The other week, Pixar announced some shocking and troubling news that took everyone by surprise, as the animation studio revealed that co-founder John Lasseter would be taking a six-month leave of absence from the company after “difficult conversations” regarding some “missteps” he’s made over the years. Though the official statement from the filmmaker chose to omit the exact details surrounding his exit, we’re beginning to learn more about what really happened.
Lasseter, who’s directed numerous films for the studio, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Cars, was apparently known for “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes” to his employees. He’s also said to be a heavy drinker and reportedly even made an unwanted advance on Rashida Jones back when she was working on Toy Story 4. Not only that, but Pixar employees have since told Deadline that some of the head honcho’s behavior was a bit creepy.
“He would rub my leg in a meeting … It was creepy and weird. It got to the point where I wouldn’t sit next to him in a meeting, because it undermined everything I said,” one person revealed.
It gets worse, too, as apparently, the Mouse House was aware of Lasseter’s issues, often giving him a handler at parties to ensure he was on his best behavior. The animation pioneer also had an “obsession with the young character actresses portraying Disney’s Fairies,” which was a product line built around the character of Tinker Bell.
“He was inappropriate with the fairies,” said a former executive, referring to physical contact that included long hugs. “We had to have someone make sure he wasn’t alone with them.”
Disney and Pixar have both declined to address this and probably won’t – at least, not for a while – but it’s clear that there were some real problems when John Lasseter was around and in all likelihood, everyone knew about it. To what extent, isn’t known, but as is always the case with these things, we imagine that most people just kept silent until it became too big an issue to ignore and thus became yet another troubling case of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood.