his approach to sorting this whole situation out is quite different from that of some of his co-stars:
I spoke to Chris Pratt the day after it happened and he’s a bit religious so he wanted time to pray and figure it out, but I was more like: fuck this. This is bullshit. James is one of the kindest, most decent people I’ve met.
Last week, an online fan petition to have Disney rehire Gunn acquired over 300,000 signatures, exceeding its goal. Despite the petition’s success, and despite the heartfelt open letter signed by the Guardians cast, Disney reportedly has no plans to reinstate Gunn.