It appears the controversial hiring of former Pixar and Walt Disney Animation head John Lasseter to spearhead Skydance Animation’s studio has resulted in at least one significant departure. Skydance made the surprising decision to hire Lasseter earlier this year following the Toy Story and Cars filmmaker’s ousting from Disney. Lasseter came under fire last year for years of alleged sexual misconduct, and while he admitted “missteps” when he took a leave of absence from his post heading up Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney opted not to renew his contract when it ran out last December.
Now THR reports that in the wake of Lasseter’s hiring at Skydance Animation, actress Emma Thompson has quietly exited her voice role in the upcoming Skydance film Luck, reportedly over concerns about working with Lasseter. This is the first high profile exit from Skydance in the wake of Lasseter’s hiring (which reportedly did not go over well with some in Skydance Animation’s unit), but it’s likely not the last and could signal difficulty in casting upcoming projects.
After hiring Lasseter, Skydance promoted head of production Holly Edwards to president, where she’ll essentially serve as Lasseter’s point person. The move was no doubt done to help ease concerns about Lasseter’s hiring, but as evidenced by Thompson’s departure, it’s not that simple.
Thompson had apparently done some recording sessions for Luck before her departure. It’s one of two projects already in development at Skydance when Lasseter came onboard, and it revolves around two battling organizations that represent good luck and bad luck, respectively. The other project in the works is a story of a magical teenager directed by Shrek and Shark Tale alum Vicky Jenson. It’s unclear how Lasseter plans to proceed, but if Skydance thought promoting a woman would smooth this whole situation over, clearly that didn’t happen.
As for Thompson, she’ll next be seen onscreen in Men in Black: International and stars in and co-wrote the Paul Feig-directed romcom Last Christmas, and she also has a high profile starring role in the Mindy Kaling-penned Sundance hit Late Night, which could potentially put her in next year’s awards race.