For three seasons, actor Hartley Sawyer played Ralph Dibny aka Elongated Man on the hit CW superhero series The Flash. In addition to playing the comic book character, the 35-year-old actor is best known for having a regular role of Kyle Abbott on the soap opera The Young and the Restless from 2013 to 2014.
After old tweets from his now-deleted Twitter account began getting attention online for being racist, sexist, against mental illness, and utterly offensive, Hartley was fired from The Flash ahead of Season 7. The actor later issued an apology for his actions.
What did Hartley Sawyer say? Find out below what he wrote on Twitter in 2012 and 2014 that is gaining traction online.
What did Hartley Sawyer say?
Several days before he was fired from The Flash, a roundup of tweets allegedly posted by Hartley began circulating online.
Disney Channel actress and author Skai Jackson has been using her Twitter platform to expose racist words and actions from both celebrities and regular people. On June 5, she also posted the screenshots from Hartley Sawyer's Twitter page (which he has since deleted) that were very disturbing in nature.
The tweets Skai screenshotted and posted were from 2012 and 2014, which was before Hartley was hired to be part of The Flash. In these tweets, Hartley made disparaging remarks toward people of color, homeless people, those who suffer from mental illness, and he also belittled sexual assault.
A statement from The CW, Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros, and Showrunner / Executive Producer Eric Wallace confirmed that Hartley was fired from The Flash, effective immediately.
"Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash. 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," the statement read. "Such remarks are antithetical to our values and policies, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce."
Eric Wallace issued another statement on his own Twitter page.
"Concerning his social media tweets, they broke my heart and made me mad as hell," Eric wrote in part of his statement. "And they're indicative of a 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."
The Flash star Grant Gustin reposted Eric's statement on his own Instagram page. He said that he was "shocked" to learn about what Hartley said.
"I don't have much to add because Eric's thoughts are stated so eloquently and powerfully," Grant wrote. "I will say I was shocked, saddened and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter."
Hartley Sawyer's tweets were deleted, and he issued an apology on Instagram.
Before he was let go from The Flash, Hartley got rid of his Twitter account. On May 30, he posted an Instagram and he apologized for his "unacceptable" words.
"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 my friends. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable," Hartley wrote in the graphic he featured on his Instagram page. He continued his sentiments in the caption.
"My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply. This was not acceptable behavior. These were words I threw out at the time with no thought or recognition of the harm my words could do, and now have done today," he continued in his caption.
"I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. 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," he continued.
"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. But how I define myself now does not take away the impact of my words, or my responsibility for them," he concluded. "I am very sorry."
Hartley has not responded to his firing.
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If you need support, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673. You will be connected with a trained staff member in your area. Or visit RAINN.org to chat online with a support specialist at any time.