Warner Bros. Entertainment chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara has stepped down amid sexual misconduct investigations into his relationship with an actress whom he allegedly helped secure roles in major studio projects.
Tsujihara’s exit arrives less than two weeks after an extensively reported exposé from The Hollywood Reporter, based on hundreds of leaked text messages and emails, detailed his extramarital affair with British actress Charlotte Kirk beginning in 2013.
Kirk went on to appear in bit parts in two Warner Bros. films, 2016’s “How to Be Single” and 2018’s “Ocean’s 8.”
“It is in the best interest of WarnerMedia, Warner Bros., our employees and our partners for Kevin to step down as Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey in a statement on Monday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio’s success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him,” the statement continued. “Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the Company’s leadership expectations and could impact the Company’s ability to execute going forward.”
The studio has yet to name a replacement for Tsujihara, who had led Warner Bros. for six years. He was also recently given oversight of a new global business for WarnerMedia focused on kids and young adults.
On Monday, Tsujihara, the first Asian-American man to run a major Hollywood studio, issued an apology to his staff about how “past actions might impact the company’s future.”
“It has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success,” he wrote, according to Variety. “The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing.”
The texts revealed by The Hollywood Reporter show a quid pro quo type of relationship between Tsujihara and Kirk spanning years. The messages also suggest some knowledge or involvement on the part of director Brett Ratner and Australian businessman James Packer, who were in the midst of partnering with Warner Bros. in a $450 million co-financing deal.
Kirk reportedly pressured Tsujihara to put her in the studio’s films after the two began an affair, which then suffered as she became dissatisfied about not receiving parts in movies like “Hellboy” and the all-female spinoff of “The Expendables.”
“I don’t usually call about casting about these types of roles,” Tsujihara wrote to Kirk in one of the texts obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s fine, I just need to be careful.”
Kirk has publicly addressed the story, calling the affair was consensual and insisting that she was not a victim.
“These articles refer to events from six years ago, back in 2013. I was a different person then. I was 19 years old, newly arrived in LA, possibly a little arrogant and definitely very naive,” she said in a statement to Deadline. “I acknowledge I may have made some poor choices and I’m sorry for that, but I’ve learned from my mistakes since then and have grown a lot, as a person, as a woman, and as a professional actor.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated Packer was Austrian. In fact, he is Australian.