Why Emma Thompson Refused To Work For John Lasseter: "I Can Only Do What Feels Right"

Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images.
Emma Thompson has shared with the Los Angeles Times a letter she wrote to Skydance Animation's management in regards to her decision to step away from Luck after John Lasseter's hiring:
"As you know, I have pulled out of the production of Luck — to be directed by the very wonderful Alessandro Carloni," the letter began. "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 went on to cite a number of reasons for her departure:
"If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave “professionally”?
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 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.”
Much has been said about giving John Lasseter a “second chance.” But he is presumably being paid millions of dollars to receive that second chance. How much money are the employees at Skydance being paid to GIVE him that second chance?
If John Lasseter started his own company, then every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance. But any Skydance employees who don't want to give him a second chance have to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn’t it be John Lasseter who has to lose HIS job if the employees don’t want to give him a second chance?
Skydance has revealed that no women received settlements from Pixar or Disney as a result of being harassed by John Lasseter. But given all the abuse that’s been heaped on women who have come forward to make accusations against powerful men, do we really think that no settlements means that there was no harassment or no hostile work environment? Are we supposed to feel comforted that women who feel that their careers were derailed by working for Lasseter DIDN’T receive money?"
Read Thompson's full letter here.
Original story published below on February 19.
Back in January, former Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer John Lasseter was hired to run Skydance Media despite his 2017 Pixar exit due to accusations of inappropriate behavior. Now, actress Emma Thompson is dropping out of Skydance Animation film Luck in protest of Lasseter's hire.
A rep for Thompson did not have additional comment, but confirmed Variety's report that Thompson dropped out in January after doing some early voice recording. According to The Wrap, the film is an animated comedy about good luck and bad luck, with Thompson voicing the head of the "good luck organization." Thompson's casting had never been officially announced. Luck is directed by Alessandro Carloni and expected out in 2021.
When Lasseter left Pixar in November 2017 — in a move that was supposed to be temporary — he sent a memo to employees that was published by The Hollywood Reporter:
"It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected."
Over a year later, CEO of Skydance Media David Ellison released a statement on Lasseter's hiring, telling Deadline, "John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them."
As for the rest of the cast, voice actors have not been officially announced, so it's unknown if Thompson's decision will have any sort of larger ripple effect.
Skydance Animation did not immediately return Refinery29's request for comment.

More from Movies

R29 Original Series