- LOS ANGELES (AP)
Chris Pratt and his fellow "Guardians of the Galaxy" castmates are coming out in support of ousted director James Gunn 10 days after his firing.
In an open letter Monday signed by Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and five other main stars of the franchise, the cast said it fully supports the director and the character he showed both on the set of the first two movies and in the wake of his firing.
Gunn was let go from directing the third installment of the franchise by The Walt Disney Co. after old tweets resurfaced where he joked about subjects like rape and pedophilia.
The cast says it waited 10 days to issue a statement to "think, pray, listen and discuss." In the interim, various cast members, including Gunn's brother Sean Gunn, have issued individual statements. Fan petitions were also started online to rehire Gunn.
"Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future," wrote the cast members, who said they were all shocked by the firing.
Pratt added in an Instagram post that he would, "Personally love to see him reinstated as director of Volume 3."
"Although I don't support James Gunn's inappropriate jokes from years ago, he is a good man," Pratt added.
The letter also discusses the climate that led to Gunn's abrupt firing and the lack of "due process in the court of public opinion."
Gunn's current Twitter account is heavy on left-leaning politics, and some on the right with whom he'd sparred found and promoted the tweets from 2008 to 2011 that led to his firing.
"James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial," the cast members continued. "Given the growing political divide in this country, it's safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassination and stop weaponizing mob mentality."
Gunn has been writer and director of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise from the start, taking an obscure Marvel Comics title about a group of multicolored misfits and turning it into a space opera decked with comedy and retro music that made Pratt a major movie star. Through two installments the franchise has brought in more than $1.5 billion in global box office, and much has been staked on the third film that would launch another decade, or more, of Marvel films.