THR reports that Pixar co-founder and chief creative officer, John Lasseter, has decided to step away from the company for a period of six months after a series of "missteps" related to sexual misconduct.
Lasseter detailed his decision in a memo sent to employees of the company in which he apologizes for any "unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line." He goes on to say he has had "painful" conversations that have made it clear to him that his behavior was inappropriate. In further talks with his staff and Disney, he decided taking a sabbatical would be best.
" are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here."
THR went on to report that in speaking with employees who were aware of Lasseter's inappropriate behavior, one explained that his actions included "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes."
Another source told THR that women in the company would often turn their heads quickly to avoid his kisses, a move that became commonly known as "the Lasseter." An additional incident involved Lasseter being cropped in a photo with two women in an effort to hide the inappropriate placement of his hands.
Lasseter is a two-time Oscar winner (awards he won for his work on Toy Story and the short film, Tin Toy) and has enjoyed success as the brain behind the studio that's brought audiences beloved films such as Frozen, Inside Out and the upcoming Coco, which opens in theaters today.
While many companies have chosen to sever ties entirely with their recently disgraced colleagues, (i.e., Netflix cut ties with Kevin Spacey and The Weinstein Company fired Harvey Weinstein) it seems Disney will not follow suit after releasing the following statement on the matter: "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."
You can read Lasseter's memo in full below. ~Alexa Caruso
I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers. This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.
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.
In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here. 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.
I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.