Emma Thompson details departure from ‘Luck’ and hits out at “odd” decision to hire John Lasseter

The actor was set to have a prominent role in the upcoming animated film

Emma Thompson has shared a letter detailing her decision to step down from a new film, after former Pixar boss John Lasseter was hired by its production company.

Last week (February 20), it was reported that the Oscar-winning actor had quit the upcoming animated movie, Luck. Having being due to voice a key character in the film, Thompson left the project after Skydance Productions made the controversial decision to hire Lasseter as the head of their animation division.

Lasseter, who was previously the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, took a period of leave from the company in 2017, amid a series of sexual misconduct claims from colleagues.

Emma Thompson and John Lasseter

Now, Thompson has addressed severing ties with Luck in a letter published to the Los Angeles Times. After praising the film’s “wonderful” director Alessandro Carloni, the actor started the post by questioning Skydance’s “odd” decision to have Lasseter involved in the present climate.

“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 reasoned.

Later in the letter, she claimed that if Lasseter had “started his own company, then every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance.”

John Lasseter

John Lasseter

She added: “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?”

You can read the full letter here:

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

Following Lasseter’s appointment to Skydance in 2018, the Time Up’s campaign accused the studio of “providing another position of power, prominence and privilege to a man who has repeatedly been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.”

However, the animator was later defended by Skydance CEO David Ellison, who said that he had “learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and as a colleague.”

After making a permanent departure from Pixar in 2018, Lasseter apologised to employees that were made to feel “disrespected or uncomfortable” by his inappropriate actions.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Luck is described as a comedy that pulls back the curtain on the millennia-old battle between the organisations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects our daily lives.”