Hartley Sawyer, who has played Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, on the CW series The Flash for the past three seasons, has been fired after old social media posts with racist and misogynistic references recently resurfaced, Deadline has confirmed.
“Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for Season 7 of The Flash,” according to a joint statement provided to Deadline from Warner Bros. TV, The CW, 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.”
Sawyer’s Twitter account has been deleted, but screen shots of the old posts have been circulating online. In one tweet, Sawyer wrote, “The only thing keeping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me.” All were posted before Sawyer joined The Flash. Sawyer’s firing also comes amid ongoing protests against systemic racism following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Sawyer posted an apology on Instagram with a caption that reads in part, “I’m not here to make excuses – regardless of the intention 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. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable.”
Sawyer joined The Flash as a recurring in Season 5 and was later upped to series regular.
His firing was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
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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.