Actor Ray Fisher, who has long alleged that director Joss Whedon’s behavior was abusive on the set of the 2017 film “Justice League,” finally revealed details in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Tuesday.
Fisher, who plays the man-turned machine Cyborg in the DC Comics movie, said in July that Whedon, who was hired to complete the film after original director Zack Snyder stepped down due to the death of his daughter, was grossly unprofessional, disregarded Snyder’s vision and was abetted by executives from Warner Bros. Picture Group’s DC Films division. Now he’s offering specifics.
“Warners did not want me to write this story, to put it very mildly,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters tweeted of her article quoting Fisher.
Fisher told Masters that Whedon slashed Cyborg’s presence in “Justice League,” neutering the character’s tortured arc of coming to terms with newfound technological powers. Whedon insisted on a portrayal that was less like Frankenstein and more like Quasimodo from “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” he said.
“I didn’t have any intention of playing him as a jovial, cathedral-cleaning individual,” Fisher said of Cyborg, adding that he had had to temper his feedback to Whedon by explaining “some of the most basic points of what would be offensive to the Black community.”
Once, Fisher said, Whedon cut him off. “It feels like I’m taking notes right now, and I don’t like taking notes from anybody ― not even Robert Downey Jr.,” Fisher quoted Whedon as saying, referring to the Iron Man star in Marvel’s “Avengers” movies. Whedon also worked on those films.
Fisher said he also questioned Whedon’s insistence that Cyborg utter the word “booyah” during the film ― the character’s catchphrase in the “Teen Titans” animated series.
Snyder didn’t include the word in his original script. Fisher said he wasn’t necessarily against using it, but he was wary of Black media characters with catchphrases that bordered on stereotypes ― for instance, Gary Coleman’s famous “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis” on the television show “Diff’rent Strokes.”
Fisher said he ultimately was cornered into saying the line by Warner Bros. producer Jon Berg. “This is one of the most expensive movies Warners has ever made,” Fisher said Berg told him. “What if the CEO of [Warner Bros. owner] 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.”
Fisher reluctantly performed the line, and said Whedon uttered a quote from “Hamlet” as he did so: “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you.”
Other “Justice League” performers, including Wonder Woman star Gal Godot, also have gone public with negative experiences working with Whedon. Fisher said the director told Godot to “shut up and say the lines” or he would make her look “incredibly stupid” in the film.
After Fisher first spoke out against Whedon, other actors stepped forward to accuse him of demeaning and toxic behavior, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Charisma Carpenter.
Warner Bros. investigated abuse and racism allegations against Whedon last year and took unspecified “remedial action.” Fisher in January criticized that probe and said on Twitter that he had been removed from his role in “The Flash,” a film slated for 2022.
Meanwhile, Zack Snyder released his original version of “Justice League” last month on HBO Max after prolonged fan demand caught the attention of Warner Bros.
The director’s cut ― a whopping four hours, compared to Whedon’s theatrical release of half that ― received much more of a positive response, with many critics, including those at HuffPost, highlighting Fisher’s character.
Read the full article in The Hollywood Reporter here.