Emma Thompson exits Skydance animated movie Luck, reportedly due to concerns about working with John Lasseter, the former chief creative officer of Pixar who left Disney last year amid sexual misconduct accusations. In late 2017 less than two months after the Harvey Weinstein exposé kicked off what's now known as the Time's Up Movement, Lasseter was accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace that included inappropriate comments toward and contact with employees. He was reportedly known among employees of the company for "kissing, grabbing, making comments about physical attributes." Lasseter took a leave of absence from Pixar when the story broke in 2017 and officially left Disney/Pixar in 2018.
Then, Lasseter was hired by Skydance Animation, a subsidiary of Paramount Studios, as the new head of animation for the company. The hiring was met by criticism from those who argued Skydance was willfully putting Lasseter in another position of power over employees, particularly women, who were unsure if he'd learned how to properly conduct himself in the workplace. Though Skydance CEO David Ellison was confident Lasseter would be a good addition to the company, Paramount was reportedly uncomfortable about Lasseter's hiring. Now, a star involved in one of Skydance's projects has departed due to the company's new connection to Lasseter.
THR reports Emma Thompson has exited the upcoming animated film Luck due to concerns over working with Lasseter on the project. Thompson had begun recording for the voice role, though she hadn't officially been confirmed to be part of the film's voice cast. Announced in 2017, little is known about Luck other than it will be directed by Kung Fu Panda 3 co-director Alessandro Carloni. THR reports the film will tell the story of two battling organizations, one being good luck and the other bad luck; Thompson would have voiced the head of the good luck organization.
THR further points out that executive Holly Edwards was recently promoted from Skydance's head of production to animation president, effectively making her Lasseter's right hand. The move was seemingly to offset backlash to Lasseter's hiring and prevent a similar situation to the one that reportedly arose at Pixar where Lasseter surrounded himself with an "all-male brain trust." However, it's unclear if Edwards' promotion will help temper criticism of Skydance hiring Lasseter. Further, Thompson departing Luck doesn't help the company's public perception.
Of course, it's an understandable move for Thompson to leave Luck, even if she'd already begun working on the film. She's long been a proponent for equality in Hollywood and took part in helping to launch the Time's Up Organization by signing the original open letter that announced its creation. All that's to say, the actress seems to have chosen to depart the project so as to avoid working with - and implicitly condoning - Lasseter as head of Skydance Animation.
What becomes of Luck and who will be part of the cast remains to be seen as Skydance Animation attempts to build itself up with the help of Lasseter, Edwards and co.