The Peter Parker actor from the upcoming fan-made Spider-Man: Lotus has said he is no longer seeking the “internet’s approval” after facing a barrage of accusations over past controversial comments. He spoke to Newsweek ahead of the movie’s launch about how he dealt with the situation.
Warden Wayne, 23, became the subject of online scrutiny in 2022 after messages he sent resurfaced, which he acknowledged were “homophobic and racially insensitive.” The reaction forced him to publicly apologize and take a break from social media, something which he admits he has benefited from.
He is the lead of the fan-made, not-for-profit movie Spider-Man: Lotus, which is available to watch online from August 10. The production of the movie has been marred by accusations made against Wayne.
Reflecting on his own journey to the release of the movie, and of the controversy surrounding him, Wayne told Newsweek he has weathered the storm.
“I’d say it’s much better. That first week when you interviewed me last was pretty rough. But I’m happy to say I’m doing great. After I took a social media hiatus and took time to myself, it helped me put a lot of things into perspective. Especially that I can’t really expect people online to judge me properly when they don’t know me,” Wayne told Newsweek.
“I realized I could spend the rest of my life trying to convince everyone I’m not the same person I was at 16-17 in those leaked messages, and I’d still fail. People will always have their strict opinions on me no matter what I say. And that’s okay, they’re allowed to believe and think what they want.”
Wayne posted a public apology on Twitter on June 19, 2022, where he cited his “homeschool conservative environment in a small town in Arkansas” as a possible reason for his past comments.
“[The controversy] helped me grow a lot and not focus so much on the internet’s approval, as well as realize the responsibility I still have as someone who is in the public eye and may someday carry influence,” Wayne said.
Now though, over a year later from that apology and his first interview with Newsweek, Wayne is excited to have Spider-Man: Lotus released to the world.
He, the writer and director Konop, and other cast members held a premiere on August 5, at the Million Dollar Theater in Downtown, Los Angeles.
“It feels surreal, to say the least,” Wayne said, on the release of Spider-Man: Lotus. “To finally be at the end of this journey is really exciting, and so far it’s been really rewarding too. I’ve met so many amazing people because of this, and I feel so lucky to be attached to the project. I’m 23 now, and it feels like I’m entering a new part of my life as Lotus releases and I get to move on to other projects and roles. It’s bittersweet, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Spider-Man: Lotus will be available to watch for free on YouTube from August 10, 2023.