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Emma Thompson pens blunt letter detailing why she won’t work with disgraced film executive

Emma Thompson - REUTERS/Neil Hall

Emma Thompson pens blunt letter detailing why she won’t work with disgraced film executive

Emma Thompson pens blunt letter detailing why she won’t work with disgraced film executive

Emma Thompson pens a compelling letter explaining why she quit disgraced film executive John Lasseter’s new movie.

Last week, the news broke that Emma Thompson was no longer to work on the Skydance Animation film Luck, because the studio had hired John Lasseter. Now Thompson has penned a public letter about why she believes Lasseter’s presence there is problematic.

A representative for Thompson confirmed to Variety that the actor had left the project in January, when Lasseter was hired to oversee Skydance by its CEO David Ellison.

Now Thompson has put herself firmly above the MeToo movement with the publication publishing her incendiary letter of resignation addressed to Skydance Media.

In her letter last month to Skydance, which was published Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times, Thompson wrote: “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.”

Lasseter is the former creative chief of Pixar and Disney Animation, who retired from Disney/Pixar in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in which employees accused him of inappropriate contact.

Thompson raises questions about the ethical implications of working with Lasseter. Her implication is that Lasseter’s admitting to “inappropriate hugging” and “other missteps” was insufficient, and that it would be reasonable for women who now work with him to question whether he would act appropriately because he realised the error of his ways or because it was politic to do so.

The full text of Thompson’s letter is below.

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,

Emma Thompson

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