Neilson Barnard/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Disney/Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter has announced he’s taking a six-month leave of absence from the animation studios, in the wake of allegations of workplace misconduct.
“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me.,” Lasseter, 60, says in a memo to employees. “It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them.”
Lasseter continues, “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.”
He goes on to especially 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.”
Though that’s the only specific behavior the memo references, The Hollywood Reporter published a story Tuesday afternoon, prior to Lasseter’s announcement, detailing his alleged misconduct in the workplace, saying while Lasseter was known for hugging employees, he was also known for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”
The Hollywood Reporter also says actress and writer Rashida Jones ended her work on the forthcoming Toy Story 4 after Lasseter allegedly “made an unwanted advance.” The publication says Jones declined their invitation to comment on their story.
Lasseter’s memo continues that after conversations with Disney, they determined to first step to reinforcing “the vibrant, respectful culture” of the animation studios is for him to take some time away.
“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,” he writes.
A statement from a Disney spokesperson reads, “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.”
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