Ray Fisher Accuses Warner Bros. Execs of "Racist Conversations" During 'Justice League' Edit
In an interview published Thursday, Ray Fisher — the actor who portrayed Cyborg in 2017’s Justice League and this year leveled accusations of misconduct on the set of the film, prompting a WarnerMedia investigation — spoke at length with Forbes about his allegations. However, later in the day, an incendiary quote attributed to Fisher was removed from the story and Forbes added an editor’s note at the top of the article that read: “This story has been updated from its original version, including the wording of the original headline.”
The author of the Forbes interview, Sheraz Farooqi, who has previously contributed to THR, declined to comment on the removal of the quote. Before it was deleted, the quote attributed to Fisher had read: “What set my soul on fire and forced me to speak out about Joss Whedon this summer was my becoming informed that Joss had ordered that the complexion of an actor of color be changed in postproduction because he didn’t like the color of their skin tone.”
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Whedon, the director who replaced Zack Snyder on Justice League to oversee reshoots, had stayed silent amid multiple claims made by Fisher this year. However, on Thursday, an attorney for Whedon and spokesperson for the director issued multiple statements in regard to the Forbes story, particularly about the removed quote.
"Mr. Fisher had no first hand knowledge to support any of the wild allegations he made about Mr. Whedon and others associated with the film," an attorney for Whedon said in a statement. "He admitted this lack of knowledge to Forbes when stated that he 'bec[ame] informed,' of these claims, without identifying who supposedly informed him, or when he supposedly learned of the information regarding skin tone changes. In reality, nothing of the sort ever happened."
Whedon’s spokesperson elaborated on the editing process for Justice League, noting: “As is standard on almost all films, there were numerous people involved with mixing the final product, including the editor, special effects person, composer, etc. with the senior colorist responsible for the final version's tone, colors, and mood. This process was further complicated on this project by the fact that Zack shot on film, while Joss shot on digital, which required the team, led by the same senior colorist who has worked on previous films for Zach, to reconcile the two.”
Stefan Sonnenfeld, the president of imaging shop Company 3 whose work ranged from The Mandalorian to Black Hawk Down, was the senior colorist for the movie. He was worked with Snyder on movies such as 300, Sucker Punch and Man of Steel. THR reached out to Company 3 for comment but did not hear back.
The Forbes interview also quotes Fisher as saying that Warner Bros. executives participated in “racist conversations” surrounding the production. “Prior to Justice League’s reshoot process, blatantly racist conversations were had and entertained — on multiple occasions — by former and current top-level executives at Warner Bros. Pictures,” Fisher told Forbes. “Decision-makers that participated in those racist conversations were Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, and current Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich.”
This is the first time Fisher has publicly accused Emmerich of impropriety. Warner Bros. declined to comment. On July 1, Fisher alleged on Twitter that Whedon had been abusive on the set of Justice League, which the filmmaker took over after Zack Snyder stepped down due to a family tragedy.
Fisher further claimed that producers Johns and Berg enabled Whedon's alleged behavior. WarnerMedia opened an investigation into the claims, but on Sept. 4, Warner Bros. released a statement claiming Fisher was not cooperating with the third-party investigators looking to those allegations. Fisher denied this in a statement of his own. Fisher's Justice League co-star Jason Momoa — who has both Dune and an Aquaman sequel set with the studio — publicly backed Fisher in a blistering Sept. 14 statement aimed at Warners.
In his interview with Forbes, Fisher said that a new third-party investigator has been brought in by WarnerMedia to investigate, adding that this investigator oversaw accusations of misconduct against former Warner Bros. chairman and CEO chief Kevin Tsujihara, who exited in 2019.
“You really have to ask yourself, what’s more plausible — that I would purposely torpedo my career by making statements about powerful figures in Hollywood, that, if untrue, could be easily refuted. OR a handful people in positions of power said and did terrible things in order to maintain that power during a massive corporate merger," Fisher told Forbes.
Fisher, as he has in the past, said that more details would surface after the investigation: "I plan getting much more specific about each of these guys after the investigation is over — this interview is just the abridged version." Fisher's interview comes as he works with Snyder to film additional scenes for Zack Snyder's Justice League, the four-part HBO Max series that will restore the director's original vision.
Oct. 29, 6:30 pm Updated display and story throughout to note Forbes' removal of a quote and editing of its story as well as adding statements from Whedon's attorney and spokesperson.
by Chris Gardner
by Pamela McClintock