After playing Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man on The Flash since 2017, actor Hartley Sawyer was fired from the show after a series of consistently offensive tweets and social media comments made before his hiring were unearthed and publicized (via the Hollywood Reporter). Sawyer’s tweets are full of vitriol, using grossly sexist, violent, racist, fatphobic, and problematic language in what appears to be the effort of shock humor. Sawyer has recently deleted his Twitter account in reaction.
The CW, Warner Bros., Berlanti Productions, and showrunner Eric Wallace released this statement:
Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash. 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.
Wallace also posted to his own social media accounts, stating that Sawyer’s tweets “broke my heart and made me mad as hell,” before going on to frame Sawyer’s actions within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic murdering of Black people going on throughout the country. Wallace concluded by vowing to hire “Black and Brown writers, directors, actors and producers of all genders to help tell Flash stories.” Grant Gustin, who plays the titular role of The Flash, echoed Wallace’s comments in full, simply stating, “I don’t have much to add because Eric’s thoughts are stated so eloquently and powerfully. I will say I was shocked, saddened and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter.”
Sawyer took to his own Instagram page to post an apology, stating in part, “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.”
Read Wallace’s statement and Sawyer’s apology in full below.