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Disney Animation head John Lasseter leaves Pixar amid misconduct allegations

Toy Story director taking six-month leave of absence

John Lasseter attends the premiere of 'Coco' at El Capitan Theatre on November 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Filmmaker John Lasseter, the head of Walt Disney Animation Studios and chief creative officer of Pixar, says he’s taking a six-month leave of absence from the company to address personal, unidentified “missteps,” according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter’s story is based on an internal memo the publication obtained in which Lasseter said he’d recently had “a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me.”

In a follow-up report citing sources, The Hollywood Reporter published allegations that Lasseter’s misconduct included groping and kissing Disney/Pixar employees.

Here’s a section of Lasseter’s memo, which was published by The Hollywood Reporter:

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.

THR’s follow-up story details a history of alleged misconduct from Lasseter with Pixar employees, including “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes.”

Lasseter has long been a key figure at Pixar, which he joined in 1984. He directed the studio’s Oscar-winning short film “Luxo, Jr.” in 1986. Lasseter then went on to direct Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Cars at Pixar, and would later oversee all of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ projects.

We’ve reached out to Disney/Pixar for comment on THR’s report and will update when the company responds.

Pixar’s latest film, Coco, on which Lasseter served as executive producer, opens this week.

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