Actress Emma Thompson, who quit a movie project after the production company hired an accused sexual harasser as its head, blasted the choice of a man who “made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades.”
Thompson, in a letter to Skydance Animation executives published by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, denounced the hiring of John Lasseter, the Pixar co-founder who was ousted from that company last year after multiple allegations of sexual harassment. The Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter quit her role in Skydance’s animated movie “Luck” last month, weeks after Lasseter’s hiring, and explained the decision in her letter.
“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 wrote in the letter.
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. Emma Thompson
Thompson’s letter points out persistent problems exposed by the Me Too movement, such as how some accused sexual harassers face minimal consequences for their behavior and receive second chances that allow them to continue their careers.
“Much has been said about giving John Lasseter a ‘second chance,’” Thompson wrote. “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?”
Skydance has defended hiring Lasseter, saying it contracted an outside organization to investigate the misconduct claims.
“John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes, and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them,” the Skydance founder said in a letter to employees last month.
Other women working in animation also have raised concerns about Lasseter’s career comeback, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Thompson, in her letter, questioned how someone who “made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades” could be trusted in another leadership role.
She also challenged Skydance’s insistence that Lasseter did not pay legal settlements to his accusers. “Are we supposed to feel comforted that women who feel that their careers were derailed by working for Lasseter DIDN’T receive money?” she asked.
Thompson, explaining why she chose to step down and speak out, wrote:
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.
Skydance representatives declined to comment to the Los Angeles Times about Thompson’s letter, and did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.