July 30, 2018 01:23 PM

The Guardians of the Galaxy cast is standing behind James Gunn with a lengthy open letter in his defense.

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldan, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker all signed a statement in support of the Guardians writer and director after he was fired by Disney from the third installment earlier this month. The decision came after years-old tweets from Gunn joking about pedophilia and rape were resurfaced by conservative personalities and Twitter users.

Pratt shared the statement on his Instagram, where he added that he’d “love” to see Gunn reinstated as director for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

“We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss,” the letter begins. “Being in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies has been a great honor in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2.

Gunn was set to start filming the third installment in the fall and had been working on the script. He wrote and directed the first two movies, which have made more than $1.6 billion worldwide.

Shortly before his firing, the director shared a statement on his Twitter about the old jokes, explaining that he has since grown as a person and in his work since posting the original tweets. The director said that it used to be part of his act to tweet things that would outrage people.

“Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” he said in the first of five tweets. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”

Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, James Gunna and Dave Bautista
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Though individual members of the cast expressed their initial thoughts about the firing on social media, this was the first time they fully addressed Gunn’s firing. Read the full statement from the cast below:

We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss. In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from dans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstates as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him.

Being in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies has been a great honor in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust and love. In casting each of us to help him tell the story of misfits who find redemption, he changed our lives forever. We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.

Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future. His story isn’t over — not by a long shot.

There is little due process in the court of public opinion. James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial Given the growing political divide in this country, its’ safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can easy up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.

It is our hope that what has transpires can serve as an example for all of us to realize the enormous responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other regarding the use of our written words when we etch them in digital stone; that we as a society may learn from this experience and in the future will think twice before we decide what we want to express; and in so learning perhaps can harness this capability to help and heal instead of hurting each other. Thank you for taking the time to read our words.

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