John Lasseter, Walt Disney’s animation chief and co-founder of Pixar, will leave his roles by the end of this year, the company stated. The announcement was made after he has been on leave for 6 months following complaints about his inappropriate workplace conduct, including unwanted hugs which made employees uncomfortable.
Disney said that Lasseter will take on a consulting role at the company until the end of the year and then leave permanently. He will not have an office in the interim. However, Disney did not name replacements.
“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,” said Lasseter.
Lasseter took a six-month sabbatical from November last year. He made the announcement in a lengthy email to employees and apologised “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.” But he said his intent was “benign”.
This email came as the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements gained momentum in Hollywood, later spread worldwide. But the accusations against Lasseter did not rise to the level of those against powerful Hollywood figures like Harvey Weinstein.
Lasseter joined the company in 2006 when Disney bought Pixar Animation Studios. As a pioneer in computer animation, Lasseter was the creative force behind global hits such as “Toy Story,” “Cars”, “Finding Nemo” and “Frozen”, which won Academy Awards and reaped billions of dollars at the box office.