James Gunn is talking about his recent Disney experience for the first time and his deep connection to Rocket Raccoon. The director was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 last summer after some old tweets of his resurfaced featuring some truly tasteless jokes about rape and pedophilia. The tweets were 10-years old and unearthed by some hardcore Right Wing conservatives and Disney felt they needed to act fast after just firing Roseanne Barr and cancelling the supremely successful Roseanne revival series. However, the studio announced in March that they were reinstating him on the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
When it comes down to it, James Gunn stayed silent on the matter. He unplugged from social media and took it all minute-by-minute. He never publicly lashed out at anyone and accepted the blame for his actions. He never expected to be asked back, but Disney’s Alan Horn ended up inviting back earlier this year for Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Gunn had this to say about his reinstatement.
“I was about to sit down and talk about Suicide Squad with DC and I was excited about that. Alan asked me to come talk to him. I really believe he is a good man and I think he hired me back because he thought that was the right thing to do… You hear in Hollywood that everybody’s cutthroat. That’s true of a section of this industry, but there’s also a lot of really good people. I’m always attracted to finding that goodness in places we don’t expect, often in the characters in my movies. I got a little bit teary-eyed in his office. And then I had to go tell Kevin Feige I had just decided to do Suicide Squad, so that made me very nervous.”
When getting fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 by Disney, James Gunn compared it to a marriage that ended in divorce. He wanted to stay on good terms with Disney since there was so much at stake, and in the long run, it helped his cause. “I didn’t want to look back and feel bitter, upset or angry. Of course all sorts of emotions are attached to it,” says the director. While Gunn understood Disney’s decision to terminate him, it was still hard for him to accept. He explains.
“I don’t blame anyone. 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. 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. Disney totally had the right to fire me. 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. That first day… I’m going to say it was the most intense of my entire life. 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. 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.”
James Gunn says he has struggled with the idea of feeling loved throughout his life. With that being said, he believes Disney’s decision to fire him from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 was ultimately a good thing for his wellbeing. Gunn received an immense amount of support from Marvel Cinematic Universe fans, along with his cast and crew. Gunn had this to say about the support he received and how it helped him.
Related: Chris Pratt on James Gunn’s Guardians 3 Rehiring: I’m Really Proud of Disney
“And then came this outpouring of real love. From my girlfriend Jen; my producer and my agents; Chris Pratt calling me and freaking out; Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan, all calling and crying. Sylvester Stallone FaceTime-ing me. And, of course, Dave Bautista, who came out so strong. That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming. 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.”
As for what he was going to miss about not directing Guardians of the Galaxy 3, James Gunn admits it was having to do with Rocket’s story arc. When he was fired, he was the saddest about not being able to bring Rocket’s story to a close. He explains.
“When what was saddest for me when I thought it was gone-and anybody at Marvel can tell you-it’s this very strange and attached relationship to Rocket. Rocket is me, he really is, even if that sounds narcissistic. Groot is like my dog. I love Groot in a completely different way. I relate to Rocket and I feel compassion for Rocket, but I also feel like his story has not been completed. He has an arc that started in the first movie, continued into the second and goes through Infinity War and Endgame, and then I was set to really finish that arc in Guardians 3. That was a big loss to me-not being able to finish that story-though I was comforted by the fact that they were still planning to use my script.”
In the end, Gunn is back, but he has to tackle The Suicide Squad first, which he is really excited about. For now, everything is looking good and Gunn is happy with the way everything went down. You can read the rest of the interview with James Gunn over at Deadline.