Nearly one year ago, Disney fired director James Gunn from the "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise over resurfaced tweets filled with pedophilia and child rape jokes. Now that he's been hired back, Gunn has opened up about the whole experience, reports Bounding Into Comics.
Speaking with Deadline, Gunn said that his firing from Disney was an "incredibly intense" day in which he thought his entire career had been sabotaged.
"There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide," he said. "But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over."
The nearly 10-year-old tweets had a number of sexually offensive references. "I like when little boys touch me in my silly place" was just one of many shocking examples.
At the time, Gunn said his jokes were from a different era of his life, when he fancied himself a shock jock and provocateur.
"My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative," he said in a statement last year. "I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don't reflect the person I am today or have been for some time."
James Gunn revealed that he came to Hollywood to "be rich and famous, to have people love them" and that his firing dashed his "hope for feeling love." Despite that, he appreciated all the support that the "Guardians of the Galaxy" cast showed him, including kind words from Chris Pratt and Sylvester Stallone.
"That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming," said Gunn. "In order for me to have fully felt that love for the first time, the thing that needed to happen was the apparatus by which I was feeling falsely loved had to be completely taken away."
Gunn elaborated on feeling angry at himself for his past wrongdoing, adding that he now realizes that he has to do better in life. "The truth is I had a lot of anger at myself and I really had to try to put that aside," he told Deadline. "Because in the same way where I know what I’ve done wrong, I know that I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life, things that led to this moment. I had to realize what I needed to do differently in my life. That was a part of all of this."
Now that he has his job back, Gunn said he will not be gloating or seeking vengeance upon the people who made his firing possible. "But in the same way I needed to not be lashing out at whoever fired me, or whoever spread links online, or cut up pictures to look like this or that, I also had to let go of some of that rage towards myself as well," he said ."Otherwise, I just wasn’t going to be able to make it through."
Supporters of Gunn's firing pointed out that he himself had called for firings and boycotts of other people, including Roseanne Barr and Laura Ingraham. Though Gunn did not address either of those incidents directly, he admits that he regrets ways he "spoke publicly" and wishes he had been more compassionate.
"I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humor, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there," Gunn said. "I know that people have been hurt by things that I’ve said, and that’s still my responsibility, that I wasn’t as compassionate as I should be in what I say. I feel bad for that and take full responsibility."
In the end, Gunn did conclude that Disney had the absolute right to fire him. "Disney totally had the right to fire me," he concluded. "This wasn’t a free speech issue. I said something they didn’t like and they completely had the right to fire me. There was never any argument of that."