Published Feb 26, 2019Earlier this year, British actress Emma Thompson walked out on the animated film Luck after Skydance Media hired John Lasseter — despite his departure as head of Disney Animation and Pixar at the end of 2017 following sexual misconduct allegations. Now, a letter she wrote to Skydance chief executive David Ellison has gone public.
In the letter, first published by the L.A. Times, Thompson confirmed that her withdrawal from Luck was indeed due to the hiring of Lasseter. She acknowledged the unfortunate impact it could have on the director, Alessandro Carloni, and others involved with the film.
She also posed a list of questions to Ellison, which reads:
- 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?
It marks the first major celebrity walk-off from a project in the #MeToo and #TimesUp era.
Lasseter recently claimed that he had spent the last year in "deep reflection" about his past behaviour, while Ellison supported him by saying that he has been "forthright in taking ownership of his behaviour."
Neither Lasseter nor the studio has commented since the publication of Thompson's letter.