Former Sony Pictures chairman calls embarrassing hack “strangely freeing,” labels actors “bottomless pits of need” during candid chat with Tina Brown
Amy Pascal spoke candidly about stepping down as a chief of Sony Pictures, last year’s embarrassment over leaked emails and the devastating hack that started it all.
Appearing at the Women in the World conference at San Francisco’s St. Regis Hotel on Wednesday, Pascal was direct about her turbulent recent months — which culminated in her “transition” to producer a week ago.
“All the women here are doing incredible things in this world. All I did was get fired,” Pascal told moderator Tina Brown, according to tech blog re/code. “Everyone knows everything about me. What am I doing here?”
Brown asked about the exact moment during last year’s cyberattack when Pascal knew her personal inbox was about to become a topic of national conversation.
“I ran this company and I had to worry about everybody who was really scared … people were really scared … but nagging in the back of my mind, I kept calling [IT] and being like, ‘They don’t have our emails, tell me they don’t have our emails,'” said Pascal. “But then they did. That was a bad moment. And you know what you write in emails.”
The emails produced countless ongoing negotiations, diatribes over talent and even a thread about President Barack Obama. In regards to jokes about the President that many found racist, Pascal reportedly got choked up, saying “it was horrible. That was horrible.”
“As a woman, what I did was control how everybody felt about themselves and about me … and there was this horrible moment when I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do about whether I’d hurt people, whether I’d betrayed people,” said Pascal, ” … it was also strangely freeing. Because all of a sudden, that was just what it was.”
Less traumatizing was smoothing things over with Angelina Jolie. In an email exchange between Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, Jolie was labelled a “minimally talented spoiled brat” in conversations about a potential film update of “Cleopatra” with Mrs. Brad Pitt to star.
“Angie didn’t care,” said Pascal, saying her working relationships weren’t as damaged as her public image.
“Everybody understood because we all live in this weird thing called Hollywood,” she said. “If we all actually were nice, it wouldn’t work.”
Brown asked what Pascal would take away from the debacle, which was reportedly illustrated by a stock footage of an explosion in the clip package that introduced Pascal at the conference.
“You should always say exactly what you think directly to people all the time,” she said. Brown wondered if movie stars might be a bit sensitive for that kind of honesty.
“They’re bottomless pits of need. You’ve never seen anything like it,” Pascal said.
Pascal announced she was vacating her position on Feb. 5, with her new production venture slated to launch at Sony in May.
“Amy’s creativity, drive, and bold choices helped define SPE as a studio where talented individuals could take chances and push boundaries in order to deliver outstanding entertainment,” said Sony Co-CEO Michael Lynton.
Pascal’s first producing project is the marriage of Sony-owned Spider-Man and upcoming Marvel films, as Spidey is from the same comic book universe.