In Brief

Why Emma Thompson quit John Lasseter film

Actor publishes open letter after refusing to work under studio executive accused of sexual misconduct

British actor Emma Thompson has spoken publicly for the first time about her departure from upcoming Skydance Animation film Luck.

The two-time Oscar winner quit the movie last month after John Lasseter was appointed to head up the production company. The studio executive had just left Disney Pixar, following accusations of sexual misconduct.

Thompson has now published her resignation letter to Skydance boss David Ellison, in which she questions the decision to hire Lasseter.

She wrote: “It feels very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with 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.”

When Lasseter joined Skydance, Ellison made him apologise publicly and sent an email to staff saying that the former Pixar boss “was contractually obligated to behave professionally”, reports the Los Angeles Times.

But Thompson remains unconvinced. Her letter asks:  “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?”

The Sense and Sensibility star said she was sorry to have dropped out of the new film during production, but felt she had to take a stand. 

“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,” she wrote.

The letter concludes: “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 has not commented on Thompson’s letter. Its publication has been hailed by activists, however.

Melissa Silverstein, founder of website Women and Hollywood, tweeted: “This is more than an open letter - Thompson has issued a rallying cry. We hope others with power and privilege will join Thompson in speaking out about abuses of power and those who enable that toxic behavior.”

The Guardian says that Lasseter’s downfall at Disney was one of the “key landmarks of the Me Too and Time’s Up campaign”.

The Time’s Up group has argued that his new appointment “endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence”.

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