Pixar films are generally wholesome and delightful gems, best enjoyed in the company of laughing, awed children. It was a particularly disappointing moment in the early phase of the #MeToo movement to learn that, for 20 years, the company had been overseen by a man who allegedly gave female employees unwanted hugs and occasional mouth kisses, and who fostered a workplace culture of open sexism.
Once the story broke in November 2017, John Lasseter took a six-month “sabbatical” from Pixar, from which he ultimately never returned. While certain circles debate whether the #MeToo movement has “gone too far,” Lasseter swiftly found a new gig as the head of Skydance Animation, skipping the exile and public atonement phase of being outed for sexual misconduct. While the new gig kicked off with an uneasy all-hands meeting at Skydance in January, and an outcry from Women in Animation, there has been every indication so far that Lasseter will continue in his new role. Not if Emma Thompson has anything to say about it, though.
Last week, the vaunted actor and filmmaker announced she was dropping out of Skydance’s forthcoming big-ticket film Luck as a direct response to Lasseter’s hire. Thompson has elaborated on her motivation for leaving the project, which had just begun recording and was due in 2021, in a powerful letter to Skydance. The letter makes it clear that Thompson did not take this decision lightly, but firmly stands by her convictions.
“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,” Thompson writes at the top of the letter, rebuking the company for its complicity. She goes on to ask a series of very reasonable questions whose collective answer is that it makes no sense for this man to have this role right now, even if there are now guidelines in his contract stipulating that he must “behave professionally.”
If Thompson’s letter ends up inspiring more women to make similar stands, Lasseter’s tenure at Skydance may end before it even begins–and before more parents have to ponder just what they’re supporting when they take their kids to an animated movie about destiny.
Read her full letter to the company here.