NEW YORK, N.Y. – In her first interview since her exit as co-chairman of Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal opened up about her departure and acknowledged it wasn’t voluntary.
Speaking to journalist Tina Brown at the Women in the World conference Wednesday night in San Francisco, Pascal joked, “All the women here are doing incredible things in this world. All I did was get fired.”
After a long reign as the head of Sony Pictures, the studio last week announced Pascal was stepping down and would start a new production venture at Sony. In her new role as producer, she has already inherited several of the studio’s biggest upcoming projects, including Sony’s next Spider-man film, to be made in partnership with Marvel Studios.
“I’m 56,” she said at the summit. “It’s not exactly the time that you want to start all over again. But it’s kind of great and I have to and it’s going to be a new adventure for me.”
Pascal also spoke candidly about the trauma of the hacking attack that preceded her departure. When the extent of the damage was still unraveling and personal information was found to be stolen, Pascal said “everybody was really scared.”
“But nagging in the back of my mind, and I kept calling them, like, ‘They don’t have our emails, right? Tell me they don’t have our emails.’ ‘No, no no,'” recalled Pascal. “Well, then they did. That was a bad moment.”
Pascal came under fire, in particular, for emails with producer Scott Rudin in which the two joked about President Barack Obama’s presumed taste in movies. Other emails revealed a furious Rudin calling Angelina Jolie names (“the first person I talked to was Angie after that email,” said Pascal) and showed her tussling with the powerful producer (“We’ve been having an ongoing fight since the moment we met,” she said of Rudin).
“Everyone understood because we all live in this weird thing together called Hollywood,” said Pascal. “If we all actually were nice, it wouldn’t work.”
Brown founded the Women in the World conference five years ago to bring together women leaders to share stories and advice. Long considered the top female executive in Hollywood, Pascal was known for, among other things, supporting female filmmakers. Speaking to Brown, she said much still needed to change.
“The most important thing we can do in our business is make movies with female protagonists and movies with female villains and movies where the plot of the movie is about them,” said Pascal. “The worst thing you can do is be on the sidelines.”
Pascal was also entertainingly frank about the inner-workings of the movie business. She called hypersensitive actors “bottomless pits of need.”
Said Pascal: “You’ve never seen anything like it.”