Mighty Ducks: Game Changers has quickly become very popular, even with viewers who have never watched the original movies. However, fans were distraught when it was announced that Emilio Estevez was leaving the role of Gordon Bombay. This is especially devastating as Estevez first played this role in the classic 1992 film that inspired the series. However, the actor has now opened up about both the series and his reasons for leaving.
When Deadline broke the news of his departure on November 5th, they said that the official reason was that the production team and Estevez’s team couldn’t agree on the show’s Covid vaccination requirement, with Estevez allegedly not agreeing to comply with the mandatory vaccination policy.
However, Estevez soon released a statement to Deadline detailing his side of the story. In this statement, the actor was keen to point out that he was “not anti-vaxx,” before arguing that he is, in fact, “anti-bully.” Estevez said how sad he was to be leaving the series but said his reason for leaving was “nothing more than a good old fashioned contract dispute.”
In the statement, Estevez details his own experiences with COVID-19, describing how he started to feel ill in February 2020, just as he was finishing shooting the Mighty Ducks: Game Changers pilot in Canada. According to his statement, he had issues getting tested at first due to how new the pandemic was, and he was unable to get tested for COVID-19 until March 13th, despite getting sicker in the interim. When the test results came back on March 17th, it was confirmed that he had caught COVID-19.
Estevez goes on to say that he suffered “from what we now know as “Long Haul Syndrome.” And that, when filming of the series began in August 2020, he was unsure if it was safe. “I questioned the wisdom of returning to make a tv show in the middle of a pandemic and how actors could be considered “essential workers,” explained Estevez, before noting that “the show producers tried their best to assuage my fears of coming back to work.”
Estevez says that he followed the Canadian quarantine procedures on arrival and followed all on-set health mandates. Saying that “I did not complain, nor did I release my diagnosis to the public,” and that he was “often teased about my continued following of the safety protocols and my abundance of caution.”
Estevez ends by detailing his reasons for leaving, which he ascribes to “a myriad of creative differences,” and says that “the quoted “anonymous sources,” producers and showrunners all know the truth.”
While we can’t know for sure what the entire truth is, it is a given that many Mighty Ducks fans will be saddened by Emilio Estevez‘s departure from the popular show. And this dispute is another example of how COVID protocols and their enforcement will cause issues for television and film production as everyone tries to find a stable new normal.