British actress Emma Thompson has confirmed that she pulled out of the voice cast of Skydance Animation’s Luck over the company’s decision to hire former Pixar head John Lasseter, who has been accused of sexual misconduct.
In a letter sent to Skydance Animation, which Thompson shared with The Los Angeles Times, the actress criticised Lasseter’s recruitment as the company’s head. “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,” the letter read.
Thompson stepped down from the film in January and while reports at the time cited sources saying her decision was linked to Lasseter’s hiring, this is the first time that the actress has shared her reasons with the media.
Lasseter, who co-founded Pixar, stepped down from Disney-Pixar last year following accusations of inappropriate workplace behaviour that included touching and hugging female employees without their consent. Before he resigned, he had taken a six-month sabbatical after apologising for his “missteps”.
Following Lasseter’s recruitment in January, Skydance Animation CEO David Ellison sent a memo to the internal staff asserting that the producer had learnt his lesson. “While we would never minimise anyone’s subjective views on behaviour, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognised,” Ellison said in the memo, according to Variety. The note also said that Lasseter had assured that he would behave in “a wholly professional manner that is the expectation of every Skydance colleague and partner”.
In her letter, Thompson referenced this and said, “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’?”
Thompson told the management that Skydance Animation had put employees in a difficult position. “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,” she wrote. “...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?”
Thompson concluded her letter saying that “centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies” was not going to change overnight, adding “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.”
Directed by Alessandro Carloni, Luck is reportedly set in a world with “two opposing forces that control destiny, good luck, and bad luck.” Thompson, who was last seen in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018), will next be seen in Mindy Kaling’s Late Night and Chris Butler’s Missing Link.