In a new interview with Forbes magazine, Justice League actor Ray Fisher opened up about his current battle with Warner Bros. Fisher portrayed Cyborg in the “Justice League” movie, and revealed that life on the set was “toxic and harmful,” particularly in the period after director Joss Whedon took over from the film’s first director, Zack Snyder.
“The erasure of people of color from the 2017 theatrical version of ‘Justice League’ was neither an accident nor coincidence,” Fisher stated.
Whedon was brought in to handle reshoots that greatly changed the original film after Zack Snyder left “Justice League” in 2017 following the death of his daughter.
The cast and crew were shocked by the abusive behavior that took place after Snyder left, Fisher says, allegations he first spelled out this summer a July 1 tweet that read: “Joss Whedon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable. He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Accountability>Entertainment.”
In last week’s Forbes interview, Fisher expanded on his claims. “Prior to Justice League’s reshoot process, blatantly racist conversations were had and entertained — on multiple occasions — by former and current top level executives at Warner Bros. Pictures,” Fisher said. “Decision-makers that participated in those racist conversations were Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, and current Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich.”
“None of what I’m sharing in this interview is news to Warner Bros. HR, nor should it be news to WarnerMedia. I reported almost everything to them back in July — including Emmerich’s involvement,” Fisher said. “The fact that I’m having to advocate for myself in this way is equal parts freeing and frustrating.”
The racist incidents were not exclusive to conversations. Fisher alleged that while in post-production, Whedon tried to the change the skin tone of one of the actors of color in the film.
“What set my soul on fire and forced me to speak out about Joss Whedon this summer was my becoming informed that Joss had ordered that the complexion of an actor of color be changed in post-production because he didn’t like the color of their skin tone,” Fisher said. “Man, with everything 2020’s been, that was the tipping point for me.”
In addition to the skin lightening accusation, several actors of color in “Justice League” saw their character’s roles greatly reduced or entirely removed from the film
“The role of Ryan Choi, played by Zheng Kai, was cut. Joe Morton, who played Cyborg’s father Silas, had his role mostly cut and reshot. Karen Bryson, who played Cyborg’s mother Ellinore, had her role cut as well. Additionally, Kiersey Clemons, who played Iris West, was removed from the film. All of them will appear in 2021’s Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League.’ According to representatives for Whedon, these decisions were made prior to his taking control of the project,” reported Forbes.
A representative for Whedon stated: “The individual who offered this statement acknowledged that this was just something that he had heard from someone else and accepted as truth, when in fact simple research would prove that it was false. As is standard on almost all films, there were numerous people involved with mixing the final product, including the editor, special effects person, composer, etc. with the senior colorist responsible for the final version’s tone, colors, and mood. This process was further complicated on this project by the fact that Zack shot on film, while Joss shot on digital, which required the team, led by the same senior colorist who has worked on previous films for Zack, to reconcile the two.”
Despite the blowback and denial Fisher has experienced from higher-ups, he’s not standing alone without any support. “Aquaman” actor Jason Momoa posted on Instagram on Sept. 14 in support of his colleague.
“THIS S—T HAS TO STOP AND NEEDS TO BE LOOKED AT @ray8fisher AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO EXPERIENCED WHAT HAPPEN UNDER THE WATCH OF @wbpictures NEEDS PROPER INVESTIGATION.” Momoa wrote.
“I just think it’s f—d up that people released a fake Frosty announcement without my permission to try to distract from Ray Fisher speaking up about the sh-tty way we were treated on Justice League reshoots,” Momoa continued. “Serious stuff went down. It needs to be investigated and people need to be held accountable. #IStandWithRayFisher. aloha j”
The “Frosty announcement” is referring to an announcement by Deadline the Momoa was working with Berg and Johns on a live-action adaption of “Frosty The Snowman.”
Fisher divulged that he has struggled to get Warner Bros. to conduct an independent and unbiased investigation, though a new third party firm was recently brought on to handle the case.
The actor noted that while there may be people who don’t believe him, he wants them to think about why he would come forward in such a risky position to indict such powerful figures.
“You really have to ask yourself, what’s more plausible — that I would purposely torpedo my career by making statements about powerful figures in Hollywood, that, if untrue, could be easily refuted. OR a handful people in positions of power said and did terrible things in order to maintain that power during a massive corporate merger.”
All in all, Fisher is determined to take down the people who are responsible for these actions, and change the prejudiced culture of Hollywood that he said has subsisted for too long.
“My goal is to have these people not be decision-makers for the content that influences our world,” Fisher began. “These guys have been in Hollywood a long time. Their problematic behavior didn’t start with the AT&T merger, but I’ll be dammed if it doesn’t end with it.”
“I’m not worried about the consequences. I’m well aware of what’s at stake. If people don’t want to work with me because I’m refusing to tolerate abusive behavior and the coverup culture of old Hollywood, then so be it.” Fisher said.
In response to the allegations of skin lightening in the Justice League film, Whedon recently released a statement, reported by Entertainment Weekly, denying the accusations.
“The individual who offered this statement acknowledged that this was just something that he had heard from someone else and accepted as truth, when in fact simple research would prove that it was false, Whedon said. As is standard on almost all films, there were numerous people involved with mixing the final product, including the editor, special effects person, composer, etc. with the senior colorist responsible for the final version’s tone, colors, and mood. This process was further complicated on this project by the fact that [original director] Zack [Snyder] shot on film, while Joss shot on digital, which required the team, led by the same senior colorist who has worked on previous films for Zack, to reconcile the two.”