ave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell, Karen Gillan, director James Gunn and Michael Rooker
Cast members (L-R) Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell, Karen Gillan, director James Gunn and Michael Rooker pose as they attend a premiere of the film "Guardians of the galaxy, Vol. 2" in London, Britain, April 24, 2017. Reuters/Hannah McKay

The cast of “Guardians of the Galaxy” are standing by their now-former director. James Gunn was fired by The Walt Disney Company for inappropriate jokes about paedophilia and rape he tweeted years ago.

In an open letter to their fans and friends, the cast — Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker — implore for understanding, saying Gunn has been a changed man since he wrote the jokes. They also decry the way Gunn was fired with “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 weaponising mob mentality,” they wrote.

The cast say they have been encouraged by the support from fans and members of the media to see Gunn reinstated as the director for the film franchise, but their letter falls short of directly asking for his return. Saldan’s tweet as well as Klementieff’s post of the same letter call for his reinstatement, though. Bautista also included the hashtags #IStandWithJamesGunn and #RehireJamesGunn in his tweet.

They want to express their “love, support and gratitude” for Gunn, saying it has been a great honour for them to work with him in both “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” films.

“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 cast 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.”

When the news of Gunn’s firing first broke, it was Bautista who had been very vocal about defending the filmmaker. In a series of tweets, the retired professional wrestler said he was “NOT ok” with Gunn’s dismissal.

Gunn announced last year that he would write and direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” However, with the recent development, Disney is expected to look for his replacement. The film is now slated for release in 2020.