Actor Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg in Justice League, publicly accused director Joss Whedon of “abusive” on-set behavior earlier this year. In a new interview with Forbes, Fisher goes into more detail about why he spoke out against Whedon (who replaced the film’s original director Zack Snyder) as well as since-departed Warner Bros. executives Geoff Johns and Jon Berg.
The final straw? Fisher alleges Joss Whedon digitally altered a performer of color’s skin tone in post. “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 post-production because he didn’t like the color of their skin tone,” the actor claims. “Man, with everything’s 2020’s been, that was the tipping point to me.”
Fisher also points to the reduced roles or removal of characters of color in the film following Whedon’s involvement in the production. Zheng Kai’s Ryan Choi was cut from Justice League, as was Karen Bryson’s role as Cyborg’s mother Ellinore, and Kiersey Clemons’s Iris West. Meanwhile, Joe Morton’s onscreen appearance as Cyborg’s father, Silas, was also reduced. All of those characters will reportedly appear in Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut, according to Forbes. Says Fisher, “I always suspected that race was a determining factor for the way that thing went down, but it wasn’t until the past summer that I was able to prove it.”
“Race was just one of the issues with the reshoot process,” Fisher adds. “There were massive blowups, threats, coercion, taunting, unsafe work conditions, belittling, and gaslighting like you wouldn’t believe.”
Fisher also said others involved with the production informed him that “racist conversations” were allegedly taking place about the film’s performers of color, the contents of which the actor said he heard via “coded” notes he received from Geoff Johns. “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,” he says. “Decision-makers that participated in those racist conversations were Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, and currently Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich.”
Last month, Warner Bros. said Fisher had so far refused to meet with their third-party investigator about his claims. The actor now claims the initial firm conducting the investigation had withdrawn, and a new firm is currently conducting their investigation.
“A lot of what these guys were doing was in an efforts to prevent themselves from being fired during AT&T’s merger with Time Warner,” Fisher tells Forbes. “I plan getting more much specific about each of these guys after the investigation is over — this interview is just the abridged version.” You can read his full interview here.
Update, Friday October 30, 12:30 a.m.: Joss Whedon has issued a statement denying Ray Fisher’s claims that he digitally altered an actor’s skin color in Justice League. In a statement provided to Entertainment Weekly, Whedon said the following regarding Fisher’s allegations:
The individual who offered this statement acknowledged that this was just something that he had heard from someone else and accepted as truth, when in fact simple research would prove that it was false. 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 [original director] Zack [Snyder] 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 Zack, to reconcile the two.