The fallout of Skydance Animation hiring of John Lasseter continues. Last week, Emma Thompson left her role in Alessandro Carloni‘s animated feature Luck. Although she didn’t give a specific reason as to why she was leaving at the time, many suspected that it had to do with her working with a company who knowingly hired someone like Lasseter, who had been exiled from Disney and Pixar after allegations of him engaging in sexual misconduct surfaced. It would only be a few months after when Skydance Animation announced they had hired the disgraced former animation head. And it would be a decision that many, especially those inside the company, were very unhappy with.
Now Thompson is explaining why she exited the project, in a newly released letter that criticizes Skydance’s decision and the failed attempts to justify the hiring. More on the report and the full letter below.
Thompson posted the letter exclusively in the LA Times. Here’s what she had to say:
As you know, I have pulled out of the production of â€œLuckâ€ â€” 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. Lasseterâ€™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 â€” involving as it does many human beings â€” 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 heâ€™s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave â€œprofessionallyâ€?
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 heâ€™s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement? The message seems to be, â€œI am learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. Itâ€™s not easy.â€
Much has been said about giving John Lasseter a â€œsecond chance.â€ 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 donâ€™t want to give him a second chance have to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldnâ€™t it be John Lasseter who has to lose HIS job if the employees donâ€™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 thatâ€™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 DIDNâ€™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 womenâ€™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 â€” like me â€” do not take this sort of a stand then things are very unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughterâ€™s generation.
Yours most sincerely,
As you can see, Thompson doesn’t pull any punches in this letter. Even in its opening, she says, “it feels very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseterâ€™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.”
And from there, she lets everyone know what lines of questions studios should be asking themselves before they bring in someone with a stigma like Lasseter.
[Source: The LA Times]