Pixar co-founder and Walt Disney Animation Studios chief John Lasseter is taking a leave of absence after apologising to staff for unwanted hugs and gestures.
Lasseter, who directed the first two Toy Story films and Cars, wrote to colleagues on Tuesday saying he has to face his “missteps” and acknowledging he has made some of them “feel disrespected or uncomfortable”.
The announcement comes as Hollywood faces increased scrutiny in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which has prompted public allegations against Kevin Spacey and Louis CK among others.
The memo, seen by the Press Association, came as industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter prepared to publish allegations of misconduct against Lasseter, 60. He wrote to colleagues: “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.
“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. “I especially want to apologise 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. “My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”
Lasseter’s move comes just days before Pixar’s latest film Coco hits cinemas across the world before its UK-release in January. In a statement, Disney said: “We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work.
“We appreciate John’s candour and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.”