James Gunn said the day he was fired as director of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3 was partly the worst day of his life, and partly the greatest.

The US film-maker was given his marching orders last year after the emergence of old tweets in which he joked about subjects including paedophilia and rape.

Gunn, who apologised for the messages, was later re-hired.

James Gunn at a photocall
James Gunn (PA)

He has now told Deadline the day he was axed was the “most intense” day he had experienced, but that it also lead to an “outpouring of real love”.

“That first day… I’m going to say it was the most intense of my entire life,” he said.

“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.”

The 52-year-old said his “apparatus for being loved” was his work and being famous and that when that was gone he felt he had “absolutely nothing”.

“And then came this outpouring of real love,” 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.

“Sylvester Stallone FaceTime-ing me.

“And, of course, Dave Bautista, who came out so strong.

James Gunn, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan and David Bautista attending a photocall for Guardians Of The Galaxy
James Gunn, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan and David Bautista attending a photocall for Guardians Of The Galaxy (PA)

“That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming.

“In order for me to have fully felt that love for the first time, the thing that needed to happen was the apparatus by which I was feeling falsely loved had to be completely taken away.”

He continued: “So a part of that day was the worst of my life, and a part of it was the greatest day of my life.”

Gunn said he does not blame anyone for what happened.

“I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humour, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there,” he said.

“I know that people have been hurt by things that I’ve said, and that’s still my responsibility, that I wasn’t as compassionate as I should be in what I say.

“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.”