Director James Gunn says Bassem Youssef’s role in Superman: Legacy was written off before viral comments on Israel

Director James Gunn says Bassem Youssef’s role in Superman: Legacy was written off before viral comments on Israel

While Youssef believes it was an 'honest oversight', he hopes it was just that and nothing else.
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Filmmaker and head of DC Studios James Gunn has come out with a statement after Egyptian-American comedian Bassem Youssef expressed his dismay at losing a role in Superman: Legacy, possibly due to his comments on the Israeli aggression in Gaza.

In an interview with Salon published on Thursday, Youssef said that his Piers Morgan Uncensored interview, in which he criticised Israel, cost him the role: “I was a little bit bitter about losing the role, and I was kind of very sad… In the United States of America, you can talk about Joe Biden, you can talk about Donald Trump, but you cannot criticise a foreign government, which is kind of, like, very sad, you know?

“And then because of that, I was cast in the movie Superman, and then they told me, ‘We changed the script,’ after this Piers Morgan interview, and I want to assume good faith,” he added.

In response to Youssef’s comments, Gunn re-shared an IGN article on X, reporting that Youssef’s potential role as dictator Rumaan Harjavti was written out of the upcoming superhero film before his interview with Morgan went viral. “This is accurate,” he captioned the post.

In a later post cited by Arab News, Gunn said he had explained what had happened to Youssef. “There isn’t one word against another,” he wrote. “[Bassem] and I talked and we’re good. I understand how he thought things might be (which he was clear about in his interview), and I told him the whole story.”

In a new video posted on X following Gunn’s explanation, Youssef too confirmed that he has since spoken with Gunn to clear the air. Youssef held that he wanted “to address the Superman fiasco once and for all because the internet twists facts, words, and basically everything else.”

In the video, Youssef said he was a “huge fan of James Gunn [with] nothing but love and respect” for the filmmaker. He then shared the story of how he auditioned for Superman: Legacy in June 2023, shortly before the SAG-AFTRA strike. Youssef felt like the audition went very well, though he didn’t hear anything else until after his Gaza comments, at which point he was informed that the character had been cut from the script. Given the timing, Youssef assumed it must have had something to do with his supporting stance for Palestine.

“It was just mishandled and the timing was bad,” Youssef declared. “But as I said in the interview, I don’t want to believe there was no ill intention, and I think it was an honest oversight. And I hope it’s true and I hope there was nothing else but that. I haven’t thought about it and I don’t like to complain or victimize myself. I am actually very grateful for the life that I have, to travel and to earn my living by making people laugh.”

Superman: Legacy is set to launch the new DC Universe on July 11, 2025.


Khalida Husain Feb 23, 2024 10:06pm
If anyone takes side with Palestinians, they become anti Israel and are punished by the westerners.
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