Joss Whedon is a dick. At least according to most people who’ve worked for him. Ray Fisher was the first brave soul to sound the alarm after Joss directed him in Justice League, and Gal Gadot eventually admitted that her experience on that set “wasn’t the best one.”
Now Ray has given his first sit-down interview to The Hollywood Reporter. Rays talks about general racist bullshit on set, how Joss didn’t care about his opinion as a Black actor playing a Black character, and how the Warner Bros. investigation let the top execs off the hook. He declined to get into the details of Gal vs. Joss, but other sources say that Gal and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins “went to battle” with Joss over the direction of the character. The sources claim that Joss said that Gal should just “shut up and say the lines”, and that he could hurt her career. Hmmm, I wonder if Joss will ever make good on that threat?
The source says that Gal was concerned with Joss’ revised Justice League script. She thought her character was more aggressive than she was in the Wonder Woman movie and wanted the character to “flow from one movie to the next”:
The biggest clash, sources say, came when Whedon pushed Gadot to record lines she didn’t like, threatened to harm Gadot’s career and disparaged Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins. While Fisher declines to discuss any of what transpired with Gadot, a witness on the production who later spoke to investigators says that after one clash, “Joss was bragging that he’s had it out with Gal. He told her he’s the writer and she’s going to shut up and say the lines and he can make her look incredibly stupid in this movie.”
The source says Gal and Patty took it to the Warners Bros. exec. When asked for comment for the article, Gal replied:
“I had my issues with [Whedon] and Warner Bros. handled it in a timely manner.”
Ray had a harder time, and eventually, it ended up costing him the role of Cyborg. While original director Zack Snyder took the first DC Black superhero seriously and asked Ray to collaborate on creating the character, Joss didn’t wanna hear any input on his new script (which cut out Cyborg’s whole backstory):
Whedon sent out an email asking for questions, comments or “fulsome praise,” but Fisher says it became clear: “All he was looking for was the fulsome praise.” Trying to strike a jocular tone, Fisher responded that he mourned the loss of the Cyborg material but was moving on. He said he had notes to avoid issues in terms of representation of the character. But in a call with Whedon, Fisher says he had barely started to talk when the filmmaker 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.,” he said. Other sources on the project say Whedon was similarly dismissive of Gadot and Momoa when they questioned new lines.
Ray adds that when Joss began directing, he came to feel that he had “to explain some of the most basic points of what would be offensive to the Black community.” When Ray turned to Geoff Johns, a producer/co-chairman of DC films, his ultimate response was “We can’t make Joss mad.”
Ray also had an issue with the inclusion of the line “Booyah!” This was a line that became Cyborg’s catchphrase on the animated Teen Titans shows, but the character had never said it in the comics or Zack Snyder’s original script. Geoff Johns approached Zack about including the line, but Zack refused. Ray also wasn’t into it:
Fisher says he doesn’t see the word in itself as an issue, but he thought it played differently in a live-action film than the animated series. And he thought of Black characters in pop culture with defining phrases: Gary Coleman’s “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”; Jimmie Walker’s “Dy-no-mite!” As no one else in the film had a catchphrase, he says, “It seemed weird to have the only Black character say that.”
But when Joss took over, execs got their way. DC Film co-chairman Jon Berg took Ray out to dinner and said:
“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.”
Even though Ray was skeptical that the fate of the film rested on “Booyah”, he filmed the take:
As he arrived on set, he says, Whedon stretched out his arms and said a line from Hamlet in a mocking tone: “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you.” Fisher replied, “Joss — don’t. I’m not in the mood.” As he left the set after saying just that one phrase for the cameras, he says, Whedon called out, “Nice work, Ray.”
The article details other issues, like execs being petrified that Cyborg couldn’t come off as “an angry Black man“, and how Geoff Johns thought the character should smile more (for THR article, Geoff’s spokesperson requested he be identified as Lebanese-American). And how Joss thought Ray should play the half-cyborg-half-man character as less Frankenstein and more Quasimodo (complete with the “servile posture”). Ray says, “I didn’t have any intention of playing him as a jovial, cathedral-cleaning individual.”
After THR’s article came out, Ray tweeted this:
They didn’t want “an angry black man.”
They ended up with a motivated one.
I’m not going anywhere.
— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) April 6, 2021
As for Joss? No comment. But just you wait… he’s working on some quippy one-liners that will eviscerate anyone who ever went up against him!