Hartley Sawyer Dropped from CW's 'The Flash' as Racist, Homophobic Tweets Emerge

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday June 9, 2020

Hartley Sawyer at the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, June 13, 2013
Hartley Sawyer at the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, June 13, 2013  (Source:Ryan Miller/Invision/AP)

Hartley Sawyer, a series regular on the CW's superhero drama "The Flash," was abruptly dropped when racist, misogynistic, and homophobic tweets from more than a decade ago resurfaced, reports TV Line.

The tweets included jokes that referenced violence toward women and used homophobic slurs, reports said, and in some Sawyer referred to himself as a racist.

Sawyer's Twitter account has seemingly been deleted, Forbes reported, but the actor has posted an apology at Instagram. He posted:

"I'm not here to make excuses - regardless of the 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 castmates, the crew, my colleagues and friends. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable."

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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. I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. I want to be very clear: 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. 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.

A post shared by Hartley Sawyer (@hartleysawyer) on

Added Sayer:

"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."

Sawyer joined "The Flash" early in Season Four, playing the role of Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. The Elongated Man, so-called because the character possesses the ability to stretch and reshape his body. The show's producers announced after the tweets came to light that Sawyer, will not be rejoining the series for its upcoming seventh season.

The network issued a statement about the actor's firing, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The statement read, in part:

"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 policies, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce."

Eric Wallace, the executive producer and showrunner for "The Flash," issued a separate statement, which he shared on Twitter. In the statement, Wallace said:

Yes, this is a family show. But it's for all families. That includes Black and Brown ones.

Wallace pledged to "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."

Wallace's post went on to say, "Murder is not democracy. Systemic and institutional white privilege is not equality. Suppressing the free press with violence is not liberty."

The writer of the Forbes article, Paul Tassi, reflected on shakeups and changes that various "Arrowverse" superhero dramas on the CW have seen of late:

I will say the CW Arrowverse shows are starting to feel a little...unsteady. Legends of Tomorrow lost three cast members this season, two of which did not seem to want to go willingly (Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford), Supergirl wrote off Dean Cain as Kara's father due to his bad politics, The Flash is now dealing with this Sawyer mess and the show that started it all, Arrow, is now over. Oh, and the lead of Batwoman quit and needs to be recast and rewritten entirely. It just all seems a bit...shaky.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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