John Lasseter, one of the founders of Pixar and the chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, will take a leave of absence from the company after a report detailed a history of alleged sexual harassment and misconduct, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Per a staff memo, Lasseter said: “I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. 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.”
Several former Pixar insiders and other sources in the animation community detailed Lasseter’s history of making unwanted advances, such as “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.” Women at Pixar would reportedly turn their heads to avoid Lasseter’s kisses, and there was even a move known as “the Lasseter” that women used to keep him from putting his hands on their legs.
Sources recalled incidents during which Lasseter would allegedly touch women inappropriately, even during meetings, and one person recalled seeing an awkwardly cropped photo of Lasseter standing between two women at a company function. When the person asked why the photo looked the way it did, he was reportedly told, “We had to crop it. Do you know where his hands were?”
Pixar’s parent company, Disney, released a statement regarding Lasseter’s leave of absence, saying, “We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.”
Lasseter, in his own memo, added: “As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”