Emma Thompson quit a Hollywood film to take a stand against “centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies” after the studio hired an executive accused of groping employees.The Oscar-winning actress left the cast of Luck in protest at the appointment of John Lasseter, the former Pixar and Disney chief who has faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment he later characterised as “missteps”.Yesterday Emma made her resignation letter public, and was hailed a feminist hero by MeToo campaigners. The letter prompted calls for Lasseter, the man responsible for such billion-dollar hits as the Toy Story franchise and Frozen, to be sacked.Lasseter stood down from Disney last summer when the allegations came to light but was hired in January as the new head of Skydance Animation. Its chief executive attempted to assure employees that Lasseter’s employment contract forbade him from engaging in any unprofessional conduct.In her letter to Skydance management, sent in January but later released to the Los Angeles Times, Emma said: “It feels very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Lasseter’s pattern of misconduct.” She goes on 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 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?” I am also aware that if people… do not take a stand, things are unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation
Emma added: “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?“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?” She concluded: “I am well aware that centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies whether they like it or not is not going to change overnight.“But I am also aware that if people… do not take a stand, things are unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation.” The newspaper called her stand “one of the most significant decisions in post-MeToo Hollywood”. Melissa Silverstein, of the Women and Hollywood campaign, said it was an “amazing, brilliant, feminist, line-in-the-sand letter”, calling Emma a “hero”.It has been claimed that in the past women who worked with the executive would adopt a defensive posture that they nicknamed “the Lasseter” to prevent him touching their legs.In the wake of the allegations surfacing, Lasseter, a married father, took a sabbatical from Disney, saying: “I’ve had some difficult conversations that have been very painful.“It’s never easy to face your missteps but it’s the only way to learn from them.”Skydance declined to comment.