Even among those who have never seen the original films, Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, the revival series on Disney Plus, immediately became a hit. However, when it was announced last week that Emilio Estevez would be quitting the role of Gordon Bombay, fans were devastated. This is especially heartbreaking because Estevez originated the role in the series’ inspiration, a renowned 1992 film.
The actor has now spoken out about both the show and his reasons for quitting. The stated reason offered to sources like Deadline after the news of his leaving broke was that the production crew and Estevez’s team couldn’t agree on the show’s Covid vaccination requirement, with Estevez supposedly refusing to comply with the mandated vaccination policy.
Estevez, on the other hand, quickly issued a statement explaining his side of the tale. The actor was quick to clarify out that he was “not anti-vaxx,” before going on to say that he was “anti-bully.” Estevez expressed his regret in leaving the show, but claimed that his departure was due to “nothing more than a good old fashioned contract dispute.”
Estevez describes his own COVID-19 experiences in the statement, stating how he began to feel ill in February 2020, just as he was wrapping up filming the Mighty Ducks: Game Changers pilot in Canada. According to his testimony, he had trouble getting tested at first because the pandemic was so new, and he didn’t get tested for COVID-19 until March 13th, despite becoming sicker in the meantime. It was established that he had caught COVID-19 when the test results arrived on March 17th.
Estevez continues by claiming that he had “Long Haul Syndrome.” And he was concerned if filming would be safe when it began in August 2020. “I questioned the wisdom of returning to make a TV show in the middle of a pandemic and how actors could be called “vital workers,” Estevez remarked, before adding that “the show producers tried their hardest to alleviate my anxieties of returning to work.” On arrival, Estevez maintains he followed quarantine protocols and all on-set health standards. He claims that he was “often teased about my continued following of the safety protocols and my abundance of caution,” and that he “did not complain, nor did I release my diagnosis to the public.”
Estevez concluded stating that his reasons for leaving these series boiled down to “a myriad of creative differences,” and says that the “anonymous sources,” producers and showrunners “all know the truth.”
This dispute appears to be another example of how COVID protocols and their strict enforcement in Hollywood are likely to continue to cause issues for TV and film production for the foreseeable future.