Toy Story Director, Pixar Head John Lasseter Takes “Sabbatical” After “Missteps” (Updated)Photo courtesy of Getty Images Movies News Pixar
Update: Hollywood Reporter followed up its original piece with additional information about John Lasseter’s mistreatment of employees. According to one of the Reporter’s sources, Lasseter has long been known within the company for “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes.” Other sources told the Reporter about “a move they called ‘the Lasseter’ to prevent their boss from putting his hands on their legs.” This behavior stretches back for at least 15 years, according to the article. Lasseter also reportedly made an advance to the actress and writer Rashida Jones, who was scheduled to cowrite Toy Story 4 with writing partner Will McCormack; although they’re both still listed on the project, Jones and McCormack reportedly both left Toy Story 4 after Lasseter’s actions.
John Lasseter, the creative leader behind Pixar and Disney’s latest animation renaissance, announced today that he’s taking a six-month leave of absence from the company, Hollywood Reporter reveals. The chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios announced the news in a memo to Disney employees where he disclosed “missteps” that made some employees “feel disrespected or uncomfortable.” The memo doesn’t explicitly refer to any allegations of sexual harassment or abuse, but it does include the following sentences:
Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.
According to the memo, which you can read in full at the Hollywood Reporter, Lasseter will be taking a six month break from the company “to start taking better care of” himself. This news comes just two days before the release of Pixar’s latest film, Coco, which opens on Thanksgiving.
Lasseter started his career with Disney but was fired in the early 1980s for promoting computer animation. He moved on to Lucasfilm’s CGI division, which was sold to Pixar in 1986. Lasseter has been the primary force behind Pixar’s run of full-length animation hits, directing Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Cars and Cars 2, and producing all of the studio’s other films. In 2007 he was placed in charge of all three of Disney’s animation studios.