Pixar co-founder John Lasseter is taking a six-month sabbatical as Walt Disney Animation Studios’ chief creative officer after possible misconduct during his leadership.
Lasseter, who co-founded Pixar in 1979 when it was under the purview of Lucasfilm, issued a memo on Tuesday, Nov. 20 to Disney/Pixar staff announcing his leave of absence and apologizing for his “missteps,” reports The Hollywood Reporter.
“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable,” he writes in the memo.
“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.
Lasseter, according to another report by THR, has made unwanted physical advances at women working at Pixar — including Rashida Jones, who left her writing post at Toy Story 4 because of his inappropriate behavior. Other sources have witnessed Lasseter kissing, hugging and touching women at Pixar's Emeryville office and during company events. He has an established reputation as a "hugger," a fact that has been documented since a USA Today feature on him published back in 2006.
Lasseter has been integral in Disney Studios' revitalization since 2006, when the conglomerate purchased Pixar. As chief creative officer of both studios, he executive produces or produces every Pixar and Walt Disney Animation project, including Frozen, Tangled, and Inside Out.