The Flash's Hartley Sawyer Fired After Offensive Tweets Resurface

Hartley Sawyer was fired from The Flash after a series of offensive tweets resurfaced online.

By Elyse Dupre 08 Jun, 2020 8:53 PMTags
Hartley Sawyer Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Hartley Sawyer was fired from The Flash after a series of offensive tweets resurfaced online.

"Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for Season 7 of The Flash," Warner Bros. Television, The CW, Berlanti Productions and executive producer Eric Wallace said in a joint statement to E! News on Monday. "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."

While the 35-year-old actor deleted his Twitter account, social media users shared screen shots of the alleged posts. The tweets appeared to be written years before Sawyer joined the show. "The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me," one 2012 post read.

"Date rape myself so I don't have to masturbate," stated another from that year.

"If I had a wife I would beat the hell out of her tonight lol," read a third. 

Some were written as recently as 2014. "Out at dinner and just exposed myself as a racist, AGAIN," a post read. 

Another post featured homophobic language.

"@stephenhanks just kidding I don't care and f-gs are fine but sports often make me snore," a 2009 tweet read.

Sawyer, who joined the series as Ralph Dibny in 2017, apologized for his tweets in a statement shared to Instagram in late May. "I'm not here to make excuses—regardless of my 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 each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable."

"My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable," he continued. "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. " 

He then stressed that "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," Sawyer continued. "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."

Wallace also expanded upon the termination in a statement on Twitter. He said Sawyer's tweets "broke my heart and made me mad as hell."

"And they're indicative of the larger problem in our country," the producer continued. "Because, at our present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment—unconscious or otherwise—terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people, which is far too often fatal. That's why our country is standing up once again and shouting, 'ENOUGH!' and taking to the streets to bring about active change."

In addition, Wallace said he's "committed to bringing permanent change to the work environment here on The Flash."

"Yes, this is a family show. But it's for all families," he continued. "That includes Black and Brown ones. In order to facilitate this, I will continue to find Black and Brown writers, directors, actors and producers of all genders to help tell Flash stories. Their stories are part of the American narrative, too and must be heard. And the more you hear and see us, the more you will begin to recognize one simple fact: We're human beings too."

Near the end of his post, Wallace spoke about the recent protests.

"To those who still aren't  sure why so many Americans have taken to the streets to make their voices known, I ask you to consider this: Every time a Black or Brown life is harassed, harmed or murdered, as in the case of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and too many others, our entire country fractures and moves further and further away from any moral authority we often claim to have in the world," he wrote. "Murder is not democracy. Systematic and institutional white privilege is not equality. Suppressing the free press with violence it not liberty. The only way for you to be free is for all of us to be free. #BlackLivesMatter."

The Hollywood Reporter was first to report Sawyer's firing.