Ray Fisher Says Justice League Executives Didn't Want an 'Angry Black Man' at Center of Film
Ray Fisher tells THR that when Joss Whedon took over Justice League from Zack Snyder, Fisher felt he had "to explain some of the most basic points of what would be offensive to the Black community"
In a new feature for The Hollywood Reporter the 33-year-old actor — who played Victor Stone/Cyborg in the film as well as its predecessor, 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — discusses the changes made to the film after Joss Whedon took over from director Zack Snyder during post-production.
Fisher previously accused Whedon of "gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable" behavior on set of the reshoots. Whedon hasn't commented on these allegations.
According to Fisher, there were discussions between producer Jon Berg and Warner Bros.' production president at the time, Toby Emmerich, about not wanting "an angry Black man" at the movie's center.
He went on to allege that his own creative input was continually not taken seriously by producer and DC Films co-chairman Geoff Johns and other leadership.
A rep for Johns told THR that, on the contrary, "There [were] always conversations about avoiding any stereotype of race, gender and sexuality" and that they strived with the tone of the film to add "joy and hopefulness to all six superheroes."
Elsewhere, Fisher explained that he felt the need "to explain some of the most basic points of what would be offensive to the Black community" to Whedon, 56, like his character saying a catchphrase — in this instance, "Booyah," which Cyborg says in the animated Teen Titans series.
Fisher alleged that producer Jon Berg told him over lunch, " 'This is one of the most expensive movies Warners has ever made. What if the CEO of AT&T has a son or daughter, and that son or daughter wants Cyborg to say 'booyah' in the movie and we don't have a take of that? I could lose my job.' "
"It seemed weird to have the only Black character say that," Fisher told THR — but he ended up filming himself saying "booyah," allegedly under Whedon's direction, and it landed in the film. (The line was subsequently cut from Snyder's version.)
Berg previously told Variety that it was "categorically untrue that we enabled any unprofessional behavior" and added that Fisher was upset about saying "booyah," "a well-known saying of Cyborg in the animated series."
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Speaking with THR, screenwriter Chris Terrio said Fisher and Snyder, 55, "always considered Cyborg's story to be the heart of the movie" — something that allegedly shifted when Whedon took over production from Zack Snyder.
"With a white writer and white director, we both thought having the perspective of an actor of color was really important," Terrio said. "And Ray is really good with story and character, so he became a partner in creating Victor."
Fisher's initial comments led WarnerMedia to launch an investigation into accusations of misconduct during the filming of Justice League.
The investigation by WarnerMedia, led by former federal judge Katherine Forrest, concluded in "remedial action" months later.
Forrest told THR in a statement that she found "no credible support for claims of racial animus" or racial "insensitivity." A WarnerMedia spokesperson told THR that the company "made extraordinary effort to accommodate Mr. Fisher's concerns about the investigation and to ensure its fullness and fairness" and has "complete confidence in the investigation process and [Forrest's] conclusions."
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Following the studio's December announcement, Fisher responded to WarnerMedia statement on Twitter.
In terms of the "remedial action," the actor said there has been "some we've seen, and some that is still to come," noting later that while the investigation is over, "there are still conversations that need to be had and resolutions that need to be found."
"Thank you all for your support and encouragement on this journey," he wrote. "We are on our way."
Whedon has also come under fire for his time at the helm of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.