31/07/2018 08:47 BST | Updated 31/07/2018 15:11 BST

‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Cast Co-Sign Letter Of Support For Axed Director James Gunn

'We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.'

‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ cast members including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Karen Gillan have co-signed a letter of support for director James Gunn, who was recently axed from the franchise when offensive tweets sent from his account resurfaced.

Disney announced James’s sacking on Friday 20 July and in the wake of the announcement, fans have petitioned for his reinstatement while a handful of the cast shared support on social media.

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James Gunn, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan and David Bautista 

The movies’ main stars have now released an open letter, which opens with the line: “We fully support James Gunn.”

Also signed by Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista and Michael Rooker, the statement continues: “We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these 10 days to respond in order to think, pray, listen and discuss.

“In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him. 

“Being in the ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ movies has been a great honour in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James.

“We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ 1 and 2.

“The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust, and love.

“In casting each of us to help him tell the story of misfits who find redemption, he changed our lives forever. We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.

“Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future. His story isn’t over – not by a long shot.

“There is little due process in the court of public opinion. James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial.

“Given the growing political divide in this country, it’s safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.

“It is our hope that what has transpired can serve as an example for all of us to realise the enormous responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other regarding the use of our written words when we etch them in digital stone; that we as a society may learn from this experience and in the future we will think twice before we decide what we want to express; and in so learning perhaps can harness this capability to help and heal instead of hurting each other.”

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Released in April 2017, the second 'Guardians' film grossed $863.8 million worldwide

Sharing the letter on Instagram, the franchise’s lead star Chris added: “Although I don’t support James Gunn’s inappropriate jokes from years ago, he is a good man.

“I’d personally love to see him reinstated as director of Volume 3. If you please, read the following statement- signed by our entire cast.”

A change.org petition calling for Disney to reverse their decision currently has over 350,000 signatures.

The tweets which resulted in James’s firing were sent between 2008 and 2012, and included jokes about child abuse and paedophilia.

Speaking after his sacking, the director released a statement which read (via Variety): “My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative.

“I have regretted them for many years since - not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.

“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today.

“Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse.

“To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”