Emma Thompson on why she dropped out of Skydance film after John Lasseter hire
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By Elisha Fieldstadt
After John Lasseter, the disgraced former head of Walt Disney Co. animation, was named head of Skydance Animation, Emma Thompson pulled out of a movie by the production company, and on Tuesday, she released a letter she sent to the company explaining exactly why.
Thompson, 59, had been set to voice a character for the Skydance movie “Luck” until earlier this month.
“It feels very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseter’s pattern of misconduct given the present climate in which people with the kind of power that you have can reasonably be expected to step up to the plate,” Thompson wrote in the letter, which was released to the Los Angeles Times, and confirmed by a representative.
Lasseter has had no comment since the release of the letter, and a Skydance spokesman told NBC News the company had no comment on the letter.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter in late 2017 that Lasseter, who co-founded Pixar, had been accused of making unwanted advances on women and “making comments about physical attributes.”
Following the accusations, Lasseter, 62, took a six-month sabbatical from Disney to reflect on what he called “missteps.” After the sabbatical ended in June, Disney announced that Lasseter would resume working for Disney in a “consulting” role before wrapping up his time with the company on Dec. 31, 2018.
“We did not enter this decision lightly. John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them,” David Ellison, Skydance Media’s CEO said in the statement.
“I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for,” Lasseter said, according to the statement. “It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.”
But Thompson isn’t buying it. In her letter to Skydance, Thompson asked: “If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he’s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement?”
The Los Angeles Times reported that Ellison had sent a memo to staff after Lasseter’s hire explaining that he was contractually required to act professionally.
“The message seems to be, ‘I am learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. It’s not easy,'” Thomson’s letter continued.
Thompson said she regretted having to drop out of the movie because she admires the director, Alessandro Carloni. “But I can only do what feels right during these difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising.”
Many lauded Thompson, not just for dropping out of the film, but also for so clearly detailing her motivations.
“Emma Thompson showing why actions speak louder than her words. Though her words are pretty powerful too,” journalist Hanna Ines Flint wrote on Twitter.
“This is what it looks like to walk the walk. Thank you, Emma Thompson,” said a tweet on the Time’s Up organization’s feed.
“I don’t think I am overstating this, but this letter from Emma Thompson on her departure from Luck is one the most significant moments in this movement,” tweeted Women and Hollywood founder Melissa Silverstein.