James Gunn says he takes "full responsibility" for Disney firing him after a series of decade-old tweets in which he joked about rape and child abuse resurfaced.
The 52-year-old director was recently re-hired by Walt Disney Studios to helm the third instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise after they took the decision to remove him from the series last year when his Twitter jokes about rape and child paedophilia resurfaced.
The filmmaker has now admitted that he "feels bad" about his old gags and takes "full responsibility" for Disney deciding to let him go, and he can remember the day he heard the news as being the "most intense" of his "entire life".
Speaking to Deadline, in his first interview since the incident, he said: "I feel bad for that and take full responsibility. Disney totally had the right to fire me. This wasn't a free speech issue. I said something they didn't like and they completely had the right to fire me. There was never any argument of that. That first day ... I'm going to say it was the most intense of my entire life. There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide.
"But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over.
In the days following his firing, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' cast members Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista signed an open letter saying they supported the director and wanted him brought back, and Gunn found their support "absolutely overwhelming".
He said: "From my girlfriend Jen, my producer and my agents, Chris Pratt calling me and freaking out, Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan, all calling and crying. That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming."
'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' is due to start shooting in 2020 once Gunn has completed filming on the follow-up to DC Extended Universe movie 'Suicide Squad'.