Joss Whedon denies Ray Fisher's claim that he digitally altered a Justice League actor's skin tone

Nick Romano
·5 min read

Ray Fisher has given a new interview since going public with allegations of racism and creating a toxic work environment by Justice League director Joss Whedon and studio executives at Warner Bros. The actor elaborated on his past claims, alleging that Whedon tried to digitally alter the skin tone of a person of color in the film, and that Fisher heard "blatantly racist conversations" among studio executives. Whedon has denied the accusation in a statement provided to EW through a spokesperson.

In July, Fisher, who played Cyborg in the superhero film, accused Whedon on social media of "gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable" behavior, and said that Geoff Johns, then president of DC Entertainment, and producer Jon Berg "enabled" such behavior. Berg denied the accusations. In September, as Fisher's allegations continued, Warner Bros. issued a statement saying the actor's "false claim" was due to his apparent unhappiness over his character's story line.

In a Forbes interview published Thursday, Fisher got more specific. He claimed that Whedon attempted to alter the skin tone of one of the actors of color in Justice League during post-production. "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," Fisher said. "Man, with everything 2020's been, that was the tipping point for me."

Whedon says in response: "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."

Fisher also told Forbes, "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. Decision-makers that participated in those racist conversations were Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, and current Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich."

Warner Bros. declined to comment on Fisher's latest remarks. The studio's previous statement, in September, said:

In July, Ray Fisher's representatives asked DC Films President Walter Hamada to talk to Mr. Fisher about his concerns during the production of Justice League. The two had previously spoken when Mr. Hamada asked him to reprise his role as Cyborg in Warner Bros.' upcoming Flash movie, together with other members of the Justice League. In their July conversation, Mr. Fisher recounted disagreements he'd had with the film's creative team regarding his portrayal of Cyborg, and complained that his suggested script revisions were not adopted. Mr. Hamada explained that creative differences are a normal part of the production process, and that a film's writer/director ultimately has to be in charge of these matters. Notably, Mr. Hamada also told Mr. Fisher that he would elevate his concerns to WarnerMedia so they could conduct an investigation. At no time did Mr. Hamada ever 'throw anyone under the bus,' as Mr. Fisher has falsely claimed, or render any judgments about the Justice League production, in which Mr. Hamada had no involvement, since filming occurred before Mr. Hamada was elevated to his current position. While Mr. Fisher never alleged any actionable misconduct against him, WarnerMedia nonetheless initiated an investigation into the concerns he'd raised about his character's portrayal. Still not satisfied, Mr. Fisher insisted that WarnerMedia hire an independent third-party investigator. This investigator has attempted multiple times to meet with Mr. Fisher to discuss his concerns but, to date, Mr. Fisher has declined to speak to the investigator. Warner Bros. remains committed to accountability and to the well-being of every cast and crew member on each of its productions. It also remains committed to investigating any specific and credible allegation of misconduct, which thus far Mr. Fisher has failed to provide.

Fisher didn't provide further detail on the nature of these alleged racist conversations, but he said, "I plan [on] getting much more specific about each of these guys after the investigation is over — this interview is just the abridged version." Forbes further noted that multiple actors of color had their parts heavily reduced or completely cut from the film's theatrical release, including Ryan Choi's Zheng Kai and Kiersey Clemons' Iris West. Whedon's representatives told Forbes that these decisions were made prior to him leading the project.

Fisher did go on to say that "race was just one of the issues with the reshoot process." He cited "massive blowups, threats, coercion, taunting, unsafe work conditions, belittling, and gaslighting like you wouldn’t believe."

Fisher first spoke out about Whedon regarding a clip he shared on social media of the film's 2017 panel at San Diego Comic-Con, wherein the actor was seen praising Whedon's involvement after Snyder exited the project following the death of his daughter. "I'd like to take a moment and forcefully retract every bit of this statement," Fisher wrote at the time. He told Forbes that those were all fabricated talking points given to the Justice League cast by the studio.

"For one thing, the cast and crew were told that Zack had handpicked Joss to finish the film for him. I didn't find out until after the reshoots that that was a complete lie," Fisher said. "I heard whispers and rumblings of things being off behind the scenes, but nothing concrete until much later. They had us go out to San Diego Comic-Con in 2017 and say Zack picked Joss and that Joss was a great guy. I still have the email with those talking points."

Read the full Forbes interview here.

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