The 59-year-old Outsiders star told Deadline on Monday, November 8, that his decision was “nothing more than a good old fashioned contract dispute” and “a myriad of creative differences,” while also noting that he previously contracted COVID-19 last year.
“I am not anti-vaxx. Full stop,” Estevez said in his lengthy statement. “I take this pandemic very seriously, and I am often teased about my continued following of the safety protocols and my abundance of caution. … While I can’t speak for anyone else in regards to this polarizing, sensitive issue, I have my own lived experience.”
Martin Sheen‘s son recalled not feeling well in February 2020 after filming the pilot for the Disney+ series, which premiered earlier this year. He claimed that he had “already started wearing face coverings, gloves and using hand sanitizer” when he made the drive to Vancouver when production began “due to news of ‘an emerging disease,’ which would eventually be known as ‘Covid 19.’”
While driving back to California, he “became noticeably ill” and “begged several doctors to be tested” for coronavirus.
“After multiple efforts, I finally received a car side Covid 19 PCR test on March 13, 2020. I continued to become increasingly sick, suffering from fever, sweats, brain fog and mood swings,” the Breakfast Club actor continued. “On March 17, 2020 I got word I had indeed contracted Covid 19. Thankfully I refrained from visiting my elderly parents and others until I received my results. I had discussions with doctors and contact tracing personnel from the L.A. County Department of Health. I suffered the summer and fall of 2020 from what we now know as ‘Long Haul Syndrome.’”
Upon returning to the Mighty Ducks series last summer, Estevez “reluctantly soldiered on” with work, but said he “was uncertain about how I would be safe on set.” Though he “questioned the wisdom” of filming “in the middle of a pandemic,” the star alleged that he was “repeatedly told” by producers, “You have natural immunity! You’ll be the safest one on set.”
Estevez continued, “So I returned to Vancouver. I followed the Canadian quarantine mandate as well as the strict ‘Zone A’ on set Covid protocols. I did not complain, nor did I release my diagnosis to the public. I wanted to try and preserve the show morale and be a leader, however, while still suffering from Long Haul Syndrome. The legacy of the franchise was more important to me than my own health. In retrospect, I wrongly chose to protect the show over being transparent about having contracted Covid-19.”
Us Weekly confirmed on Friday, November 5, that Estevez would not be returning to the Mighty Ducks spinoff for its second season. Deadline reported at the time that the show required all actors and crew to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the St. Elmo’s Fire star asserted on Monday that his departure was due to being “anti-bully,” not anti-vaccine.
“To the fans of the franchise — I am as disappointed as you are. To my Ducks cast and crew — have a wonderful Season 2 on the show and please know that I will miss you all,” he concluded. “It was an honor and a thrill to be able to return as the iconic and beloved character, Gordon Bombay, a character which has been a celebrated benchmark in my 40-year career. And I thank the studio and the producers for creating an opportunity to allow me to visit him again. Ducks Fly Together!”