Pixar co-founder to leave Disney over unwanted hugs and gestures

LOS ANGELES • Disney animation chief John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, is quitting, six months after acknowledging in an internal memo that he had made staff feel "disrespected or uncomfortable" with his unwanted hugs.

The 61-year-old executive, best known for transforming Pixar from a small graphics department at Lucasfilm into the world's most successful animation studio, was the pioneering director of Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

Mr Lasseter apologised last November to "anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line" and promptly went on sabbatical.

"The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities," Mr Lasseter said in a statement released by Disney on Friday.

"While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges."

The Oscar-winning filmmaker and senior executive conceded when the scandal broke that he had been "falling short" in ensuring a culture of "trust and respect" at his animation studios.

The e-mail came as the #MeToo and Time's Up movements gained momentum in Hollywood.

It also coincided with an article in The Hollywood Reporter that cited "grabbing, kissing and making comments about physical attributes" as recurring behaviour by Mr Lasseter in meetings and at work events, particularly when consuming alcohol.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 10, 2018, with the headline 'Pixar co-founder to leave Disney over unwanted hugs and gestures'. Print Edition | Subscribe