Emilio Estevez says he isn’t “anti-vaxx” following his exit from Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, sharing with Deadline that his decision to part ways with the Disney+ show was “nothing more than a good old fashioned contract dispute” and “a myriad of creative differences.” 

After reports that Estevez’s reps went back and forth with the show on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and declined to assure he’s gotten vaccinated, he insists that wasn’t the case. 

“I take this pandemic very seriously, and I am often teased about my continued following of the safety protocols and my abundance of caution,” he shared in the statement. “I want to address what transpired and clear up some falsehoods which appeared in an article regarding my decision to depart The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. In the final analysis, this was nothing more than a good old fashioned contract dispute and not, as some would believe an anti-vaccine position. While I can’t speak for anyone else in regards to this polarizing, sensitive issue, I have my own lived experience.”

The actor went in detail on his personal experience in the lengthy statement, writing to Deadline that in February 2020, he felt sick after shooting the show’s pilot. From there, he says he “suffered the summer and fall of 2020 from what we now know as ‘Long Haul Syndrome.’”

“As the show went back into production in August 2020, I reluctantly soldiered on, but was uncertain about how I would be safe on set,” Estevez says. “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.’ The show producers tried their best to assuage my fears of coming back to work. ‘You have natural immunity!’ ‘You’ll be the safest one on set,’ I was repeatedly told. Additionally, I was warned by my former reps about possible consequences and legal jeopardy I could face for not reporting to work as ordered.”

As he puts it, he returned to “preserve the show morale and be a leader,” but “wrongly chose to protect the show over being transparent about having contracted COVID-19.” He said that “anonymous sources” quoted in the initial article knew “the truth,” adding that while he’s not anti-vaxx, he’s “anti-bully.”

“My exit from the show was due to a myriad of creative differences – any other narrative is false,” Estevez wrote. “… 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.”