Sounds like Disney has been using all its Fantasia brooms to sweep years of in-house drama under the rug.
On Tuesday, John Lasseter stepped down from his position as head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation after acknowledging “missteps” in which he made his employees “feel disrespected or uncomfortable” over the years.
After the executive shared the memo to his staff, tongues began to wag about the type of environment Lasseter ran at the imaginative company — which, according to sources, included lots of inappropriate touching. Though it wasn’t just company employees Lasseter apparently made feel uncomfortable.
According to a Hollywood Reporter source, Rashida Jones — who is credited as a writer on Toy Story 4 with her then-partner Will McCormack — exited the project early on after Lasseter made an unwanted advance toward her.
Disney declined to comment on the alleged incident, however a studio source told THR that Jones’s departure was over “creative differences.”
Unlike Jones, unfortunately, Pixar employees couldn’t walk away from the co-founder’s alleged behavior. One longtime company employee said Lasseter was just as well known for hugging employees as he was for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”
Multiple sources say some women at Pixar routinely turned their heads quickly when encountering him to avoid his kisses. Others even used a move dubbed “the Lasseter” to prevent him from putting his hands on their legs.
A veteran employee recalled once noticing an oddly cropped photo of Lasseter standing between two women at a company event. When he asked a colleague about it, he was told:
“We had to crop it. Do you know where his hands were?”
Others knew from experience, apparently. The same source remembered being in a meeting over 15 years ago in which a woman seated next to Lassiter was sitting awkwardly. He recounted:
“She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh. The best I can describe it is as a defensive posture… John had his hand on her knee, though, moving around├óΓé¼┬ª She [later] said 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.”
Ick. Another former insider remembers uncomfortable encounters with Lasseter, who had a penchant for hugging in meetings. The person said:
“You’d hug him and he’s whisper in your ear, a long time. He hugged and hugged and everyone’s looking at you. Just invading the space.”
Sounds like most of the company was buzzing with revulsion. We just hope Lasseter’s alleged indiscretions were limited to uncomfortable touches and not whipping out his Woody.
The co-founder’s leave of absence is said to be for six months. Do YOU think Rashida will issue a statement about this?
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]