John Lasseter at the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival. Courtesy of Wikimedia
CAIRO – 22 November 2017: John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar and Disney animation head, will take a six-month leave of absence following allegations of sexual harassment, admitting that he had committed several “missteps” and will seek to correct himself.
The statement comes from The Hollywood Reporter which obtained a memo released on Tuesday to Disney staff, outlining Lasseter’s confession of his wrongdoings, after going through several “painful conversations.” Lasseter is now only one of the many powerful men in Hollywood whose abuse of female employees is finally being put in the spotlight.
Lasseter, age 60, is best known as the director of "Toy Story" and was one of the founders of Pixar animation. He was instrumental in helping to pioneer 3D animation as a new art-form, and in 2006 after Disney’s purchase of Pixar, he was promoted to CEO of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation studios.
The accusations come across more than 10 interviews with various employees of Disney and Pixar, wherein Lasseter was accused of inappropriate contact such as hugs, kisses and groping.
According to Vanity Fair’s coverage of the incident, one former female Pixar employee was quoted as describing an incident where Lasseter "…Leaned into my monitor and whispered into my ear, 'You look so beautiful; that light in your eyes.' It was the way a lover would talk to you. I remember him touching my back or leg or knee and just feeling . . . ugh. And then we talked about the work.”
Disney released a statement following up Lasseter’s memo, wherein a spokesperson responded;
“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.”