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Emma Thompson quit the film Luck after the studio behind it, Skydance, hired John Lasseter despite sexual misconduct claims against him. Now, the letter she sent to studio execs detailing her decision is being made public.
Thompson’s reps told the L.A. Times that immediately following the news that Lasseter was hired at the studio in January, the actress began conversations about leaving the project, for which she was set to voice a character. She officially withdrew from the animated film on Jan. 20, and she explained why in a letter sent to Skydance management three days later, emphasizing that she “can only do what feels right.”
Here is the letter in its entirety:
As you know, I have pulled out of the production of Luck — to be directed by the very wonderful Alessandro Carloni. 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.
I realise that the situation — involving as it does many human beings — is complicated. However these are the questions I would like to ask:
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?
I hope these queries make the level of my discomfort understandable. I regret having to step away because I love Alessandro so much and think he is an incredibly creative director. But I can only do what feels right during these difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising.
I am well aware that centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies whether they like it or not is not going to change overnight. Or in a year. But I am also aware that if people who have spoken out — like me — do not take this sort of a stand then things are very unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation.
Yours most sincerely,
Thompson’s letter is already being called “brilliant” on social media.
Emma Thompson's letter to the producers re pulling out of Luck when they hired John Lasseter is, naturally, brilliant https://t.co/UWOhvBv5TV
— Laura Snapes (@laurasnapes) February 26, 2019
Wow. Who knew Emma Thompson could get any more brilliant! https://t.co/jZecsCOGfS
— Jade O'Halloran (@_verdoux) February 26, 2019
This is brilliant from Emma Thompson. Would be brilliant though if it didn't just have to be women that do this, but men who demand this sort of thing too. https://t.co/pBsbapr1Zt
— Adrian Bradley (@adebradley) February 26, 2019
Melissa Silverstein, who is the founder of Women and Hollywood, described it as “one the most significant moments in this movement.”
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. pic.twitter.com/RXkr7FXOkL
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) February 26, 2019
Here were some more early reactions:
— Nancy Forde (@nancyfordephoto) February 26, 2019
I loved and admired #EmmaThompson before but the integrity and conviction she demonstrates here is other-level. May all women w/ power–and we all have power in some way–exert it with the same clear heart and head. (Men/non-binary people should too, duh) https://t.co/jUVVxUreIE
— Lisa Rosman (@rosmance) February 26, 2019
I've loved Emma Thompson's work and her stand for women in the industry for years but this completely blew me away. Thank you, Emma. SO MUCH RESPECT. https://t.co/mQ2vm0spo3
— Dawn Metcalf (@dawnmetcalf) February 26, 2019
“How much money are the employees at Skydance paid to give him that second chance?” Queen Emma Thompson stan for life https://t.co/tNXfBBklN6
— r.e.k.h.a. (@poplibrarian) February 26, 2019
In November 2017 as the #MeToo movement was in full force, Lasseter took a six-month leave of absence from his role as head of Disney Animation after admitting to “missteps” and “unwanted hugs” that he said unintentionally made staff members feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” He ultimately left Pixar, where he had worked since the ’80s, and was hired to head Skydance’s animation division in early January.
Skydance head David Ellison told employees that Lasseter was contractually obligated to behave professionally per the terms of his hire. The company also held town hall meetings during which Lasseter reportedly apologized for past behavior and vowed to prove himself to his new colleagues.
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