- Pixar cofounder John Lasseter is not returning to Disney following the six-month leave of absence he started in November, the company says.
- Lasseter’s sabbatical was announced shortly before The Hollywood Reporter reported on employee allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour from the exec. In a memo to employees at the time, Lasseter referred to his behaviour as “missteps.”
- Lasseter’s alleged behaviour came into the public eye right in the middle of the #MeToo movement.
Disney announced on Friday that Pixar cofounder John Lasseter will not be returning to the company at the conclusion of his six-month sabbatical – a sabbatical he began in late 2017, right before employee allegations of misconduct from Lasseter were reported in the press.
Originally reported by The New York Times, Lasseter will take on a consulting role at Disney for the rest of the year, after which, he will depart completely. The Times reports that he will not have an office at Disney in the interim.
In a statement to Business Insider provided by Disney, Lasseter says that the sabbatical gave a chance to “reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” and that “I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger also issued a statement, praising Lasseter for his “remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation,” and said that the company is “profoundly grateful for his contributions.”
Lasseter confirmed in an internal memo last November that he was taking a six-month leave in November. His memo came shortly before the Hollywood Reporter published an investigative story about employee allegations of inappropriate behaviour on the part of Lasseter, including “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”
“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,” Lasseter wrote in the memo. “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 apologise if I have let you down.”
Lasseter is the latest entertainment executive to step down from a high-profile position following allegations of sexual misconduct, as the #MeToo movement sweeps Hollywood.
Lasseter is best known for directing the first two installments of the “Toy Story” movies, as well as “Cars” and “A Bug’s Life.” In recent years, he also oversaw Walt Disney Animation Studios, and holds an executive producer credit for the smash-hit “Frozen.” Pixar’s “Coco” was released last Thanksgiving, shortly after Lasseter took his leave of absence, and went on to win the Oscar for best animated feature.
The full statement from John Lasseter, provided by Disney:
“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities. While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges. I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”
A statement from Disney CEO Bob Iger:
“John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever. We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come.”
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