Pixar’s John Lasseter Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Takes Leave of Absence
Another day, another powerful man in Hollywood joins the list of names accused of sexual misconduct. Today, that just happens to be the man behind Pixar. The studio’s latest film Coco hits in theaters Thanksgiving Day, and today the company’s chief creative officer and Disney Animation head John Lasseter has been accused of a pattern of sexual misconduct in a new exposé from The Hollywood Reporter.
Interestingly enough, Lasseter got ahead of the news by about 20 minutes. The Toy Story director announced his leave of absence in a company email minutes before THR reporter Kim Masters published her story detailing allegations against animator, best known as one of the founders of Pixar. In Masters’ report, multiple sources claim Lasseter was known for making unwanted advances towards women, including one towards Rashida Jones, who co-wrote Toy Story 4 with Will McCormack. Jones and McCormack reportedly left the project as a result of Lasseter’s behavior, which Disney declined to comment on. According to the report though, this was hardly an isolated incident.
Update: Jones and McCormack have since issued a statement and denied that their departure from Toy Story 4 was due to Lasseter. The writers told the New York Times:
The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences.
Jones and McCormack’s added that they left the project due to Pixar’s treatment of female and minority writers, noting that the studio is “a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.”
Original story continues below…
The piece alleges that the animator was known for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” towards women. One source details finding a photo of Lasseter that oddly cropped out two women standing beside him. When asked about it, the source was allegedly told, “We had to crop it. Do you know where his hands were?” Another source at the studio tells Masters that women came up with a move they used to avoid unwanted touching:
Sources say some women at Pixar knew to turn their heads quickly when encountering him to avoid his kisses. Some used a move they called “the Lasseter” to prevent their boss from putting his hands on their legs.
Other sources detail that Lasseter was a big hugger, often whispering in people’s ears after hugging them. One insider described it as “invading the space.”
Lasseter addressed his penchant for hugging in his email to Disney staff. In it, he writes:
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.
The animator describes his leave of absence from the company as the result of “missteps” at the company, and how he has been “falling short” as a leader. After many conversations with Disney, which Lasseter describes as “difficult” and “painful,” he writes that he and the company have decided he’ll take a six-month sabbatical:
Lasseter is best known for directing Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and Cars and has won two Oscars himself. He’s credited as an executive producer on Pixar’s upcoming Incredibles 2, Wreck-It Ralph 2, and Toy Story 4, as well as Disney’s Gigantic.