John Lasseter: Pixar founder on leave over 'unwanted hugs'

John Lasseter Image copyright Reuters

John Lasseter, the head of animation at Pixar and Disney, is taking a leave of absence after allegations of misconduct emerged about him.

Current and former staff told The Hollywood Reporter that Mr Lasseter frequently gave unwanted hugs and invaded personal space.

Other sources alleged he was known for "grabbing, kissing, making comments".

In a statement Mr Lasseter apologised "to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug".

He apologised for his "missteps" and "any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form".

"Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologise if I have let you down," he said.

"No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The entertainment titan is credited on a vast array of animated features - including Inside Out

Mr Lasseter, a founding member of Pixar, said he would be taking a six-month leave of absence to "start taking better care of myself".

The chief creative officer at both Pixar and Walt Disney animation studios, he is one of the driving forces in the industry and has been behind some of the most successful children's films in the last two decades.

He was the director of Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Cars; and has producer credits on dozens of major films including Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Up, and Frozen.

Disney, in a statement quoted by Reuters news agency, said it appreciated his "candor and sincere apology" and supported his decision to take a leave of absence.

Pixar's latest movie, Coco - on which Mr Lasseter is credited as an executive producer - releases on 22 November in the United States, hours after his leave of absence was announced.

The fantasy adventure film is scheduled for release in UK theatres in January.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Lasseter is the creative lead at both Disney and Pixar animation studios

The claims against Lasseter come after Pixar screenwriter Rashida Jones left the production of Toy Story 4.

Jones told the New York Times her departure was due the studio's poor treatment of women and BAME staff.

She also rebuffed media stories that the real reason for her stepping away was due directly to Lasseter's behaviour towards her.

Her writing partner Will McCormack left along with her. In a joint statement to the NYT they said it was "untrue" they had left because of "unwanted advances".

"There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films," they added.

"However, it is also a culture where women and people of colour do not have an equal creative voice."

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