Emma Thompson explains why she can’t work with Skydance Animation’s John Lasseter

Emma-Thompson-Saving-Mr-Banks john lasseter

It was reported recently that Emma Thompson left Luck, the upcoming animated film from Skydance Animation, because she didn’t want to work with John Lasseter. Lasseter was fired from Disney due to misconduct allegations and admitted to “missteps.” Soon after, he was hired by Skydance head honcho David Ellison to head Skydance Animation. Now Thompson has revealed in a letter to Skydance reasons why she can’t work with the former chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar.

Thompson has left the project on January 20th, and in the letter, she asks questions as to why she feels uncomfortable. She also has concerns about Skydance Animation’s female employees. According to the LA Times, she declined to comment about her decision, but she did give the outlet the okay to publish the letter.

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

There was even a town hall meeting last month for Skydance Animation staff where they get to ask questions. John Lasseter was present to answer questions. It lasted for an hour and a half with him reassuring the staff that he’s a changed man. Ellison defended his decision and asks the employees to give Lasseter a second chance.

Luck has Alessandro Carloni (Kung Fu Panda 3) attached as director and is said to follow two organizations as they fight to affect the daily lives of humans. One organization is in charge of good luck, while the other is in charge of bad luck. The only known voice actor attached to the project was Emma Thompson.

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