Emma Thompson Joins Hollywood, Other “Harry Potter” Stars Against Sexual Harassment
There is little doubt that the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have shone a light on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere. Dame Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney) is one of the latest celebrities to stand up against sexual harassment in a very public way, and she did so by choosing to leave one of her upcoming roles. Thompson was supposed to have a voice-over role in the Skydance Animation feature film Luck, but that changed when John Lasseter (formerly the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar) was hired as Head of Animation on January 9.
Lasseter took a sabbatical from his positions at Disney Animation and Pixar in late 2017 after he acknowledged that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with employees, and he left Disney after the expiration of his contract at the end of 2018. Thompson officially withdrew from Luck on January 20, writes the Los Angeles Times, and she wrote a letter to Skydance’s management about her decision.
Thompson’s comments can be read in full from the Los Angeles Times, but she made her stance clear.
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.
Before closing her letter to Skydance, Thompson also acknowledged the need for people with privilege, like herself, to speak out.
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.
While gendered expectations have played a role in sexual harassment, women aren’t the only ones targeted. Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone, Fantastic Beasts), who does not identify as a man or a woman, has previously spoken out about a personal experience with sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) discussed the “systemic, structural” nature of sexual harassment at the Golden Globe Awards in 2018, where she also talked about how she has been sexually harassed. She additionally made a donation of £1 million to the UK Justice and Equality Fund.
Both Emma Thompson and Emma Watson have made their platforms public on other occasions. Along with Noma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Gemma Chan (Madam Ya Zhou, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and many others, they signed an open letter that was published in the Guardian in 2018 to speak out against sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination in the entertainment industry.
With Thompson’s recent decision to walk out of a project with which she had been involved, she could pave the way for other stars to walk out and speak out, and we think that’s magical.