Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment confirmed this afternoon that they have “terminated their relationship” with Louis C.K., removing him from the starring role of Max the terrier in The Secret Life of Pets franchise.
The news comes on the same day that the actor-comedian confirmed that he had sexually harassed at least five women, performing lewd acts in their presence without their consent.
Illumination will recast Louis C.K.’s role in the upcoming Secret Life of Pets sequel, scheduled to open on June 7, 2019. The original movie was the sixth-highest-earning theatrical release worldwide in 2016, grossing over $875 million.
Replacing Louis C.K. with another actor will be challenging for the film’s creative crew since the personality of Max was custom-designed for the now-disgraced comedian. “Louis has such a unique and dry and distinctive personality, and it’s the first time he has voiced a character in an animated movie,” Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri explained in the first film’s press notes. “He is one of my favorite comedians, and one of [director] Chris [Renaud]’s. Whether it was writing for him, animating to his voice, or designing for him, the whole team loved working with him. He brings such distinction to the personality that it gave to Max.”
Numerous other production companies have also cut ties or suspended projects in which Louis C.K. was involved, including TBS, which is producing the marginal-looking animated series The Cops, co-created by and starring the comedian.
In a statement, TBS stated, “Production on The Cops has been suspended until further review.” That likely means that the project won’t be outright cancelled, but will rather be recast with a new voice actor.
Meanwhile, FX Networks and FX Productions, producers of the animated series, have also cut ties with Louis C.K. In a statement, they said, “He will no longer serve as executive producer or receive compensation on any of the four shows we were producing with him – Better Things, Baskets, One Mississippi, and The Cops.” Starburns Industries is the studio producing the show, and the people most immediately affected by the production hold is the artist crew at Starburns.
Louis C.K. co-created The Cops with Albert Brooks. Ten episodes had been scheduled to launch starting January 2018.