John Lasseter, creative head of Walt Disney Co.’s Pixar Inc. and Walt Disney Animation Studios, will take a leave of absence from the company following allegations of inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
The Oscar-winning mastermind behind Pixar blockbusters “Toy Story” and “Cars,” who has served as chief creative officer of the animation studios since 2006, announced the sabbatical in a memo to staff, the Hollywood Reporter first reported. He described the departure as a “six-month sabbatical” prompted by “missteps.”
“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable,” Lasseter wrote in the memo, which was published in full by Atlantic Media’s news site Quartz. “That was never my intent.”
Lasseter announced the move just prior to the publication of the Hollywood Reporter’s story, in which several current and former Disney and Pixar employees describe having witnessed him hugging, kissing or touching women in the office and at work-related social events. The acclaimed filmmaker and director has a reputation within the industry for hugging those with whom he works, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Disney did not return a request for comment by press time. The company’s stock (DIS) rose 26 cents, or a quarter of a percentage point, on Tuesday to close at $103 on the New York Stock Exchange.