The head of Pixar allegedly made an “unwanted advance” on actress Rashida Jones and has a history of kissing and touching female staffers, according to a new report.
Ahead of the allegations published in The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, Oscar winner John Lasseter — who directed “Toy Story” and “Cars” and is known as one of the most powerful men in film — admitted to making staff feel “disrespected” and “uncomfortable” and announced that he’s going on leave.
Jones is credited as a co-writer on the forthcoming “Toy Story 4,” but actually quit the film early on after her run-in with Lasseter, sources tell the Reporter.
One longtime Pixar employee said the animation honcho is known for “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes” of female employees, the site report — and his moves are so notorious that women have a nickname for the action of quickly turning their heads to avoid his lips: doing “the Lasseter.”
An insider recalled seeing a woman looking very uncomfortable as Lasseter placed his hands on her knee “moving around.”
Later, she told the source: “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.”
Another said he’s really a creepy hugger.
“You’d hug him and he’s whisper in your ear, a long time,” a former insider told the Reporter. “He hugged and hugged and everyone’s looking at you. Just invading the space.”
In a memo to staff announcing his six-month sabbatical, Lasseter acknowledged “missteps” that included “unwanted hugs,” Deadline.com reports.
“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. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be,” he wrote.
“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize 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.”
Lasseter said his time away from the company is “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.”