Hartley Sawyer will not be returning to The Flash as Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man, due to numerous racist, homophobic and misogynistic tweets he made prior to joining the CW series.
“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,” reads a statement from The CW, producers Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions, and Flash showrunner Eric Wallace, cited by THR. “Such remarks are antithetical to our values and policies, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce.”
Wallace separately made an additional statement via Twitter, saying that Sawyer’s comments “broke my heart and made me mad as hell,” indicative as they are of “the larger problem in our country. Because at present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment — unconscious or otherwise — terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people, which is far too often fatal. That’s why our country is standing up once again and shouting, ‘ENOUGH!’ and taking to the streets to bring about active change.”
Though he deactivated his Twitter account in late May, Hartley’s litany of offensive missives included but were by no means limited to: “all women should be in sex farms” (from May 2011), “If I had a wife I would beat the hell out of her tonight lol” (February 2012), “The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me” (June 2012), “Out at dinner and just exposed myself as a racist, AGAIN” (November 2014), “Jingle bells, batman smells, women shouldn’t vote” (November 2014), and homophobic slurs.
Sawyer, who joined The Flash early in Season 4, offered up an apology via Instagram, saying:
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 cast mates, 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.
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.
The Flash is due to return in early 2021, opening Season 7 with at least some of the episodes that were left unfilmed when the pandemic shut down production in mid-March. EP Wallace told TVLine he was already prepared to tinker with those episodes over the long hiatus, in part to rewrite crowd scenes that would be problematic to film post-pandemic.