UPDATE: Rashida Jones and Will McCormack left the following statement to EW, in light of the report:
“The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences. There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.”
It was only a matter of time before all the sexual misconduct accusations slit us in our jugulars. A new report from THR is stating that John Lasseter — the Disney Animation head, know for such beloved films as Toy Story — has taken a leave of absence from Pixar.
This comes on the heels of a staff memo from Lasseter, which stated:
“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. 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. 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.”
So what are these missteps?
A follow-up report from the outlet, there has been a pattern in the filmmaker’s behavior over the years — a pattern that’s made more than a few employees uncomfortable. Most recently, actress and writer Rashida Jones was announced to be working on Toy Story 4, and while she is still credited as a writer, she reportedly left the project (along with co-writer Will McCormack) a long time ago due to an unwanted advance from Lasseter.
Other insiders say that Lasseter is known for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.” In an odd story, there was a photo of Lasseter with women that had to be oddly cropped due to where his hands were placed. And from the sound of it, his behavior was well known. Women at Pixar knew to turn their heads to avoid his kisses, and when hugging, he would allegedly whisper in their ears for a long time.
One specific story took place 15 years ago, and involved a woman seated next to Lasseter in a meeting.
“She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh. The best I can describe it is as a defensive posture … John had his hand on her knee, though, moving around.”
After that, the man asked the woman about what he had seen, and her response was that “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 travelled.”
Now that this report has hit, we’re sure movements will come swiftly, but it is definitely a bit disturbing that an iconic figure in family filmmaking may not be nearly as wholesome as we all hoped.