Emma Thompson drops out of Skydance film after John Lasseter hire
When David Ellison hired Pixar co founder, John Lasseter in January two head Ellison's new sky dance innovation studio. The response was swift organizations such as time's up and women in innovation. Condemned the decision and many sky, dance employees were furious. Pixar and Disney forced Lassiter out of his job as its chief creative officer last June, and that was after female employees alleged Lassiter had groped them and created a frat house like work environment where women were excluded. When Lassiter came to sky dance. The studio was in production on a movie called luck. And among its actors was Emma Thompson, but Thompson left the project soon after Lassiter's hiring, and she detailed her reasons in a letter to sky dance that was published today in the LA times, Mary McNamara's culture columnist and critic at the paper she wrote the story about Thompson's letter and she explained. How the head of sky dance address concerns about Lassiter's hiring back in January David Ellison Sunday, a really long, and it was a little like defiant, Email, basically saying we've talked to John and he understands that some things some things that he has done in the past were not appropriate. He has, you know, been addressing those issues, and it is in his contract that he must behave professionally so nobody should be worried. I mean, the the absurdity of like someone being hired at this level of, you know, oversight overseeing this huge staff, or, you know, I'm sure a lot of money and having his boss having to point out that he is contractually obligated to behave professionally is just I mean, my hair just liked went on fire. It's like they don't understand. This isn't just about the specific instances that women. Have detailed which are bad enough. I'm not saying in any way, but it's about creating an atmosphere in which women were shut out. And just the fact that he would get a job again. So quickly basically sends a message to everyone in Hollywood. Which is like this is not a big deal. You know, it's a blip in the road. So when he comes to sky dance emission the studio is already in development or production on a movie called luck. And one of the voice actors in this film as an actress by the name of Amitav, sin and Thomson recently decides that she wants no part in this movie. So what does Emma Thompson decide that she's going to do and how she's going to make her decision? Well, my understanding is that as soon as Lassiter was hired Emma Thompson contacted her representatives and started talking about I gotta get out of this film. And that she did indeed leave on January twentieth. She withdrew from the film, and then she sent a letter to sky dance explaining why she had withdrawn from the film and asking all the questions that people have been. Asking which is like how you know. Why was the staff I mean, one of the things after Lassiter's hiring? And I don't know if you heard from people at guidance, but I did off the record people were very upset women and men were upset they didn't want to have to deal with this. They didn't know what it said about their company. And so that was one of the questions she raised. It's like, well, why is John Lasseter getting a second chance when no one who's going to be working for him was asked if they wanted to give him a chance, and she and she just lists a long number of questions that his hiring had raised. And finally said she wanted to make this movie she wanted to work with the director. But she just couldn't in good conscience lend her name to it. So she writes a letter that she shares with the LA times, and you publish, and I think this letter will go on to be the Magna Carta or the declaration of independence of the metoo movement. And here's what she writes in one passage. I'm going to quote, sky, dance employees who don't wanna give him John Lasseter. A second chance have to stay and be on. Uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn't it be John Lasseter who has to lose his job? If the employee's don't wanna give him a second chance there's lots to single out on this. I think that's remarkable. What did you also notice about what Emma Thompson had to say? Well, I just thought the fact that she said that people like me have to take the stand. And if we don't nothing is going to change we can talk about it. We can have tasks force. We can have PSA's, and we should do all that. But Hollywood runs on money and star power. And until the stars that make the money the stars that make the projects run until they're willing to go. I'm not going to do this. You know, I will not work for this, man. Because I believe that this was not a good higher. I believe that this makes too many people uncomfortable that it's too dangerous for too many people. You know, David Ellison isn't taking a chance John Lasseter is not going to sexually. Him. But who knows and who's going to be the first person like, you know, everybody's on eggshells. Anyway, like who's going to be the person that if something happens it's guidance who's going to speak up because it's the women who are targeted. They're not equal to the power of the man. That's the whole point there. There are people who don't feel like they have the kind of voice now, I think that that has changed a little bit. I hope it's changed a lot. And I think that seeing someone like Emma Thomson take this kind of stand and walk away from a project that she was excited about doing sends a really great message to everyone, including her peers, this is another tool in terms of fixing Hollywood is that the people who are in these positions. These A-List people you need to do more than make statements. They need to make statements with their feet. So what happens to a project like luck? We'll somebody else come in and take it over or will the movie fall apart and a lot of people who were going to work lose their jobs. I mean, there's no real easy ending to the store. Is there? No. And that's something that she also addresses in the letter is stars do have that kind of responsibility for a project that they're you know, they are one person. But there is cast and crew and people who may be this is their first big job, and nobody wants to take that away from people. And so I'm sure it was a difficult decision. Because I don't know they haven't announced a replacement. I don't know what female actor would step in to do that. I don't know what their choices are going to be. I don't know what how the director. They've been very quiet. Nobody has been commenting. I, you know, I don't know how the director feels about it. But this was a very big deal for them. This was one of two big animation films that we're going to sort of put scions animation on the map. And this is not a good way to start.