More details have surfaced regarding Walt Disney Animation and Pixar head John Lasseter's history of alleged misconduct prompting his leave of absence from the studio, including during the development of Toy Story 4, which resulted in screenwriters Rashida Jones and Will McCormack leaving the project.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Jones and McCormack left the project following an "unwanted advance" from Lasseter to Jones, the star of Angie Tribeca on TBS. Neither Jones or McCormack responded to requests for comment, according to THR. Disney declined comment to the outlet, but the article cites a studio source stating that the departure was due to "creative differences."
The article also includes insight from unnamed former Pixar and animation insiders that detail a long history of Lasseter “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”
More sources went on to say the women at Pixar implemented what was referred to as “the Lasseter," a move to prevent the Pixar founder from grabbing their legs. An insider recounted a meeting where a woman was seated next to Lasseter.
“She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh,” the insider said. “The best I can describe it is as a defensive posture ... John had his hand on her knee, though, moving around.” After that encounter, this person asked the woman about what he had seen. “She said it was unfortunate for her to wear a skirt that day and if she didn’t have her hand on her own right leg, his hand would have traveled.”
The same insider recalled another time where a photo of Lasseter standing between two women was cropped in an odd way, with a colleague telling him, “We had to crop it. Do you know where his hands were?”
In a memo to Pixar employees, Lasseter says he's taking a six-month leave of absence from the studio after "painful" conversations and due to unspecified "missteps."
"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," Lasseter said in his statement. "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."
Lasseter became Chief Creative Officer of Disney’s feature animation studios in 2006, and the division has since seen a creative and commercial renaissance with hits ranging from Frozen and Moana. He’s also directed some of Pixar’s biggest hits over the years, including the first two Toy Story films, A Bug’s Life, and the first two Cars movies.
This news comes one day before Pixar’s latest film, Coco, is released in theaters.