Franchise star Emilio Estevez won’t be returning for the second season of Disney Plus’ nostalgia-enriched Mighty Ducks series Game Changers, Deadline reports. The veteran actor has parted ways with the studio, reportedly over his unwillingness to provide proof of vaccination in response to the studio’s mandatory requirements that all performers on Zone A productions do so.
(Zone A is, basically, the bits of a movie or TV production where the cameras are; consequently, it typically covers those people on set who can’t wear masks, usually because they’re busy acting.)
This is all a little nebulous, since neither Disney, nor Estevez’s people, have deigned to give a comment on the development. Deadline quotes sources close to the Estevez people who say the decision was as much about creative differences on the streaming series as it was stances on vaccine requirements, though, while the actor is only stated to have “declined to provide assurances that he would comply with the policy.”
That became an issue as the show’s second season got closer, since knowing whether Estevez could be on set to reprise the role of Gordon Bombay would, y’know, presumably impact some of the creative decisions in the series’ second year. And so Disney announced today that it was letting its option on Estevez expire, ensuring that Lauren Graham and her various child-ducks would have to flap on without him.
Game Changers was relatively well received when it debuted on Disney+ in March 2021, telling a story that—true to the films—put more emphasis on good sportsmanship and fun times than on scoring victories. Estevez drew praise for his return to the franchise as an older, even sadder and cranky version of the Bombay character.
Game Changers’ second season, now Estevez-less, is expected to start filming some time early next year.