Emma Thompson pens powerful open letter explaining why she quit John Lasseter film

The actor resigned from Luck last month, after filmmaker John Lasseter was announced as the new head of Skydance Media; the company making the film.

Thomspon was cast as the voice one of the characters in the animation, which looks at how luck affects our everyday lives.

MORE: Emma Thompson reveals her real-life heartbreak inspired that emotional Love Actually scene

While it was originally presumed that Thompson quit due to Lasseter – who left Pixar last year following a string of allegations of  sexual misconduct – being recruited, an open letter penned by the actor today made her feelings of ‘discomfort’ explicitly clear.

In the letter, she condemns the ‘centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies’ by men in power.

Thompson also questions hiring someone with Lasseter’s ‘pattern of misconduct’. Lasseter has previously admitted to ‘inappropriate hugging’ and ‘other missteps’ during his time at Pixar.

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It’s been reported by the Los Angeles Times that, following the hire, Skydance Media Chief Executive David Ellison sent round a lengthy email assuring staff that Lasseter was ‘contractually obliged to act professionally’.

But this was simply not good enough for Thompson, who, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, took a stand against Ellison’s decision.

The letter in full, which was published by the Los Angeles Times, read:

‘As you know, I have pulled out of the production of Luck – to be directed by the very wonderful Alessandro Carloni. 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.

‘I realise that the situation – involving as it does many human beings – is complicated. However these are the questions I would like to ask:

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”?

If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he’s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement? The message seems to be, “I am learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. It’s not easy.”

Much has been said about giving John Lasseter a “second chance”. 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?

If John Lasseter started his own company, then every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance. But any Skydance employees who don’t want to give him a second chance have to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn’t it be John Lasseter who has to lose HIS job if the employees don’t want to give him a second chance?

Skydance has revealed that no women received settlements from Pixar or Disney as a result of being harassed by John Lasseter. But given all the abuse that’s been heaped on women who have come forward to make accusations against powerful men, do we really think that no settlements means that there was no harassment or no hostile work environment? Are we supposed to feel comforted that women who feel that their careers were derailed by working for Lasseter DIDN’T receive money?

‘I hope these queries make the level of my discomfort understandable. I regret having to step away because I love Alessandro so much and think he is an incredibly creative director. But 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. 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.’

Yours most sincerely,

Emma Thompson

The letter has been met with an outpouring of praise on social media from women, and men, across the globe.

It’s not the first time Emma has been vocal about harassment within the industry. Speaking to BBC Newsnight in 2017, she called Harvey Weinstein as a “predator”, ominously revealing that the allegations against him were “the tip of the iceberg”.

Weinstein is currently under investigation for five counts of sexual abuse. He denies allegations of non-consensual sex.

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